Retracing Jewish Roots on North Dakota Prairies
Rebecca Bender, co-author of STILL, shares stories and lessons about life, family, and faith.
Date & Time:
12:00 PM - 1:10 PM
Iversen Center for Faith, Room TBD
In 2013, Rebecca Bender and her son visited the remote North Dakota Jewish cemetery where her great-grandfather is buried. Her son asked about the Jewish immigrants who escaped Russian pogroms to become North Dakota farmers in 1905. With few answers for her son, Bender retraced this history of Jewish pioneers on the Dakota prairies and co-authored with her father the book Still (North Dakota State University Press, 2019), which won the 2019 Independent Press Award for Judaism and was inspired by Bender’s successful campaign to place the Jewish cemetery on the National Register of Historic Places.
Jerry Klinger, president of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, remarks, “Still is the Benders' incredible family story of pioneer Jews who came with toughness and determination, turning the soil of the hard Northern Plains to build and become one with America.” In this program, Rebecca Bender will share inspiring stories she learned in the process of writing her book, which combines research with her father’s memories. Not only is Bender’s project remarkable, but it may inspire listeners to retrace their own family histories and find future guidance from stories of their past.
Rebecca Bender practiced law as a securities litigator in Minnesota for 18 years, after graduating from the University of Minnesota Law School. More recently she has worked with children, first as a volunteer Cub Scout den leader and t-ball coach, and then as a special education teacher’s aide and substitute teacher. Some things have never changed for Rebecca: enjoyment of history and hearing uplifting stories, taking pride in family and Jewish traditions, and gratitude and appreciation for life in America, where she and her son are free to practice their religion and to work hard to achieve their goals.
This event is sponsored by the Jay Phillips Center, the Center for Campus Ministry, the American Culture and Difference Program, and in collaboration with the Theology Department.