This past weekend Sim, along with his parents, and I went to Amherst to visit the beautiful Yiddish Book Center and deliver a big box of donated yiddishkeit books. Once inside, we were welcomed into a world of history, folklore, and memories.
On one corner a TV played interviews with people who lived in Yiddish speaking neighborhoods or who remembered family tales of those times. The stories were fascinating, haunting, and hilarious. Besides the stories of a Klezmer musical family legacy and the arrest of a famous Rabbi, there was the biker gang bris, (which was nothing like Seinfeld, a bris attendee made sure to mention), and tales of a time in the cheder (boys Jewish school).
Deeper into the museum stood row upon row of literature stacking high within the large sunlit hall. I especially loved the Moshe Pipkin interactive restaurant and the gift shop/bookstore (always). And of course the rare book room with manuscripts encased in protective plastic.(What memories must they contain?!)
It reminds me of how precious all words are, both written and told. Not to get too sentimental but there are many millions of voices who will never speak, never write, never laugh because of the horrors of the Holocaust’s persecution. My words here are often of the everyday but the mere act of writing is itself feels like it links me to my ancestors to the very act of being human. Because when it comes down to it, its the stories of the everyday–what we eat, who we know, where we spend time, how we live–that makes a meaningful life. Don’t you think most anthropologists would agree?