My great-grandfather, Moses Gershenfeld, was born in Odessa, Russia in 1889. In 1906, at the age of 17, he joined the first Russian Revolution against the Tsar. He was betrayed by his comrades, arrested, and exiled to Siberia. During his time in Siberia, he wrote journals about his experiences. Keeping the journals was so important to him that he would trade food for paper so that he could continue to write. He survived in Siberia under extremely harsh conditions for 11 years until he finally escaped around the time of the second Revolution. 

He returned to Odessa but his family was gone. He didn’t find out what happened to them until many years later. He made his way to pre-Israel Palestine, where he worked in the orange groves on a kibbutz. He continued to pen his journals, writing in Russian and in Yiddish. He lived in Palestine for 2 years until he found out that one of his brothers had survived and was living in America. My great-grandfather then took this opportunity to come to America and live with his brother. He ended up studying at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, where he met my great-grandmother. They both became teachers in the Workmen’s Circle School. My great-grandfather’s journals are important not only to my family, as a record of his life, but also as a valuable historical document, describing first-hand the events of the first Russian Revolution, life in pre-Israel Palestine, and an immigrant’s journey to America. 

Place(s): Russia, Israel

– Joel

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