Mom's Yiddish Word of the Day
Robbin Anderson is proud to say she has a very close relationship with her mother, Marcie. The two talk nearly every day, and live just close enough (near Hicksville, NY) that they can pop in on one another... easily. However, recently, the mother-daughter pair have found a way to use Facebook to strengthen not only their family ties, but also their cultural ones.
"Growing up I would hear [my mother] use Yiddish words, but I never paid much attention to what they meant," explained Robbin.
One night, when Robbin's husband asked Marcie a question, Marcie responded in Yiddish. Suddenly, Robbin realized how little she actually knew of the language.
"I started asking what some of those Yiddish words from my childhood meant," Robbin said.
From this simple question her mother began a Facebook tradition—a "Yiddish Word of the Day." Every day, Marcie posts a new word as her status update. From there, Robbin can guess what it means, or provoke conversation on the topic.
Of the words shared so far, Robbin has one favorite: "bashert." It relates to destiny, signaling that something was, or was not, meant to be.
To Robbin's delight, friends also join her in guessing the words from time to time. More often than not, it remains a personal experience between her and her mother.
"For some crazy reason this new tradition of ours brings me comfort," said Robbin. "It's the first thing I check when I turn the computer on in the morning."
Birth Mother Locates Daughter
On Dec. 31, 2009, Janet Mackenzie-Cohen received a large envelope from the government of Ontario, Canada. The package contained court records, hospital papers and a crucial piece of information—her daughter's name, Karyn. Janet had been looking for Karyn for decades, nearly since the day Janet had given her daughter up for adoption in 1965.
Though Janet finally had her daughter's adopted name, she had no clue as to her whereabouts or how to contact her. "I didn't know where to start," Janet said. "My first thought was not to frighten her." Eventually, a friend suggested she try Facebook.
Janet created an account, and within a matter of minutes discovered Karyn. More than anything, Janet recalls the overwhelming feeling of relief that accompanied her discovery.
When Karyn was born, she was dangerously small—a mere 3 pounds, 14 ounces. Janet was told the child would likely not survive, and if she did, it would only be with serious difficulty. However, when Janet discovered her daughter on Facebook, she found her to be a happy, healthy mother of her own.
After sending Karyn a message, the two became Facebook friends and now talk regularly through Facebook Chat. Content for now with their level of communication, they have plans to reunite in 2011.
"I knew that I would never go to my grave without making superhuman efforts to find my baby, but in 1965, who would dream that Facebook would make it so easy?" Janet said. "I am totally grateful."
Staying Close a Thousand Miles Away
Valerie Collins of Indiana was determined not to let distance keep her apart from her 88-year-old mother, Alice, who lives in Arizona. In October, the mother-daughter duo turned to Facebook to stay in touch.
When Alice recently suffered a broken foot, Valerie used Facebook to check in on her mother, remind her of upcoming doctors appointments and discuss the results of her lab tests. She also was able to connect with Alice's neighbors in Arizona, important contacts in case an emergency should ever arise. "It's a comfort knowing someone is nearby," Valerie said.
Of course, Valerie also uses Facebook to connect her mother with two very important family members—Valerie's two sons. Due to the long distance separating them, Alice does not get to see her grandchildren in person very often. Now through photos and videos, she has the opportunity to watch them grow.
"Facebook is giving us an opportunity to share across thousands of miles," explained Valerie.
Valerie also keeps the boys updated on their grandmother's activities, and the kids recently got a kick out of Alice's profile picture (shown to the right).
Valerie even posted a video of her son's entry at a music competition, and marveled that "Alice was able to see the video just minutes after the show!"
Sara is an intern on Facebook's communications team.