Apr 19, 2011

I went to a Passover Seder at my father's first cousin Karen's home last night. It felt somehow shockingly essential to me, eating gefilte fish and matzo balls with people in my blood line. My grandfather Halley, named for Halley's comet and pictured above in his army uniform, grew up in Brooklyn in the Bensonhurst area, the son of Max and Gussie Lipp, both childhood emigrants of the Russian Empire's Jewish diaspora. And it turns out, unsurprisingly yet totally shockingly, that I have an entire extended family in and around the NYC area that I don't know.
I am lucky that one of them, my second cousin in New Jersey named Jay, has put some serious effort over the years into researching our family. He created and maintains a family tree that I accidentally stumbled upon in its skeletal stage maybe eight years ago in a then primitive google search of my own name. As technology has become more advanced, and most everyone living on that family tree has joined Facebook, more photos, facts and ephemera have been made available.
Gussie's father, Schloime Breslavsky, is memorialized as the namesake of an extended family gathering that my father remembers attending as a child. According to the tree:
In 1916, motivated by the death of his wife Esther, Louis Gratz, his sons Isadore, Solomon, & Michael, and 15 other members of the family joined together to form the Schloime Family Society. The Society initially gathered 10 times a year and over the course of the next 42 years came together 290 times to celebrate and support the family in whatever ways they could. After that meetings became increasing less frequent.

My father was but a twinkle in my grandmother Ruth's eye when THIS was the menu at one of them.

Also according to the tree, Max was a paper box manufacturer and Gussie was a dressmaker, a ribbon factory employee and the proprietor of a hotel in the Catskills called the BranLip, from which this card seemingly also exists. Cryptic!

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