So, since we’re supposed to post about our final project I’m going to try to do this and have it make as much sense as possible. What I plan to do is study the Americanization process of Eastern European Jews who immigrated to the United States and the subsequent generations. My great grandmother emigrated from Russia with her family as a young girl and using her story and that of my grandmother (her daughter), mother and me, I’ll look at the changes from generation to generation in their connections to Russia, Judaism, Israel, Baltimore (where they settled), the outside world (generally speaking, non-Pikesville-Jews) and each other.
I haven’t written a script yet, or done a huge amount of actual research. Mostly what I have is the stories I’ve heard about 50 times each, so I’m going to have to actually sit down with my mother and grandmother and record the stories so that I can come up with a cohesive storyline. The general story-arc though will be that many things changed from generation to generation, but there are a few things that have remained the same. Lena Feldman Gold (my greatgrandmother) emigrated to the US as a girl, so she was truly a Russian Jew who was trying to make her way in the US.
My grandmother, Maxine Gold Rosenthal, was born in the US, grew up in a Jewish neighborhood and kind of had to balance being the child of an immigrant (with a grandmother who never spoke a word of English), a Jew and an American (she grew up during the Depression and World War II–which fostered a lot of patriotism).
My mother was kind of the wild child. She grew up in the Jewish neighborhood, but never really fit in. She (in her own words) had “issues” with the hebrew language–so while all her friends were having their Bat Mitzvah ceremonies (coming of age) by being called up to read the Torah (the Hebrew bible) she had to have hers at an Orthodox synagogue since they didn’t allow girls to actually read from the Torah. Pretty much as soon as she got the chance she left behind the Jewish neighborhood and married a convert (which, in some circles is as bad as marrying a non-Jew).
I (third generation American) was raised in a non-Jewish neighborhood, had very few Jewish friends but ended up feeling more connected to Judaism than my mother. I was the first to have a modern Bat Mitzvah where I actually read the Torah (they just didn’t happen when my grandmother and great-grandmother were girls) and while my mother never visited Israel, I went as soon as I got the opportunity (at age 18).
In addition to the differences, there were some similarities, including items passed down from generation to generation–including a candlestick that my great-great grandmother brought from Russia, gave to Lena, who gave it to Maxine, who gave it to me at 18 (since mother didn’t really want it). Also, I’ll briefly discuss Camp Louise and Camp Airy–two summer camps in Western Maryland that were created as summer retreats in the 1920s for Jews living in Baltimore to escape the city for a bit and were later converted to summer camps for Jewish children. My grandmother worked at Camp Airy (as did her sister-in-law), my mother attended Camp Louise before working there as a counselor and met my father there while he worked at Airy, and finally my brother and I both attended camp there, as did several cousins.
As for order, I’ll start with a quick description of why a lot of Jews left Eastern Europe around the last turn of the century, go into the americanization process, and finish with a brief round-up of how this can compare to other immigrant groups.
Since this video will really just be for class and a private audience, I’m not so concerned about copyright issues. As such, I plan to use at least four different songs. For each time period (immigration, first generation, second generation, third generation) I’ll use music that will come from each time period for flavor. In addition, I hope to use a clip from Liberty Heights. This was a movie done in 1999 about the Jewish neighborhood of that name (where my grandmother grew up) in Baltimore during the 1950s. I haven’t seen it in years, but I have it and hopefully I’ll find a decent clip that will just highlight how people in the neighborhood behaved and thought.
I also hope to include interviews. It’ll take some juggling and luck, but I think I might be able to pull it off. We don’t have a digital video camera, so I’d have to rent one from STAR but, of course, my grandmother lives about an hour and a half away so the 6 hour time limit isn’t going to work, and my parents (who live a half hour from campus) can’t actually do it during the week. According to their site, if you check equipment out after 3 on Friday you can have it till Monday morning (which is where the luck comes in), so we’ll see.
So that’s probably a lot longer than it needs to be and is probably really confusing, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask. I also welcome suggestions, of course. I have tons more stories and all but it’s a matter of choosing which to include and which to leave out. Now, I’m going to go and try to come up witha script for next week.