Yiddish, the language of Jewish grandmothers — and, increasingly, great-grandmothers — suffered through a particularly unkind 20th century. But if Robert Adler Peckerar has his way, it will be making a comeback in the 21st, thanks in part to something called the Helix Project.
The following is a rundown of some Eastern European countries and where they stand on restitution:
In Austria and Poland recently, I couldn't seem to get away from students, scholars and just plain interested folks who were taking or teaching summer programs in Jewish studies.
Leading U.S. lawmakers called on formerly communist European nations to advance Holocaust-era property reclamation processes.
Galina's renewed sense of hope for her future -- for the chance to relax and to read and memorize her beloved poems about Victory Day -- comes as a result of the work of comedy director/producer Zane Buzby and the Survivor Mitzvah Project, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that brings direct financial assistance to about 700 elderly and ill Holocaust survivors in Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and Lithuania.
Profiles and pictures of volunteers of the Survivor Mitzvah Project and some of the Holocaust survivors they serve.
In May, Ukrainian workers laying a gas pipe in a southern village dug into a buried chamber of thousands of Jews killed during the Holocaust. That same month, a construction crew building a new office complex in western Ukraine burrowed into the corpses of several dozen more Jews. Stumbling upon such mass graves is not particularly unusual in Eastern Europe. Less well known is how many more "martyr sites" lie undiscovered and unmarked in fields and forests across the region -- wherever mobile Nazi killing units scorched the earth in the so-called "Holocaust of bullets." It seems momentum is growing in the search for such sites.
Kirshenblatt's canvasses, together with a stunningly vivid text -- the product of four decades' worth of interviews with his daughter, noted New York University folklorist Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett -- have now been reproduced in a handsome volume by the University of California Press, and the result is a marvel: With his scrupulously recalled images, Kirshenblatt has managed to do no less than create a new visual language for describing pre-war Eastern European life. In stark contrast to the black-and-white record that has made up our vision heretofore, Kirshenblatt's paintings are untainted by the horrors to come. They offer a picture not of Polish Jewish life as it was before tragedy struck, but simply as it was. If Chagall was the shtetl's mythmaker, then Kirshenblatt is his antithesis: a shtetl anthropologist.
"My strongest link to my Jewish background is musical," he said. "I found myself drawn to Russian and Eastern European musical roots."
When she set out to write the first comprehensive Jewish travel guidebook on the countries of the former Eastern bloc, Ruth Ellen Gruber might as well have been documenting the secret life of a New Guinea tribe of cannibals.
There was something haunting about taking the train. The aged boxcars on a parallel track seemed frozen in time. I quieted my thoughts. After all, the train was a necessary evil. This bitter irony was not lost on me as the train sped from Munich to Dachau on probably the very same tracks that led thousands of innocent people to their deaths more than a half-century ago.