29 March 2010

Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral "friends" launch renovation Web site

Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral, whose founders included Carpatho-Rusyns, has launched a new Web site, Friends of Holy Trinity, as it tries to raise funds to continue renovations on the architectural landmark on Chicago's North Side.

As the site, itself, explains, Holy Trinity had its beginning when a small community was established in 1882 as St.Vladimir's. The first services were held in a house on North Noble Street and later in a rented house on Racine (then Centre) Street near Madison Street. The community then consisted of a small group of Orthodox immigrants from Carpatho-Russia (Carpatho-Rus') and Galicia.

"Carpatho-Russia" is an alternative term for Carpatho-Rus', the Rusyn homeland, and it's frequently used in an Orthodox context.

The church was designed by Louis Sullivan, probably best known for designing the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company department store on State Street.

27 March 2010

Carpatho-Rusyn documentary "Osadné" will play next month in the Twin Cities

Thanks to Carpatho-Rusyn Society member Maria Silvestri for word that Prešov-born documentary filmmaker Marko Škop's "Osadné" is on the schedule for next month's Minneapolis-St. Paul Film Festival

The film's schedule hasn't been announced.

Škop says his film's U.S. premiere will actually be at Winston Salem's River Run Film Festival, and will also play at Toronto's Hot Docs Festival.

The documentary looks at the Rusyn village of Osadné in Eastern Slovakia, and a group 
of village leaders who try to meet with European Union officials in Brussels to help the 
struggling community.
Variety called the film "gently humorous," and it earned the Best Documentary prize at 
the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic.

26 March 2010

A chat with Carpatho-Rusyn genealogist Megan Smolenyak

In my day job, I write a daily media column for OnMilwaukee.com, and thanks to that job, I had a chance to talk yesterday to Megan Smolenyak, one of the more accomplished genealogists around. She's worked with five of the seven episodes of NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" show about genealogy, and was on camera a couple weeks back in the episode about Emmitt Smith.

While our interview didn't focus on Rusyn matters, I thought some folks might be interested in hearing what she has to say about the show, which I really like:

OnMedia: NBC turns genealogy into TV drama

Genealogist Megan Smolenyak delivered the news to former NFL running back Emmitt Smith that DNA evidence showed his roots were in the West African nation of Benin as the cameras were rolling for NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?"
Smith's face betrayed the emotions that making a connection to the past can conjure up.

"The celebrities who do this show, they really don't know where they're going, and what they're in for," she says.

And that look on Smith's face wasn't rehearsed.

"You're seeing genuine reactions," she says. "The ones who are going to put themselves in that position, are probably people who are genuinely interested in their roots."

The limited run series -- airing at 7 p.m. Fridays on Channel 4 -- traces the families of celebrities, but these stories have a broader reach. This "reality" series connects with the sweep of history that has transformed diverse people into Americans.

Sarah Jessica Parker discovered ancestors who were involved in the Salem Witch trials. Lisa Kudrow learned the stories of ancestors lost in the Holocaust. Smith, in addition to traveling to Africa, learned that his ancestors include not only slaves, but a slave owner, as well.

Tonight, Matthew Broderick, who played a Civil War officer in the movie "Glory," learns of an ancestor's role in the Battle of Gettysburg.

"I don't think the show would fly if it was just celebrities," says Smolenyak, a veteran genealogist who worked on five of the episodes and wrote the companion book of the same name. "There has to be a story."

But after 10 years working full-time researching family stories, she's learned, "there's no such thing as a boring family."

"Who Do You Think You Are?" began on the BBC in 2004, and while the show has been licensed to other countries, the U.S. version has the same people involved as the British original.

Smolenyak met with them five years ago, and now find herself working with them. While the U.S. version doesn't have the same pace as the BBC original, Smolenyak says it's the kind of "reality" show she's proud to work with.

"The term I've always used is 'redeeming reality'," she says.

Smolenyak runs her own "reality" channel, an online genealogy outlet called Roots Television, featuring hundreds of videos available to watch for free. She's the chief family historian at Ancestry.com, has been on news shows like "Good Morning America" and "Today."

Back to "Who Do You Think You Are?," Smolenyak offers a bit of proof of just how seriously the celebs involved are taking the show. Parker gave birth to twins last June, their middle names "Elwell" and "Hodge" came from ancestors she found while filming the show.

"That shows you that she was for real," Smolenyak says.

25 March 2010

A recipe for Paska

With Easter just 10 days away on both the Orthodox and Western calendars, the Akron Beacon-Journal has published a recipe for Paska, or Pascha, the traditional sweet bread that takes up a large part of the Rusyn Easter basket traditionally taken to church for blessing.

The article quotes a parishioner of Akron's St. Michael's Byzantine Catholic Church describing "Paska is a sweet yeast bread, rich in eggs and butter, which is symbolic of Christ himself." She is Nickie Dornack of Akron, who bakes for her family and for her church family.

"Dornack follows a recipe she describes as Slovak for Easter bread that gets braided and then twisted into a wreath shape. Her recipe calls for two cups of golden raisins in the bread, which sometimes is left in unbraided round loaves.
'''We always put a little cross of dough on top,'' she said, noting that the braided shape also represents the crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus at his crucifixion."
It's not my mother's recipe (definitely no raisins in hers), but Dornack's  version is one that you may want to try:

2 cups milk 
3/4 cup butter 
6 to 8 cups all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 tsp. salt 
2 1/2 tbsp. instant dry yeast 
1 cup sugar 
5 eggs, beaten 
2 cups golden raisins 
1 tsp. vanilla, optional
Egg wash made from 1 beaten egg mixed with 2 tbsp. of water.

Warm the milk and butter together for about 3 minutes on high in a microwave.

Mix flour, salt, yeast and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add in the eggs and vanilla if using. Then add in the milk and butter mixture. Add in the raisins last.

Allow dough to mix until it pulls away from the side of the bowl. It will be a soft dough.

Place dough in a large, oiled mixing bowl. Cover with a towel and leave in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size.

Once raised, punch dough down and divide into 3 balls.

Each ball can be divided into three strands and braided, then twisted into a wreath shape. Or loaves can be left plain. Reserve a small amount of dough to shape into a cross and top each loaf with a cross.

Place loaves in round bread pans or cake pans or on flat baking sheets.

Allow to rise a second time until the loaves nearly double again, about an hour.

Brush loaves with egg wash.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

To test for doneness, stick a sharp knife in the middle of each loaf. If the knife comes out sticky, the bread needs to bake longer.

Makes 3 loaves.

23 March 2010

The Lemko Association's monumental book-keeping chore

The Lemko Association is trying to get a handle on how many of nearly 1,000 addresses it has on file for it and  a half-dozen related organizations are still the correct contact information for people with an interest in the culture and history of the Carpathian region.

A March 31 deadline has been set to collect the contact information.

In a letter this week sent to the people on the mailing list, "The Lemko Renaissance Committee" writes "At the sudden death of the treasurer of the Lemko Association last year, we acquired 80 years of membership records of the above seven organizations. We are now trying to ascertain how many of the some 1,000 addresses are true addresses of people who still maintain interest in Carpathian history and culture."

The seven groups are the Lemko Association of the United States and Canada; Carpatho-Russian American Center, Lemko Hall; Carpatho-Russian American Congress; The Lemko Resort; Thalerhof Chapel Fund; Lemko Relief, Inc.; and the First Carpathian Group, Inc.

In a separate letter, Lemko Association acting president Paul J. Best and secretary Mary Baker say that the group has "very poor records on simple 3x5 cards.

"As you may be aware, members have not been contacted for maybe 10 years and our newspaper, Karpatska Rus' hasn't appeared for 24 months. Our treasurer recently passed away and our president has been incapacitated for well over two years now.

"If we do not move soon, what little our Association owns will disappear. First, however, we must find out who is actually a member."

The effort is sponsored by the Carpathian Institute of the not-for-profit, tax-exempt educational corporation, Inter.Ed.Inc, 184 Old County Road, Higganum, Connecticut, 06441-4446.

If you haven't received the Carpathian Institute's mailing and want to be on their mailing list, you can write to the organization at the above address.

21 March 2010

Memorial radio program for Jack Poloka

Here's the audio of today's broadcast of the Carpatho-Rusyn Heritage radio program from Pittsburgh's WPIT-AM radio, honoring the program's co-host for the fast five years, Rusyn cultural leader Jack Poloka. His son, Dean, continues as sole host of the weekly half-hour program, sponsored by the Carpatho-Rusyn Society.

Minutes of March 13 meeting, Carpatho-Rusyn Society/Lake Michigan Chapter

Tim Cuprisin called the organizational meeting at the Polish Museum in Chicago to order shortly after 1 p.m.
He asked those present to introduce his or her self:  They included Fr. Bill and Charlotte P. Conjelko, Ken Cuprisin, Richard Garbera-Trojanowski, Arlene and Jim Gardiner, Jim Kaminski (National Education Committee Chair), Fr. John Lucas, Ron Pyke, Maria Sedor, Tom Sedor, Ivan Skala, John Sutko, Andrea Valasek and Lisa Terlecki.
Interim officers elected are:  Tim Cuprisin, president; Charlotte P. Conjelko, secretary and Fr. John Lucas, treasurer. 

Tim has set up a blog for the chapter.  The C-RS websites needs to include a link to it.  The blog is http://lakemichiganrusyns.blogspot.com

Jim Kaminski noted that C-R is the only ethnic group that’s growing because people are just finding out who they are.  

Other comments from the group noted that googling “Rusyn references in movies” brings up numerous references and that the Rusyn language is the Esperanto of the Eastern European languages.  (Note from Charlotte: The Polish philologist Dr. L.L. Zamenhof wrote under the name Dr. Esperanto, “one who hopes.”)
Tim asked for suggestions for chapter activities that would build public awareness of our ethnic identity and the chapter.  Suggestions included:
  • Hosting a vatra bonfire
  • Creating a book on Carpatho-Rusyns in Chicago-land  (Richard Garbera-Trojanowski has already started documenting for a book)
  • Creating a data base of Rusyn villages
  • Decorating a Christmas tree Carpatho-Rusyn style for the Museum of Science and Industry’s annual Christmas trees from around the world event
  • Having a booth at the Whiting, IN Pirohi Festival that could offer information on genealogy and/or translating.  Charlotte will check on 2010 dates and booth information.
  • Workshops on the meaning and preparation of Easter baskets, pysanki decorating, Christmas Eve Holy Supper
  • Outreach to the Slavic studies departments at area colleges such as University of Chicago and Northwestern.  Tom will contact UIC professor of Rusyn background.
Meeting sites were discussed.

The consensus was the Polish Museum was central to the coverage area and easy to get to.  Ron Pyke wrote out a personal check so that the chapter could join the museum and have free access to the facility for meetings. 

Tim will call John Righetti to speak at a chapter meeting in June.

Chapter dues are included in the national dues fee. 

After a photo session, Lisa took the group on a tour of the Polish Museum."
Respectfully submitted by
Charlotte Pribish Conjelko, Secretary 

19 March 2010

Calling all Carpatho-Rusyn law students

Time is running out, but if you know somebody of Ruthenian (Carpatho-Rusyn) descent who is enrolled in an accredited law school in the greater Chicago area, The Bohemian Lawyers Association of Chicago is offering a $1,500 scholarship.

The deadline to apply is March 31, and you can find the application here.

Competition for the scholarship from Illinois' oldest ethnic bar association is open to "all persons of Czech, Moravian, Ruthenian, Silesian or Slovak ancestry" (the main ethnic groups in the original Czechoslovak Republice) enrolled in an area law firm.

You can get more information at the Bohemian Lawyers Association Web Site.

17 March 2010

Jack Poloka, 1938-2010

Jack Poloka, 71, one of the cultural leaders of Carpatho-Rusyns in North America, died Tuesday morning in Pittsburgh. He was a co-founder and long-time program director and choreographer of Pittsburgh's Slavjane Folk Ensemble. He was also co-host, along with his son, Dean, of the Carpatho-Rusyn Heritage Radio program.

He was also a long-time officer and board member of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society, and a member of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchial Choir.

Here is the death notice from today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette"Age 71, of McKees Rocks, unexpectedly on March 16, 2010, beloved husband of Teresa Poloka; dearest father of Mark (Marion), Beth (Michael) Liberatore, Sue Anne (Eric) Kosol, Dean (Kerri), grandfather of Sarah (Chris), Nicholas, Jonathan, Mickayla, Anna, Jonathan. Also survived by many nieces & nephews. Friends received Thursday & Friday 2-4 & 6-8 at the VALERIAN F. SZAL FUNERAL HOME INC., 238 Helen St., McKees Rocks. Parastas Fri. 7pm. Funeral Sat. 9:45 followed by a liturgy of Christian Burial in Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church, 10 am."

Vičnaja jemu pamjat!

Update: Here's the full-fledged news obituary from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. And here is the story from the PIttsburgh Tribune-Review.

15 March 2010

U.S. Census: How to be Counted as a Rusyn

On March 1 all Americans will begin to receive their census forms-and it's important that you and your family members get counted as Carpatho-Rusyn. If we indicate our Rusyn ethnicity on the census, and the number of us counted as Carpatho-Rusyn increases since the last census, this increases our chances as a community to access federal funding and other programs that can support our culture in the United States. So when you get your Census form, go to Question No. 9, check White (or your race). Then fill in the words CARPATHO-RUSYN in the blocks provided under Some Other Race. 

While this may seem odd, this is the instruction we were given by the Census Bureau when we asked the question for how to capture our ethnicity on the form. So, be counted on your census form-and tell all your friends, neighbors, church fellows and family who are Carpatho-Rusyn to fill it out too.

If you write in Slavic, Lemko, Carpatho-Russian or Ruthenian there is no guarantee you wll be counted as Carpatho-Rusyn.
NOTE: This is the official position of the Carpatho-Rusyn Consortium of North America and its constituent organizations on how U.S. residents should fill out the 2010 Census to indicate Carpatho-Rusyn ancestry.

The Carpatho-Rusyn Consortium of North America consists of the following
* Carpatho-Rusyn Research Center (New York, N.Y.)
* Carpatho-Rusyn Society (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
* Rusin Association (Minneapolis, Minn.)
* Rusyn Association of North America (Kitchener, Ont.)
* Rusyn-Saskatchewan Ruthenian Culture Association (Saskatoon, Sask.)
* World Academy of Rusyn Culture (Toronto, Ont.)

14 March 2010

The Lake Michigan Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society is born

Fifteen people gathered Saturday, March 13, 2010 in a conference room at the Polish Museum of America to form a Chicago-area chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society. The organizers of the new Lake Michigan Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society came from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, and spent two hours exchanging ideas about the new group and its goals. 

A second meeting was tentatively scheduled for June 12, with more details to follow.

Afterward, Lisa Terlecki, one of our founding members, and an employee of the Polish Museum of America, took members on a tour of the museum.

11 March 2010

Organizational Meeting of the Lake Michigan Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society

The first meeting of the Lake Michigan Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday March 13, 2010, at the Polish Museum of America, 984 Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago.

The museum is not charging us for setting up of tables in its main hall, but asks a $4 donation per person, which is almost half the normal suggested donation for museum visitors.

Feel free to pass along details to anyone you think may want to be part of the core group of organizers. Among things we'll do at the meeting is choose temporary officers and schedule more of a public gathering.

How to get to the Polish Museum from:
  • North & Northwest: Travel to the Kennedy Expressway, I-90/94, and proceed toward downtown Chicago. Exit at Division Street and turn right, heading west. At the third traffic light turn left onto Milwaukee Avenue heading southeast. At the second traffic light turn right onto Augusta Boulevard then very shortly left into the parking lot behind the building. 
  • West: Use the Eisenhower Expressway, I-290, to get to the Kennedy Expressway, I-90/94. Travel on the Kennedy Expressway, I-90/94, and proceed through downtown Chicago. Exit at Augusta Boulevard. At the end of the exit ramp is the intersection of Augusta Boulevard and Milwaukee Avenue. Proceed across the intersection and turn left into the parking lot behind the building. 
  • South & Southwest: Use the Stevenson Expressway, I-55, the Dan Ryan Expressway, I-90/94 or I-57 to get to the Kennedy Expressway, I-90/94. Travel on the Kennedy Expressway, I-90/94, and proceed through downtown Chicago. Exit at Augusta Boulevard. At the end of the exit ramp is the intersection of Augusta Boulevard and Milwaukee Avenue. Proceed across the intersection and turn left into the parking lot behind the building