Because I wanted to take better care of these two photos from my husband's family, I scanned them. On the left are Ron's maternal grandparents, Haim and Ruchel/Rochel Kaplan of Bialystok, Poland. Their two daughters emigrated to for United States. Ruchel died in 1932. Haim survived the 1939 "Red Friday" massacre of half the Jewish population and died in Poland in 1942.
Rebecca Kaplan Bloom and Morris Bloom, were newly married, living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, in the photo on the right. Becky, as she was known, came to New York in 1913, roomed with relatives in Mt. Vernon, New York, worked as a seamstress, on the Lower East Side. Within a year, she brought her younger sister, Gittlel, to the City. She also worked in the sweatshops of New York.
She and Morris, a Jewish Socialist, moved to the Bronx before settling for most of their lives in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.
Morris' oldest brother, Hyman, was the first of three brothers to come to the U.S. At Ellis Island, an official told him to select a name beginning with a "B." And so the Bialystok brothers, three altogether, morphed into Blooms. Two of the brothers were typesetters for the Jewish Daily Forwards. A printer, Morris opened his own shop in the 1920s. He specialized in advertising labels and posters--many for the Yiddish theatre and Manishewitz wine.
The elder Blooms, now deceased, were non-observant Jews who brought extended family together for a meal on Passover--without religious ceremony. Becky was a patient, good-natured, hard-working matriarch. Once her children had left home, she was familiar to neighbors on Brighton First Street. She sat on the bench in front of her house and listened to neighbors' travails. Morris learned Spanish after he retired and befriended and assisted a young family from Peru.
In August, Claude of Blogging in Paris posted thoughts about her own Jewish identity as a response to another Elderblogger's discussion. A number of others from different backgrounds joined in. I've returned several times to read the growing comments--all thoughtful and glad to join the conversation.
[Posted while a little red hen and spouse visit family in Portland, Oregon]