Monday, July 16, 2012

“And Prairie Dogs Weren’t Kosher”: Jewish Women in the Upper Midwest since 1855 written and edited by Linda Mack Schloff 1996

"'And Prairie Dogs Weren't Kosher' begins to fill a void in American Jewish history and admirably expands our access to the religious, cultural, and social lives of women in the middle of America and their contributions to the larger community." -- Nebraska History, 1997, Vol. 78 No. 2

This lovely book, full of photos of Jewish women and their families, their homes, their farms, businesses and institutions, was prompted by an exhibit mounted by the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest and the Minnesota Historical Society. An introduction by Linda Mack Schloff discusses the motivation behind creating the book and lays out its goals and format. Each of six chapters starts with an introductory essay written by Schloff on one of six topics, then ends with a collage of voices collected from many unpublished memoirs and oral histories.

The first chapter covers life in the old country – why Jewish immigrants left in the first place and why they traveled to the upper Midwest; the second deals with what they found when they arrived and how they initially managed. The next four chapters are about establishing life and community by looking at four areas: domestic life, women and work, women and the synagogue and women and organizations. 

There is a lot to learn here about Jewish immigration to and settlement in the Midwest. Schloff talks about the poverty and the precarious lives Jewish immigrants were fleeing, only to find themselves struggling with versions of those same problems in America. Immigrants  were often lured to the Midwest to relatives and former neighbors who had already settled there. One reason for this was the Homestead Act of 1862 which awarded free plots of land to those who came out and claimed them. Others arrived in cities like Fargo, Duluth, Minneapolis and St. Paul because Jewish immigration agencies like the Industrial Removal Office promoted settlement in areas other than on the crowded East Coast.

But those who staked claims, intending to commit to homesteading, found farming very difficult due to a combination of terrain, weather, isolation, and inexperience. Jewish farming communities like Painted Woods and Devils Lake in present-day North Dakota and Bethlehem Yehudah and Cremieux in present-day South Dakota were short lived. Those who moved directly to the cities didn’t necessarily have it easy, but density engendered support systems, both institutional and informal, and many who started out farming eventually moved to the city where many opened or worked in small retail businesses, and where they and their growing children could socialize within a burgeoning Jewish community.

The chapter on domestic work is interesting in that it describes how the immigrant women maintained and adapted their religion and its customs to a new country and new conditions. Keeping kosher was a challenge, especially outside the major cities, and many gave it up. Since many of the synagogues they founded were affiliated with the Reform movement, that was not an issue, but it was a challenge for those who wanted to maintain Kashrut and who did not live in a major city. There are interesting details about how holidays such as Chanukah were celebrated and rituals like confirmation created, both in resistance and at the same time influenced by the surrounding Christian community.

Many women thrived in leadership roles that emerged from the growing establishment of synagogues. Women whose places of worship were affiliated with the Reform and Convservative movements could now attend services and sit together with their families and eventually take an active part in the service. They avidly attended adult education classes and they raised money to help sustain Sunday and Hebrew schools, to increase building funds, and to send money to Palestine/Israel. They established Loan and Benevolent Societies and branches of national organizations like Hadassah and the National Council of Jewish Women. This volunteer work gave them experience and skills that many of them put to good use when they were ready to work in part and full-time jobs.

Much of what these women experienced was what Jewish immigrant women experienced throughout the country, establishing homes and adjusting their religious practice to new circumstances, but this book interestingly and ably demonstrates the particularly unique experiences of the Jewish women of the north Midwest.

To consult a site that has an extensive list of links to Western Jewish Historical Societies, Archives and Museums, click here.

People and Places
Jeannette L. Agrant
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
sister named Sarah

Julius and Hanna Austrian
Madeleine Island, Wisconsin

Rachel Minenberg Baker
New York City to outside of Ashley, North Dakota

Sarah Balkind
from Russia to St. Paul, Minnesota
        Daisy Ginsburg Mains – granddaughter of Sarah

Bernice Banen
Hibbing, Minnesota

Sarah Bendersky – married Noah Schlasinger
from Odessa – Ukraine

David and Fannie Berman
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Sarah Cohen Berman
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Solomon Bailin
from Sosnitza, Ukraine to Sioux City, Iowa

Rosalyn Baker
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Ida Balick
St. Paul, Minnesota

Marshall Beaubaire
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Craney Goldman Bellin
Beresenova, Ukraine to McKenzie County, North Dakota

Benjamin N. Berger
from Ostrowiec, Poland to Fargo, North Dakota

Steven and Carol Porter Berlin
Minot, North Dakota to St. Paul, Minnesota
    Rebecca Berlin – daughter of Steven and Carol

Sarah Cohen Berman
    Rose Berman Goldstein – daughter of Sarah
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Theresa Ackerman Berman
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Shana Gitl ?
from Kresilev, Ukraine to Grand Forks, North Dakota
Ethel Krochock Bernstein – granddaughter of Shana Gitl

Max and Bella Borow
from Lithuania to New York to Bethlehem, Pennsyvania to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Fargo, North Dakota
    Pearl Borow Goodman – daughter of Max and Bella

Laura Rapaport Borsten
born in North Dakota, moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota

Eleanore Bresky
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Michael and Inna Gendelman Brezman
    Anna – daughter of Michael and Inna
    Twin Cities, Minnesota

Fanny Fliegelman Brin
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Howard and Ruth Firestone Brin
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Lillian, Frieda, Jennie and Nellie Brody (siblings)
near Regan, South Dakota
(Nellie’s married name Werner)

Mary Burton
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Sadie Chanen
Natalie Chanen (Goldstein) - daughter of Sadie
Faye Chanen (Garelick) – daughter of Sadie
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Sam Char
Warsaw, Poland to St. Paul, Minnesota

Sam Cheit
    Inez Cheit – daughter of Sam
Hague, North Dakota

Abe and Sarah Cohen
    Ida Cohen Goldberg – daughter of Abe and Sarah
outside of Duluth, Minnesota

Emanuel Cohen
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Fannie Cohen
St. Paul, Minnesota

Jean Cohen
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Libby Cohen
        Rose Berman Goldstein – granddaughter of Libby
From Kalwaria, Lithuania to Minneapolis, Minnesota

Nina Morais Cohen
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Joe Cohn
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Blanche Colman
Deadwood, South Dakota

Isaac and Ida Cook
    Etta Cook Josephs – daughter of Isaac and Ida
Duluth, Minnesota

Burt Cooper
Albert Lea, Minnesota

Ida Blehert Davis
St. Paul, Minnesota

Marlchen Deutsch
from Karlsruhe, Germany to Davenport, Iowa to Minneapolis, Minnesota

Ellen Dinerstein
St. Paul, Minnesota

Joe Dokovna
near Wing, North Dakota

Cecelia Dolf
    Samuel Dolf – son of Cecelia
Morton County, North Dakota

Galina Khaikina Dreytser
from Leningrad, Russia to St. Paul, Minnesota

Sophie Dudovitz
St. Paul, Minnesota

Gladys Jacobs Field
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Milton and Irma Cain Firestone
    Ruth Firestone Brin – daughter of Milton and Irma (separate entry)
St. Paul, Minnesota

Miles Fiterman
Thief River Falls, Minnesota to Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rachel Freedland
    Morris Freedland – son of Rachel
near Osseo, Minnesota

Sophie Frishberg
St. Paul, Minnesota

Bessie Furman
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Ida Geller
Fargo, North Dakota

Toba Marcowitz Geller
Halliday, North Dakota

Florence Silverstein Gidding
Duluth, Minnesota

Norton Giller
Grand Forks, North Dakota

Rose Gillman
St. Paul, Minnesota

Harry Ginsberg
Sarah Lee Ginsberg – niece of Harry
Grand Forks, North Dakota

Jonathan and Julie Gordon Ginsburg
She grew up in Albert Lea Minnesota; they live in St. Paul, Minnesota

Abe and Fannie Overman Goldfine
Fannie’s family from Russia to Superior, Wisconsin, then she to Duluth, Minnesota
    Manley Goldfine – son of Abe and Fannie

Mary T. Goldman
St. Paul, Minnesota

Rose Barzon Goldman
Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Daniel J. Elazar – nephew of Rose

Anna Goldstein
    Al and Esther Goldstein – children of Anna
Solen, North Dakota

Fannie Feinstein Goldstein
from Russia to New Haven, Connecticut to St. Paul, Minnesota
        Sylvia Feinstein Peilen – granddaughter of Fannie

Millie King Goldstone
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Albert Gordon
Minneapolis, Minnesota

George Gordon
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Jeff Gordon
Albert Lea, Minnesota
(cousin of Julie Gordon Ginsburg)

Annette Green
St. Paul, Minnesota

Charles and Anne Garon Greenberg
St. Paul, Minnesota

Morris and Rhana Lewis Greenberg
near Eveleth, Minnesota
(see entry for Rhana’s mother Sarah Lewis)

Hyman Greenstein
outskirts of North Minneapolis, Minnesota

Bea Grossman
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rachel Haas
St. Paul, Minnesota

Charles and Etta Hallock
from Lithuania to Duluth, Minnesota to Hibbing, Minnesota
    Kopple Hallock – son of Charles and Etta

Marice Lipschultz Halper
St. Paul, Minnesota

Blanche Halpern (Goldberg)
Minneapolis, Minnesota to Hebron, North Dakota
Frances Halpern – sister to Blanche
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Frieda, Minette, Shirley, and Leo Handelman (siblings)
parents from Rumania to Chicago, Illinois to outside of Wilton, North Dakota

Emma Herbst
Fargo, North Dakota

Emmanuel Hess
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Dorothy Mosow Hurwitz

Viola Hoffman Hymes
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rachel Bella Kahn – married Abraham Calof
    Minnie Calof – daughter of Rachel and Abraham
from Belaya Tserkov, Ukraine to North Dakota

Celia and Pearl Kamins (sisters)
Dodge, North Dakota

Sophie Katz
from Berdichev, Ukraine

Doris Kirschner
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Lena Kopelman
    Rose, Dorothy, and Jeanette Kopelman (Saval) – daughters of Lena
Fargo, North Dakota

Eva Kremenetsky – married Joe Losk
Rose Kremenetsky (sister of Eva) – married Charles Losk (brother of Joe)
Henry Krementesky (brother of Eva and Rose) – married Dora Weinberg
Near Wilton, North Dakota
(Losks’ mother from Odessa, Ukraine to Anamoose, North Dakota)

 ? Kruger
Dorothy Mosow Hurwitz – daughter of ? Kruger
Alcester, South Dakota to Sioux City, Iowa

Lena Leiderscheider
North Dakota

Ethel Levey
St. Paul, Minnesota

Jennie Levitt
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Sarah and Philip Levin
from Kovna region, Lithuania to Fargo, North Dakota

Eva Levy
Grand Forks, North Dakota to Wells, Minnesota to St. Paul, Minnesota

Sarah Lewis
Chisholm, Minnesota
    Rhana Lewis Greenberg – daughter of Sarah (see separate entry)

Edith Linoff
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Sylvia Lipschultz
St. Paul, Minnesota

Leah Lisovsky
from Odessa, Ukraine to Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rochele Gila Mann
Fargo, North Dakota

Hannah Marcus
    Rachel Marcus Shapiro – daughter of Hanna
    Eda Marcus Schlessinger – daughter of Hanna
Bowman County, North Dakota

Cecyle Eirinberg Marsh
Delmont, South Dakota

Frieda Aurach Marcowitz
near Ashley, North Dakota

Edith Guttman Mesonznick
Aberdeen, South Dakota

Edith Milavetz
St. Paul, Minnesota

Frances Kaufman Milavetz
Virginia, Minnesota

Israel Mill
    Manacha and Max Mill – sons of Israel
        Rose Mill Sweed – granddaughter of Israel (not clear which of Israel’s son is her father)

Edith, Hilda, Charles and Zelda Modelevsky (relationships to each other not clear)
from Pulan (outside of Zhitomir), Ukraine to St. Paul, Minnesota

Fannie Mondshine
Duluth, Minnesota
(sister of Ray Rosenblat)

Sophie Naftalin
Fargo, North Dakota

Tillie Naftalin
Fargo, North Dakota

Sarah Newman
Marion Newman – daughter of Sarah
Brainerd, Minnesota

Lena Oreckovsky
Duluth, Minnesota

Rose Levy Overbach
St. Cloud, Minnesota

Ruth Rauch Peilen
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Norman Perl
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Marvin Pertzik
St. Paul, Minnesota

Hannah Phillips
    Sarah Phillips – daughter of Hannah
outside Moorhead, Minnesota to near Fargo, North Dakota
        Henry Fine – grandchild of Hanna Phillips; nephew of Sarah Phillips

Isadore Pitts

Abraham and Augusta Machowsky Pomerance
from southern Russia to New York City to Grand Forks, North Dakota to near Lehr, North Dakota
    Rita Pomerance Gusack – daughter of Abraham and Augusta

Beatrice Premack
Aberdeen, South Dakota

Rose Rapaport (Schwartz)
Laura Rapaport (Borsten)
McIntosh County, North Dakota to Wishek, North Dakota
mother from Bialystock to Pittsburgh to the border of the Dakotas
Felix Rappaport – brother of Rose and Laura’s father

Belle Woolpy Rauch
from Russia to Minneapolis

Rhoda Redleaf
St. Paul, Minnesota

Baszion Rees
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Sarah Rivkin
Fargo, North Dakota

Emily Zvorist Rodd
Bismark, North Dakota

Anna Labovich Rosen
Family from Rumania to area near Souris River, North Dakota

Sophia Shankman Rosenauer
from Leningrad, Soviet Union to St. Paul, Minnesota

Betty Rosenberg
Chicago, Illinois to Beach, North Dakota

Sylvia Kremen Rosenberg
near Wilton, North Dakota

Ray Rosenblat
Duluth, Minnesota
(sister of Fannie Mondshine)

Jennie Rosenthal
St. Paul, Minnesota

Rose Rosenthal
St. Paul, Minnesota

Winnie Lewis Roth
Hibbing, Minnesota

Clara Rothman
Rumania to Mineapolis, Minnesota
Slovie Solomon Apple – daughter of Clara

Marilyn Mankoff Rovner
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Ada Rubenstein
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Sima Tiba Rudnitsky
Superior, Wisconsin

Edith Rutman
St. Paul, Minnesota

Sara Bashefkin Ryder
St. Paul, Minnesota (had worked in Nemadji, Minnesota)

Leon and Anna Salet
Mankato, Minnesota

Morris Mordecai Samuel

Ida Levitan Sanders
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Noah and Sarah Schlasinger
from Odessa to near Ashley, North Dakota
    Ethel Schaslinger Overby – daughter of Noah and Sarah

David and Mochel Schloff
Hazen, North Dakota

Fannie Schwartz
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Max and Bessie Halpern Schwartz
Minneapolis, Minnesota to Belfield, North Dakota

Simon and Sadie Schwartz
St. Paul, Minnesota

Willy Schwartz
from Lechenich, Germany to Trinidad to outside St. Paul, Minnesota

Esther Seltzer
Andrea and Julie Seltzer – daughters of Esther
Albert Lea, Minnesota

Sarah Yager Shalett
from Ukraine to Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Sherna Shalett Vinograd – daughter of Sarah

Molly Shapiro
Fargo, North Dakota

Myer Shark
Devils Lake, North Dakota

Elizabeth Banick Sherman
Grand Forks, North Dakota

Theodore Shuirman
Keewatin, Minnesota

Minnie Shuman
    Florence Shuman Sher – daughter of Minnie
West Union, Iowa

Tillie Siegel
Fargo, North Dakota

Janet Silberstein
St. Paul, Minnesota

Rachel Singer
    Lael Singer-Miller – daughter of Rachel
Duluth, Minnesota

Jane Sinitsky
from Leningrad to St. Paul, Minnesota

Nadia Ackerman Smirnov
from the Soviet Union to St. Paul, Minnesota
    Masha Smirnov – daughter of Nadia

Edward Sokol
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Ralph Stacker
St. Paul, Minnesota

George Stillman
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rose Feldman Straus
from Latvia to Minot, North Dakota

Zlota Rivka Svidelsky
from Zhitomir, Ukraine to St. Paul, Minnesota

Marsha Tankenoff
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Morris Tenenbaum
from Lithuania to St. Paul, Minnesota

Solomon and Sarah Thal
    Elsie Thal – daughter of Sarah and Solomon
    Jacob Thal – son of Sarah and Solomon
from Ellingen, Germany to Berg, Germany, to Nelson County, North Dakota to Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Sam Thal – brother of Solomon
Dakota Territory

Sophie Turnoy Trupin
from Selz in Russian Poland to near Wilton, North Dakota

Amelia Ullmann – married to Joseph
From Germany to St. Paul, Minnesota

Ruth Usem
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Cecilia Rose Waldman
St. Paul, Minnesota

Judah Wechsler
St. Paul, Minnesota

Felicia Weingarten
St. Paul, Minnesota

Muriel Wexler
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Theodore Wolf
Mankato to Sheldon, Iowa

Eli S. Woolfan
Hibbing, Minnesota

Jeannette Wrottenberg
North Dakota prairie

Anne Rothenberg Zabel
Sioux City, Iowa to Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Belle Zimmerman

Martin and Elka Abrahamson Zincow
St. Paul, Minnesota

Monday, July 2, 2012

I Love Gootie by Max Apple 1998

"Gootie left her grandson a rich inheritance of Yiddish culture and folk wisdom, and a love of storytelling. Apple’s biography is thus also about the source of his unique writer’s mind; listening to Gootie, it’s easy to see the origin of his ability to spin a good story. Fresh, affectionate, and moving."
 from a review in Kirkus Reviews 5/9/1998

In this charming memoir, a sequel to Apple’s popular memoir, Roommates: My Grandfather’s Story, the author writes about his grandmother, Sheyni Gootkie, whose family name became Gootie.  In the introduction he explains that in his book promotion tours for Roommates members of the audience would frequently ask questions about his grandmother and he would put them off by saying she was a private person, she always stayed at home, there wasn’t that much to say. But at one point he realized that in fact if he summoned up her Yiddish voice, her life and the stories she told became quite vivid. And he understood that her story telling was a gift she gave him.

Max Apple (b. 1941) grew up in an old-fashioned extended immigrant Jewish family. He and his two sisters lived with their parents and their mother’s Yiddish-speaking, religiously observant parents, Rocky and Gootie Goodstein, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Apple, the younger of the three children and fluent in Yiddish, was particularly attached to both of his grandparents. His grandmother stayed up with him at night while he did his homework at the kitchen table, and it was during these late hours that they forged their bond. She lived in her mind in the shtetl Serei in Lithuania and recreated life in the shtetl with great vividness, enthralling Apple with tales of her family and the community. He especially enjoyed the long involved story she told of her betrothal and marriage to his grandfather, and he remembered vividly her stories about terrifying pogroms.

Gootie never fully adapted to American life. She shopped in America, she had a bank account, but she never learned much English and interacted mostly with family – predominantly with Max’s family but she also had three brothers nearby. She had old-world values, didn’t trust much of what modern America had to offer, and tried to impose her values on the author by inventing a future for him and urging him to live it. Education was unimportant to her. She imagined him being economically secure as a store owner, wearing a suit with a vest outfitted with a gold pocket watch, and she pressed her points. When he was still in high school and he told her thought he’d become a printer, she was not pleased. She didn’t want him dirtying his hands on someone else’s machines. If he owned a store, she told him, he’d only have one machine to deal with – a cash register.

The tension between the old world and the new – Apple’s love and respect for his grandparents, but his also understanding that he was committed to living in a different world – is what drives both memoirs. In I Love Gootie his grandmother’s enduring love for him is palpable. It is clear that he realizes how much he is in her debt.

To read an earlier post of a review of Max Apple's Roommates, click here.

To read an interesting first-hand account of returning to Serei, Lithuania in 1998 which includes photos written by Chana Rosen, click here.

Beryl Leib – Rachel Leah
Joseph – son of Beryl Leib and Rachel Leah; married Sarah
    Louis - son of Beryl Leib and Rachel Leah
    Leo – son of Beryl Leib and Rachel Leah; married to Yachy
    Eserkey - son of Beryl Leib and Rachel Leah
    Sheyni Gootkie – daughter of Beryl Leib and Rachel Leah; married Yerachmiel Goodstein
        Mottele (Max) Goodstein – son of Sheyni and Yerachmiel
        Bashy Goodstein – married Sam Apple
            Max Apple – son of Bashy and Sam; married Talya Fishman; author
            Bailey – daughter of Bashy and Sam
            Maxine – daughter of Bashy and Sam
Sol Levinsky
Ben Rosen


Serei, Lithuania
Yagistov, Poland
Odessa, Russia
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Muskegon, Michigan
Alma, Michigan