Saturday, April 02, 2011

Gwyneth Paltrow in WDYTYA?

The  Who Do You Think You Are episode starring Gwyneth Paltrow was different from other episodes this season where the focus was on just one ancestor. Gwyneth followed numerous branches of her tree and focused on a number of ancestors. 

On Gwyneth's mother side of the family, she found her great-great-grandmother Rosamund Isabel Stoute who, along with her older sister, Martha Stoute, had the courage to leave Barbados in 1868 for New York for better prospects after their parents died.   Gwyneth sees the parallel to herself in her great-great-grandmother's confidence in the ability to succeed.

The TV show briefly mentioned Gwyneth's mother's Pennsylvania Dutch heritage, but since Palatines - the ancestors of many Pennsylvania Dutch - were already covered in Tim McGraw's episode,  I suppose that is why this branch of her family was not investigated during this episode of WDYTYA.

On Gwyneth's father's side, her great-grandmother, Ida "Edith" Hyman Paltrow, was said to have been an uncaring mother, a hoarder, and perhaps a little mentally unbalanced.  Wanting to look a little deeper into Ida's story, Gwyneth found that Ida started out with a bright future as a teacher attending college in 1897, amazing for the times, but left college the same year her mother and brother died.  Later records show that one of Ida's daughters died at aged three, run over by a wagon, while she was pregnant with another child.

Ida's husband, Meyer Paltrowitz, was the son of a rabbi, Simcha "Simon" Patrowitch, who wrote a book that showed incredible reverance for his father, Tzvi Hirsch Pelterowicz, a revered rabbi.   In the Holocaust Memorial book, Tzvi Hirsch Pelterowicz , is spoken of as a master of Kabbalah, and is said to have been a miracle worker by stopping a fire from consuming the village of Nowogrod in northeast Poland.  Gwyneth's study of Kabbalah today is another parallel she sees to her past.

At the end of the episode, Gwyneth Paltrow, was able to put into words why genealogy and family history is so illuminating.  She says,
"There is this energy in your ancestry - it's more than just facts and who was born where.   Seeing both sides of my family in myself is amazing.  You see traits going through (the generations) and understand yourself a lot better...  It's funny because you have these like echoes of your own relationships. It's amazing to see so many parallels that keep coming together."
She concludes,
'"We need to take responsibility for all of our stories and teach our children about where we come from in both the good ways and the bad because the most meaningful thing about our history is what we learn from them."
Amen to that. 

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