Brooklyn native Dr. Diana Korzenik began work on her book Lithuania to Brooklyn, The Rabbi Daniel and Minnie Shapiro Family in order to preserve and document her large collection of her maternal grandparents' family objects now in the possession of the Yeshiva University Museum. First written for the Museum and for her ancestors' many descendants, the book keeps finding a wider audience. Departing from her family’s years of silence about the Old World, she reveals what no one had told her about the treasures and pains of her grandparents’ Lithuanian and Brooklyn Jewish lives.
The author's talk will be in two parts. First she will describe her learning how to preserve a family collection and how her prior donations to museums informed her process. In the second part she will tell of surprising stages in constructing her family narrative. Thanks to her grandfather’s s'michas (rabbinical ordination) and Lithuanian and Brooklyn correspondence held at American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, she was able to flesh out her grandfather’s Lithuanian rabbinic education amidst turmoil among rabbis as to whether it was better to stay or to emigrate. Finally, in early 20th century Brooklyn, while the Shapiros’ eight children were learning English in American schools, Rabbi and Rebbetzin Shapiro were creating their own culture, establishing three Brooklyn Talmud Torahs and several Jewish social service institutions.
Writer and artist with paintings in museums and in private collections, Dr. Diana Korzenik is professor emerita at Massachusetts College of Art. Her two prize-winning books—Drawn to Art: A 19th Century American Dream (1986), winner of the Boston Globe L.L. Winship Literary Award, and Objects of American Art Education (2004), winner of the American Library Association’s LEAB Exhibition Award— were based on collections she amassed for research. All five of her research collections are now held at the American Antiquarian Society, Huntington Library, Cape Ann Museum, Historic New England, and New England Historical Genealogical Society.