When moving from Ukraine to the U.S. in 1989, my family had to make some tough choices about what to bring with them. Looking back, my mother says the most valuable things they brought were their photo albums. In the picture to the left, taken from one album, are my great grandmother, Donia, her brother, Arkadiy, and her sister, Klara. The picture was taken in the early ‘20s in Kytaihorod, Ukraine. They were rich compared to the other people in their town. They had a house, a small factory (leather products), and even a maid. After the Russian Revolution in 1917, things took a turn; communism led to the factory being taken away, and anti-Semitism was rising. Feeling threatened by these things, they moved from to Kiev. They went from being upper-middle class to being very poor. It only got more worse when WWII began. Donia, Klara, and their mother fled to Siberia, where they worked at a cable factory making supplies for the Russian army; Arkadiy joined the navy; Donia’s husband operated a tank. In 1944, they returned to Kiev. They lived there until 1991, when they moved to the U.S. to join the rest of my family. The photo albums saved while migrating from Kiev to Brooklyn are precious in my family’s history. This is only a slice of the stories; it is only one side of the family! I don’t think about my family’s history often, but I am always fascinated when I delve into their past. Looking through the photos and telling their stories is my way of keeping their memory alive.
– Sarah Loshinsky