Connect to...Memories

What do Lola Greene, Sharon Sonnenschein, and Annette Weiss have in common? On March 26, these volunteers kicked off the Memory Book Project in Co-Op City, along with Project Manager Gail Gumora and Director of Engage Rabbi Brian Fink. This effort, which is designed to help seniors narrate the stories of their lives, promises to be an exciting ongoing project, creating memory books and recordings for all participants.

Given a few operational glitches (getting lost in the maze of Co-Op City and trying to quietly conduct interviews, surrounded on one side by an exercise class and the other side by a poker game with the clickety-clack of casino chips), we quickly revised our plan of conducting individual interviews and switched to a “group” format instead. Although not as in-depth as we would have liked for this first outing, we were able to talk with about a dozen seniors who were more than happy to share their memories in about an hour. Those who shared their stories included:

  • MARGARITA AND JULIO ESQUILIN, who have been married for 55 years and love each other even more now than when they first met.
  • LILY ROSADO, who still thinks that “life is an adventure and every day of my life I learn something.”
  • VIVIAN MELENDEZ, whose advice to younger generations is “get an education, work hard, and the benefits will show themselves.”
  • CARROLL BROWN, who proudly wore his army cap and told of receiving 17 medals for his service during the Korean War.
  • NORA SINGER, the descendant of Crypto-Jews from Seville, Spain, who fled to Puerto Rico and came to the US at age 24. Working for a millinery shop modeling hats, she met her husband, a Romanian Jew, and became orthodox to honor her mother-in-law, “my role model, who taught me everything I know about Judaism.”

If you would like to be part of this on-going project, or can suggest an organization that would like to participate, please contact Rabbi Brian Fink at 646.505.4408 or bfink@jccmanhattan.org.