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Bubbe’s Web

So you want I should tell you some stories?” Thus begins a visit to “Bubbe’s Back Porch” (http://www.bubbe.com), a Web site created by artist and writer Abbe Don to celebrate that most precious of Jewish treasures, the bubbe. She is my bubbe, your bubbe, our bubbe, sitting in her kitchen while the soup simmers and the matzah balls cook, telling us about something she rarely speaks about: her life.

Bubbe’s story is familiar: a Jewish immigrant woman who has devoted her life to her family and home. Most of us have a bubbe like her. But her story is not told often, or accorded the honor of written biography. This site resurrects a lost history, presenting the oral autobiography of a woman who represents a whole generation of unrecognized women.

The highlighted links on the site lead us through bubbe’s life, occasionally offering links to sidetracks, like a collection of old letters or a list of Enghsh words that bubbe looks up in order to understand the news. In an excellent complement to the prose, “Bubbe’s Back Porch” is illustrated with familiar graphics ranging from the front of a box of Manischewitz matzah meal to family photos.

The Web format is excellent for this type of narrative, which unfolds as bubbe might tell it. Don, who describes herself has having “one foot firmly planted in the [computer] industry and another in the art world,” immediately recognized the potential of the Web for a new kind of storytelling. While the general flow of bubbe’s story is linear, Don’s goal was to create what she calls “interactive fiction,” a kind of post-modern storytelling inspired by her own great grandmother’s stories.

This site leaves room for more of these stories to be recorded. The bubbe of Don’s imagination is not just a storyteller; she is also a listener On the front page, after the introductions are complete, bubbe says, “You should tell me about your own grandmother.” At the bottom of the page is a form for sending in a story of your own, which will then be posted on “Bubbe’s Back Porch.” Which is where bubbe’s stories always have been—but now there are a whole lot of people listening.