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Heather DeMille, Anthr 101, Lesson 4 Intellectual Journal 1 Commentary on First Reading Assignment In Number Our Days, by Barbara Myerhoff, I wonder why her grandparents chose to prioritize their children’s Americanization above orthodoxy? I wonder what it was like for her to grow up knowing she was of Jewish ethnicity, without truly understanding what that meant? What a wonderful experience for her to get to spend years studying the elderly Jews at the Center, though it left her wondering if she was doing anthropology or was on a personal quest.” (p. 12) Does it matter either way? Perhaps the fact that she was on a personal quest would inspire her anthropology to excellence, her personal connection causing her to dig deeper and pursue truth more intensely. Perhaps the fact that she won an Academy Award for best documentary short subject (1977) with this work indicates the benefit of personal connection to the work of an ethnographer. Myerhoffs connection probably deepened when Abe mentioned that the elderly Jews she was studying remember their shtetl of their childhood with intense affection and nostalgia in spite of its terrible hardships.(p. 16) This struck a chord with me. In 2009, after 10 years of marriage, my first husband and I separated and spent a year emotionally negotiating the terms of our divorce. During that year, I lived in an old, run down little farm house with my three young children. All things considered, this should have been the worse year of my life, and in many ways, it was. However, by creating traditions with my little children and drawing close to them, they and I experienced a lot of love, warmth and joy that year as well. To me, its a miracle that my children and I remember that little house with intense affection and nostalgia, like the Jews and their shtetl evidence that blessings come to those who face their trials with faith!
Heather DeMille, Anthr 101, Lesson 4 Intellectual Journal 1 Shmuel, another man Myerhoff quoted, gave me words to ponder when he said, It is a fact of life to be hurt by your children. It doesnt matter how good they are. That must be accepted, so if you have only your children in life, you will have only pain.(p. 48) I was startled by his negative outlook. Having ten children myself, I know very well the immense happiness they bring, certainly not only pain. However, with further pondering, I agree that children do bring pain as well. A parent tends to care so much it hurts. Also, children grow to become a parents closest friends, then they move away! With five children grown and gone, my husband and I are well acquainted with this pain. I still hold to my disagreement, however, with Shmuels notion that children bring only pain!

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