Kiddush Cup

This Kiddush cup travelled with my great-great grandfather, Morris Milstein, from Germany to New York’s Castle Garden Immigration Depot in 1886, two years before his wife to be, Rebecca, would arrive from Poland at the same location. Morris arrived in America four years before Ellis Island would become one of America’s largest immigration processing centres.    His parents, poor farmers, brought him at the age of 12 from the “Old Country.” This was perhaps the only somewhat valuable possessions that they had, and one of the only possessions that my family still has. I can imagine them gathered around a table for Shabbat dinner, using this cup to bless their wine and refusing to allow young Morris his first taste. Compared to the farms of Germany, their small apartment in New York City must have felt quite cramped.   This doesn’t compare, however, to this simple fact: until 1886 Morris Milstein was a boy who didn’t exist. There was a little Jewish boy from Germany named Morris, of course, but his last name wasn’t Milstein. Afraid that, like so many others, they would get turned away from their prospective home, Morris’ parents were willing to grasp at any opportunity to enter New York City. So, when the last name “Millstein” was called in Castle Garden and no one answered they jumped at the chance. We still don’t know what their original last name was, but from then on they were the Milsteins.  I suspect their true last name was a closely guarded secret.

Place(s): Germany,New York
Year: 1886

– Geoffrey Besser

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