Our famous wandering notwithstanding, connection to place – even when it has been through memory or longing – has been among the things that have sustained us Jews for millennia.
Just a few days ago, I wrote about how my Bubbe’s rootedness in the the Canadian prairie town where she was born in 1912 has served to shape my family’s identity.
In recognition of the powerful role actual, physical locations and presences play in history and herstory, the Jewish Women’s Archive has just launched an exciting new, interactive project called On The Map on its website. Thanks to the wonders of Web 2.0, readers can add to a map the location, biographical/historical information and photos relating to specific events in the history of Jewish women in North America. Having gone live this morning, the map is already beginning to fill up. What a fabulous collaborative educational tool! Click here to have a look for yourself – pretty cool, eh?
JWA wanted to take this year’s national Women’s History Month theme, “Writing Women Into History,” one step further. As the organization’s Online Communications Specialist, Leah Berkenwald put it,
“‘Writing women into history’” implies that history is something written–something that exists on paper, in books, or on the internet. This is partially true, but history does not reside only on the page, in the intellectual abstract or literal memory. History also has a physical presence. It is connected to material places and tangible spaces. The spot on which a historical event occurred becomes meaningful, and the physical act of standing on that spot (a Civil War battlefield, the entrance to Auschwitz) can often evoke a deep, emotional experience of history. This is why we make pilgrimages, take guided walking tours, and consider field trips a valuable part of learning.”
I am proud to have written the piece about my Bubbe as part of an introduction to this project, and equally so to have seen that one of the first women added to the map by a reader was Bobbie Rosenfeld, a famous Canadian Jewish woman athlete and sports writer related to me through marriage (she’s an ancestor of my brother’s wife).
I will plan on doing my part to fill up that map and hope you will, too.
© 2010 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.
Tags: Bobbie Rosenfeld, Canada, Canadian athletes, Canadian women athletes, history, Jewish History, Jewish Women's Archive, Jewish women's history, Leah Berkenwald, maps, National Women's History Month, North America, Web 2.0