I’ve been thinking for quite a while that I should write about my trip to Jerusalem but the dark cloud that has descended on the world made everything else feel trivial and dampened my desire to write (other than frantic, futile emails to Biden and my senators and reps in the US Congress). Almost three months later the cloud is only getting darker with no prospect of better days in that part of the world; the news is unbearable. But perhaps making an effort to write is some minor form of resistance.Continue reading
The brothers were both of medium height with “wheat-coloured” faces and grey-blue eyes. They hailed from Kalkandelen (as the town was known in the Ottoman Empire) and came to Jerusalem to create flour mills and bakeries—and families.
Two unexpected snapshots of sorts, taken in 1905-1906, have added colour and detail to the picture I’ve been building over the years about these two brothers and their families. The younger brother was my great-great-grandfather George Schtakleff; the other, his brother Zacharia.Continue reading
~ In Memoriam: John Thorogood (1933-2022) ~
*Note: Since its initial publication, this post has been edited at the request of a family member who wishes to remain private.
On a hot summer afternoon in London I made my way to the Thorogoods. A few months earlier, their eldest daughter, Cathie, who lives in Australia, had discovered this blog and my connection to her grandmother’s family—the Gaitanopoulos—and suggested I visit her parents next time I passed through town. I dropped them a line when I was planning a stopover and they invited me over without hesitation.Continue reading
Before succumbing to the juggernaut of consumerism, the Christmas season was filled with the smells of baked goods wafting from home ovens. None evokes Christmas more vividly in my mind than the spicy, rich aroma of Yiayia Vitsa’s German Biscuits. (Biscuits in Brit speak, cookies in American lingo.)Continue reading
When you write a story and publish it for the world to read, the story is then set free to follow its own journey. If you’re lucky, you can tag along for the ride and be richer for it. And sometimes the story comes back to you, asking more of you.
On the 70th anniversary of the January 1948 bombing of the Semiramis Hotel in Katamon, Jerusalem, by the Haganah, the Jewish militia, I published a blog post about the incident. Not only was it a story I had grown up with but also a milestone for the neighbourhood of Katamon. Katamon was the place my mother and her family—her parents and two sisters—called home until it was no longer so and they found themselves as refugees in Cyprus. The end of their lives in their neighbourhood began, as I wrote in that initial post, with the explosion at Villa Semiramis, two doors down from their home. And it was the beginning of the end for Katamon itself for it caused its residents, like my own family, to abandon the neighbourhood in search of safety elsewhere.Continue reading