My first snapshot about my paternal great-grandmother, Bryna Dvorkin Krasner, is now drafted, thanks to an Amherst Writers memoir group I’ve been writing with since August 2020. I have added portraits of her and my great-grandfather, Mordechai (Mottel) Krasner, to my workspace.
Writing about her has given me themes of tradition, tight connections, and black taffeta. In fact, I plan to call the piece, “Black Taffeta.” One of the things I love about writing creative nonfiction is that themes or insights emerge by the end of the draft, none of which is expected. It is an act of pure exploration.
I’m now gearing up for my second of #52snapshots. This one will be about my other paternal great-grandfather, Henoch Zuckerkandel of Galicia. In the last year or so, I discovered through the birth records on JewishGen, specifically Jewish Records Indexing – Poland, that kosher butcher Henoch served as a trustee of the local Baron Hirsch school. My second snapshot will examine how I think this position brought him to America in 1893 with a younger brother, why my grandmother was educated, and how his widowed mother immigrated to Palestine in the 1920s. At my disposal are portions of Yizkor books (Holocaust memorial books) from four nearby communities that also had Baron Hirsch schools. My main questions: What would make a kosher butcher so interested in education? What impact did his role serve in stimulating his brother’s and mother’s immigration, but not his own? (Five of his seven children and their families perished in the Holocaust.)