Glass Eye

Relationship: Child of im/migrant

This glass “eye” which I purchased in Rhodes (Greece) in 1990 connects me to my Sephardic Jewish heritage. It is supposed to protect against curses and evil, so I see no harm in hanging it in my home. That trip to Rhodes was an emotional pilgrimage for me to the place where my maternal grandmother Sol Franco was born and raised. I visited the family home and the local synagogue where many of my ancestors practiced their Judaism after fleeing the Spanish Inquisition in the late 15th Century. Later, I would travel to the Spain my ancestors fled to understand the lives they led and the oppression they suffered. This “eye” connects me to the culture, language, cuisines, superstitions, traditions, and tales of hope, disruption and horror that shaped my complex ethnic and religious identity. This “eye” reminds me of the smells and tastes of my grandmother’s home, of the colorful Ladino expressions that I could barely understand but I knew were remarkable and precious since this language of Jewish Diaspora was dying, and of my family’s extraordinary journey and resilience. After leaving Rhodes, Sol moved to colonial Africa, where my mother was born and raised, and then to Europe. In the 1950s, my mother made the long journey to New York where she eventually married my father and settled. Although I am American, a native New Yorker in fact, there are many layers of complexity that make me who I am. This story uncovers one of those layers.

Place(s): Spain, Europe, Africa, New York, Greece, Rhodes
Year: 1950

– Suzette M

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant