It was two years ago tomorrow that I posted my first blog post. It is also the 120th anniversary of my grandmother Gussie Brotman Goldschlager’s birth tomorrow. And tonight is the beginning of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement and a long fast day for those who observe. That’s a lot to process in one day!
It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing the blog for two years (although I really started doing genealogy about two years before that). In some ways it feels much longer because it has become such a big part of my daily life—-doing the research, thinking about it, pulling my notes together, writing up the posts, editing them, adding photos and documents, responding to comments and questions, and reading the blogs of so many other wonderful people. The blog has provided me with so many more benefits than I had imagined back in September 2013 when my cousin Judy got me started by setting up the template on WordPress. Not only has it helped me organize my thoughts and record my research, it has made me focus on not just collecting names and dates on a family tree but on the larger questions: who were these people and what were their lives like? Where did they live, and what were those places like? What historical and economic conditions affected their lives? What legacy did they pass down to their descendants, and how has that affected the person I am today?
The blog also has been a magnet that has allowed others to find me. Every time I get a comment from someone who just happened to find the blog while searching for their family history, I am amazed by what the internet can do. Imagine if my cousin Wolfgang had not found my blog? I would not know even half of what I now know about the Seligmann family.
My grandmother was born 120 years ago, and she died just over forty years ago. She was the only grandparent I knew very well, and I loved her very much. She had a hard and sad childhood, which scarred her in many ways for life, but with her grandchildren she was loving and funny and affectionate. We probably brought out the best in her. As I continue to write my novel about her life and that of my grandfather, I hope I am doing her justice and honoring her memory while also capturing the sad underside to her life.
And as for Yom Kippur, it’s a day for me to contemplate the year gone by and the mistakes I’ve made along the way. Although I try my best to respect and honor all my relatives, living and dead, when writing the blog, I always worry that someone will be offended or upset by something I have written. If so, please accept my apologies.
Also, I hope I have expressed my appreciation to all those who have helped me with my research, and I hesitate to make a list for fear of forgetting someone who helped me months ago and whose name might slip through my ever-worsening memory (getting older does really stink). But let me try to remember as best I can and thank some of those who have provided me with so much research support in the past year:
my wondeful cousins Lotte Furst, Wolfgang Seligmann, Bob Cohn, Steven Seligman, Suzanne and Stephen Michel, Pete Scott, Phyllis Rosner, and Angelika Oppenheimer, all of whom have provided me with photographs, stories, and insights into our extended family in the past year (as well as all those who helped the year before);
my amazing contacts in Germany who helped me find and understand documents and other resources: Dorothee Lottman-Kaeseler, Matthias Steinke, Helmut Schmahl, Beate Goetz, Gerd Braun, as well as Ralph Baer here in the US;
my DNA tutors, Julie Mulroy, Svetlana Hensmann, and Leah Larkin; the many people in the Tracing the Tribe and the German Genealogy groups on Facebook, and the members of the GerSig listserv on JewishGen. Also, thank you to my friend Rene Reich-Grafe for answering my endless questions about Germany, its history, culture, and geography.
To all of you, if I have not expressed my gratitude before sufficiently, I apologize. You’ve really made this journey so much more meaningful and so much more interesting.
Finally, to my family, friends, fellow bloggers, and other readers, thank you for being there. I would do what I am doing even if no one was paying attention, but it is so much better knowing that others are interested in these stories about people who really were strangers to us all.
For all of you who are observing Yom Kippur, may it be an easy fast and a meaningful and thoughtful day.