Freshly polished candlesticks
Freshly polished candlesticks

My great-grandmother Betty Edelstein traveled to Ellis Island from Ukraine with her mother Pessie Greenberg and father Leib Greenberg, at an unknown age. In Ukraine the government didn’t give birth certificates for girls, because girls didn’t fight for the Czar. Back in Ukraine, Leib was employed by the graf (landowner), and he represented him, and when he attended Bazaars to represent the property he would always bring souvenirs back home. One day, he brought home two silver-plated candlesticks, with intricate engraved details. Every Friday night Betty’s family used the candlesticks for Shabbat to celebrate the day of rest. In Ukraine, the Czar’s soldiers, Cossacks, performed pogrom (acts of violence) on Jewish people, who were seen as lesser and different. This led Betty and her parents to immigrate to America on a heavily populated boat to Ellis Island. Throughout changes and hardships along Betty’s journey, her candlesticks were a reminder of Judaism and its power to bring people together. This power has kept my family strong for generations. Grandma Betty handed down the candlesticks to my grandma Ruth, who then gave them to my mother. As I grow older, I hope my mom will pass the candlesticks on to me and my future family. Everytime I walk by the candlesticks in my dining room, I’m reminded of my journey, my family's journey. I wouldn’t be here if my great-great-grandfather never got through the agents at Ellis Island with the candlesticks in his hand. 

Place(s): Ukraine, New York
Year: 1906

– Sofia Wilson

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