Retracing Jewish Roots On the North Dakota Prairie – Stories and Lessons About Life, Family, and Faith

This is a virtual presentation. Rebecca Bender, who spent most of her life in Minnesota, and now makes her home in South Dakota, is co-author with her father, Kenneth Bender, of the book Still (North Dakota State University Press 2019).  Still has won the Independent Press Award (1st Place) and Midwest Book Award (Gold Medal).

Still is an inspiring, tragic, and heartwarming nonfiction biography/memoir of five generations of a Jewish family on three continents, and Rebecca’s journey to collect, preserve, and share her ancestors’ unique stories. From persecution and pogroms in Russia, to homesteading on the rocky plains of North Dakota as first-time farmers, to the beaches of Normandy, France during the D-Day Invasion, to an encounter with the Prime Minister of Israel, and more, Still has universal themes of perseverance, community, faith overcoming challenges, and trying to live a good life, with tradition as a guide.

Rebecca’s prose and poetry have appeared in Paper Brigade Daily (Jewish Book Council), the Journal of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, the Forward, the Jewish Veteran, and North Dakota Quarterly. She has spoken at numerous sites, including events sponsored by the Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota Historical Societies, as well as the Homestead National Historical Park in Nebraska.

The talk is free. It is sponsored by the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Studies, with support from the Jay and Rose Phillips Foundation of Minnesota. Books will be available for purchase and signing following the presentations, for those who wish, or you may purchase a book prior to the talk. Still is available online at,, and Germans from Russia Heritage Collection at NDSU, as well as being available for purchase or order at your favorite independent bookstore.

For additional information, feel free to contact Rebecca, [email protected], or Dr. John Merkle, Director of Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Studies at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University, [email protected].


September 13
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
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