Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What exactly is the Whole Phamily?

We could say it is about unity, the gathering of peoples across geograpahy, spanning time and history.

We could say it is about our own familial unit. The mama, papa, children. What makes us whole? Is it just our nuclear family? Does it include our extended family like grandparents, aunts, uncles?

What is the Whole Phamily all about today in these United States of America?

As we heard over and over on the Free to Be You and Me record, the 70's child gold standard produced by the Ms. Foundation, "Brothers and sisters, sisters and brothers each and every one.  Every mother's daughter, every father's son."

Our Latino brethren living the immigrant experience. Savoring the foods of their homelands. Powering our service industry so those who are more established in this country can live their American lives. Living mulitgenerationally. Enjoying whole family outings, grilling meats in parks across the country. Plopping their children in front of Sesame Street so they can inculcate the next generation with the native language. Finally entering into the political and academic arena.

Our African American brothers and sisters enjoying the freedom all peoples deserve.

Our innate desire in our country today to return back to the basics, back to real food and real experiences while embracing the power of technology.

The Whole Phamily is about connectivity between all peoples, experiences, objects, and geographical locales. What has happened on the land 100 years ago might not be so disconnected to what might be happening there today.

The Whole Phamily most certainly includes "The Ganse Mishpucha," referring specifically to those Jews in America whose families originate from the Yiddish-speaking countries of Eastern Europe.

Who was that great grandfather of mine who came over in 1905 from what is now Belarus? Who were *his parents*? What did become of his 3 brothers who share the same obscure last name of mine? What was Yisroel Bear's yichus, if any? Why was he named Yisroel Bear? With which rebbe did my family align themselves? What were the women like?

Today so many people are reconnecting with their lost families through the likes of Facebook and other social networking services. How can we reclaim the lost stories, or those that still remain with our 60+ year remaining family members, those who had the connection to this 1st wave of large-scale Jewish immigration (setting aside the German immigration/Charleston of the 19th Century). Will we get the information of the names of people in the photos, the family stories before they are lost and gone forever?

The Whole Phamily resides in many of our homes. Look for that shoebox of old photos, or that photo album with the black corners. Therein lie clues to our past. Unlike today where we take photos of everything and anything, the family photos of yesteryear are exactly that: family photos with a few friends sprinkled in. What will happen in generations to come that will , hopefully, view our photos if we ever get around to printing them, who will see so many people that aren't family. Ask your parents and grandparents to sit with you. Scan your photos. Label them. Protect their information but also find out what is in them.

The Whole Phamily asks: where are you phrum?


The answer to that question depends on how you read it.