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Happy Pesach from the Archive

Berlin 1938: Ruth Webber, neé Ruth Kiewer (left) and Alisa Jaffa, neé Alisa Maybaum (bottom right)

Although this is our second Pesach in lockdown, I feel that our freedom is on the horizon and I am hopeful that we can soon re-start our person to person interviews.

We have learnt a lot in the past difficult year, and for me it has been amazing to see that we have found new ways to connect to each other – through Zoom events and Zoom interviews. In the live events over the past year I have hosted, it has always been made me very happy to see many familiar faces on their computer screens. It is particularly satisfying when an online event facilitates further contact between individuals who did not know each other or who lost touch with each other. This happened recently, following my conversation with Refugee Voices interviewee Alisa Jaffa.

In the conversation I showed a photograph of Alisa, then aged two, in her kindergarten in Berlin. A few weeks after the event, I was contacted by Ruth Webber, another Refugee Voices interviewee, who recognised herself on the same photograph, as the only other girl featured, aged three years old. I was privileged to be part of the subsequent Zoom conversation between Alisa and Ruth and it seemed extraordinary that they appear on the same photograph, taken in the summer of 1938, and that both of them still have this photograph in their possession. Neither Alisa nor Ruth remember the location and name of the Kindergarten. I hope more research will lead us to the name of the Kindergarten or the names of the other five children in the photograph.

So although this year we will experience another Seder where we cannot be with family and friends, I cherish the idea that our new digital connections will stay with us, alongside the real encounters which we can look forward to soon.

I would like to wish all our interviewees, their families, and our supporters a very happy Pesach!


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