Tuesday, November 06, 2001

Temple members share 'Wise Words'

Video conveys thoughts on family, faith

By Richelle Thompson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        AMBERLEY VILLAGE — So often the stories and lessons of yesterday are left untold, irretrievably lost when a person dies.

Sue Ransohoff, a member of the Isaac Wise Temple, has helped produce a video for future generations.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
| ZOOM |
        A project at Isaac M. Wise Temple in Amberley Village aims to preserve for future generations the rich and emotional stories of the 20th century.

        Wise Words is an hourlong, professional-style videotape with interviews from 22 members of the congregation about family and faith, history and wisdom.

        The video made its debut Monday at the temple, the largest Reform congregation in Greater Cincinnati with 1,400 families.

        The video follows a long Jewish tradition of ethical wills, of passing down values and morals to one's children as well as material wealth. It also is an oral history, recounting life during the Great Depression, World War II and the civil rights movement.

        Stories are funny and sad, poignant and pointed. One woman recalls moving to a non-Jewish neighborhood and so desperately wanting to make friends that she cut her mother's treasured pearl necklaces into pieces. The other girls took the pearls and ran off, leaving the woman alone.

        Another man recounts the liberation of Dachau, a Ger man concentration camp.

        Although the interviews were completed before Sept. 11, the advice seems particularly relevant in today's uncertain world, said Phyllis Tobias, program director at the temple.

        The congregation members, ages 80 to 99, talk about “ways to be strong in the face of adversity,” she said. “Their message is even more meaningful today.”

        The project began more than a year ago, when Sue Ransohoff awoke in the middle of the night with an idea to interview older people

        about their lives. A group of volunteers began meeting and molded the project into a video.

        Mrs. Ransohoff, 81, of Clifton, knows the importance of preserving the stories of yesterday. She cherishes a gold-bound book written by her father, Milton Westhei mer.

        Mr. Westheimer recounted stories of his childhood and days as a traveling salesman for a book to commemorate his 50th wedding anniversary.

        Mr. Westheimer died two months later, in August 1956.

        “We've said the same thing over and over,” said Mrs. Ranso hoff. “We wished we'd asked him more.”

       Wise Words, as well as tapes of the individual interviews with congregation members, can be rented from the temple library, 8329 Ridge Road. Information: 793-2556.


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