Sunday, 16 October 2011

Unravelling Mysteries...

After a weekend of running around (what's new about that!?), I am finally relaxing in our basement, warmed by the fireplace, and listening to Rebecca struggling to advance through Moonlight Sonata.  She is reading the sheet music that once belonged to my mother, which is marked with her comments and reminders throughout the piece, and asking me to compare renditions she is playing and guide her in the right direction (using only my memory of how it sounded when Mom would play).  Ironic, because as she struggles across the room, I am trying to unravel the mysteries of my family tree...figure out which Ancestry trial to sign up for...and which version of Family Tree Maker to buy...we are both trying to unravel my mother's mysteries...on parallel paths...but by different means.

I am feeling disappointed this evening...I was hoping to find my Bubbie Lou's family tree research today...but there is so much to go through in my parents' storage lockers, and it is proving to be both frustrating and painful for Dad and for day at a time...soon enough we will find what we are looking for....

In the meantime, I will follow up with Ancestry tomorrow and finally choose the software and trial membership so  I can connect with the Phyllises and start to answer my growing list of questions...

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend filled with fun, friends and fantastic food!  I know we did, but that is another blog for another day.  B'Tayavon and Buon Appetito!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Photos Update much has happened since I last posted...I have reconnected with even more family from around the globe!  I have met cousins in Argentina, Panama and the USA...we've started a Chaliff Cousins Group on Facebook, and I have managed to upload and categorize over 100 photos of Bubbie Lou's family, spanning from her parents to her grandchildren.  It took a while to label the photos, and I hope I haven't made any mistakes - Bubbie Lou and her sister Adele have an eerie resemblance in some pics!  All the photos can be found on the Picassa page on my blog...come check us all out.

Also, I see that I have some repeat visitors from Russia, France, Australia, to mention but three places!  Please leave a message on this blog, or introduce yourself on my FB Page by following my link and let me know you've "dropped in". 

Thank you to everyone who is viewing my blog - I invite you all to visit and like my facebook Page for more frequent updates!

Wishing everyone a fantastic weekend filled with family, friends and fantastic food! B'Tayavon and Buon Appetito!

Monday, 3 October 2011

My Captive Audience...Family Connections Continued

You may recall my newly discovered family in the States - Phyllis G. and Phyllis T. to name but two!

Pinchas Chaliff (standing), Isaac Chaliff (seated), Clara Chaliff (circa 1898)
Well, Phyllis G. was kind enough to mail me a photo of my great, great-grandparents, Zaida Isaac and Bubbie Clara, along with her great-grandfather, Pinchas (Zaida Isaac’s brother).  This photo was taken at the turn of the century, 2 turns ago to be exact! (circa 1898).  The photo arrived on Wednesday September 28th – Erev Rosh Hashana (the eve of Rosh Hashana).  I kept it to myself (no small feat for me) and waited until I had everyone gathered and a captive audience was born!

On Thursday September 29th everyone gathered at our house for Rosh Hashana and Davie’s birthday. 

The first thing we do when starting a Yom Tov meal is light the candles, recite the blessings, say before meal Grace and blessings over the bread. 

One of the traditions we have in our house when we light the Shabbat or Yom Tov candles is to remember our fore mothers who are no longer able to light the candles with us when we are doing so.
For years we have lit the first candle for Baba Dora, Bubbie Lou, Bubbie Gertie and Baba Ethel.  Sadly, my mother is now included in that list.  We also add Lena and Naomi to the first candle.  The second candle is for “Sara, Becca and Abby, who unite us all”.   

This year, the girls and I thought that the best way to introduce our new found family (Phyllis G., Phyllis T. and their families) would be by adding a new name – Bubbie Clara (mother to Bubbie Gertie) to the first candle.  And so conversation ensued and little tidbits of random information started to gel and family traditions, Hebrew names, etc. made a little more sense!

I showed everyone the photo that Phyllis G. sent me, and filled them in on the connections I have made over the past few months.  We were all speechless when we looked at the photo of Zaida Isaac - if you cover his nose and mouth, looking only at his eyes and forehead – it was Michael’s face!  The resemblance is uncanny! 

Then we started talking about Hebrew names that don’t correspond to the English names…let me explain…Jewish tradition is to name our children for (after) our deceased loved ones.  This tradition has evolved somewhat over the years, and now many people name their children’s Hebrew names for their loved ones, giving them English names that do not directly correspond. To each his own, but in our family, we try to stay with the original name (although in the case of Bubbie Gertie, I named Becca "Rivka Shmuela Tova", Tova being the Hebrew version of Gittel (Bubbie Gertie’s Yiddish name).  Are you confused yet?! 

Ok…you see, my name is Naomi and my Hebrew name is Naomi - slightly different pronunciation, but the same name.  Sara is Sarah, Rebecca is Rivka, David is David, Moishe is Moshe and Abigail and Avigael.  All our names are actually Hebrew in origin, and anglicized because we are, after all, living in Canada!    This chat started because David’s middle name is Zorach, for Zaida Sam.  Lena wondered why it wasn’t Shmuel, which is the direct name translation.  Then Michael said that his brother Sam, who is also named for Zaida Sam, is named Zorach.  OK – so there is a connection we will need to uncover…another investigation to add to my list! LOL! 

Michael pointed out that his English name is Michael but his Hebrew name is…wait for it…Yitzchak (direct translation is Isaac).  The table went silent for just a moment as it dawned on us that Michael is named for his father’s grandfather – Zaida Isaac.  Then it got a even eerier – Uncle Paul – Michael’s father – was named….Pinchas!  Talk about tying up loose ends you didn’t know were loose!  Michael started BBM’ng (blackberry messaging) to Edmonton, where his mother, sister , brother and their families were celebrating together, to verify bits and pieces that needed clarification.  By the way Phyllis – our Zaida Sam passed away on February 8th, 1953 (information needed to round out the family tree).

And so, more connections and discovered and our curiosity is at an all-time high…I will keep you posted as we continue to discover new information…

Until next time – B’Tayavon and Buon Appetito!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Running for the Cure with the Pink Butterflies

Pink Butterflies (2011)

Who are you running for?  I am running for my Bubbie Louise, my friend Anne Marie, and my cousin Phyllis T.…I am running for my daughters and myself…

At the age of 42 my Bubbie Lou had a double mastectomy and radiation therapy.  She was one of the lucky ones who survived the disease and went on to live a full life after cancer.  Out of 6 siblings, including Bubbie Lou, 4 suffered from cancer.  Out of the 4, only Bubbie Lou survived.   I am now 43 years old, and a participant in the Jewish Women’s Familial Cancer Study.  I have had routine mammograms since the age of 35.  Knowledge is power, early detection saves lives.

My friend Anne Marie is in her mid-40’s.  Today marks the third year that Becca and I will walk with Anne Marie, her friends and family, in the CIBC Run to End Breast Cancer.

Pink Butterflies (2009)

Anne Marie is a good friend of mine.  She is one of the bravest, strongest and most inspirational people I have ever met.  Despite her illness, countless surgeries and treatments, she lives life all with positive energy, remaining ever-thankful for the blessings in her world.  She fights through every day, rebounding from setbacks and forging ahead.  After a horrendous year of relapse and enduring draining and painful treatment, she has been given positive news – her relentless resilience and perseverance are finally pushing back the cancer and there is light at the end of the tunnel! 

Pink Butterflies (2010)

So today, after almost a year of holding our breath and praying for a mini miracle, it looks likes it’s arrived…and we are thrilled to walk amongst the Pink Butterflies (Anne Marie’s team) and raise money to fight the good fight and hopefully beat this disease one day.  Stay tuned for pictures of this year’s run…

Anne Marie, Becca and Naomi (2010)

If you want to make a donation to the CIBC Run For the Cure, please consider making it to Anne Marie’s Team  Donate to the Pink Butterflies.  Thank you!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Rosh Hashana Review

This was, without a doubt, the best Rosh Hashana ever!  I spent so much quality time with my wonderful family, we are blessed with health, good fortune and good friends…what more could I ask for??

So much to share…where do I begin??!?!  Regrettably, I did not capture most moments on camera – I was living in the moment and the thought did not cross my mind.

There are few times in the year when my kids get a free pass to miss school and lessons – Carlo and I are very strict on this non-negotiable subject.  But Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) are exceptions to this rule, and the girls were home with us on Thursday and Friday. 

We did allow Becca to participate in the Terry Fox Run on Thursday morning, so Sara and I were on our own, preparing for dinner.  She came downstairs, looked around the kitchen and asked where the matzo balls were.  She wouldn’t accept that they weren’t on the menu, and so out came Meal-Lean-I-Yumm and were started to make Norene’s Low-Fat Matzo Balls (p.373).  As I retrieved ingredients from various cupboards and the cantina, Sara gently but firmly took over the kitchen!  To foreshadow…this marked the beginning of my displacement and replacement as Chief Cook and Bottle Washer!!  The matzo balls were amazing, and Sara even indulged in taking a photo of them for my blog…thanks Sari!

Then came salmon preparation…Sara HATES fish…will not touch it, smell it, taste it…funny thing, of all 3 Bruni boys (Carl and his brothers) – every one of their first-born (daughters) despises fish – go figure!  So, imagine my surprise as Sara offered to garnish the Show-Stopping Maple-Glazed Salmon (Norene’s Healthy Kitchen, page 133-134).  Again, she took the photo for me.  J

Then it was time for Gloria Kobrin’s Lace Cookies (Lace Cookies), and surprise, surprise – Sara took over – measuring the ingredients, whisking the mixture, rolling the balls of caramel for cookies, and gingerly removing the finished products from the baking sheet to the cooling rack. 

Poor Carlo could not work (he works from home)…the cooking smells were too inviting, and I think he secretly loves the hustle bustle of our holiday kitchen in action.  Throughout the preparations, Sara kept telling me how much she loves to cook, and how she felt like Bubbie was with her when she was cooking.  What more can I say?   Mom – you succeeded in passing your love of cooking, baking and overall homemaking to 2 generations…thank you for sharing such a wonderful gift which we will treasure for a lifetime!  In fact, as my sweet teenager starts to ponder what she will do for a career one day - lawyer, nurse…- this Thursday she added Chef to her short list!

Meanwhile, Carlo picked up Becca from the Terry Fox Run and we went to Baycrest for services with Mom, Dad, Mildred and Davie.  Then we came home and Becca, Dad and I got our paper bags of bread crumbs and went down to the lake for Tashlich.  Becca – thank you s much for adding this beautiful custom to our family traditions.

We came home and had a wonderful Rosh Hashana evening!  Dad, Davie, Lena, Abby, Michael, Kate, Lily, Jack and Paige all shared the holiday with us…and I finally had my captive audience!  Want to know why I needed one?  Stay tuned – the explanation is coming in a further entry!

OK – so here is my completely unbiased meal review (let’s pretend I didn’t prepare most of it, oh yeah, I didn’t!  It was Sara this year! LOL!):

Y Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls – marvelous!  Michael even went back for seconds!
Y Lena’s Signature Salad – superb!
Y Carol’s Terrific Tsimmes – terrific! Lena took home some leftovers, loved the pineapple!
Y Rapini a l’Antoinetta – splendid!
Y Gloria’s mini potato kugels – magnificent! Officially added to our family’s traditional meal! 
Y Country Apricot Chicken – amazing!
Y Norene’s Show-Stopping Maple-Glazed Salmon – spectacular!
Y Carol’s Spectacular Standing Rib Roast….Davie says I got it – it was just like Mom’s! YAY!
Y Louise and Carol’s Honey Cake – traditionally terrific! 
Y Kate’s Abundant Fruit Platter – fantastic!
Y Gloria’s lace cookies – luscious! 

I hope that all of you enjoyed your Rosh Hashana celebrations with your families as much as I enjoyed mine.  May you have a Shana Tova and a G’mar Tov.   

For those who are not Jewish, and aren’t celebrating until Thanksgiving falls next weekend, I wish you all the best for a happy, healthy holiday, filled with good friends and family, and good food!

And to all – B’Tayavon and Buon Appetito!