Oct 8, 2014

Can You Inherit Trauma From Your Ancestors?

Pick had no idea her father’s family was actually Jewish and had been keeping it a secret for generations. The author, 39, grew up going to Church with her parents and sister and did not discover until she was a teenager that her ostensibly Christian grandparents were Czech-Jewish Holocaust survivors who had hidden their background from everyone — including their own son, Pick’s father.

Some who have read “Between Gods” dismiss as far-fetched the notion that Holocaust trauma can be genetically passed down to subsequent generations but this is a phenomenon has been well documented among second and third generation families by psychologist Eva Fogelman and author Thane Rosenbaum, among others.

Now, the behavioral epigenetics is proving the scientific basis for the anecdotal evidence and case studies. Molecular biologist and geneticist Moshe Szyf and neurobiologist Michael Meaney, both at McGill University in Montreal, have conducted research on rats showing that traumatic experiences in our past, or in our ancestors past leave molecular scars that adhere to our DNA. The changes are not caused directly to our DNA in the way of mutations, but rather to the expression of our DNA.

Genealogy in Toronto Election

When intoxicated, Mayor Rob Ford made an uncouth remark and everything he does is captured on video. So, to ward off claims of anti-semitism, Doug Ford claimed that his wife is Jewish and some enterprising people traced her heritage.


Oct 1, 2014

Heirlooms Can Be a Burden

From: Letting Go of Sentimental Items

At first I didn’t want to let go of anything. If you’ve ever lost a parent or a loved one or been through a similarly emotional time, then you understand exactly how hard it was for me to let go of any of those possessions. So instead of letting go, I was going to cram every trinket and piece of furniture into a storage locker. That way I knew that Mom’s stuff was there if I ever wanted it, if I ever needed access to it for some incomprehensible reason.

In the crawlspace beneath her bed, there were five sealed boxes. I cut through the tape and found old papers from my elementary school days from nearly a quarter of a century ago. Spelling tests, cursive writing lessons, artwork, it was all there, every shred of paper from my first five years of school. It was evident that she hadn’t accessed the boxes in years.

That’s when I realized that my retention efforts were futile. I could hold on to her memories without her stuff, just as she had always remembered me without ever accessing those boxes under her bed. She didn’t need papers from twenty-five years ago to remember me, just as I didn’t need a storage locker filled with her stuff to remember her.

Sep 12, 2014

Film: 50 Children

PLACE: Hamilton Jewish Federation Shalom Village Nursing Home
ADDRESS: 70 Macklin Street North, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 3S1 Directions.
DATE: November 2, 2014.

The Story of 50 Jewish Children Rescued From Nazis, 1939, is a one-hour long HMO Documentary in conjunction with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Gilbert and Eleanor Krauss were from Philadelphia and the story relates the bureaucracy to overcome in order to bring 50 Jewish children from Vienna in June 1939, along with finding foster homes, unused visas, White House lack of support, and the bureaucracy in Nazi Austria and Berlin to achieve their goal.

According to the documentary, it was the largest group that was able to immigrate to the US. More information about the film.

Fiona Gold Kroll

Temple Sinai, 210 Wilson Avenue, Toronto
Wednesday, October 22nd at 8 p.m.
Doors open at 7:30 p.m.

Fiona Gold Kroll talks about writing A Stone for Benjamin, a book about her research into the life of her great-uncle, Benjamin Albaum who disappeared from Paris during WWII and perished in Auschwitz.
Telephone: 647-247-6414

Sep 10, 2014

The Myth of The Khazars

From: Tablet

The Khazars were a Turkic people who lived in the Caucasus region between the 7th and 10th centuries.  A long-held theory posits that members of the kingdom converted to Judaism at the behest of their ruler, a notion that anchored Yehuda Ha-Levi’s Kuzari.

But in a new article in the journal Jewish Social Studies, Hebrew University researcher Shaul Stampfer argues there is no evidence from Medieval Jewish, Islamic or Christian texts that such a conversion took place.

“The silence of so many sources about the Khazars’ Judaism is very suspicious,” Stampfer tells Haaretz . “The Byzantines, the geonim [Jewish religious leaders of the sixth to eleventh centuries], the sages of Egypt—none of them have a word about the Jewish Khazars.”

Stampfer’s findings serve as a retort to the controversial work of Tel Aviv University historian Shlomo Sand whose 2009 book , The Invention of the Jewish People, argued for the link between Ashkenazi Jews and the Khazars of the Steppe and saw in that truism an upending of the Jews’ historical claims on the land of Israel.

Also from Tablet:

LiveScience reports on a new study which found that “the central and eastern European Jewish population, known as Ashkenazi Jews started from a founding population of about 350 people between 600 and 800 years ago.”

According to Columbia University researcher Itsik Pe’er, who was involved with the study, the research showed that the group of 350 was made up of Jews of Middle Eastern and Europeans—thereby disproving the much-debated theory that Jews descended from Khazars.