Category Archives: Genealogy

Return to Vienna

Return to Vienna

There’s so much to report about my recent trip to Vienna, hosted by the Jewish Welcome Service, and so little time to do it right now as I prepare to leave for a book tour. But I won’t bury the lede. I’m thinking very seriously of returning to Vienna next year for a much longer timeContinue Reading »

Opening Up to Elijah: A Passover Story

Opening Up to Elijah: A Passover Story

Call me a seder skeptic. I’m fond of the Passover story, its message of exile and redemption. I especially like the ritual of saving a place at the table and a glass of wine for the prophet Elijah. Like Santa Claus, he is required to visit millions of homes in a single night. Opening the door for him to comeContinue Reading »

Grief, Food, & Nudity: A Story About My Mother & My New Book

Grief, Food, & Nudity: A Story About My Mother & My New Book

Not long after my father died, I went to Martinique with my mother. I remember three things about that trip.  My mother’s grief. The profiteroles. And the topless beach. Grief, food, and nudity My mother was in a raw stage of mourning, subject to fits of literal wailing. But no one in my family was everContinue Reading »

Of Genealogies and Possibilities: A New Year’s Musing

Of Genealogies and Possibilities: A New Year’s Musing

Happy 2015. It’s that time of year when all the possibilities seem to open up. January 1 is an arbitrary date, of course, but who doesn’t want to believe in fresh starts, in learning from our experiences, even if those experiences sometimes seem arbitrary too? I ended last year on a sad note, with the accidental death of aContinue Reading »

And the Memoir Contest Winner Is…

And the Memoir Contest Winner Is…

First of all, thanks to all of you who participated in the win-a-great-memoir contest. Short and long, the family stories posted in the comments were great. I urge you to read all the them if you didn’t when you posted your own story or if you’re just checking in now. And the winner, chosen by Random.org,Continue Reading »

Contest: Tell Us About Your Family’s Journey, Win a Great Memoir

Contest: Tell Us About Your Family’s Journey, Win a Great Memoir

Besides changing their names, one of the greatest banes of family historians is that ancestors move around–and aren’t always considerate enough to leave accurate records of their new addresses. They move for a variety reasons–some to strike out and start a better life, others, like many of my relatives, to flee imminent danger. I’m often amazed at howContinue Reading »

Fleischhauers, Freud & Pez: Vienna’s Famed Berggasse

Fleischhauers, Freud & Pez: Vienna’s Famed Berggasse

I was in Vienna’s Jewish Records Office last week — was it really only last week? — looking to fill in some key bits of my family history. When archivist Irma Wulz showed me the marriage records of my grandparents, Hermann Rosenbaum and Ernestine Kornmehl, I wasn’t especially surprised to learn that the wedding witnesses had been David Schmerling, Ernestine’s brother-in-law and also her first cousin, as wellContinue Reading »

Cemetery Schlepping in Vienna: A Shaggy Deer Story

Cemetery Schlepping in Vienna: A Shaggy Deer Story

I like cemeteries, especially big sprawling ones with famous people buried in them. It’s always interesting to see different forms of remembrance and, for the most part, they are quiet, park-like places to stroll and contemplate mortality. Or dinner. Having visited Karl Marx and George Eliot in London’s Highgate, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf and JimContinue Reading »

The Harmonie Vienna: Seven Reasons It’s My Dream Hotel

The Harmonie Vienna: Seven Reasons It’s My Dream Hotel

I just got word of where I’ll be bunking during my upcoming trip to Austria, thanks to the Vienna Tourist Board: The Harmonie Vienna. As a travel writer, I’ve been fortunate enough to stay in some of the world’s top hotels and resorts. But I can’t recall a place that was a better fit for me, personally, since…well,Continue Reading »

Return to Vienna: Must the Past Be Prologue?

Return to Vienna: Must the Past Be Prologue?

I’m going to Vienna in June. After writing about the city of my parents’ birth for the past two years, I’m finally taking the plunge. I’m looking forward to the trip. I’m also dreading it. I was there only once before, in the early 1970s, at the request of my parents. While I was planning a trip to Europe with a college friend,Continue Reading »