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Family Stories

Parshat Matot-Masei: What is our Journey?

While we aren’t still wandering the wilderness of Maob, or navigating the hard working conditions of the lower east side, we must not forget what it means to be a newcomer to a foreign land. And we must take alongside us the reminder that we are the links to our past and our future. We serve as the reminder to not take for granted our ability to be both freely Jewish and American at the same time and to empathize with the conditions new Americans face today. For just as we were slaves in Egypt, so too were our families the ones who paved the path for great opportunity.

The Women Before Me: Stories from my Past

Today we welcome our first post from Miriasha Borsykowsky, one of our Rising Voices Fellows. Be sure to check the JWA blog each Tuesday for a new post from one of our fellows—and check out the great educational resources provided by our partner organization, Prozdor.

I don’t think about it a lot, but I am descended from a line of strong, resourceful women. I’ve heard their stories all through growing up, and although I have endless respect for them, I have always had trouble relating.

I was born in 1996, lived in Vermont my whole life, speak only English at home, and have never had to worry about having enough to eat. My great- (and great-great) grandmothers lived in Binghamton, New York, spoke Yiddish, and had to really work to survive. I’m blessed to have two parents who are still living together, while the women I am descended from dealt with tragic losses of a father or a husband. While the struggles they went through are very different from what I struggle with, I still turn to their stories sometimes for guidance.

Dear Ora: An Open Letter to My Younger Sister

For our first post from our new class of Rising Voices Fellows, we present an open letter from Avigayil Halpern to her younger sister, Ora. Be sure to check the JWA blog each Tuesday for a new post from one of our fellows—and check out the great educational support provided by our partner organization, Prozdor.

Dear Ora,

Because of our similar (to other people, at least) appearance and relative closeness in age, it’s often assumed that we’re very alike. Last year you related to me a frustrating incident, where at a prospective student event at my school many people approached you and asked, “Do you like Talmud? Are you a feminist?”

When you responded in the affirmative, the response you got was always “Oh, You’re just like Avigayil!”

Elul, my Grandma, the Tomato Hornworm, and the Talmud

Even as it’s the start of August and the middle of summer, it’s also about to be the start of the Hebrew month of Elul.

I’m particularly conscious of the timing because my Grandma died – ten years ago this month – on the last day of Av. Confusingly the last day of Av is the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul; ie the day before the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, which is in fact the first day of Elul. That in turn is the first day we blow shofar, and thus the official start of the season of teshuva – of returning to our best selves. So, in honor of my grandma, and lest the holidays catch you unawares, a few things to think about in the forthcoming season of teshuva.

My/Her Tattoo

I knew when I went to get my first tattoo that the hardest part wouldn’t be the pain (although it did hurt quite a bit), it would be telling my mother. I had the idea when I was living in Israel, where I fell in love with Hebrew–it’s twists and turns and calligraphy were captivating to me. Chazak, strength, meant to me that I would always be strong, even in moments of weakness or distress.

To Tattoo Or Not To Tattoo

I am leaving tomorrow for a trip home to LA. Between visiting cousins, friends, new babies, and family, my trips home tend to whiz by in a blur of too-short-check-ins.

The Hanukkah bush: Raising Jewish kids in downtown NYC

For those of you not around New York City in the 1970s, raising children was a challenge. City parks were infested with drug dealers and street crime was high.

El Adon-think-so: Battling singer's block with help from my mom

My New Jersey bat mitzvah party was a lavish affair.

A kreplach recipe that's worth the work

I made my first batch of kreplach, noodle dough containing ground meat usually found in chicken soup, in 1972, with my very Greek friend Mary Mastrogeannes, when I was fourteen.

Meet Elizabeth, JWA Intern

It is my third day here as a JWA intern. It is a privilege to be working at such a fantastic organization, and I am so grateful to everyone at JWA for their warm welcome. In my first-ever Jewesses with Attitude blog-post, I want to take this opportunity to share with you a little bit about my background and why I am so pleased to be here at the Jewish Women’s Archive.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Family Stories." (Viewed on September 2, 2014) <http://jwa.org/tags/family-stories>.

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