National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Honors in Practice, volume 4. Copyright 2008 National Collegiate Honors Council.


Betty Krasne’s A Dangerous Thing: A Memoir of Learning and Teaching opens with her paternal grandparents, the Krasnoschezeks (the name means “red cheeks” and probably refers to a beard), leaving the Ukraine and its pogroms for the safety and hope of America. Once here, they set up as retail grocers, then wholesalers, then owners of Krasdale Foods and Bernice Foods. Both sides of the family make a good living. Betty’s mother’s parents, the Goldsteins, own a Philadelphia brownstone with a Steinway grand in the living room; her father’s family lives in a large apartment on Manhattan’s Central Park West. They drive Packards and Cadillacs. The grandchildren go to Vassar, Columbia, and Mount Holyoke. In 1936, thirty years after their father’s emigration, two Krasne sons and their wives board the Queen Mary on the first leg of a trip back to the old country, with sixteen bags containing dozens of coats, dresses, sweaters, and medical supplies to help their family in Odessa. The memoir begins as a Jewish-American success story.