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Reviewed by Marilyn Herbert
The newest collection of Liz Pearl’s stories — Living Legacies: A Collection of Narratives by Contemporary Canadian Jewish Women (Volume V) — is a welcome addition to the series. As Pearl assembles the thoughts of women in each volume, new ideas and connections emerge.
As Pearl herself admits, she is in her 50s — midway through her life’s journey. With each publication, more of Pearl is revealed to herself and to each of her readers. The usual familiar topics are present: food, tikkun olam, education, family, identity, love, and loyalty. They are bound up with the ribbons of tradition and community. They show a strong bond between the generations and promote one of Judaism’s most loved values — l’dor v’dor — the giving from one generation to the next.
Whether it is blintzes or knishes, everyone’s favourite time is sharing food with friends and family. There are traditional foods eaten at holiday times or for Shabbat, and there are traditional foods that come from a variety of geographical locations. After all, the Jews have been scattered over the globe for centuries and have picked up great culinary tips. These food ideas have been passed down from mother to daughter to granddaughter and will hopefully continue.
Sara Aharon had an aversion to all of her mother’s home-cooked meals, but loved the blintzes that she helped make. These “thin, smooth, white and velvety flat cakes filled with sweet or savoury fillings” kick-started her interest in other foods. When she had children of her own, she enjoyed seeing their interest and love of food, and of course, the one thing she took from her own mother was the making of blintzes with her children as assistants. Blintzes have “become part of our family lore.”
Reviewed by Marilyn Herbert
When you’re on to a good thing, it is wise to keep going. Liz Pearl has not only done that, but she has maintained the richness in this third volume of Living Legacies: A Collection of Writing by Contemporary Canadian Jewish Women. With each book and each personal story, I find myself ever more deeply engrossed in the common themes of identity and relationships.
Many of the stories in Volume I inspired readers from the inside out as they dealt with individual development. In the second book, the stories came more predominantly from the perspective of the generations of women who were confident in their identity and were ready to pass their knowledge along to their daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and friends. In the current collection of stories, many of the tales focus on the connections of women to the outer fabric of their culture and/or religion. An interesting feature of this gathering of thoughts by Canadian Jewish women is that some were born outside of Canada, yet the “Canadian” part of their Jewish identity is clear in every narrative.