1. Completion Date: Posts from your israel trip or prior will not count.
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I interviewed my uncle-once-removed, David. We both had our DNA tested and discussed the differences and similiarites in our results. David is 92.6% Ashkenazi Jewish and 1.4% Sephardic Jewish. We discussed where the Sephardic Jewish piece comes from within our family (we determined we did not know and we assume most or all of our family would not know either). We spoke fondly about the times when we used to have Passover in New Jersey as a family. We spoke about my intentions to raise my children Jewish.
I interviewed my grandmother the other day. I asked her about what she remembered from her childhood and what she knew about her lineage. She remembered always going to her uncles house for shabbat dinner but that was about it. A Lot of her family immigrated from Austria during WWII and they didn't talk much about that experience so she couldn't answer many of my questions. One thing she did talk about was how much she fought for my mother to be given a hebrew name so my grandfather surprised her one day by bringing her and my mother to the local synagogue and named her Marsha after her grandmother.
My mom recently conducted a genealogy report on myheritage.com and found records of what my great grandmother did as a living (was a bookkeeper at a library) and great grandfather did (was a taxi driver). I believe they made $30 a week living in the tenement homes. My grandma lived in the tenement homes as a child, although they weren't called the tenement homes. Both sides of my families are eastern-european Ashkenazi jews (making me about 98% Ashkenazi jewish), and I love being told the stories of how different couples came together. I recently saw my great aunt in New York, and she recalled how my grandma met my grandpa: my grandma's sister and my grandpa's sister conspired to have a shared bedroom together as children (in the tenement homes) and therefore set up my grandparents so they can have more freedom. I thought the story was endearing and incredible just imaging their housing situation.
Traditionally, my family recalls family history through making fun of little stereotypically-jewish habits (i.e. my great grandma always had way too many collected towels and insisted her children and grandchildren always take her towels when going to summer camp).
One way I will perpetuate my judaism is by retelling my family's history. My grandparents usually are too disturbed to discuss in detail who they knew directly affected by the holocaust, but they always love retelling their years as children in America after the great depression as hardworking jewish citizens. They also are all about food (both sides of my family), so I will attempt to carry on my grandparents' legacy of top-notch kugel, matzo-ball soup, and the like.