Jay Phillips Center Programs

Retracing Jewish Roots on the North Dakota Prairie


Rebecca Bender

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In this program Rebecca Bender, co-author with her father, Kenneth Bender, shares lessons she learned about life, family, and faith while writing the book Still, which is an account of five generations of a Jewish family, first as the Benderskys fleeing persecution in Russia and later as the Benders living and working as farmers and storekeepers on the Dakota prairie and, later still, in other locations and occupations. The book answers the question posed to Rebecca by a reporter: “Are you still Jewish?” In 2019 Still won the gold medal in the category of religion and philosophy from the Midwest Independent Publishers Association, and in 2020 it won first place in the internationally-competitive Independent Press Award in the category of Judaism. Rebecca Bender graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School and then practiced law in Minnesota as a securities litigator for 18 years before turning her attention to the research that went into her book Still. Her prose and poetry have appeared in a number of journals, including the Journal of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, the North Dakota Quarterly, the Jewish Book Council’s Paper Brigade Daily, and The Forward.

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