A deeply personal, beautifully simple and inspiring memoir. This joint work is written by two women separated by four generations.
Minnie Crane lived through two world wars, pandemics and the Great Depression. Thirty years after her death her tale is brought to life in a way only her great-granddaughter could do. Minnie came from an extremely humble beginning and made huge sacrifices. Her telling account sheds light on the story of Belitsa, a little town in Russian, now part of Belarus, a Jewish community obliterated by the Nazis. It also traces immigration of many Jews to America at the turn of the twentieth century. This inspirational narrative makes history very personal.
Fellow genealogist and family historian, Smadar Belkind Gerson discovered what many family historians have only yearned for- personal eyewitness accounts and reflections personally handwritten by a direct ancestor! Smadar's Great-Grandmother, Minnie Crane had written numerous pages of journal entries recounting her life story, from life in her childhood village of Belitsa, Russia (today part of Belarus), to her emigration via Bremen, Germany to her life in the United States. Thirty years after her grandmothers death, Ms. Gerson supplements her ancestor's writing with extra historical details, footnotes, family photographs, personal historical documents and more, to create a beautiful, inspirational narrative which gives a poignant look not only into the life of Minnie Crane and the Kranowitz (Crane) family, but also the joys and sufferings of many Jewish people who emigrated from Eastern Europe to the United States during the late 1800's to early 1900's. This is as personal as history... More > gets! Valuable resources for anyone writing their family history are books on social history, memoirs, and location histories. This joint undertaking by two women separated by 4 generations is a fabulous read for anyone interested in history of the time period, Ashkenazi Jewish history and migration, the immigrant experience, or who would like to write the history of their own family in historical context. Many thanks to Minnie Crane and her great-grandaughter Smadar Belkind Gerson for allowing me to see so much through their eyes.< Less
What a wonderful story created by Minnie and shared by Smadar. Smadar wrote: “By reflecting on our past we gain insight as to what shaped our history. What I had not expected yet very quickly comprehended was that I found so much more than clues about my relatives. Moma, the woman, not the grandmother, emerged from the pages. I found the Moma I never realized I had lost.” What a rich statement, taken from a book filled with insight into life 100 years ago. I loved the way Smadar included excerpts from four generations. That is an amazing treasure. I liked Minnie’s positive attitude and her resilience. One of the most interesting subjects Minnie shared was her childhood remembrances of the postal system in Russia. I felt like she was painting a picture for me, revealing wonderful details. Beyond that, Minnie shared how this helped develop her character. Minnie wrote, ”It gave us children a sense of importance as well as responsibility...we quickly discovered the seriousness of trust.... More > If you had an opportunity for learning something you did not throw it away.” Minnie shared how she obtained an education and it revealed an aspect of her character that I found fascinating. One jewel that I appreciated was Minnie’s relating their family support between her brothers and Minnie, and how they cared for each other’s interests. Minnie’s daughter Barbara wrote a terrific ending for Minnie’s story. Barbara wrote to Minnie, ”...almost no negative legacies from you.....the secret of your strength to withstand so many tragedies and difficulties is your ability to face them head-on and mourn and feel rather than deny those feelings.” I am thankful Minnie chose to share those memories of her life, both the tragedies and the triumphs in her journals. And I am glad Smadar chose to share them with those of us who never had the privilege to meet Minnie Crane I found it very interesting and I felt as if I had met old friends by the story’s end. A book well worth reading if you enjoy memoirs and personal histories. Barbara Anne Waite – author of “Elsie-Adventures of an Arizona schoolteacher 1913-1916”< Less
"Stored Treasures" by Minnie Crane and her great-granddaughter Smadar Belkind Gerson is a fascinating book, full of interesting photographs and captivating stories from Minnie’s difficult childhood. After reading the complete memoir, I feel like I’ve met the family and struggled with them through their tumultuous history spanning two world wars, pandemics, and the Great Depression. Born Menuche Kranowitz in Belitsa, Russia in 1896, Minnie changed her name to Minnie Crane when entering the USA through Ellis Island in 1914. Her birth town eventually became part of Belarus, a Jewish community destroyed by Nazis. Avid genealogist, Smadar Belkind Gerson, shares Minnie’s remarkable writings in a way that is both inspiring and educational. This memoir truly is a treasure Smadar Belkind Gersonworth reading by anyone interested in the Jewish immigration to America in the early 1900s. I recommend it as a well-written and accurate record of events that define world history.
I read the book in 2 sittings because I couldn't put it down. Then I went back and studied the whole family tree - it was just fascinating. Anyone will love this book because of the intriguing story of Minnie Crane, but those of us who share this history and have grandparents or great-grandparents who emigrated to the US in the early 20th century will truly LOVE it. It's a wonderful tribute to a woman whose strength and determination to create a better life for her family is truly inspiring. My only complaint about the book is that I found myself wanting more when it was over. A true sign of a great memoir.
A brilliant little jewel. This book manages to intertwine generational stories in a majestic manner. The book story provides several different perspectives on the inspiring life of a marvelous woman. This book will be enjoyed by whoever reads it.
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