Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Where, Why & What For...

"Where are you from?" Most Australian's get asked this question; particularly if, like me, you have dark hair, dark eyes and an olive complexion. Most people just assume you must be from somewhere else especially since, according to the 2006 census, over 20% of the Australian population were born overseas. If, like me, you were born here there's still a pretty high likelihood your parents or their parents or grandparents were not.

Growing up I was never particularly interested in my family history. My grandparents used to tell me some great stories but I never really paid attention to the details. So that's what this project is all about... the details. I've started following those faded footprints and have rediscovered those stories, and found some remarkable new ones.

Let's start with my immediate family. My father - Dr Andre Haski - died on Boxing Day 2008. He was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1937. His family were affluent, with servants and a comfortable life, but then, with the creation of the State of Israel, life for Egypt's Jewish minority became untenable. He migrated to Australia in 1949 with his parents and his older sister. His mother was of Polish stock. His father's family had been in Egypt for a generation - his grandfather possibly coming from Ottoman Turkey. Check out the photo of my father's grandfather standing to attention in his full Ottoman Army uniform complete with Fez, sword and mustache. Who was he? What was his life like? Is it true he had to leave Turkey because he was found in bed with his commanding officer's wife (that's the story anyway!!)?

My mother's family (Eizenberg/ Davis) have been in Australia since the 19th Century. They were shop keepers and publicans, lawyers and fishmongers, some even discovered gold! What was it like for a Jewish family on the goldfields? What inspired them to leave their homes and come to Australia?

This blog is about answering these questions, sharing my serendipitous discoveries and tapping into the collective wisdom of the Internet to help fill in the gaps. If you read this, find it interesting and think you can help me out please post a comment.

My intention is to follow each family line as far back as I can and see where the trail leads. In 2010 I will travel to the towns, cities and shtetls my forebears traveled from to try and gain some insight into their lives to figure out just exactly "where I come from"

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