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!