My father's side of the family is from Gomel, a city in the former Soviet Union. In this antisemitic city, my grandfather, Ilya Beylison, had to be creative and think of a way to get on his antisemitic neighbors' better sides. So he bought a camera to take their photographs. He would much prefer to be called a "photographer" rather than a "rotten jew", was how my grandmother talked about his decision to buy the camera. Ilya died when my father was one year old, and the camera ended up in my father's possession when he grew up. When my dad immigrated to the United States, he kept the camera, stored somewhere in a closet, waiting to be found by me. Sixty years later, and 4600 miles away from where it was manufactured, this camera still works perfectly, and is a testament to my family's struggle to maintain their Jewishness in a foreign land. Something they hoped wouldn't be an issue when they came to America.
– Nathaniel Beylison