Oral histories are intimate conversations between and among people who have generously agreed to share these recordings with BHS’s archives and researchers. Please listen in the spirit with which these were shared. BHS abides by the General Principles & Best Practices for Oral History as agreed upon by the Oral History Association and expects that use of this material will be done with respect for these professional ethics.
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[Last name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer’s First name Last name], [Month DD, YYYY], [Title of Collection], [Call #]; Brooklyn Historical Society.
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Oral history interview conducted by Jill Vexler
June 14, 1993
Call number: 1994.006.17
Oral History Interview with Bracha Meshchaninov
Bracha Meshchaninov was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. At fourteen she began seeking a deeper connection to her Jewish faith and at eighteen traveled to Jerusalem, Israel to attend Neve Yerushalayim, an all-girls religious school. After graduating with degrees in English, guidance counseling and education from the University of Witwatersrand, she traveled Israel. At twenty-two, Bracha traveled to the United States where she studied with Lubavitch Hasidim. She soon dedicated herself to Yiddishkeit and married her husband Ilya. In her 30s at the time of the interview in 1993, she was a photographer living in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. She now lives in Rockland County, New York, where she is an educator and Yoga teacher.
In the interview, Bracha Meshchaninov discusses her childhood and family in Johannesburg, South Africa; her religious education in Israel; being a baal teshuvah (a Jew converted to Orthodoxy); her courtship and marriage to a Russian baal teshuvah; navigating a newly religious identity; the physical decline of the Rebbe and the spiritual ramifications within Lubavitch Hasidim and moving from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. Interview conducted by Jill Vexler.
This collection contains oral history recordings and transcripts, as well as exhibit materials, from Brooklyn Historical Society's Crown Heights History Project, also known as "Bridging Eastern Parkway." Crown Heights History Project oral histories include audio and transcripts created and collected within the context of an exhibition project undertaken in part by BHS in 1993 and 1994. Three interviewers recorded conversations with over forty narrators. In addition to exhibition product value, the oral histories were conducted as life history and community anthropology interviews; topics of discussion include family and heritage, immigration and relocation, cultural and racial relations, occupations and professions, education and religion, housing and gentrification, civil unrest and reconciliation, media representation and portrayal, and activism. The series of exhibition research materials document the outreach efforts for interviews and materials from the community as well as exhibit scripts and curatorial notes.
CitationMeshchaninov, Bracha, Oral history interview conducted by Jill Vexler, June 14, 1993, Crown Heights History Project collection, 1994.006.17; Brooklyn Historical Society.
- Congregation Lubavitch (Crown Heights, New York, N.Y.)
- Meshchaninov, Bracha
- Schneerson, Menachem Mendel, 1902-1994
- Emigration and immigration
- Family life
- Jews, South African
- Race relations
- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
- Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
- South Africa
Finding AidCrown Heights History Project collection