Juliene Berk

Resume and Biography


Juliene Berk

Email: Julieneberk@​aol.com or berkjuliene@​gmail.com
web site: www.Julieneberk.com


Born: Jacksonville, Florida
Education: The Juilliard School and Columbia University, B.S.

PUBLISHED BOOKS:
*THE DOWN COMFORTER, St. Martin’s Press and Avon Books, self- help
**CALL HER BLESSED (self-published) family memoir of Jews in the South
**GLIMPSES OF SOUTHERN JEWISH ROOTS (self-published) short stories


PUBLISHED SHORT STORIES in periodicals:
THE MIAMI HERALD Sunday Magazine -- The Package FORWARD (English edition) Protector of the Brood
JEWISH CURRENTS -- Sweet Revenge
FEMINIST VOICES -- Blue Silk Garters
PACKN TREGER -- A Bintel Brief

PLAYS:
SOLITAIRE -- NYC cable TV presentation
THE TORTOISE AND THE YARROW -- staged readings, NYC
THE LAMBS-- reading, Actor’s Studio, NYC
YANKEL IN AMERICA—Staged reading with music. The Lambs Club starring Theo Bikel: features characters from CALL HER BLESSED
BURNT OFFERINGS–based on CALL HER BLESSED,
ROSA BELLA TAKES CARE OF THE WORLD – play with music






Biography

Juliene Berk was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, the youngest of seven children. From childhood she wanted to know about her parents’ life in Roumania before they came to America in the first years of the 20th century. The answers to her ceaseless questions gave her both a fascinating picture and an insatiable appetite to learn more. For 22 years Juliene collected and wrote stories about the early Jewish immigrants in the South--her family was among the pioneer Jewish settlers of Florida--and the lives of her grandparents. Her research, including a trip throughout Roumania and extensive oral interviews, furnished the raw material from which she wrote a play, BURNT OFFERINGS, a memoir/​biography, CALL HER BLESSED (recounting the story of her mother’s life in Europe and America) and a collection of short stories and vignettes, GLIMPSES OF SOUTHERN JEWISH ROOTS. CALL HER BLESSED portrays those times and places with historical accuracy and evokes the life of a fascinating, loving and extraordinary human being… a woman who embodied the legendary attributes of the Victorian Jewish woman at her best.

Juliene is a writer and playwright who resides in New York City. She attended The Juilliard School and received a Bachelor of Science degree from Columbia University. She has published three books and a number of short stories. Her first book, THE DOWN COMFORTER,was published by St. Martin's Press in hardcover and in paperback by Avon Books. On a seven city national book tour, she made many personal appearances on TV and Radio interview shows.
Now considered an established classic, THE DOWN COMFORTER is available through Amazon in a new second edition.


Juliene received a grant for CALL HER BLESSED (memoir) from THE KURZ FAMILY FOUNDATION.
THE ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION awarded a grant for THE LAMBS (play) for a participating theater in Minnesota. The grant was withheld when no theater was found to produce it.

SELECTED WORKS:

Creative Non-Fiction
REVIEW: Most stories involving American Jews involve some aspect of the Holocaust, whether it is escape from Hitler's Germany, the recounting of its horrors, or of post-war angst and guilt. Few books address pre-World War II Jewish life, and even fewer the life of Romanian Jews in early 20th century Florida. Juliene Berk's new book, Call Her Blessed, chronicles the life of Romanian Jewish immigrants. Centering on the author's mother Lara, and based on her diary written in what must be heavily accented English, the book, although a bit slow at first to hold your attention, develops into a gripping saga of life in the developing South in the early 20th century. Beginning with Iasi, Romania, the author gradually and painstakingly develops the story of Lara, starting with her childhood a rearing by relatives, her courtship by Bercu Bercovici, the author's father, their emigration to the US, and their life in Jacksonville, Florida. Although religious and ethnic persecution forms an understandable and important subtext in stories of Jewish life, the author, although describing several incidents, most which do not directly involve her family, keeps them peripheral to the fundamental theme. The story centers around the author's mother, whose courage, beauty, grace, strength, stamina, wisdom, patience, and big heart makes me wonder how so much goodness could be found in one person. Through this portrait, Ms. Berk provides a backdrop of the urbanizing South which is surprising in its seeming ethnic tolerance, progressive outlook, and prominence, now only recently being regained. Woven into the tale are two world wars, both of which directly affected the family, the deadly 1918 flu epidemic, the tragic lynching of Leo Frank in Atlanta, and the deadly, barbaric pogrom in Kishinev. Embellished with snippets from Lara's diary, photographs, and extrapolations based on the recollections of relatives and friends, Ms. Berk spins a compelling tale of cultural assimilation, idiosyncrasies, hardship, and success. Her family, despite numerous business successes and failures, and personal triumphs and tragedies, perseveres, multiplies, and prospers. Indeed, the book, for the atmosphere it conveys, is in essence a paean to Lara, whose love for her family and her family's love for her suffuses the book with a warm glow. For anyone who shares my Jewish Romanian/Florida background, this book is an absolute must. For those curious about lesser-known aspects of the early 20th century south, or for those interested in pre-World War II southern Jewish life, or about Jewish immigrant culture, it is highly recommended.
e.g. Fiction, History, Magazine Articles, etc. goes here
Short stories and vignettes based on family members in CALL HER BLESSED
The world-renowned lover returns in the being of an irresistible cat.
PLAYS
Based on a true story set in America's South and Havana, Cuba at the beginning of the 20th century which deals with an Eastern European Jewish tradition of "special women."
Hugo von Hofmannsthal is credited with creating the greatest female character ever to tread the operatic boards--Marie Therese (Die Marschallin in the opera DER ROSENKAVALIER). She was his Muse, his Goddess, his ideal woman. He created his GALATEA according to patriarchal culture which not only put a female Muse at the beck and call of the artist, but also dictated that ALL incarnations of Aphrodite--all females --be innately subservient to males. In this play the artist's creation comes to life as a vibrant, seeking, uncertain, loving human being who is now free to be her SELF and to love whomever and however she chooses. This famous myth is stood on its heels breaking tradition by regarding it from the matriarchal point of view.

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