Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois

“Making the Dead Dance: How to Breathe Life into Your Ancestors” by S.L. (Sandi) Wisenberg

  • 22 Nov 2015
  • 12:30 PM
  • Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Rd, Northbrook
Program: Sunday, November 22, 2015

Program starts 2:00 p.m. at Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook.

Making the Dead Dance: How to Breathe Life into Your Ancestors will be the topic of a workshop presentation by author S.L. (Sandi) Wisenberg at the 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois meeting. The event will be held at Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill.

The JGSI meeting facilities at Temple Beth-El will open at 12:30 p.m. to accommodate those who want to use or borrow genealogy library materials, get help with genealogy websites or ask genealogical questions before the main program begins at 2 p.m. For more information, phone 312-666-0100.

In this workshop, she will explain what strategies have worked for nonfiction writers who write about their ancestors. These writers have stuck to the facts, though they’ve allowed themselves a supposition or two.

Attendees are invited to bring information about one particular ancestor, especially photos, as well as questions. This session will be informal, with plenty of chances to ask questions and time for a few short writing exercises. Participants will leave with ideas for more research and new strategies, and excitement about the possibilities, according to the speaker.

“You’ve found the names, you’ve located the shtetl or city, gone through ship manifests and census records — but all they add up to are names and dates on paper or in a computer file. How do you take the bare bones of someone’s life and turn them into flesh and blood?” Wisenberg asks.

S.L. (Sandi) Wisenberg was named for her grandfather Solomon Louis Wisenberg, who traveled from Kishinev in Moldavia/Moldova/Bessarabia to New York City to Macon, Ga., to Laurel, Miss., to Houston, Texas. She has researched and written about him and other relatives, and is working on a nonfiction book about the American South, part of which is about her family.

She’s the author of “The Sweetheart is In,” a collection of short fiction; “Holocaust Girls: History, Memory & Other Obsessions,” an essay collection; and “The Adventures of Cancer Bitch,” an autobiographical and political chronicle.

She’s spoken about her work at the Houston Jewish Book Fair and many universities, mostly recently, University of Tampa and Brown University. She’s published fiction, journalism pieces and creative nonfiction in The New Yorker, Tikkun, Moment, Tablet, Jewish Daily Forward, and in many literary magazines and creative writing textbooks.

Her work has appeared in a number of anthologies, including “Neurotica: Jewish Writers on Sex” and “Brief Encounters:  A Collection of Contemporary Nonfiction.” She was a feature writer years ago at the Miami Herald. Among her fellowships and awards are those from the Illinois Arts Council, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Pushcart, and National Endowment for the Humanities. She loves reading other people’s mail in archives.

She has degrees from Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her first job after college was at the Highland Park News.



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