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Ethnography of Mile End Holocaust survivors: Rebuilding lives. (Published: Montreal Gazette)

Photo: The Gazette

Photo: The Gazette

When Zelda Abramson contacted me on a housing-swap website for academics on sabbatical to inquire about subletting my apartment, I gave her a list of its ups and downs. On the pro side, it’s a typical century-old triplex on Waverly St., which means original fixtures, Mile End cachet and a great quartier. On the con side, it’s a bit dark and crowded on the ground floor, the kitchen is small and there’s a woeful lack of closet space.

Abramson said not to worry, that she was familiar with the neighbourhood; she lived in a ground-floor apart- ment a few blocks away on Durocher Ave. when she was growing up. In those days, she shared a place about the same size as mine with her parents, her older sister and another family of three.

These days, she lives in a sprawling farmhouse in Wolfville, N.S., where she is a professor of sociology at Acadia University. She need- ed my Mile End pied-à-terre as a base for her sabbatical research project: an ethnog- raphy of Jewish Holocaust survivors who emigrated from Europe after the war and settled in this neighbour- hood.

Using archival research and first-person interviews, Abramson is collecting this community’s stories and picking up the common threadsintheirrecollections, to discern the factors that contributed to their ability to survive — and thrive — as they rebuilt their lives from less than nothing.

Read the Gazette story here.