My great grandfathers tallis

My cousin using my great grandfathers tallis
My cousin using my great grandfathers tallis

 My great-grandparents were Holocaust survivors. They were from Belarus and were part of the Bielski partisans. Many of their family members were killed for being Jewish and were not able to practice Judaism. They lived in a forest for a year fighting Nazis, and persisted through terrible struggles. After the war, they had my grandmother and her two siblings while living in displaced persons camps. Once they arrived in America they were able to start a new life for themselves, starting a dairy farm in Troy, New York. Although this was a big deal, the bigger result of their coming to America was that they could practice Judaism freely. They took advantage of this freedom by going to synagogue weekly and celebrating holidays and traditions, such as wearing a tallis, which is a prayer shawl. My grandfather’s tallis is an object that symbolizes my family’s history. Hence, to me his tallis represents much more than an object, it represents the fact that he was able to get to a place where he and his family were able to practice Judaism with pride. When I see his tallis, it makes me think about how much he valued and appreciated the fact that he could wear it feely and without fear. Therefore, when he wore his tallis he was not only wearing it for himself, but also for all of his family members and all those who didn’t have the chance.


Place(s): Belarus, Troy New York
Year: 1949

– Eva Abramson

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant