A Cantor's Tallit

Cantor Leo Fried's Tallit
Cantor Leo Fried's Tallit

In the late nineteenth-century, Leo Fried and Sally Kaufman separately emigrated to the United States from Hungary as teenagers. They met the in the small town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and would marry and eventually raise eight girls and two boys in their large Orthodox Jewish family. A remnant of their life in Bethlehem—a beautiful hand-woven tallit made by Sally and worn by Leo during his job as their synagogue’s cantor—is prominently displayed in my grandparent’s apartment and serves as a constant reminder of our family’s Jewish immigrant history. 

Upon reading Phyllis Greene’s personal stories from childhood, one of the eight Fried daughters and my great-grandmother, I learned that this tallit represents the important roles that gender and art played in my family’s history—in the late nineteenth-century and still today. My family’s history is one of trailblazing Jewish women who defied gender norms to make a name for themselves in the art world, such as Rose Fried who became one of the first female gallerists in New York City in the 1930s. Their collective love of art and music, paints a picture of Jewish immigrant history: of assimilating into American society while retaining storied traditions. Although we do not wear tallit today, we always take a moment to respect the tallit made by Sally and worn by Leo. 

Place(s): Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Year: 1890

– Marco Balestri

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more