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350See you next Sunday....

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  • SusanneLevitsky@...
    Mar 12, 2014
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      Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento
      Sunday, March 16, 2014, 10 a.m.
      Einstein Residence Center, 1935 Wright Street, Sacramento
       
      Finding David Blumenfeld: A Family Reunited through Discovery of a Diary
       
      Frederick Hertz will speak about his great-grandfather, David Blumenfeld, who emigrated from Latvia to Minnesota in 1884.  He became a successful merchant and died in 1955. In 2009, a box of his papers, including a diary, was found, ultimately reuniting previously disconnected relatives and culminating in a visit to Blumenfeld's Latvia hometown.
       
      Hertz, an attorney and author, lives in Oakland.
       
      Here's a little of the story he'll share:
       
                  "My great-grandfather, David Blumenfeld, emigrated with his parents and siblings from Courland (now western Latvia) to the Midwest in 1884.   David led an extraordinary life in so many ways: he owned several men’s clothing stores, he became a civic leader in the small town of South St. Paul, Minnesota, and in his spare time, he wrote (and self-published) several novels, and books of poetry – all in a language he only learned at age 20.  Shortly after his death in 1955, a box of his unpublished manuscripts went missing, but miraculously, they were recently found – in the basement laundry room of my Episcopalian second cousin in Seattle. 
      The best of these newly-discovered volumes is titled Diary, a semi-fictionalized family story detailing life in Courland in the 1860s, their decision to leave for the “continent of glory,” and their struggle for economic survival in Minnesota.    From it we learned that David’s parents homesteaded in Oregon and then lived in the Bay Area for more than a decade, before returning to Minnesota in 1912.   Of particular interest to his descendants, the Diary also contains David’s harsh criticisms of his wife and two of his children – providing us with the “back story” of the rift between those who stayed connected to their Jewish roots (my grandfather), and those who preferred to explore a different religious and cultural path  (the descendants of the other criticized child, my great-aunt).
                  The discovery of the Diary has brought together previously disconnected relatives, and has inspired several of us to explore the family history through interviews, historical research and internet searches, culminating in a visit to David’s hometown of Tukums, Latvia.   Along the way, we uncovered the fate of my great-great-grandmother’s brother, who stayed behind in 1884, thriving for decades as a prosperous small town merchant, only to be murdered during the first weeks of the Nazi occupation of Latvia.  And, through his daughter’s Yad Vashem testimony and other internet searches, we now have reconnected with our Latvian, Israeli and California cousins."
       
      Please join us Sunday to hear this fascinating story about David Blumenfeld and the family's search for their Latvian roots.