Family Picture

My family does not have many artifacts from Eastern Europe, or more specifically from Bialystok, where we are from. However, what we do have is this family photo taken in 1912. In this photo almost all of my family is present—and that is what is important—there is one crucial member missing. My maternal grandfather’s mother, Minnie. While almost everyone in this photo perished in the Holocaust, Minnie left Bialystok in 1909. She traveled to Palestine as a young woman in hopes to escape persecution in Bialystok and in hopes to make a better living. However, what she found, was that Palestine was not much better than where she came from. Her husband's best friend was killed by a Palestinian extremist and there was no work to be found. Soon after their arrival, Minnie and her husband traveled to America and settled in Chicago. As it turns out, Minnie's story is not unique. Many poor immigrants traveled to Palestine during this time period (1900-1914) only to be disappointed by what they found there. The Jewish leadership did not value their presence, because they did not bring with them any capital, and for people like my great-grandmother, there was no way to make a living. Therefore, according to some statistics up to 80 percent of those who arrived during this period to Palestine, emigrated either back to their home country or on to another country, like America. Though my great-grandmother did not have a direct journey to the US, it is comforting to know that her story is shared by many others like her.    

Place(s): Palestine and the United States

– Jason Graf

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