Because Berdichev was a large town, heavily populated by Jews nearlyMy great-grandfather was >from Berdichev. I have a photo of him when he was
still Schmaje Pietezki, shortly after he arrived in Canada, and he has a
long beard and a fur hat, and he looks so "Old Country" and Chassidic to
I have another picture of him, about 20 years later, when he was Simon
Petersky. The beard is gone, replaced by simply a mustache. He's
bare-headed, wearing a suit with a watch fob, and looks completely like
the perfect British gentleman.
I have no sense of the quality of Simon's Jewish identity: how viewed
himself as a Jew >from his life in his hometown of Berdichev, to life as a
successful businessman in Vancouver. Genealogical research has only given
me little snippets of it -- finding out he was the founding president of
the Vancouver YMHA for example.
When, for example, I get joy out of singing a Chassidic niggun at
services, I sometimes wonder -- would Simon or his wife Goldie have felt
the same way? Or did the emotional/mystical leanings of the Chassidim seem
"backward" as they strived to fit in in North America?