Julie "Babs" Bersen Brook

This has been such an exciting time as Netanel “Ted” Deutsch and I launch the podcast “Let There Be Light”. The podcast that started out as an idea from YY Davis (the new owner of Marx Hot Bagels) and a casual conversation with Pam Saeks (Be Bold Creative) with a suggestion that Ted listen to the Unorthodox Podcast is now in full-scale production. 

The original impetus for the podcast was to bring “light” to the many truly endearing stories posted weekly in The American Israelite in the section on page 18, “From The Pages”. Once we started production we realized we needed to broaden the scope of the podcast to include news stories, highlight the continuous and seemingly controversial Letters to the Editor (LTE), and we both feel its important to memorialize those who have passed away during the prior week. 

With the podcast comes an intense desire to delve into the history of Jewish Cincinnati and tap into information relevant to today’s stories from the Jewish world. I hope you’ve noticed that Ted is a vessel of Judaic knowledge and I constantly joke that my sources of information are Google and Wikipedia. All joking aside I’ve read up on so many new topics, and I’ve also called on you to bring “light” to your stories. In the end this is your Jewish podcast and we want to hear from you.

What I look forward to doing after the podcast is tagging on Facebook and Instagram the organizations and people we’ve chatted about. My hope is that everyone listening will feel personally touched by what they hear on the podcast.

I believe I can speak for Ted when I say even in this short period of time, we’ve both learned so much and gained a greater understanding of Jewish Cincinnati, Jewish institutions, Jewish history, and Jewish influencers from today and yesteryear. 

Let’s take a look at a few of the stories Ted and I have discussed on the podcast.  From the front pages we had the opportunity to highlight many strong Jewish women, beginning with the late Rabbi Sissy Coran z’l, Rabbi Meredith Kahan, Josephine Shizer, Maya Jaffee and Rabbi Shena Potter Jaffee, Debbie Brant and Jan Evans. We’ve also highlighted Jewish survivors of COVID-19 Danny Pilder, Rabbi Avrohom Weinrib and Rafael Zuroff. We’ve been touched by the philanthropy and community volunteerism from John Stein and that of the late Murray Guttman z’l. We’ve welcomed new community members Laura Wright, Meredith Davis, Whitney Fisch, Rabbi Austin Zoot, and Rebekah Skirball Miller. We’ve referred to those who work professionally in the community Debbie Steinbuch, Reagan Kuhn and Lauren Glynn. In addition other stories from the front page have centered on the success of The American Israelite’s webpage and its 175 year history and the legacy of Rabbi Isaac Meyer Wise.

Of course my favorite part is when Ted and I reach page 18, the CHAI of The American Israelite, the “From The Pages” section whereby editor Carol Hershenson highlights snippets from as far back as July 14, 1854 when Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise launched the paper.

On Tuesday afternoons Melissa House, Production Manager at The American Israelite, sends me a copy of the paper. She’s always so excited when Carol is able to post a great “Ladies Column” from 100 years ago. We still don’t have any idea who this “Lady” newspaper writer might be but we do know she has strong opinions on anything from women attending college to who is entitled to wear a large pair of diamond earrings. As I mentioned in June, we know the first writer was Babette and then there was Miss Dorothy. 

Readers of the time were told they may write Miss Dorothy at:  Miss Dorothy P.O. Station L, New York City. I contacted the USPS Post Master Historian to see if they had any information on where P.O. Station L was and if Miss Dorothy really received mail under the name “Miss Dorothy”. Here’s the response I received from the USPS Post Master Historian:

Station L of the New York Post Office was established in Harlem in July 1863. Previously the area had been served by the Haerlem Post Office. (the spelling of Haerlem is accurate this is not a typo.) In 1890, Station L was located at 117 East 125th Street. Because no street address or PO box number was provided, “Miss Dorothy” likely picked up her mail at the General Delivery Window [note this would have been a “Ladies Window”]. Although, if the letter carrier knew her address, he may have delivered it to her address. By 1890, use of General Delivery Window service was discouraged for residents who had a fixed address and who were eligible for carrier delivery.

It’s intriguing to learn that the Post Office had specific windows just for “Ladies” called “Ladies Windows.” To read more about “Ladies Windows” please Google: “Ladies Windows US Postal Service” - it’s a fascinating article! 

What can you look forward to on future “Let There Be Light” podcasts? As of last week we now have professional

recording equipment complete with sound effects, microphones and headsets. The sound is much improved but we are still learning. For those who have emailed us at info at LetThereBeLightPodcast dot com, with your helpful comments we are slowly improving the format.

You can expect to hear attorney Louis H. Katz read the “Joke of the Week” and attorney Daniel J. Hoffheimer will be on to discuss his serial column “Wandering Foot And Weary Breast: Israel Under International Law”. I will continue to search diligently for you and any other living relatives of those mentioned within the newspaper and in the “From the Pages” section. I’m hoping you will share your memories and even your photos; pictures and personal connections to snippets as far back as 1854 only serve to enhance your stories.

I will be posting mystery photos each week on Facebook and Instagram prior to The American Israelite publication. “Like” us on Facebook and “Follow” us on Instagram to join the guessing game. There you will also find more extensive information on topics we spoke on during the podcast.

This week on Facebook and Instagram I’ve added more background on the late Rabbi Charisse Natalie Kranes z’l, whose Bat Mitzvah was celebrated 50 years ago on Saturday, September 5, 1970 at Wise Temple. May her memory be for a blessing to all who knew and loved her. 

It’s because we love to reminisce that we wish more of you would send in your simcha’s of today. Birth, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, graduation, and even your quarantine activity photos! 10 years, 25 years, 50 years pass in an instant — won’t it be fun to see today in tomorrow’s “From the Pages”!

We’re also looking for guest hosts, professionals and lay volunteers and sponsors. Everyone has a story; we’d like to share yours.

So join us each week as we bring “light” to the stories of The American Israelite on the “Let There Be Light” Podcast.

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