2015-05-27 / Local News

‘Bubby’s Kitchen’ inspires families of survivors to dish out their stories

By JAYNE JACOVA FELD Voice staff


At the JCRC’s Goodwin Holocaust Museum & Education Center (GHMEC) performance of “Bubby’s Kitchen” were (from left), GHMEC Steering Committee Co-chair Renee Siegel; Event Co-chair Eva Schlanger; Cantor Shira Ginsburg; Event Co-chair Betty Klear; and Carol Orwitz, GHMEC Steering Committee co-chair. At the JCRC’s Goodwin Holocaust Museum & Education Center (GHMEC) performance of “Bubby’s Kitchen” were (from left), GHMEC Steering Committee Co-chair Renee Siegel; Event Co-chair Eva Schlanger; Cantor Shira Ginsburg; Event Co-chair Betty Klear; and Carol Orwitz, GHMEC Steering Committee co-chair. Shira Ginsburg learned far more than how to cook a brisket and bake mandel bread during the countless hours she spent in her Bubby’s kitchen.

“Most everything I learned in life, I learned in this kitchen,” Ginsburg stated. It was the opening line of her one-woman performance aptly named “Bubby’s Kitchen.” One could almost smell the sizzling garlic and onions.

Through a combination of monologue, Yiddish, and song, Ginsburg, 37, a Manhattanbased cantor, kept spellbound a large audience at the Katz JCC on May 19 with her yarn of growing up in a family strongly influenced by her bubby, a Holocaust survivor. The show was presented as a fundraiser to support the Jewish Community Relations Council’s Goodwin Holocaust Museum & Education Center (GHMEC.)

A native of Poland, Judith (Bubby) was the sole member of her family to survive. At age 16, she lived in the forest and fought alongside members of the Jewish resistance. In 1949, after four years in a Displaced Persons camp, Ginsburg’s grandparents immigrated to Troy, NY, where they operated a dairy farm.

Having experienced hunger and starvation during those dark years, Bubby always had rugelach or mandel bread baking in the oven and soup cooking on the stove. Just as memorable were the stories and wisdom imparted by Bubby, other family members around the table.

Like many of the second- and third-generation Holocaust survivors, Ginsburg said she always knew she had a story to tell, but never was sure how to do it. The show evolved from her cantorial thesis, which was an autobiographical performance piece.

“It was a leap of faith,” explained Ginsburg, 37, now a fulltime cantor at East End Temple.

“The truth is once I did write it and started performing, my relationship to my family’s story no longer overwhelmed me.”

Helen Kirschbaum, GHMEC director, said Ginsburg’s tale was an inspiration to the many second- and third-generation survivors who also are grappling with their family histories.

“Clearly she has a talent many people don’t have,” noted Kirschbaum. We’re working with many grandchildren and children to find ways they’re comfortable with sharing and preserving their family legacies so future generations will understand what happened during the Holocaust.” .

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