Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Correction: URL for Lower East Side of New York Exhibition

The correct URL for the Museum's "Lower East Side of New York" exhibition is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/les.htm . It is listed incorrectly in the previous posting.

Also it has been pointed out that the video clip on this page as well as the one included on the Lower East Side fishmongers page is not viewable using either the Firefox or Safari browser and currently must be viewed using Internet Explorer. The situation is currently being worked on and if and when it is remedied, it will be announced on this blog. Please stay tuned....

Short film clip of the Lower East Side, 1903

You can now keep abreast of all the new material the Museum puts online by using the link www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/les-htm . On this webpage, if you click on the arrow in the center of the frame, you can play a silent minute and a half film clip taken on the Lower East Side in 1903.

Further, if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can click on the words "Enter here" and you can peruse the entire list of old articles about the Lower East Side that appear at the Museum. The articles currently number twenty-five with more to come. Each listing comes with a link to the pertinent article.

"The Jewish Ghetto," coming in 2010

The Museum of Family History is currently working on an exhibition due out in 2010 entitled "The Jewish Ghetto." It will predominantly be about the ghettos created during the Second World War into which Jewish citizens were forceably relocated. The exhibition will include photographs, first and third person accounts, newspaper articles, audio clips and more.

It is requested of you, the Museum blog reader, to participate in this exhibition by sending the Museum, primarily via email at postmaster@museumoffamilyhistory.com, material you might have that can be used in this exhibition, having to do with these ghettos. If you have any questions about what material might be useful, etc., please contact the Museum at the aforementioned email address.

This is a "people's museum," so to speak, so your participation is greatly encouraged.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

What Was it Like to Attend Services in an East Side Synagogue in 1905?

So, maybe you've wondered what it was like to attend religious services at a Lower East Side synagogue at the start of the twentieth century?? The Museum has already given you so many glimpses into Jewish life on the Lower East Side, this is but another for you to read about and learn about, and an important one at that.

You can certainly form a visual impression of these services by reading the Museum's 25th article within its "Lower East Side of New York" series entitled "Impressive Services in Synagogues of the Ghetto."

Especially mentioned here is the Chaari Zedek Synagogue and their cantor, A. Minkowsky (who had arrived not long ago from Odessa). Also mentioned in this article is a synagogue on Forsyth Street (probably the Kol Israel Ansche Poland synagogue), Kahal Adath Jeshurun (on Eldridge Street), and two locations where many poor Russian Jews would go to pray, the Henry Street Synagogue and the People's Synagogue, the latter of which was sponsored by the Educational Alliance.


You can access this article by clicking here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Litvak and Galitzianer East Side Tailor: How Both Tried to Better Themselves in the 1890s

It seems that there were two ghettos, or Jewish quarters, on the Lower East Side in the 1890s, at least according to an article published in an 1895 edition of the Sun newspaper of New York City. There was the Russian or Lithuanian (or Litvak) quarter, mostly situated around Hester Street, and a quarter surrounding Pitt Street, where many Galicians, Hungarians and Bohemians lived. Both had their own "Pig Markets," which meant that at that time one could buy almost anything in those markets except pork.

It is pointed out that the Russians far outnumbered the Austrian workers, but that the Austrian worker made up for their lack of numbers by their higher grade of work.

The author of this article compares and contrasts those living in both quarters, and describes how, for instance, the tailors involved in the coat-making industry of both quarters tried to better themselves, e.g. to learn English, and to better educate themselves in order to advance at work, etc.

You can read the interesting article, entitled "New York's Two Ghettos," by clicking here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Fishmongers of Fulton Street, 1903

Might any of your family members have shopped for fish on the Lower East Side at the Fulton Street Fish Market around 1903?

You can now read an article that talks about that place during that time and discusses the various personalities that were well known to those who worked at and frequented the Fulton Street Fish Market.

Also, the Museum has added a video-only clip of more than two minutes (courtesy of the Internet Archive and Library of Congress) of an East Side fish market, filmed on May 1, 1903, less than five months after this article was published in the New York Daily Tribune.

This article details yet another interesting aspect of daily life that existed for Jews and non-Jews alike on the East Side of Manhattan at the turn of the twentieth century.

The article can be found by clicking here.

Monday, December 21, 2009

"The Russian Jew in the United States" -- Entire book now online

Many of you, those of you who follow the progress of the Museum of Family History, are already familiar with the Museum's exhibition, "The Russian Jew in the United States," which is based on the book of the same name. The book is also known as "The Immigrant Jew in America," both being published as separate editions between 1905 and 1907.

It should be noted that simply because the title implies that the book is about "the Russian Jew," i.e. the Russian Jew in America, during the time the book was written and published, Russia, or rather the Russian Empire, was composed of more countries (or parts of countries) than Russia alone. The editor distinguishes the Russian population in the United States from the Spanish-Portuguese and German populations, each being considered a "distinctly marked strata of population."

The Museum would like to announce that the entire book (with minor exceptions) is now online at the Museum of Family History and is ready for your perusal. The first part of the book was put online in time for the IAJGS Philadelphia 2009 conference. Post-conference the New York section was added, and just completed is the section about Chicago. I recommend that you at least "leaf through" the three sections; perhaps you will find material of interest to you. It does give a good picture of what Jewish life was like around the turn of the twentieth century for many Jewish immigrants.

Each major part of the book, i.e. for Philadelphia, New York and Chicago, is composed of ten sections, i.e. the introduction, "General Aspects of the Population," "Philanthropy," "Economic and Industrial Condition," "Religious Activity," "Educational Influences," "Amusements and Social Life," "Politics," "Health and Sanitation," and "Law and Litigation." Separate sections published irrespective of any particular city, are named "Distribution," and "Rural Settlements" in the Eastern and Western States. There are also pages dedicated to the Jew in Russia as well as the Russian Jew in the U.S., the latter written by famed Abraham Cahan, editor and founder of the Yiddish newspaper, the Jewish Daily Forward.

The link to the overall exhibition is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ija-main.htm. Simply click on the "enter" link found within the bottom half of the paqe. You may then chose the section or sections of your liking.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More on the Lower East Side

The Museum of Family History has now tripled the number of articles made available to you about the Lower East Side of Manhattan from the late 1800s through the first decade of the twentieth century. Here is the list of the eleven "new" and interesting articles:

--East Side Women Riot.
--East Side Love of Learning.
--East Side Fashions.
--East Side Weddings.
--The East Side Boy.
--A School for Hebrew.
--American Jews Becoming Unorthodox.
--A New Social Centre: The Candy Store.
--In the East Side Cafes.
--A Visit to the Largest Public School in the World.
--New Names for East Siders.

The full list of more than one hundred articles found within the Museum can be found by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Life on the Lower East Side of New York, circa 1900

None of us were alive around the turn of the twentieth century, so we've never had the opportunity to experience life within the overcrowded lower East Side of New York City. All we can do is read and listen to stories told about life during this time, and by utilizing our imagination, form a picture in our mind--probably many pictures--of different scenes or events that might have taken place then.

One such avenue for learning about life then is by reading old newspaper articles. After all, they were timely, having been written most often within a short time of any event that might have been written about in an article.

For your perusal then, four more articles have been added to the Museum's ongoing exhibition, "The Lower East Side of New York."

Here is a bit about the four "new" articles, all originally published in the New York Daily Tribune:

--"Playgrounds on the Asphalt," published in 1896, discusses how the asphalt pavement in the city allows for a greater choice of play area's for the city's youth, and in some ways is advantageous;

--"Thursday in Hester Street," published in 1898, talks about the pushcarts and the many street peddlers who once plied their wares on Hester, Essex and Norfolk Streets;

--"East Side Shopping: Where the Delights of Haggling are Practiced...," published in 1901, tells us of the interactions between the buyer and seller and how "haggling" is almost an art form;

--"Rowdies Annoy Jews," published in 1905, explains to the reader how "ruffians," often times local gang members, used to harrass the Jews of the lower East Side as they go to the synagogue and elsewhere to celebrate the Jewish New Year (and how little the local police did about it.)

Links to these, as well as ninety other old newspaper articles, can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/archive-newspaper.htm.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Not Now, Not Ever" - Jadzia's Story of Survival

You will most likely be interested in reading the story of Jean Klein/Frank (Jadzia), who is a Holocaust survivor; or rather she was, as she passed away in Malibu, California in June of 2009.

She was born in Kalisz, Poland, and during the war traveled to, and lived in, Belchatow, Lodz, Warsaw and finally Czestochowa. I just finished reading and getting her complete book (only seventy-six pages) online. It is a sad story as most of these stories of survival are, yet it is also an intimate and moving account of her life and her survival.

Much of the account takes place in Czestochowa, so this should be interesting for you to read, at minimum those of you who had family there during World War II.

The link to this is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/wims-klein-jean.htm.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Jews of Asia: Synagogues and Memorials

In the beginnings of this new exhibition at the Museum of Family History entitled "The Jews of Asia," you will over time find a myriad of subject matter that might be of interest to you.

As many of you know, the Asian continent is quite large, with a population of approximately four billion people. Many of you also may know that the population of Jews who live in Asia today is relatively small, yet, in the first half of the twentieth century many Jews immigrated there to escape their lives in Europe for any of a number of reasons.

The Museum will be presenting to you various aspects of Jewish life in Asia, from various perspectives, predominantly historical.

The Museum's first offering to you is an exhibition subsection entitled "Synagogues and Memorials." This offering is yet incomplete, but nevertheless what is available to you now will be worth visiting if only for a few minutes. Currently you can see photographs taken in the 1990s and 2000s in the following locations: Hong Kong and Shanghai, China; Bombay (Mumbai) and Cochin (Kochi) in India; Rangoon (Yangon) in Burma (Myanmar), Singapore and Istanbul, Turkey (i.e. the Asian side of the Bosphorus).

More synagogue and memorial photos will be added over time, along with other relevant information. Of course, if you've visited any such sites not currently included within this exhibition and have photos, video of such sites, please consider contacting me at steve@museumoffamilyhistory.com.

Also in the works are historical accounts--some first-hand accounts--of Jewish life in Asia, and when such material is ready for your perusal, it will be announced on this Museum of Family History blog.

The link to the aforementioned exhibition is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ce/jasia/jasia.htm

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Pogrom in Gomel, September 1903

For those of you are interested to learn more about the pogrom that occurred in Gomel, Belarus (then part of the Russian Empire) in 1903, you now can read an article from the San Francisco Call newspaper published less than two weeks after the pogrom. The article is based on a report written by an Associated Press correspondent who visited Gomel after the pogrom.

Also included on this webpage is a letter written to the Editor of the Washington Times, published five days after the Call article was published. The letter was written by Rabbi J. T. Loeb of Congregation Adath Israel in Washington, D.C.

The link to the article ane letter is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mfh-pogroms-gomel.htm.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Museum's Cemetery Project's New Burial Data

The Museum of Family History has increased its offering of burial data and gravestone photographs to include ten more plots from Beth Moses Cemetery and one more from Wellwood Cemetery, both located in Pinelawn, New York.

These society plots are associated with the following towns and countries:

Bitola (Monastir), Macedonia
Divin, Belarus
Khoshchevatoye, Ukraine
Novogrudok, Belarus
Pomoryany, Ukraine
Pukhovichi, Belarus
Raygoroduk, Ukraine
Samokhvalovichi, Belarus
Shargorod, Ukraine
Shumskoye, Ukraine
Stavishche, Ukraine
Voynilov, Ukraine

The information from these gravestones has not yet been entered into the Museum's database, but hopefully this will be done within the next two to three months. If your family genealogical research involves any of these towns, please let me know (along with the surname associated with the specific town), and I will keep an eye out for you.

Once databased, you will be able to check an alphabetized list of unique surnames for each plot. Just visit the Museum's Cemetery Project and look at the list of towns and simply click on the name of that town. The link for the Project is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/cp-main.htm.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Liberation of the Ohrdruf Concentration Camp, as told by a G.I. who was there....

Every day that he served overseas, for fifteen months, (with a very few days exception due to conditions and movements in the Battle of the Bulge), Carl Henry used the office typewriter from his desk job as Warrant Officer Junior Grade and then Chief Warrant Officer to write to his wife - one, two, three or four pages a day. The letters are preserved in books assembled by his wife Edith, one book for every month of his service overseas.

These letters are typed on onion-skin paper and with very few excisions from the censors, since he knew how to censor himself, contain detailed, sometimes intimate, record of the experiences, sights, and feelings of a literate and affectionate man. His somewhat obsessive personality serves to increase the detail of the description, both about war-shattered Europe and his own feelings and those of his buddies. From “Somewhere in England” to “Somewhere in Germany”, here then is an enthralling document of the Third Army’s liberation of Europe.

The first letter to be presented to you is dated April 11, 1945, a week after the camp was liberated. Henry describes the horrific scenes he witnessed.

The link to this letter is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mfh-rm009-ohrdruf-henry.htm. The Museum hopes to present more such interesting letters in the future.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1904

For those of you with at least a passing interest in the history of Brooklyn, New York, you should read the Museum's newest article entitled "New Hebrew Quarter Across New Bridge." This article originally appeared in the New-York Daily Tribune in April of 1904, not longer after the opening of the Williamsburg Bridge, which connects Manhattan with Brooklyn.

The article discusses the transformation of Williamsburg (referred to as "Dutchtown"). This transformation was inevitable once the bridge was built, as it connected the overcrowded and more expensive island of Manhattan with one of its outlying boroughs, Brooklyn, which was back then "bucolic". Also, since it was now easier to get to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, it should be a surprise to no one that real estate prices went up and a boom occurred.

You will get a flavor of the neighborhood if you visit www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/bklyn-williamsburg-dt.htm .

A link to this article, along with more than eighty other interesting articles, mainly published in the early years of the twentieth century, can be found within the Museum's Newspaper Archives at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/archive-newspaper.htm .

Sunday, December 6, 2009

More on the Bialystok Pogrom of June 1906

As a follow-up to the recenty announced article on the pogroms that befell the Jews of Europe between 1903 and 1906, the Museum of Family History now makes available an article that appeared in the June 29, 1906 edition of the San Francisco Call newspaper. As some of you already know, the Bialystok pogrom occurred just two to three weeks before this, between June 12 and June 14, 1906.

You can read this article which also contains reports from a correspondent who went to Bialystok after the pogrom. While censored, he reported back on what he found.

The link to this article is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mfh-pogroms-bialystok-sfcall.htm .

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Letters from Leipzig

Within the six years preceding the start of World War II, a non-Jewish German woman named Ilse Gerngrofs wrote four letters to a Jewish friend in New Zealand. The Museum presents these to you now so that they may serve as an example of the anti-Semitic sentiments that existed in Germany before and after Hitler came into power.

You will most likely feel offended as I do by her remarks, but nevertheless it will give you some insight into the mind of many who lived in Germany during these pre-war years.
The link is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/as-letters-leipzig.htm .

Sunday, November 29, 2009

From Kishineff to Bialystok: A Table of Pogroms From 1903 to 1906

The Museum of Family History would like to announce the presence on its site of an important report and a table of pogroms committed between 1903 and 1906.

First, you will be able to read over the introduction and commentary to all of this as published by the American Jewish Committee in their American Jewish Year Book, Volume 8 (1906-1907).

Secondly, you will be able to peruse a table of more than two hundred and fifty towns and cities in Europe where pogroms occurred. Within this table is a listing of the damage caused in these locations (when available), as well as some general remarks made about each pogrom. You will also find for each pogrom event listed, the date of occurrence, the name of the town or city, the gubernia, the overall population of the location and the Jewish population, though numbers are not given for every town or city. There is also a supplemental table of pogroms in other locations in November 1905 not included in this larger table.

To make your town search easier, there is also a table that lists alphabetically all the locations with a reference made with each to the entry number in the large table. There is also a table that lists the gubernias in which pogroms occurred, and their overall and Jewish populations.

Most interestingly, though thoroughly depressing, is the Report of the Duma Commission of the Bialystok Massacre that occurred in June 1906. A goodly report is presented to you here as it reviews in detail many incidents that occurred during the pogrom, especially to the Jewish population. Those of you who might have had families that lived in Bialystok may wish to read the report thoroughly to see if any family names are mentioned. For those of you who have an interest in a particular town, this report and its included tables are for you.

Lastly, the debates that occurred in the Duma as the report was being presented is interesting to read too. You can also read of the resolutions proposed and passed within the U. S. Congress from 1905-1906.

It should be mentioned that all this is being presented to you at the Museum courtesy of the American Jewish Committee Archives.

All of the aforementioned information can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ajc-yb-v08-pogroms.htm .

Please send all comments via the Comments section of this blog. I hope all this is helpful and informative to you.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

From the East Side to Jerusalem and Return: Wearers of the "Mogen David" Enlisted in a British Contingent to Fight the Turks

Reuben Bushmitz, a Jew from the Lower East Side, was recruited by and fought with the Brits against the Turks in 1918.

You can read Bushmitz's story at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/jim-bushmitz.htm . This article falls within the purview of the Museum's "The Jew in the Military" section.

The article reads in part:

The British Canadian Recruiting Mission...became the objective for these young men who wanted to win back from the infidel the land sacred to Abraham and Isaac and David....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The World of the Yiddish Theatre, cir 1903-10

For those of you who are interested in the Yiddish Theatre, the Museum now presents to you five new articles first published between 1903-10. One can imagine one's Yiddish-speaking ancestors at least once attending one of these performances for entertainment and perhaps an escape from their daily grind.

Included within this set of five articles is an article about famed Yiddish actress Berta Kalich (from Lviv) and this article talks about her, her acting ability and the play she performed in, Jacob Gordin's "Kreutzer Sonata."

Another article about Yiddish actors and theatre houses in 1903, another one about a Yiddish actors studio that was opened up in 1906 in hopes of creating versatile Yiddish actors.

There is another interesting one about the "Yiddish Rialto" (which encompassed a number of theatrical cafes between Grand and Canal Streets in lower Manhattan) and about the politics of the Yiddish theatre, and the many characters who hired actors here and did business.

You might also be interested in the article about Russian playwright Leonid Andreyev who penned the play "Anathema" which was then translated into Yiddish.

All very interesting articles; hope you like them. The links to these five articles can be found under "Lives in the Yiddish Theatre" in the Museum's Newspaper Archives page at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/archive-newspaper.htm.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Israel Zangwill and the "Children of the Ghetto": A Real Portrayal of Jews

In 1909 in front of the Beth Israel Literary Society in Houston, Texas, a Miss Sara Segal spoke about writer Israel Zangwill's true portrayal of Jews in his popular book "Children of the Ghetto: A Study of a Peculiar People," which was written in 1892. Zangwill subsequently turned his book into a play that was performed in New York City seven years later.

Miss Segal remarks that for the most part Jews had not to that point been portrayed in literature in some fictionalized way, not as they truly are. In his book, Zangwill describes a myriad of interesting Jewish characters who more truly represent what the Jew is "in fact; not in fiction." She recites several passages from the book to illustrate what she believes presents the Jew in a more realistic light. According to Miss Segal, "The book consists of a mass of human interest as varied in its fun and sadness as life itself."

You might like to enhance your experience by imagining, if you wish, that you are in Houston, Texas during the latter part of winter in 1909, attending this Literary Society talk. You may also like to read aloud to yourself her talk as if you were the presenter, which might perhaps help you to more fully appreciate her words.

You can find the transcript of her talk as found in Houston's Jewish Herald at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/wjw-zangwill-cog.htm.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Through the Eye of the Needle: Fabric of Survival--An Exhibition of the Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz

Esther Nisenthal Krinitz, along with her sister Mania, were the only members of their family, and among the few Jews in their Polish village, to survive the Holocaust. At the age of fifteen, Esther refused the Nazi order for the Jews to report to a nearby railroad station for relocation. She and her sister separated from their family and never saw them again.

In 1977, at the age of fifty, Esther began creating works of fabric art to depict her stories of survival. Trained as a dressmaker but untrained in art, she created a collection of thirty-six needlework and fabric collage pictures in strong, vivid colors and striking details with a sense of folk-like realism. Meticulously stitched words beneath the pictures provide a narrative. While the pictures are visually pleasing, almost cheerful, a closer examination reveals the stark incongruity between the pastoral surroundings and the human violence, terror and betrayal that are their subjects.

Bernice Steinhardt and Helene McQuade, Esther's two daughters, have honored their mother's life and memory by creating a website called Art & Remembrance, which is designed to help combat racism and social injustice. The Museum of Family History proudly presents all three dozen of Esther's works, replete with Esther's own words as well as sound narrations provided by her daughters.

In addition to this gallery of Esther's works, you will also find within the Museum's Education and Research Center an educational aspect of her exhibition. The introduction to the educational aspect of the exhibition is presented to you by the Museum, with links provided to their Art & Remembrance website that are necessary to fully partake in this exercise, including a thirteen-minute interview with Esther who talks about her life in her hometown in Poland.

This exhibition, along with that of artists Mayer Kirshenblatt and Martin Kieselstein, join the exhibition of renown artist Max Weber under the umbrella of "Reflections of Memory: Jewish Expression Through Art," which in every case will display the products of creativity and thought based on the author's experience, whether it be for instance from the experience of living in a small town in pre-war Europe or by surviving the Holocaust.

You can see the introduction to the "Reflections of Memory" exhibition by visiting www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/rom.htm . Just visit the Table of Contents for the links to each of the four exhibitions.

Exhibition of Esther's work: www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ce/krinitz/krinitz.htm
Educational activity: www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ce/krinitz/erc-krinitz.htm

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The State of French Jewry at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Most of us already know about the persecution of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Jewish background who was in advanced training with the Army's General Staff. He was falsely accused of treason. You can read more about this "Dreyfus Affair" in a previously presented webpage at the Museum of Family History at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mfh-dreyfus-affair.htm .

To go along with this, the Museum now presents to you an article presented in a December 1899 issue of the New-York Daily Tribune about the state of French Jewry, French anti-Semitism, the French press, etc. You might also be interested in what was written about M. Zadoc Khan, the then Grand Rabbi of France as well as the Jewish temple on the Rue de la Victoire in Paris. Photographs of both the rabbi and the synagogue interior are included in this article.

This article can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/jof-dt-frenchjews.htm.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Dish Lender of the East Side, 1905

A reporter from New York's Daily Tribune visited the East Side of New York City in order to do a story about a "novel industry" that once existed there.

It seems that one could visit tiny shops, often located in the cellars of Ghetto tenement houses, and rent dishes there. The reporter, who was not Jewish, visited at least two such shops. The author of this article also portrays different characters he met along his journey.

None of us lived on the East Side in 1905, so perhaps you might enjoy reading this article and visualizing the reporter's journey as he paints for us a colorful picture of one aspect of life on the East Side of Manhattan.

You can find this article at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/les-hww-dishlenders.htm .

The Russian Jew in the United States

This past summer the Museum introduced the first of three sections of a book published in 1905 entitled "The Russian Jew in the United States" (also entitled "The Immigrant Jew in America" in a later 1907 edition.) Now the second section, about the Russian Jews of New York, has been readied for you.

It should be noted that the editor of this book makes a distinction between the three major Jewish populations that have lived in the United States over the past two and a half centuries (i.e. from 1655): The Spanish-Portuguese, the German and the Russian population. Thus, some of you who have limited or no interest in the lives of Russian Jews, but who are interested in the Jews of such regions as Lithuania, Volhynia, Bessarabia, Galicia, Poland or Romania, might be misled by the term "Russian Jew" and disregard this book because you think it doesn't apply to your interest or research. In the case of this book, "Russian Jews" include all Jews that lived within the Russian Empire in 1905.

The Museum then has now put online the second of three sections of this book--the first part was about the Russian Jews of Philadelphia; the third part is of the Jews of Chicago--hopefully this part will be placed online within the next few months. The second part now online is that of the Jews of New York and covers such topics as general aspects of the population, philanthropy, economic and industrial condition, religious activities, educational influences, amusements and social life, politics, health and sanitation and law and litigation.

This section on the Jews of New York is a nice tie-in with the number of articles the Museum has recently presented to you about the immigrant Jews who came to New York during the years of high immigration, i.e. from the late 1880s to 1910. The link to the main exhibition is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ija-main.htm. Just click on the word "enter" to view the table of contents.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Israel Zangwill on Theodor Herzl

On July 3, 1904, Theodor Herzl, the father of modern political Zionism, passed away at the young age of forty-four. He was buried at the Döblinger Friedhof (the Döbling Cemetery) on July 7. On August 16, 1949 his body was disinterred and reburied in Jerusalem on Mount Herzl.

On the day of his burial author and orator Israel Zangwill (author of the informative and influential novel "Children of the Ghetto") gave a eulogy to Herzl at the Great Assembly Hall in London. In this latest article introduced at the Museum of Family Hisory, the transcript of the eulogy Zangwill gave can now be read. It was reprinted in a front-page article in a Jewish Herald edition (a Houston, Texas newspaper) in 1908.

It was Theodor Herzl who wrote in April 1896, in Der Judenstaat (The State of the Jews):

The Jewish question persists wherever Jews live in appreciable numbers. Wherever it does not exist, it is brought in together with Jewish immigrants. We are naturally drawn into those places where we are not persecuted, and our appearance there gives rise to persecution. This is the case, and will inevitably be so, everywhere, even in highly civilised countries—see, for instance, France—so long as the Jewish question is not solved on the political level. The unfortunate Jews are now carrying the seeds of anti-Semitism into England; they have already introduced it into America.

The article can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/zionism-zangwill-herzl.htm .

Origins of the Yiddish Language, 1904

For those of you who are interested in learning a bit about the origin of the Yiddish language, at least as explained in a 1904 edition of Minnesota's St. Paul Globe, please visit www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/hyl-origins-globe.htm.

The article states in part:

"As the municipal campaign progresses and political "literature" becomes more abundant, all West Side residents, all visitors at the court house will encounter handbills printed in strange characters. Most Americans will fail to recognize the language of the bills. Some disappointed readers will call the printing Greek; others will say it's merely Syrian or Arabic; for St. Paul has its representatives from Athens, Beirut and Damascus.

The better informed will make a closer guess and call the curious language Hebrew. And, finally, one man in ten will know the truth. He will say 'It's Yiddish.'

Ask him, however, what is Yiddish? He'll probably tell you it is modern Hebrew, or that it is simply Russian or Polish printed in Hebrew characters. He knows, at any rate, that Yiddish is the language of several thousand St. Paulites; that it is spoken constantly among themselves by numerous Russian, Polish and Roumanian Jews in this city; that it flourishes especially among the many Jews of West St. Paul.

Yiddish, indeed, is the language of all the multitude of Russian, Polish and Roumanian Jews that have immigrated to America in recent years. Not a few of these immigrants know other languages, including the language of the countries where they've lived. But Yiddish is the popular medium, the language of the home, the shop, the synagogue, Yiddish newspapers are published in several American cities. In Greater New York Yiddish is the language of influential journals and of more pretentious literature. A writer of Yiddish novels who lives on Gotham's East side, was lately described as the most prolific of modern romancers.

Yet this favorite tongue or Russian Hebrews, of Polish Hebrews, of Roumanian Hebrews, is not Hebrew; neither is it Russian nor Polish nor Roumanian. Chiefly it is German, old German, medieval German, popular German, German not merely "broken," but shattered, torn, pulverized--a veritable linguistic mincemeat."

Be sure to visit the Museum's Yiddish World at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/y.htm when you have the time. It is a "virtual potpourri of Yiddish culture."

The Museum will also feature more about all things Yiddish in the future, e.g. Yiddish theatre, language and literature.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Memorial Book from Telekhany

In 1932 a memorial book was created, mostly of views of the town of then Telechany, Poland, now Telekhany, Belarus. For those of you with an interest in this town, or for those of you who would like to see more than ten views of Telekhany as it appeared in 1932, please visit this small exhibition.

The introduction to this memorial book reads:
"This album reminds us of our old, forgotten home. It's good to take an occasional look at the past, but it's certainly hard for each of us to make the trip to Europe. Here we're sparing you this [journey] by bringing you pictures of Telekhany and your friends and close ones. That's why, dear friends, you must buy this remembrance book. The money you pay for the album will help your relatives and acquaintances.

Be united, landsleit, because a united body can accomplish a lot."

The memorial book for Telechany can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ce/telekhany/telekhany.htm.

Holocaust Memorials in Cuba

Most of us have never visited Cuba, whether it was because our government didn't allow us to or for some other reason. Some of us, including my own great uncles and other cousins, traveled to Cuba from various European countries, waiting in limbo during these arduous times when immigration was very restricted and entry to the United States was extremely difficult. Eventually, my two great uncles somehow found their way into the United States; others who had immigrated to Cuba stayed there and created a life for themselves and their family.

The Museum has just added six photographs from Jewish cemeteries in Havana (Ashkenazic and Sephardic) and Santa Clara, Cuba. For each cemetery there is a photograph of the front gate and also of a single Holocaust memorial. The memorial inscriptions are written in both Hebrew or Yiddish and Spanish. Included with these photographs is the English translation of each Spanish inscription.

These memorial photos fall under the aegis of the larger exhibition within the Museum entitled "World Holocaust Memorials." The Museum of Family History contains the largest number of photographs on the Internet of Holocaust memorials from around the world. These photographs on the Museum's site are from eighteen countries in Europe, as well as from North America, i.e. both the U.S. and Canada, and Israel. This larger exhibition can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/whm.htm. Certainly if you have photos of memorials not shown within this exhibition and can email them to the Museum, please do so at postmaster@museumoffamilyhistory.com .

The link to the page that includes the Holocaust memorials from Cuba can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/whm-morememorials.htm.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lost Journalists of the Ghetto: Buried Geniuses on the Great East Side, 1903

In Czarist Russia, many of the great Jewish talents were repressed and not fully allowed to express themselves. Such was the case of the Yiddish writer and scholar, many of whom felt compelled to immigrate to such countries as the United States during the late nineteenth and very early twentieth century. Such talent during this time found work as journalists, writing for the Yiddish newspapers, especially those in New York.

The newest Museum article begins:

That the most neglected and unhappy portions of the slums of the city number among their inhabitants men and women who under different conditions and happier fortunes might have been counted among the great names of the world in art, poetry and music is a fact not unknown to the outside world. Almost proverbial are the stories of musicians, scholars and artists who are buried under the slum life of each great city. Yet there is in the East Side of New-York a realm of unexplored extent peopled by those who may well be numbered among the buried geniuses of the slums. The lost journalists of the Ghetto, those authors and scholars whose immigration to a strange land has dried their springs of genius, numbed their finer senses and reduced them to the unhappy necessity of earning a living through "jargon" papers, one of the most interesting phases of Ghetto life.

The article can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/wyw-buried-genius.htm.

Are Jew and Gentile Nearer? cir 1910

Curious about what was said about intermarriage in New York one hundred years ago?
In this article from the Sun, a New York City newspaper, the relationship between Jew and Gentile is discussed, as is intermarriage.

Opinions in this article come from a variety or sources, e.g. a retired Episcopal minister; Rabbi Isaac S. Moses of Ahawath Chesed Shaar Hashomayim; Bishop Greer of the New York Episcopal diocese, a Presbyterian minister; Rabbi Schulman of Temple Beth-El; Rabbi H. Pereira Mendes, president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of the United States and Canada and minister of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation, et al.

The article begins:

Are the two races being brought closer together in other ways than in business and social relations?-- A discussion of the idea of “The Melting Pot” in actual life—Some of the Rabbis emphatic in their opposition to marriages of persons of different faiths—Their objections both social and religious—Christians who agree with them—Amalgamation of the races that is going on in New York. “Are the Jew and gentile nearer together to-day or are they further apart? Is intermarriage between them more prevalent?”

These questions have become especially of present interest here in New York, which city, it has been said, the advanced Jew looks upon now as the Promised Land rather than Palestine. They have been laid before many of the leading Christian ministers and Jewish rabbis of New York. The Answers given to them are printed below.

The link to this article is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/lia-jew-gentile.htm.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Museum's Newspaper Archives

Old newspaper articles often give us insight into the thinking of the times. Today we have many ways to learn about what's going on in the world and many ways to learn the opinion of others, but in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the choices were limited. Today we can be informed not only through the newspaper, but also by television, radio and the Internet, for example. One hundred or more years ago, the average person mostly read newspapers to get their news. Thus, newspapers often had a great influence on the sentiment of its readers.

Within the many exhibitions of the Museum of Family History you will currently find sixty-five articles that have been extracted from a number of mostly defunct newspapers, e.g. the New-York Daily Tribune. These articles cover a range of topics, whether it be about the concern over excessive immigration, the lives of Jewish farmers, life on the Lower East Side of New York, Ellis Island and Castle Garden, and even New York's Yiddish Theatre. Those of you who are subscribed to this blog, or who visit it frequently on their own, know that many announcements have been made as to new articles that have been readied for your perusal.

You can now pick and choose any of the aforementioned articles and more on the Museum's new Newspaper Archives page. Each article is listed according to the Museum exhibition it is associated with. It is also listed by its title, by the newspaper it appeared in, and the year the article was published. Most of the articles currently available at the Museum were first published between the early 1880s and 1910, important years for both European and American Jewry. Additionally, each article is linked to the webpage on which it appears. So you easily peruse this list and simply click on the link of the article you wish to read. The list will be added to each time a new article is placed online by the Museum.

You can find the Newspaper Archives page at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/archive-newspaper.htm. The only links on the Museum website to the Newspaper Archives page can be found in the right-hand column on the Museum's front page and on the Site Map page.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Multitude of Immigrants: Three New Articles

There are now eleven articles that can be found within the Museum's "A Multitude of Immigrants" exhibition. Two of the latest articles ran five days apart in 1903 in the New-York Daily Tribune about the large number of immigrants that should be expected to be landing on U. S. shores. This was right after the Kishinev pogrom, and it was suspected that a lot of these new immigrants would be paupers, undesirable, etc.

Thoughts were also expressed in these articles about the steamship lines who employed agents to recruit potential immigrants, etc.

Reading the third article--entitled "Immigrants Patched Up: Trachoma Getting In," I learned something new, that at least during the time of the article in 1905, there were "clinics" set up in such locales as Marseille, at stations along the Russian and Austrian borders, as well as at theRussian-Polish border, that promised the potential immigrant a cure for his orher trachoma. At that time, trachoma was considered incurable, and ship passengers were turned away at such ports as Ellis Island. Whatever "cures" might have been offered to those afflicted might have worked only for a night or for a few weeks, but perhaps this was long enough to pass inspection--or perhaps not. I also learned that for a time steamship companies were fined one hundred dollars for every diseased passenger who arrived in the U.S. for inspection. This was not much of a deterrent for the steamship companies. Read the entire article at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mfh-multitude-immigrants-1905.12.18.htm.

You can find links to each of the eleven articles at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mfh-multitude-immigrants-toc.htm.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

250 Years in America: Parts II and III

The second and third parts of the Museum's short series of articles published in 1905 is now available. These three articles commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Jewish presence in the United States, one article specifically discussing the contributions of the Jews of New York.

The first article of the three (announced one week ago) was written by Oscar S. Straus, who was U. S. Secretary of Commerce and Labor under President Teddy Roosevelt (the first U. S. Jewish Cabinet secretary) as well as a Minister to Turkey. Straus wrote about the early history of the Jewish immigration, and the presence of Jews in the U.S. in such cities as Newport, Rhode Island; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and several states and cities to the South, such as Georgia, Charleston, Maryland, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia. He also wrote about the early Jewish presence in the Ohio Valley, Chicago and California. This article, previously announced on this blog, can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/lia-250-sfcall.htm.

There was actually a second article published in this same edition of the San Francisco Sunday Call (on the opposite page) entitled "The Future of Judaism in America: What Leading Hebrew Thinkers Prophesy For the Race," partly written by the Rev. Mendola de Sola. This interesting article can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/lia-250-sfcall-future-judaism.htm.

The third article in this triad is from April 1905 and is entitled "Jews in New York 250 Years." This article talks about the early history of the Jewish people who lived in New York and the contributions they've made. The article can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/lia-250-nydt-ny.htm.

All three articles, of course, are educational. None of us were alive in 1905, so reading the opinions of Jews and non-Jews alike on what the Jewish contributions had been to that point to the well-being and prosperity of the U.S. and more specifically New York is important, or at least should be. We can't actually go back a hundred years in time to experience what Jewish life was like back then; we can no longer speak to anyone who used to live in the U. S. during that period, but at least we can read what others read during 1905 about our collective Jewish contributions, and then use our imagination and analytic thinking to 'paint a picture' in our own minds of a society that our parents, grandparents, or great grandparents once lived in and helped build.

A Multitude of Immigrants: American Newspapers and How They Addressed the Immigration Issue

Obviously back in the 1890s and first decade of the twentieth century, there was no television, and radio wasn't yet available to the general public. During that time people received their news, at least commercially, via the local newspaper. These newspapers then affected public opinion.

The English language newspaper was readily available to all during this time. The general public would get their news by reading newspapers. This newest Museum exhibition "A Multitude of Immigrants: American Newspapers and How They Addressed the Immigration Issue" gives you just a small glimpse into the portrayal of the immigration question, especially how it relates to Jewish immigration.

This exhibition is a series of eight articles from three New York City newspapers--The New-York Daily Tribune, The Sun and The World--all published between 1891 and 1910. As we know, between these years, immigration to the U.S. was extremely high, and politicians and the public alike were split on what the policy of the U.S. should be toward immigrants, especially the uneducated and unskilled ones, not wanting the immigrants to become "pauperized." What kinds of restrictions should be imposed, not just on Jewish immigration, but on other nationalities?

I would urge you to read each article; more such articles may be added to this exhibition in the future.

The exhibition can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mfh-multitude-immigrants.htm. Just click on the "enter" link at the bottom of the page, and in order to proceed from one article to the next, simply click on the "next" link at the bottom of each page.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Galveston Immigration Movement

The Galveston Movement was a program operated between 1907 and 1914 to divert Jews fleeing Russia and eastern Europe away form crowded East Coast cities. Ten thousand Jewish immigrants passed through Galveston, Texas during this era, approximately one-third the number who migrated to Palestine during the same period. New York financier and philanthropist Jacob Schiff was the driving force behind the effort, which Schiff supported with nearly $500,000 of his personal funds. B'nai Israel's Rabbi Henry Cohen was the humanitarian face of the movement, meeting ships at the Galveston docks and helping guide the immigrants through the cumbersome arrival and distribution process.

Read about the Galveston Movement below in two articles that appeared in Houston's "The Jewish Herald" in 1908 and 1909. Learn about the movement and read the words about the movement as told by Rabbi Henry Cohen.

Rabbi Cohen writes in part:

In the spring of 1907 the Jewish immigrants' information bureau was opened in Galveston to supply that machinery which would advise intelligently the already carefully selected alien how to work at his own trade or profession--or at general labor necessary for his livelihood--thereby serving two purposes: his own maintenance and the crying need of American industries. The present was all-important--the future would take care of itself. For just as soon as a man would save sufficient from the work of his hands to bring his family or his friends to his side, he would do so, and this committee knew by experience. A thousand immigrants the first of the year meant 5,000 a few years later. The un-uttered prophecy has been verified, for although our first group of immigrants arrived on July 1, 1907, and subsequent groups at three weeks' interval, family, relatives and friends have already joined the pioneers; the traveling expenses having been paid by the latter. The Galveston movement bids fair to remain a success as long as the powers that be think its continuance a necessity; and apart from such financial crisis with its consequent depression, as now obtains, there is no reason to believe but that its work will be uniformly appreciated.

The articles about the Galveston movement can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/imm-galveston.htm.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Thomas Jefferson High School database addition

For those of you who had family in Brooklyn, New York, who lived there between 1924 and 1987, the Museum has a searchable database of more than 46,000 names of graduating Seniors, encompassing more than seventy graduating classes (they graduated two classes a year, in January and June).
You can search by name, school year, even by home address (at least for half of the students).
This is a useful genealogical tool, not to mention and educative one, as one can also browse any of the yearbooks from cover to cover--a virtual "time capsule."

Today another six hundred names have been added, from the graduating class of January 1946.

The link is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/Jefferson/yearbooksearch.html.

Friday, October 30, 2009

250 Years in America: The Jewish Contribution

This is the first in a short series of articles published at the end of 1905, commemorating the 250th anniversary of the Jewish presence in the United States.

The first "Hebrew" (at least some of the newspapers during this time referred to Jews as “Hebrews”) who stepped foot on American soil was one Jacob Bar Simson, who came from Holland, followed the next year by a “band” of twenty-three refugees, probably from Brazil.

These articles are generally praiseworthy, and list the contributions that the Jews have made to the U.S. from 1655 to the time of the article in 1905.

You can now read the first such article (though in all there are three articles on this one newspaper page, published in the San Francisco Sunday Call newspaper.) The first of these articles was written by Oscar S. Straus.

Oscar S. Straus (1850-1926) was U. S. Secretary of Commerce and Labor under President Teddy Roosevelt (the first U. S. Jewish Cabinet secretary) as well as a Minister to Turkey.

In the first of the three articles on this page, Straus discusses the early history of the Jewish immigration, and the presence of Jews in the U.S. in such cities as Newport, Rhode Island; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and several states and cities to the South, such as Georgia, Charleston, Maryland, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia. He also talks about the early Jewish presence in the Ohio Valley, Chicago and California.

The other two articles within this triad are entitled “What American Hebrews Have Done” and “Hebrews in Philanthropy and Society.”

More articles will appear in the near future about the Jewish presence in the U. S., and one at least about the contributions at this 250th anniversary of Jews to New York City.

The link to these articles is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/lia-250-sfcall.htm .

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Jews in Russia, 1907: An Interview with Aleksey Suvorin

Aleksey Suvorin (1834-1912) was a very rich newspaper and book publisher and journalist who had a good deal of influence within the Russian Empire. His views were very nationalistic, as well as anti-Semitic. In 1874 he acquired a Russian newspaper in St. Petersburg called Novoye Vremya, which was in dire straits, and he made it profitable.

In this article, reprinted in the New-York Daily Tribune from an interview published in the "The American Hebrew," a weekly journal, Suvorin expounds on his views of the Jewish people, the pogroms and the Revolution. It is an interesting read, as it gives us a glimpse into the Russian nationalistic and anti-Semitic mind that existed at the time.

Here is one exchange between the interviewer for "The American Hebrew" and Suvorin:

Interviewer: "According to you, then, the Jew's love for his country should be expressed in kissing the knout with which he is being beaten, in embracing the Cossack or policeman who has violated his wife or his daughter?"

Suvorin: "Why should the authorities like the Jews, who are their enemies? The Jews are positively a troublesome element. They undermine the foundation of the church and the government....The Jews are to blame for the revolutionary movement in Russia. Pleveh once showed me the statistics of political criminals, and would you believe it, 72 per cent of them were Jews....Which government in the world would protect a nation which produces such an enormous percentage of enemies? Of course, the revolution is advantageous to the Jews. Seizing the reins of government in their hands, they would rule Russia as they please....Therefore the native Russian resists the Jews in the form of pogroms. The struggle is beyond question a savage one, but then our people are savages....And now, give freedom to such savages...."

The interview can be read at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/as-jews-in-russia-suvorin.htm.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Paint What You Remember: The Memories of Mayer Kirshenblatt of Opatów, Poland

Mayer Kirshenblatt left his hometown of Opatów, Poland in 1934 at the age of seventeen for a new life in Canada. With him he not only brought some of his physical possessions, but also a storehouse of memories that he would carry with him bittersweetly for many decades to come. Thanks to his daughter Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and his wife, both of whom urged him to put to canvas what he remembered, Mayer took up painting in 1990, and to date has created more than three hundred paintings, each one a memory of life in a town that once contained thousands of Jews and that he called "home."

In two "sister" exhibitions we will hear from Mayer and see dozens of his paintings (acrylics on canvas) that deal with his family life, as well as the Jewish communal life that existed in his hometown (in Yiddish called "Apt") in the 1920s and 30s. He will also talk about Shabbat, as well as a number of other Jewish holidays. By seeing his works and by hearing him tell his story in his own words via nearly twenty audio clips, a wonderful picture is painted for us of what life was like in Opatów for the Jews who once lived there.

Mayer says that "every Jewish town is the same," so perhaps we wouldn't be taking liberties to imagine that our families, our ancestors who also lived in Europe at one time, in a town also populated with thousands of Jews, might have very well lived in a town just like this one.

If a visitor to these exhibitions once lived in pre-war Europe, perhaps Mayer's paintings and accounts of life there might evoke similar or other long forgotten memories. That would be something!

Perhaps Mayer's works will compel us to think about our own Jewish upbringing and the neighborhoods we once lived in. How was his life in Poland similar to our own, and how was it different? How was living in a Jewish community such as Apt similar to living in a Jewish neighborhood, among the tenements or brownstones of Brooklyn or perhaps on the Lower East Side of the 1930s, 40s or 50s?

Maybe after viewing these exhibitions you will consider drawing or painting the memories of your own childhood, writing them down for posterity, or at the very least telling these precious stories to your children or grandchildren.

You can visit the first exhibition, "Paint What You Remember: The Memories of Mayer Kirshenblatt" at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ce/kirshenblatt/kirshenblatt.htm. Included within this exhibition are many sound clips and three video clips from YouTube.

You can visit the second exhibition which is now part of the larger "Shabbat and the Jewish Holidays" exhibition at the Museum, containing photographs of Mayer's paintings and the artist's comments at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ce/kirshenblatt/jholidays-kirshenblatt.htm.

Your comments are always welcome, though please send them via the Comments feature of the blog.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Jew in Europe, 1937

Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933. From that point to the beginning of World War II, life for the Jew in Europe became increasingly difficult, especially for the Jews of Germany.

Each European country affected by Hitler's views on the Jewish people and the anti-Semitism that continued to grow manifested this anti-Semitism in different ways. Actions were taken and laws were passed that were meant to restrict and isolate the Jew in such a way as to make any kind of 'normal' life impossible.

This article, presented to the public by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in late October 1937 in successive editions, came from Associated Press reports from three locations: Warsaw, Vienna and Berlin. Each of these three reports gives the reader an idea of what the Jewish citizen in Europe was forced to deal with during the nearly two years up to the Second World War.

The article can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/as-jews-in-europe.htm.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Yiddish Theatres: Classic and Romantic Drama in East Side Jargon, 1900

For those of you who have at least a passing interest in the history of the Yiddish theatre, this next article may delight you--and at least educate you a bit.

For those of you who aren't interested, it still will be worthwhile to read this article because it paints a picture of what our parents or grandparents might have experienced, attending the performance of a Yiddish play after a long day's work.

Remember that in many of the towns in which our family members lived in Europe before World War II (and even World War I), Yiddish plays were frequently performed. Perhaps these Yiddish plays performed, in their native tongue where they now lived, served to remind them of their former home--their lives, their community--albeit bittersweetly.

In this New-York Daily Tribune article of January 1900, you can learn a bit about how a Yiddish theatre was generally run, as well as its appeal, especially to blue-collar Jewish families.

The article begins by talking about the unionization of Yiddish actors and then talks about the goings-on in the Yiddish theatre and those who attend the performances. Remember now that in 1900, Yiddish theatre was very popular (at least among Jews), with bona fide stars such as Boris Thomashefsky and Bertha Kalish.

The article says in part:

"To gain a correct idea of the Yiddish theatre one must see it, and that it may be thoroughly appreciated [by] other senses than that of sight must be drawn upon. The crowds in the lobby resemble those which are seen in the clothing district when a strike is on, and the air is thick with cigarette smoke. Inside, men and women are talking and visiting and paying little attention to the orchestra. Boys with trays of candy, cakes, fruit and "soft drinks" do a paying business, and sell their wares in the body of the house. The opening lines of the actors are usually lost, except to those people who sit far in front, and demands for silence come from all parts of the auditorium. Sometimes these are in the form of the hissing "Pst! pst! which one hears in all European theatres, and sometimes the more imperative "Ruhig," "'Smaul halten!" or "Still!" are heard. Then comes the play, and close attention on the part of the audience, frequent applause and boisterous laughter and sniffles are sure to reward the efforts of the actors."

The article can be found by clicking at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/yt-bs-nydt-01.htm.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Getting the Jew out of the Ghetto and on to the Farm

Here is the next article about how Jews bought land in such states as New Jersey and became successful farmers.

In this 1906 article, a non-Jew is walking along aimlessly through the streets of the Lower East Side during the time of Sukkot, and he happens upon a sign that seemed to stand out among the many tenement houses that surrounded it.

The article continues:

" The sign was the announcement of an exhibition showing what had been accomplished by Jews in this country as farmers, and the opportunities in this direction open to the East Side Jew. It was to open in the building of the Educational Alliance on that day--the day on which a comparison of the joys of a life in the country with the close, steamy atmosphere of the sweatshop and three-room tenement apartment would most appeal to the minds of the Jews of that quarter. The sign, in relation to the question of the success of the Jew as a farmer, was like Philip's answer to Nathaniel's query of long ago, 'Come and see.'"

This Gentile had been wondering whether the Jews had it in them to be successful farmers. He decided to ascend the staircase to the exhibition where he met with some Jewish farmers, saw the fruits of their labors, along with photographs of their land and toil, and talked with them. He came away convinced that indeed the Jew could be a successful farmer.

The article is an interesting read, and is a good "sister piece" to the two articles put online by the Museum previously about Jewish farmers.

The link to the article is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/lia-hww-farmer-ghetto.htm.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Some Traps Which Are Baited for Unwary Immigrants, 1906

Yet another article for you from the archives of the defunct New-York Daily Tribune.
This one is about the traps that were laid by swindlers et al for the unwary and unsuspecting immigrant who entered the United States through Ellis Island.

The article states in part:

" It is this innocent childlike dependence upon any one at hand that makes the immigrant such an easy mark. Within the last two or three years every safeguard imaginable has been thrown about him. Still he goes astray. The resourceful runner is rigidly excluded from Ellis Island. Not an immigrant is permitted to depart without official escort, or absolute assurance that he is able to take care of himself or in the hands of his friends. He is personally conducted to the railway station or to his destination if intending to stay in New York. Missionaries distribute leaflets in the different languages describing the pitfalls that await him. Yet he is still captured by the sharps."

Though the article isn't specifically about Jewish immigrants, it nevertheless is interesting because it "paints a picture" for us of just one of the trials and tribulations that many immigrants--perhaps one of our family members--were forced to deal with as they began their life in America.

The link for this article is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ija-immigrant-traps.htm.

Anti-Semitism in Vienna at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

This 1899 article appeared in the New-York Tribune and talks about the impending demise of Vienna's anti-Semitic city government. It also discusses some of the history of anti-Semitism in Vienna and elsewhere in Europe.

It begins:

"Vienna is still the stronghold of anti-Semitism, and Dr. Carl Lueger, the Burgomaster, its most notorious exponent in Europe. For nearly three years the administration of the Austrian capital has now been in the hands of the anti-Semitic party, but the signs of its approaching collapse are increasing....."

This article will be of special interest to those who are interested in the history of anti-Semitism in Europe, or to those who had family members who lived in Austria, particularly Vienna, during this time.

The article can be found by clicking on www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/as-nydt-vienna-1899.htm .

Sunday, October 18, 2009

New Jersey Jewish Farming Colonies (1902)

Here is another article to you from 1902 about the various Jewish farming colonies in New Jersey. The first article about these colonies written in 1890 was presented to you nearly two weeks ago and dealt with a particular colony named Alliance.

In the late 1800s, Russian Jews were encouraged to live in such "wilderness areas" in New Jersey and the West and work the land, thus being productive members of society.

During this time there was vast overcrowding in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and there was a push to relocate many of the unskilled or semi-skilled Russian Jews who were living or might live on the Lower East Side to more rural areas.

This newest article follows up on the former and discusses other such New Jersey farming colonies and their successes, e.g. Rosenhayn, Carmel and Woodbine. At that time, believe it or not, half of New Jersey was considered wilderness!

The link to this article is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/lia-hww-colonies-nj.htm.

Jewish Life in Eastern Europe versus the U.S. (1903)

The newest article on display within the Museum of Family History's "Jewish Immigrant in America" exhibition discusses the religious, economic and social life of the Jew--especially the Jewish woman--in both the "old country" and after immigrating to the United States, and the conflicts that come about.

The article also informs us that at the time the article was written there were 332 small Jewish congregations east of Broadway and south of Houston Street.

You can read the article in its entirety by clicking on www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ija-no-religious-life.htm.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

To Decrease and Clarify Stream of Incoming Aliens, 1910

From the December 18, 1910 edition of the defunct New-York Daily Tribune comes an article of interest to those of us who would like to understand the mindset of those who lived in the U.S. during the years of high immigration, especially those who wished to limit it. In this article the discussion is why the number of immigrants should or should not be restricted, and how it could be done.

The article begins:

"A few days ago, as required by law, the United States Immigration Commission filed a brief statement of its conclusions and recommendations, and announced that the materials it had gathered would ultimately be published in forty volumes. As a result of its labors it has recommended that for economic and social reasons the flow of the stream of immigrants should be reduced. Its investigations showed that, although the standards of living and of wages in the higher forms of skilled labor had not been materially affected, the volume of unskilled labor from Europe was so great that employers were under no compulsion to maintain a standard of wages. The result was that not only were industrial communities congested to a degree that interfered with rapid assimilation, but the unskilled laborer was not able to raise his standard of living.

The various well-known methods of putting on the brakes were suggested as a remedy, and emphasis was laid upon the literacy test. This test, however, was not emphasized without a protest from Congressman Bennet, a member of the commission, who argued that it was illogical as a selective measure.

The question whether to restrict or not to restrict is now squarely up to the American people and Congress. A number of men who have come into close contact with the subject from one standpoint or another have contributed their views in the form of interviews on the question of restriction. Among them are Senator William P. Dillingham, chairman of the United States Immigration Committee, who evidently may be described as a conservative restrictionist, and Congressman Burnett, of Alabama, a Democrat, who is considered the most radical restrictionist member of the commission. The proportion of those favoring restriction is much greater than one would be led to expect, in view of the growing interest in the immigrant as a man."

It was believed that too big a labor pool would drive down wages and thus lower the standard of living for those already living and working in the United States. A literacy test was proposed to weed out the "ignorant" and "illiterate," thereby making immigration a "selective" and not a "restrictive" process.

Reading these articles published within ten years either way of the turn of the twentieth century can be an eye-opener. It can "add meat," so to speak, to what we already understand about the immigration policies that were in place (or suggested) during the years of heavy immigration to the U.S.

This article will be included within the Museum's "A Multitude of Immmigrants..." exhibition that will be made available sometime before the end of the year.

The aforementioned article can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mfh-multitude-immigrants-1910.12.18.htm.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg": A New Film by Aviva Kempner

The Museum of Family History is very pleased to present to you a film preview of "Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg," the twenty-third film preview on display within its Screening Room. "You-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg" is a film created by Aviva Kempner, whose other film credits include "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg" and "Partisans of Vilna."

Gertrude Berg became a cultural icon against the backdrop of the twentieth century’s most difficult years for American Jews. Berg’s radio show, The Goldbergs, which she created, wrote, and starred in, premiered a week after the stock market crash of 1929. The show rose in popularity at the same time Hitler rose to power in Germany. She combined social commentary, family values and comedy to win the hearts of America. In 1949, she brought The Goldbergs to television, and it became the new medium’s very first character-driven domestic sitcom. She weathered yet another minefield of American history, Senator Joseph McCarthy’s blacklist, which had a devastating effect on the entertainment industry.

Gertrude Berg became an important public figure at a time when positive images of Jews, especially mothers, were rarely shown in public. The “Oprah of her day,” Berg was a media trailblazer with a cookbook, advice column, and clothing line in addition to popular radio and television serials. Her creation of a specifically ethnic, but far from atypical, American life in The Goldbergs carries through to this day.

Among those interviewed for the film are actor Ed Asner, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, TV producers Gary David Goldberg (Family Ties) and Norman Lear (All in the Family), CBS anchor Andrea Roane, and NPR commentator Susan Stamberg. Those who recall the show will recognize familiar faces from The Goldbergs, including Berg’s talent discoveries, Anne Bancroft and Steve McQueen.

Footage includes short clips from beloved motion pictures, such as The Marx Brothers' The Cocoanuts, Martin Ritt’s The Front, and Charlie Chaplin’s The Immigrant, as well as evocative footage from the Depression, World War II, and the Lower East Side.

The film preview can be seen by clicking on www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/sr-23-goldberg.htm.

The Museum's complete listing and links to all its film previews can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/screeningroom.htm.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Secret of Jews' Success in Trade (1906)

From the archives of the New York Daily Tribune and published in the winter of 1906, an interesting article was found that discusses both why many Jews at that time were becoming successes in the business world, as well as some of the illusions that others had about why this was so.

The article begins as such:

"Zangwill once met the query, "Why do the Jews succeed?" with these words: "I welcome the task of answering the question, if only for the opportunity of explaining that they do not." And he proceeded to argue that even if the Jews succeed as individuals, they fail miserably as a people. The belief that Jews have a monopoly of success has been widely credited and has become almost a superstition. "Rich as a Jew" has grown into a proverb, and at one time called up in the imagination golden argosies and subterranean treasures. It was believed that Jews were natural born merchants, that they possessed the commercial instinct in an unusual degree and their success came to be viewed as something uncanny or inevitable.

This singular illusion dates from those dark ages when Jews were shut out from the arts and crafts, and were forced by direct legislation into a few sordid occupations. The dense ghettos, with their poverty-stricken population, were not known to the world at large–only the few great merchants among them loomed big. Many Christians naturally came in contact only with those Jews who could lend them money. Thus, as the only Jews whom the Christians got to know were rich, it is not so wonderful that all Jews should have been supposed to be rich or that "rich as a Jew" should have become a byword.

Jews were forced out of other vocations and confined to trade and commerce. Being an acute and thrifty people, they did what the shrewd Yankees did in Colonial days–adapted themselves to their work and gave to it all their energy and thought.

The "innate commercial gift" of the Jew is a hoax in which even the Jews joined. It was hard work and an easy pliability to conditions that brought results. Adaptability is the secret of the Jewish people, as can be observed in the immigrants daily pouring into this country. This power of easy adaptation to a new environment is possessed by the Jews to such an extent that they can live and thrive in all climates and under any circumstances.

But when one studies the Jew in America–not the Jewish plutocrat, the scion of a cultured, moneyed family in the old country, but the ordinary steerage immigrant, who comes here to earn the bread he cannot make in his native Russia, Rumania or Austria–one almost becomes reconciled to the antiquated superstition that the Jew, at any rate in America, always succeeds. The remarkable rise of the Jew as a figure in the world of business, especially in New York, seems to prove that the Jew is wonderfully apt in adapting himself to American conditions."

To read the rest of the article, go to www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/lia-hww-jews-trade.htm.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Art of the Holocaust: The Works of Martin Kieselstein

Please visit the Museum of Family History's newest online exhibition, entitled "The Works of Martin Kieselstein."

Within this exhibition you will see more than two dozen of his sculptures, just a small sampling of his large body of work. Dr. Kieselstein has been a prodigious artist, creating hundreds of emotive works that represent the tragic events that befell the Jews of his hometown both before and during the Holocaust, e.g. life in the ghetto, the transports and Jewish existence within the concentration camps such as Auschwitz. To do this, Dr. Kieselstein has used a wide variety of materials, such as clay, bronze, wood, stone and glass.

His work has been exhibited in many locations, such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beer-Sheva and Safed in Israel; Budapest, Hungary; Helsinki, Finland; Heidelberg, Dachau, Kronach and Worms in Germany; Nijkerk in Holland,Torremolinos in Spain, and Maryland in the U.S.A.

Here is the introduction to the Museum's exhibition of Dr. Kieselstein's works, in his own words:

My name is Dr. Martin Kieselstein. I was born in Romania in 1925, during the Second World War, the area belonging to Hungary.

In 1944 I was deported to Auschwitz, together with all the Jews of my hometown.

Of our family only my father and I survived. My mother and my sister died while doing forced labor. I still suffer due to the lack of knowledge whether they perished during the cold winter, hunger, or the beatings of the Nazis.

After my release I returned to my hometown, studied medicine, graduated in 1952 and worked there as a physician.

In 1959 I came to Israel and worked there as a geriatrician in Jerusalem, because I saw it as my duty to help elderly people, especially those who were Holocaust survivors. In recognition of my activities I was awarded the "Yakir Yerushalayim," ("Worthy Citizen of Jerusalem") award. I am married; we have two sons and five grandchildren.

I don't regard myself as an artist, but feel obliged and duty bound to convey to future generations the awareness of the horror of the Holocaust through creations made from various materials.

You can visit this exhibition using the following link: www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ce/kieselstein/mk.htm.
Your comments are always welcome.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"Entering the New World: When the Immigrants Land"

The Museum presents to you an interesting article published in the Sunday Magazine of the New-York Tribune in July of 1904 entitled "Entering the New World: When the Immigrants Land." It begins:

"The big ship is coming into the harbor. There are gay crowds on the wharf. There are smartly dressed women waving handkerchiefs and parasols, and men are flourishing canes and hats. Lined against the rails on the decks of the ship are tourists in all costumes. Three thousand miles they have sailed across the sea. Those who have come back to their native land look with longing eyes, and those who are strangers with wondering. The home-comers search in the crowds on the pier for the faces of loved ones, and cheery greetings are exchanged as the ship is being warped in by the busy tugs.

She is rubbing against the buffers now. The gangplanks are down. The tourists are streaming forth like an army of ants. Men and women are throwing themselves into one another's arms. Stevedores are driving in and out from the bowels of the leviathan, bringing to light steamer trunks, big chests, casks, boxes, bundles and bales of all sorts and sizes, which are being sorted rapidly, tapped and opened by keen-eyed and keen-witted customs inspectors."

There are numerous examples here of interactions between the inspectors in Ellis Island and the prospective immigrants. You might find this an interesting read.

The article can be found within the Museum's current exhibition "Castle Garden and Ellis Island: Ports of Immigration." The link to the article is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mfh-ellisisland-10.htm.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Will They Make Farmers? Russian Jews Trying a New Occupation in New Jersey (1890)

Especially during the periods of high immigration to the United States, a great deal of anti-immigrant sentiment existed in the United States. There was a fear by some that the immigrant would take away jobs from those already living in the States. Others thought that a certain type of immigrant would bring diseases with them.

Many immigrants were turned away at Ellis Island because they could not show that they possessed enough money or had gainful employment waiting for them. The U. S. Government did not want immigrants to be “public charges.” This anti-immigrant sentiment was especially strong against the Russian Jews, many of whom left Russia after the assassination of Czar Alexander II, as conditions for them deteriorated quickly as the Jews were blamed for the assassination. Many of these Jews who immigrated to the U.S. were considered unskilled or perhaps semi-skilled, and it was feared that if they were admitted to the U.S., they would become “pauperized” and become public charges. They would mostly move, it was said, into the Lower East Side of New York, live in overcrowded, dirty, disease-infested tenements and generally not make a contribution to society.

One suggestion was to send the newly arrived immigrant out to the country, i.e. New Jersey or points west. Perhaps they could be productive citizens by becoming farmers. In the article “Will They Make Farmers?” published in the SUN in 1890, the anti-immigrant sentiments is expressed and explained, and a report is given by a SUN reporter after his visit to a farming colony in New Jersey.

The article states in part:

“Cable dispatches from apparently trustworthy sources indicate that thousands of Russian Jews will be on their way to this country shortly. Banished from the dominions of the Czar, and in many instances deprived of their property, these persecuted wanderers will be brought to America as the only country in which they will be received. Of course, the great majority will be assisted by the various Hebrew societies formed for the protection of the downtrodden race the world over. That means, to state the case frankly, that many of these immigrants will be assisted paupers. Their passage money, baggage, and means of subsistence after landing must be provided by these societies.

Before the United States Government will allow these immigrants to enter its ports, the immigrants will have to furnish ample proof that they will not become burdens on the American people. The only way in which that can be satisfactorily done will be by securing from the New York Hebrew societies interested in this immigration bonds that will be practical guarantees against pauperism….

The only society that can be relied on to help the immigrants to land here is the Jewish Emigration Protective Society. The immigrants are likely to get their chief assistance from the Hebrews of Europe, especially the Paris Hebrew Alliance. It is the purpose of the prominent Hebrews here to prevent the immigrants, if they do get in, from settling in the large cities, especially in New York. The squalor and misery of the east side Jewish quarter is great enough now, and would be much increased if the population were added to by the green and helpless Russians.

The only hope of the latter is to become farmers, but it is no easy task to make them believe this. For centuries the Russian Jews have been compelled to devote themselves to trade. No other source of income was open to them. They have now an unholy idea of the power of money; they want to gather it in the quickest way, and they don't know how to do this better than in barter and trade. They haven't the faintest idea of farming, they are unused to manual labor, and last but not least, they are averse to the discomforts of farm life.

Their own mode of living is not bound up with luxury, but yet it is not so rough and continuously toilsome as the average farmer's. Many attempts have been made to establish them on farms in this country, but very few have been successful. Many colonies have had to be abandoned altogether after much money had been expended in the attempt to establish them; of the others, only two or three can be considered real successes.

Of the latter, the settlement at Alliance, in New Jersey, is an excellent type. In its history are revealed much of the nature and the ideas of these Russian Jews, and in their present condition are manifested the results of a few years of freedom from persecution.”

In this good-sized article the SUN reporter details his visit to the Alliance settlement and tells the reader about the people he meets there, what he sees and what he learns. This is a very interesting read for those of you who are curious about how a certain segment of the Jewish population (Russian Jewish immigrants) lived and worked in a rural setting before the turn of the twentieth century.

The SUN reporter was quite impressed by the Alliance settlement, and I hope you will be too. Please read this article at the Museum of Family History when you can. The article is part of the Museum’s “How We Worked” ongoing exhibition, and it can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/lia-hww-farming-sun.htm .

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Museum of Family History in Bialystok, Poland

This past September 4th, the Museum of Family History made its presence known at the Białostocki Ośrodek Kultury (Bialystok Cultural Center). A Polish language version of its online exhibition, "Max Weber: Reflections of Jewish Memory in Modern American Art," was presented as part of a larger exhibition honoring Jewish artists who once lived in Bialystok as Weber did as a child.

The Polish version of the Museum's Weber exhibition was presented during the Bialystok Cultural Center's opening ceremony for their own larger Weber exhibition. Each page of the Weber exhibition was shown on a large screen by means of a projector, and after the presentation, the attendees were provided with the Internet address of the Museum's Weber exhibition so that everybody could read about Max Weber in the privacy of their own home. More was said about the artist by presenter Joanna Tomalska, who emphasized his significance for the city of Bialystok, the city in which he was born. Ms. Tomalska also presented Max Weber's artistic works from the viewpoint of the art historian.

More on this exhibition will be presented at the Museum of Family History at some time in the future, perhaps including audio (in Polish) and perhaps a video clip or two of the presentation.

The English version of the Museum of Family History's Max Weber exhibition can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mweber-01.htm .
Here are two links to articles (in Polish) about the Bialystok Cultural Center's Weber exhibition:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"The Peretzniks (Perecowicze)": A New Film About a Jewish School in Lodz, Poland

The Museum of Family History would like to announce its twenty-second preview of films of interest to the Jewish people.

The Peretzniks' Polish premiere screenings took place in Lodz on August 29, 2009, at the Nowy Theater, during the 65th Anniversary of the Liquidation of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto and in Warsaw on September 2 at The Jewish Theater during the 6th Festival of Jewish Culture "Singer's Warsaw."

The film tells the story of a Jewish school in Lodz, Poland. The school was closed down following the Communist anti-Semitic campaign, which took place in Poland in 1968. As a result of this, the Peretz School graduates are dispersed today between the US, Israel, Sweden, Poland, and other countries. The bittersweet memories of their youth in post-war Poland is what binds the Peretzniks together till this day.

The events of March '68 are still somewhat obscure in Poland. The political background is known, as are the film archives, and press coverage. However, little is known about how it was to grow up in Poland of the sixties as a Polish Jew, or as a Pole of Jewish origin. How it was to be a kid in the heart of a country still recovering from a horrific war, in a family severed by the Holocaust, and then to come of age and experience first loves at the outbreak of the disturbing March events. The experience of the 'Peretz School' pupils in Lodz in some way reflects the experience of the Jewish minority in Poland in the 50s and 60s of the previous century. It is the experience of adolescents nevertheless, who were much more interested in the Beatles than they were in politics. It was the latter, however, which caused for most of them to scatter all over the world, creating a peculiar phenomenon of a Polish-Jewish Diaspora integrated today in so many countries' identities.

You can view the film clip by clicking on www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/sr-22-peretzniks.htm .

Friday, September 25, 2009

Want to Learn More About Ellis Island and Castle Garden?

For those of you who wish to become more knowledgeable about the history of Castle Garden, as well as Ellis Island, this is your chance. If you read through each of the exhibition's pages, you will learn more about Castle Garden including its interesting history (P. T. Barnum brought Jenny Lind to America to perform at Castle Garden in 1850, before Castle Garden became an immigration station).

You can read about the early history of Ellis Island here: the opening of Ellis Island in 1891, the fire that gutted most of the buildings on the Island in 1897, as well as its reopening in 1900. You can also learn a bit about the hospital at Ellis Island as well as the rooftop playground that was created at the immigration station for children to play in beginning in 1904. Also there is an interesting but sad group of stories of immigrants who were rejected and sent back to the port from where they began their trans-Atlantic voyage.

This is an good augmentation of the previous Museum exhibition about Ellis Island, and is filled with interesting articles that were published in such defunct New York City newspapers as the Tribune, the Sun and the World around the turn of the twentieth century.

You can visit the exhibition at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mfh-ellisisland.htm .

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jewish Life in the Russian Empire under Czar Alexander III (1881-1894)

Czar Alexander III who ruled over the Empire of Russia from 13 March 1881 until his death in 1894 was the second son of Czar Alexander II. As Czar, Alexander III engaged in Anti-Semitic policies, passing his "May laws" in May of 1882. His laws were supposed to be temporary but they lasted several decades. Among the restrictions imposed by these laws was the limitation of where Jews could live within the Pale of Settlement. Because of this, Jews were evicted, compelled to move to designated areas within the Pale or they would be jailed. Alexander III also restricted the occupations that Jews could attain, as well as where they could travel or study.

At the Museum of Family History, within its "Emperors and Czars of Europe" exhibition, you can read an article, or rather a letter written by an unnamed author in May 1891 from St. Petersburg, Russia to the Berliner Tageblatt newspaper. It is worth reading because, rather than giving you a dry historical account of these events during this time that deeply affected the life of the Russian Jew, you can hear someone actually give voice to their plight. Here is a short excerpt from the article:


"Since 1881, when Ignatieff promulgated the terrible Jewish laws the lives of the 5,000,000 Russian Hebrews who, with few exceptions led a pitiful, beggarly existence, have been passed in unbroken war against the frightful abuse and persecution of the authorities. Eternal lies are the cause of this; false accusations against the Jews of crimes against the State, the authorities, Russian citizens and a Draconic code of laws which robs them of the privileges of honest subjects. A late cause of this inhuman condition is the desire of dishonest Government servants to bent upon the plunder of their fellow citizens. Robbers! Men who are obliged to live crowded together paint the Jews to the Czar as terrible robbers, like so many sheep; who have no whole pieces of clothing upon their backs; men whose rags draw tears to the eyes of the beholder; whose only pleasure is the practice of the commands of their religion!"


The aforementioned article appeared in the New-York Daily Tribune on May 31, 1891. Nearly seven months later, and article appeared in the same newspaper explaining the plight of the Jews of Russia, that during that year nearly 7,500 Russian refugees were landing at the Port of New York every month, being forced to by conditions imposed upon them to emigrate. The author of this article is trying to raise funds in order to pay for the fares of the "Hebrew immigrants" who arrived in New York.


"The persecution which is driving these people from their homes continues; and the Hebrew community of the city of New York has been, and is, striving to do its utmost in the direction above indicated. It is, however, overwhelmed by the immensity of the task. It feels that the unhappy plight of these refugees, driven out from their once settled, contented homes, for no fault of their own, yet without right of protest or hope of redress, appeals to all the instincts of humanity, and particularly to the love of fair play and liberty innate in every American heart. We, therefore, deem it a duty to lay before our fellow citizens, irrespective of creed, the sad facts herein recited, believing that they will touch a responsive chord and lead many a generous hear to tender substantial assistance."


These articles can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ece-alexander-III.htm. If you follow the "next" link at the end of the text, you can also read about Jewish life in Zambrow, Poland (then part of the Roman Empire) during the reign of the Czar who reigned after Alexander III died, Czar Nicholas II.