A major new tool can help Brazilians learn about their possible Iberian Jewish origins: the "Dictionary of Sephardic Surnames," a 528-page tome featuring some 17,000 surnames of Sephardic Jewish families from Portugal, Spain and Italy and their descendants.
We're told repeatedly that intermarriage is the death knell of the Jewish people, but let's face it: Jews have been intermarrying since the beginning of our tribe 4,000 years ago. Marrying "out" is precisely how we got Jews with looks covering the gamut from blonde hair and blue eyes to black skin and nappy hair. It's also one of the reasons that Hitler hated us: We were at it again, blending with the local race, destroying its ethnic purity.
They appear on a postcard with the romantic look of a turn-of-the-century Victorian family, although their names are anything but Victorian. Hyman, Manya, Slava, Nathan, Clara and Berra (later Ben) Chernoy all posed for the picture around 1905, looking young and fair and without any realization that their journey from Russia to America would have such lifesaving consequences for the next generation. But they left one strange legacy, an inscription on the back of the postcard which read "When I will die, when I will be no more, when my bones in the earth will crumble, you will remember me. When all people forget me, you will remember me."
It took eight decades for one of their descendants, genealogy enthusiast Lori Miller, to get their poetic declaration translated and another 10 years to track down and spread the news to the rest of the family. Thus on Sunday, May 19, the descendants of those six Chernoy siblings gathered to honor that inscription.
Darlene Basch has always had a fiery independent streak. Born and raised in Queens, the former Darlene Chakin was taking the F train by herself into Manhattan well before she had her Bat Mitzvah. Basch's mother, a Holocaust survivor, wanted young Darlene to be able to rely on herself, just in case.