Hand-Stitched Matzah Holder

Intricate hand-stitching, dated 1909.
Intricate hand-stitching, dated 1909.

My artifact is a matzah holder that we use at our Passover seder every year. It came from my dad’s side of the family, who are Jewish. It was hand stitched in 1909 by my PopPop’s grandmother on his mom’s side; Rose Merin. So far I haven’t found her immigration records (it’s quite possible they don’t exist) but my PopPop helped me find her husband, Isac Merin. Isac left eastern Europe in the early 1900's to escape the Pogroms one of which was happening from 1903-1906, and left over 2,000 jewish people dead. They were generally thought to have been organized or condoned by authorities. Isac arrived at Ellis Island in 1904, after previously living in Minsk, Russia. He came through Ellis Island with $18 in his pocket, and a cousin in Newark, NJ. He then met and married Rose in the US, as far as we know. My dad’s family stayed on the east coast for 3 generations- until my grandparents and their 3 sons left Long Island when my dad was 13, for my PopPop’s new job in Minnesota. I’ve only been to New York once in recent years, but every year, while I wait a seemingly endless amount of time to actually eat at our seder, I think about the decades of east-coast seders, and over a century of matzah, that have all used this matzah holder. It’s cool to know that although I’ll never have a traditional east-coast Jewish childhood, or know much about my history, we’ll always have the same seder traditions my family has had for 108 years.

Place(s): Eastern Europe, Ellis Island, East - Coast, Minnesota
Year: 1909

– Isabel Kleckner

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