This photograph depicts my maternal great-grandparents shortly after their arrival to the United States. Simcha and Anna Lelchuk grew up in Minsk, the Russian region now in modern day Belarus. They married and lived a pious way of life. Simcha became prosperous, by Russian standards, in his operations as a forester. The intensification of anti-Semitism and a wave of pogroms compelled Simcha and Anna to leave Minsk; after escaping an attempted lynching, Simcha was thoroughly convinced of the need to abandon Russia. The couple stayed in Warsaw, Poland for a short time as they awaited the necessary documentation to travel to the United States. In 1920 they made the voyage to the eastern shores of the U.S., eventually settling in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Upon recommendation from an acquaintance, Simcha started and successfully ran a kosher butcher-shop, while Anna diligently kept an observant Jewish home for Sarah and Louis, my grandmother, who is still alive and great-uncle of blessed memory. This photograph continues to resonate today, most distinctly as a reminder of how Simcha and Anna conducted their journey to the U.S. together and in their common devotion to each other enabled a proud Jewish family to flourish in a new land. Simcha is the name I was given at birth, providing me a continual reminder to live up to the name of the man who established roots for the growth of future descendants.
– Samuel Spencer