June 12, 2012
Three years ago, we journeyed to the Abayudaya Jewish community of Uganda as part of Rebecca's bat mitzvah experience. We wanted her to learn that not everyone lives in Marin County and we wanted her to know that not all Jews look like her. It was a fabulous experience (which you can read about in dollingersinafrica.blogspot.com).
Standing on Nabugoye Hill with our friend Zvi Weiss, we talked about what, on earth, we could do for Shayna's eventual bat mitzvah journey, lest she feel like neglected second child. Zvi offered a brilliant idea: Since she was given the Yiddish name, Shayna, to remember her foremothers in eastern Europe, bring her to her ancestral villages to learn "why she's Shayna."
With tremendous help from Helise Lieberman and her team from the Taube Philanthropies office in Warsaw, we have planned our family's first eastern European journey for Shayna (and, of course, the Weiss,' who will join us for part of the trip) to Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia.
If that's not enough, we'll warm up with a weekend in New York City and a few days in Budapest, Hungary. And, to end with sweetness, we will close our month away at the b'not mitzvah of our Marin friends, Jacquie and Allie Gribens, in St. Petersburg. It will be a memorable mother-daughter celebration. Mazal tov!
Over the month, we will be taking photographs, video, daily (we hope) diaries of Shayna's thoughts and reflections, as well as this blog.
Shayna and Marc have spent the last few months searching the genealogical records Marc researched in his undergraduate days at Berkeley, pulling out photographs, oral histories, and any bits of information we could find on the Old Country. Thanks to ancestry.com, Aunt Betty, and a few Levine family genealogists, we were able to build out an itinerary that will reach through Marci's family tree.
The grand arc for our daughter will be to immerse herself in her history, follow in the footsteps of her foremothers, learn how she made it to San Rafael, CA, and gain her own insights into what it means to be....Shayna.