Juliene Berk


LIBRARIES who have added Call Her Blessed and Glimpses of Southern Jewish Roots to their collection:

The Library of Congress

The Jewish Theological Seminary

Harvard College

Yeshiva University

University of North Carolina

Baltimore Hebrew University

The University of Florida

Hebrew Union College, New York

Broward Community College

Institute of Southern Jewish Life

The Genealogical Society of Utah

Brandeis University

The American Jewish Archives
(Cincinnati, Ohio)

Rollins College

Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles

Jonathan D. Sarna, Director
Hornstein -- The Jewish Professional
Leadership Program -- Brandeis University

University of Louisville

Wright State University

Univ.of California
at Berkeley

Amherst College

Stern College for Women
Yeshiva University

University of Maryland

University of Central Florida

Florida Historical Society

Jacksonville Historical Society

University of West Florida

Stanford University

University of North Florida

Florida Southern College

Miami-Dade Public Library System
Helen Muir Florida Collection

Franklin & Marshall College





"... a delightful collection of vignettes..."
American Jewish Historical Society

"... collection of 22 charming stories..."
Florida Today

"... true stories about how it was in America when Eastern European Jews were fleeing pogroms and poverty... Hardships are combined with humor as the extended Bercovici-Berkovitz-Berk family adapted to their new country... Yankel comments on what he sees, thinks and feels in the manner of Sholem Aleichem's Tevye..."
The Las Vegas Israelite

... GLIMPSES OF SOUTHERN JEWISH ROOTS is a collection of short stories about real people and events involving Jews who arrived in the South 100 years ago. Also included in the book is "Yankel In Amerikeh," a group of vignettes told in the voice of one of the immigrants speaking his new language in a distinctive way..."
Daytona News-Journal

"... a 125 pager worthy of mention... well-written and interesting..."
The JEWISH WORLD Northeastern New York, Vermont and Western Massachusetts

"... The adjectives that came to mind while reading these works were pleasant and charming... Berk's loving descriptions makes it easy to see that she truly cares about these people, and readers may find themselves feeling the same. And then there's Yankel, the funny elder who has almost disappeared from the American scene. I found his monologues on life amusing... If you laugh or groan with pleasure, you'll find yourself liking Yankel."
Rabbi Rachel Esserman, The Reporter, The Jewish Federation of Broome County, Binghamton, New York


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.
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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