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  • Interviews of, and Articles about, Sonia

Interviews of, Articles about, and Books that Include Sonia

Articles about Sonia are also contained in the section on Belgium.

Sonia Pressman Fuentes

On Aug. 29, 2029, the subject of the Yiddish Book Center’s newsletter was “Returning to Our Roots.” The newsletter featured seven interviews from its Oral History Project on that subject, the second of which involved Sonia. She was thrilled to follow Leonard Nimoy’s interview.

 You can see the newsletter below.

Yiddish Book Center's Wexler Oral History Project

Dear Sonia,

A common theme in family immigration stories is descendants traveling to their parents’, grandparents’, and ancestors’ homelands to explore their roots. These journeys can elicit intense emotions as people reckon with and begin to reassemble fragmented family histories—travelers discover important family documents, see the sites family members have described, and stand on lands where their ancestors stood, imagining, in a more tangible way, what their older family members’ lives may have been like.

Below are stories from some of our narrators on their experiences returning to the places their families once called home.

Mit vareme grusn,

Christa Whitney and the Wexler Oral History Project team


“Closing the Circle”: Meeting Relatives in Zaslav, Ukraine

photo leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy, Jewish actor best known for his role as Spock on the Star Trek science fiction series, discusses his trip to Soviet Russia as part of a program with the World Wildlife Fund. He describes meeting distant relatives in Ukraine for the first time and shares how their joyous reunion was overshadowed by Nimoy’s father’s death shortly after his return to America.

Watch the oral history excerpt



Records of My Ancestors


photo Sonia Pressman Fuentes

Sonia Pressman Fuentes, co-founder of the National Organization for Women, describes her trip to Poland to explore her family roots. She recalls her mother’s dismay at her interest in going to Poland, the adventure of searching for information on her parents in Piltz (otherwise known as Pilica), and the moving experience of discovering her mother’s birth certificate.

Watch the oral history excerpt



Returning to the Shtetl, Then on to Israel


photo Henry Kellerman

In 1967, psychotherapist and author Henry Kellerman’s parents traveled to Ukraine and then to Israel. He describes their return to their shtetl (small town in Eastern Europe with a Jewish population) after nearly fifty years away, as well as his mother’s emotional reaction to entering Jewish airspace shortly before landing in Israel.

Watch the oral history excerpt



Connecting to the Spirit of Vilna


photo Elliott Palevsky

Elliott (Elye) Palevsky recounts his visit to Vilna when he was hired to teach at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute, and how the present-day city blended with the stories he had heard of the bustling liveliness of prewar Jewish Vilna.

Watch the oral history excerpt




Resuscitating a Tradition: Bringing a Zamir Chorus Back to Its Roots in Lodz, Poland


photo Joshua Jacobson

Joshua Jacobson, professor of music at Northeastern University and founder/artistic director of Zamir Chorale of Boston, speaks about his choir’s travels through Europe in 1999 in celebration of the centenary of their namesake, the legendary Hazomir Choir of Lodz, Poland. He describes their reception in Lodz, singing “Makh tsu di eygelekh” (“Close Your Little Eyes”) in Lodz’s Jewish cemetery, and the Zamir Chorale’s performances in cities throughout Eastern Europe.

Watch the oral history excerpt



Visiting My Mother’s Hometown


photo Ellen Perecman

Ellen Perecman, founder and producing artistic director of the New Worlds Theatre Project, recounts visiting her mother’s hometown and being invited into the house her mother presumably grew up in. She shares about the ceremony she wrote for herself and her family to perform at each important place along the trip and the beautiful but difficult experience of finding oneself on ancestral land.

Watch the oral history excerpt



“Like Walking on Blood”: A Roots Trip to Lithuania


photo Ghita Wolpowitz

Ghita Wolpowitz, a Litvak (Lithuanian Jew) who grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), shares her 2008 visit to her mother’s hometown in Lithuania after her mother’s passing. She recalls her mother’s reluctance to go back, saying that it would be “like walking on blood.” Ghita remembers her own intense emotions upon entering her mother’s childhood home, visiting important sites of her mother’s story, and imagining the experiences that had been lived there.

Watch the oral history excerpt



By donating to support the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project, you’re helping us record in-depth video interviews with people of all ages and backgrounds whose stories about the legacy and changing nature of Yiddish language and culture offer a rich and complex chronicle of Jewish identity. You're also helping us preserve, index, and create public access to these precious, invaluable oral histories for future generations.


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The Yiddish Book Center is a nonprofit organization working to recover, celebrate, and regenerate Yiddish and modern Jewish literature and culture. Since our founding in 1980 we have rescued over a million Yiddish books and launched a wide range of bibliographic, educational, and cultural programs to share these treasures with the wider world.