Growing up deep in the rural, isolated Midwest, it’s hard to say what was more foreign to me – Judaism or the ever-elegant, art-filled Paris. Now that I’m middle-aged and living in a big city, I’m well acquainted with both.
I first visited Paris on my honeymoon. I was a new convert to Judaism, having completed my study just months before. Seeing Paris’ Museum of Jewish Art and History was as important as visiting the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.
I’d never experienced such intense security. An uneasy feeling from the searching, screening, separation into multiple, leaded-glass chambers, and pat-down followed me into the first gallery. But my mood eased, as the Jewish relics worked the magic of most art. Awash in a calm that swept out the agitation, I was awed at a menorah from the 17th century, a 16th-century Torah scroll, a sukkah from the early 1800s decorated with a townscape rendered in still-vibrant colors.
While wandering about, I spotted an inconspicuous door marked “Library.” I wondered what we could learn about my husband’s family’s Lithuanian shtetl. He was game. So we entered, and quickly felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of books combined with our very basic knowledge of French… to read the entire essay, ?please visit Kveller.
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Hilarie Pitman Pozesky is a writer of personal essays and is crafting a memoir about how uncovering one?s family history can be liberating. She?s a woman with an ardent urban sensibility, who happens to come from a long line of pioneers and farmers. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband, two goofy sons and her goldendoodle/muse, Ruby. Visit her website at http://www.hilariepozesky.com.