Cantor Leo's Tallit

My great-great grandfather's tallit
My great-great grandfather's tallit

Leo Fried and Sally Kaufman, immigrants from Hungary in the late 19th-century, were the parents of ten children and raised their Orthodox Jewish family in the small town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. 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 in New York City 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, including Rose Fried who became one of the first women to run and own an art gallery in NYC in the 1930s. My family's collective love of art and music, leaves a mark on the history of Jewish immigrants who found ways to assimilate into American society, while retaining their storied traditions.  And although we are no longer observant Orthodox Jews, our connection to Jewish culture and our immigrant history through our devotion to art and music has remained steadfast; We always take a moment during the Jewish holidays 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