Brooklyn native Dr. Diana Korzenik first conceived of her book, Lithuania to Brooklyn, The Rabbi Daniel and Minnie Shapiro Family, as a way to preserve and document her collection of her maternal grandparents’ family objects now in New York’s Yeshiva University Museum. In that process she uncovered facts about the treasures — and the pains — of her grandparents' and parents’ lives, revelations that signal a departure from her family’s years of silence about the Old World, so familiar to many immigrant families.
Dr. Korzenik will first detail her learning how to preserve her family collection and how her prior donations to museums informed her process. Then she will describe surprises in the stages of her construction of the family narrative. She begins with the family in Lithuania, fleshing out her grandfather’s Lithuanian rabbinic education, then turns toward rabbis’ debates about pros and cons of leaving, and challenges of getting to America. Once on New York’s Lower East Side and then in early 20th-century Brooklyn, both Rabbi and Rebbetzin Shapiro significantly contribute to Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish education and social services amidst the diverse pressures of Americanization.
Bonni-Dara Michaels, Collections Curator, Yeshiva University Museum, will speak briefly about the Museum’s acquisition policy and Dr. Korzenik’s donation of the Shapiro Family Collection.
Dr. Diana Korzenik, a writer and artist with paintings in museums as well as private collections, is professor emerita at Massachusetts College of Art. Her two prize-winning books, Drawn to Art: A Nineteenth-Century American Dream (1985) and Objects of American Art Education: Highlights from the Diana Korzenik Collection (2004), were based on collections she amassed for research, collections now, respectively, at the American Antiquarian Society and the Huntington Library. In addition to the Shapiro Family Collection, she created three additional research collections now held at the New England Historic Genealogical Society and two other institutions.