Friday, October 30, 2009

Writers Poets and Intellectuals...we fit right in!

My son found some of his ancestor’s descendents this week. We are so excited and happy to have found them …especially as we are migrants ourselves with very little family here to fall back on. I grew up without grandparents as such…mine were in England and Ireland respectively. Coming out here in the sixties must have been a huge thing for my parents and I know my father is interested now in later life to reconnect with his relatives. My husband has been here since we married in the eighties after meeting while he was here on a Worker’s Visa…he was much travelled and found it hard to settle in one place after we married but eventually after living in both the UK and Australia for some years we came back home.

So my son and I shall be researching the geneology of my side of the family and he is now much more aware of his Russian ancestors and the origin of our name Levinsohn. He is in contact with Leah, a cousin his age, many times removed and Jennifer, who has two daughters a similar age to him. This is especially exciting to him as he has very little contact with any of his first cousins in the UK….I actually friended them myself on Facebook this week and was surprised that neither had been in touch with the other before now on Facebook. Maye it is always that way …the ones who are left behind continue on and live their lives without knowledge of the feelings of isolation that people in the far flung countries often feel. Although one does not have to be thousands of miles away to be ignored…my own brother and sister have had nothing to do with us for many, many years. Why is it that is is harder to accept rejection when it is one’s own child than when one is rejected oneself? Oh well that is enough of that….we are self sufficient and an extremely tight family unit…many would wish for that and it makes Christmas somewhat easier every year!

Okay back to Leah and Jennifer and their families…I heard today that Jennifer’s ancestor …her great grandfather was Joshua, Christopher’s great great grandfather’s brother. Jennifer’s relatives sound so interesting. They were intellectuals, writers and poets….so Chris got it from all sides of the family…..its in the genes!

Isaac Levinsohn, my son’s great great grandfather is a fascinating character, he converted to Christianity, becoming a well respected Baptist preacher working with Charles Spurgeon. His work involved converting the Jewish people, often on their deathbeds, to Christianity….as you can imagine this caused enormous pain for the Levinsohn family in Russia…especially since he converted his brother Joshua! This meant that the Levinsohn name which was passed on by the male family members obviously lived on. Interesting that in Judaism I think I am right in saying that the mother passes the line on? But it would still have been the last of the Jewish Levinsohns. There is a lot of fascinating material to be read through and archived….just my son’s cup of tea! Interestingly I found through my research that Spurgeon’s College is in South London near to where my sister and mother in law now live.

Isaac and his family came from Kovno, Russia….later Lithuania and my son and I were especially concerned about any remaining desendents of Isaac’s extended family as the Kovno Jews were almost wiped off the face of the earth by the Natzis in WW 2. Before the war there were 35,000 to 40,000 Jewish residents of Kovno the capitol city of Lithuania …by the time the Soviet army liberated Kovno on August 1, 1944 only 500 had survived in forests or in bunkers; the Germans evacuated an additional 2,500 to concentration camps in Germany.

Another thing that really inspired us to research was the story of David Suchet’s family on Who Do You Think You Are? David traced some of his Jewish ancestors back to the Pale Of Settlement, which now houses a cemetry filled with the decrepit graves of a long forgotten Jewish community…once a hugely overpopulated area….. courtesy of the anti semitism of the 1800’s and later still the Natzis. When David Suchet visited The Pale of Settlement there was not one Jew remaining amongst the scattered communities there.

As I write this I am reminded of my very close friendship with Bettina and her family…..her children are as my chidren and I feel we are more than friends …we are indeed family. Bettina and her family are Jewish and both her parents and her husband’s family came to Australia as migrants. Indeed almost all of my friends now are fellow migrants and I am drawn to them….it is a peculiar life but it is our life and it is a life that my son and Isaac’s descendent’s now have as it seems that they all got out of Kovno before World War Two…and I so thank God for that.

Monday, October 26, 2009

English Rose

I recently saw a wonderful documentary about the "Roses From The Heart" project by conceptual artist Christina Henri. This project has been ongoing for several years.

Many services of "Blessings of the Bonnets" have been undertaken at churches around Australia. These services have provided a place for the women who were so appallingly treated to be recognised and honoured now...their invaluable contribution to our society and ultimately to our culture ...finally recognised.

13,000 bonnets will be shown in Birmingham, England as part of the Festival of Quilts in 2010.
Meanwhile Norma Bean and her partner will be at a booth at the NEC Show Birmingham in August this year to publicise next years installation of bonnets.

Norma Bean belongs to the Embroiderers Guild and there has been strong interest for Roses from the Heart(tm) from members of this Organisation both locally and Nationally throughout the UK. Christina is very appreciative of this support.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Remembering Bali 12/10/02

Photo from Wikipedia

October 12 (Bali Bombings)
CJ Levinson

I wonder what you saw
When you looked at the world?
Did you see how far we'd come?
I wish I’d known how to open your eyes
So that you could really see

You asked me why I don't believe in God
And I still don't know if I can explain
All I know is the saddest thing I've ever seen
Took all my faith away

On October 12
October 12

I looked for you amongst the ashes
Of that terrible, broken place
But the smoke caught in my eyes and lungs
And pain was all I could see

I stayed up for days, trying to find an answer
But you were gone forever
And the last time I saw you
Is the last thing I'll remember
Lying broken beneath bags of ice
Gone forever

On October 12
October 12

We were so young
Thinking we could live forever
We could never really see

But I’ll wait for you
And I’ll remember you

cjlevinson 2007

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A step in the right direction

A Step In The Right Direction

magikquilter October 11th, 2009

Rainbow SparrowsPurple Stokie SneakersGreen Stokie Sneakers

Australia’s first charity run fashion label Gideon, is now available to buy online and 100% of the profits goes to The Street University which empowers youth in Liverpool in Sydney’s Western suburbs. The Street University was started by Matt Noffs, grandson of the visionary humanitarian Ted Noffs, founder of the Wayside Chapel in Sydney’s Kings Cross.

Rupert Noffs, another grandson of Ted Noffs and his friend Gideon Silverman started the Gideon shoe range some years ago at the markets and now it is a small global business. I can’t commend these young men highly enough on their social consciousness and work ethic.

These sneakers are very reasonably priced and quite cool looking…if I were twenty years younger I would have a range of them in colours to match my outfits!

Now for some other exciting news to do with the Charity Ted Noffs….at last Australia will have an online charity shop…hopefully akin to Oxfam online whom I personally know are hoping to expand into the Australian marketplace. The online shop is coming in 2010! Yeah…can’t wait…will just have to volunteer to help get it going sooner!

Ted Noffs already have a fabulous online bookshop …OneNoffs Books …you can find out all about the philosophy behind them here.

Now possibly the most exciting thing of all for me to share with you is that Ted Noffs is looking for artisans/designers for Australia’s first customised op shop One Noffs. The designers get a cut of the profits, as does the charity as do the donations! I am soo excited as this is dear to my heart…you know I love to save fabric and clothing from the skip at various charity shops!

Remember when I made this quilt…out of fabulous fabric samples a fabric rep who later volunteered at Vinnies, saved from the sixties until 2000, only to have the manager there deem them unfit cause they stank? The whole sorry story is here by the way!

I bought as many as I dared at a dollar a piece before they were thrown out….they washed up perfectly and I dare not think about what happened to the remaining garbage bag full that I just felt too greedy to ask for.

So you can see why I am so excited about this new opportunity for upcycling in this country. If you are a designer here please contact the Ted Noffs Foundation….I know they would love to hear from you….so would I …please let me know too if you are interested.