The Pensive

 This is an envelope I received  from my grandmother, it holds a wonderful memory, it is not my memory, though it is very dear to me.

Beneath the address, my grandmother’s handwriting (upside-down) is visible spelling: “Seder (Passover dinner) at grandma’s April 1956, Mother’s Seder table at our house Lighting (candles?)on May 12 1956.

In the envelope there is a CD with the movie that a close friend of the family retrieved from an 8mm film. He had it converted specially for my grandmother and the rest of the family received a copy. The movie shows, as promised, the 1956 Passover dinner. I see my grandmother holding my baby aunt, my father and uncle, sitting with my grandfather and my other uncle listening to my great grandmother who is whispering in his ear.

watch the video on YouTube

If you ever read Harry Potter, you will remember the pensive, an object used to review memories.The pensive is a shallow stone basin, into which are carved runes and strange symbols. It is filled with a silvery substance that appears to be a cloud-like liquid and gas; it holds the memories of people who have siphoned their recollections into it.  These memories can then be viewed by a non-participant, third-persons point of view. Seeing this video, made me feel like one looking into the pensive, watching my young father with my great family. It feels very strange, very nostalgic but mostly its very touching. Such a personal wonderful gift, is really priceless.

2 Responses to “The Pensive”
  1. Abba says:

    Hi Karen,

    Some information and comments about your post that you might appreciate:

    The date of the 1956 Passover Seder was March 27 (according to Google). Your Grandmother (Mom) and grandfather (Pa) were then 37 years old. I was 9, your Uncle Chuckie was 7, Jerry was almost 5 and your Aunt Renee was a little less than 2 months old. When she saw it, Shiri said it was like a time capsule. We as a family didn’t have a movie camera and never film anything. This movie came “out of the blue”. Nobody expected it. I certainly don’t remember this. This package has been gathering dust for 56 years.

    The “manila envelope” (check Wikipedia) above seems to be dated May 17, 1956 (I think, the date was cut off, but I see “ay 17, 1956” on the stamp) and was sent by our cousin Les Cherow from Chicago Illinois but with their home return address in Detroit. The handwriting on the envelope (upside down) says:

    Seder at Grandma’s
    April 1956
    Mother’s Seder Table
    at our house
    Lighting (candles) on May 12, 1956

    So the movie actually documents two different meals:
    The Passover Seder and the Shabbat meal on May 12, 1956 (which was indeed Saturday — I checked in Google).
    Both meals were at our Aunt Ethel’s home (our cousin Les’ mother).

    The postage at the time cost 6 cents.

    Your great grandmother (our “Boby”) was 63 years old at the time. She was a really wonderful woman, loved and revered by all. She died a few months before Havi was born and Havi has the honor and pleasure of bearing her name. For more stories about her, you should talk directly to your grandmother Mom. They had a very special relationship, as part of our family heritage that shouldn’t be lost to posterity.



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