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Heritage: Sustaining Family Ties

At the heart of Jewish women's lives is family. As daughters and sisters, as wives, mothers, and grandmothers, these relationships formed the essential structure and the most powerful bonds of their lives. Geographic proximity to family provided economic security, a ready-made group for leisure activities, and the primary participants and contributors for weekly and annual holiday celebrations and life-cycle events. Today, whether in their own homes or those of their children and friends, they maintain strong bonds and the warmth of Jewish heritage in their lives.

Artist's Statement

Viviana Lombrozo
La Jolla, California

It has been an honor to learn about the lives of Jewish women in Baltimore. While listening to their voices, I was inspired by the poignant memories, daunting challenges, and lifelong dreams that define each of these remarkable women. Their personal stories are individual journeys into their cultural roots. Yet a common thread weaves through their testimonies. They all value the deep love and appreciation of family and close relationships.

Suitcases seemed appropriate vehicles for portraying their journeys and those of their ancestors. Certainly, it is with "the things we carry"—from our backgrounds and our life experiences—that we build and shape our identities. I began to think of how these stories describe two persistent components of Jewish history: displacement and wandering. I reflected on what one packs as one travels through a lifetime—material items that are too precious to leave behind, and accumulated experiences and knowledge that we believe are essential to pass on. In these suitcases I have placed images and objects that illustrate the lives of five particular women, yet they also remind us that certain themes are universal. The tags on the luggage identify individual and common values: family, relationships, tradition and heritage. As products of our history, we travel on the shoulders of our ancestors and carry the remnants of their past. The cultural symbolism of the objects and the people who used them before us are the touchstones of our identities and become the templates for future generations.

More on:
The Things We Carry (detail) by Viviana Lombrozo
Full image
5 suitcases on pedestals Each unit approx 18" x 20" x 12" suitcases 24" x 30" Photograph: Howard Lipin

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Heritage: Sustaining Family Ties." (Viewed on July 30, 2014) <http://jwa.org/communitystories/baltimore/themes/heritage>.

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