Saturday, November 25, 2006

Seven generations of separation

This is a photo of my maternal grandmother's own grandparents. Grandma brought the picture with her when she and her husband and children immigrated to the U.S. from the Czarist Russian empire at the turn of the last century.

The photo was in the form of a picture postcard. On its back is the word "Jerusalem" in English, Arabic and French. The photographer's name, an Armenian, is also shown.

I estimate that the photo was taken in Palestine about the time of the American Civil War, or nearly 150 years ago. In pencil my mother wrote the name "Horowitz," identifying the couple as her mother's maternal grandparents. I believe that Horowitz is actually the English and Yiddish version of the Russian name "Gorovich."

My grandmother's family were natives of the province of Minsk in what is now the independent country of Belarus. The photo was apparently taken when Grandma's grandparents, who were Orthodox Jews, were on a religious pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I do not know whether they remained in Palestine, which was then a province in the Ottoman Turkish empire, or ever returned to Russia.

If my arithmetic is correct, seven generations separate Grandma's grandparents from my own grandchildren. In short, the elderly couple in the photo are my grandchildren's great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents.

Obviously, an enormous cultural gap exists between their generation and my grandchildren's. The technological and economic advances and the upheaval in cultural traditions have been far greater over the past 150 years than during any other 150-year period in recorded history.

Seven generations after their Horowitz ancestors, my grandchildren live a life that Grandma's grandparents could hardly have imagined. Posted by Picasa


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that the name of the male in the photo is Avraham Ka"tz Horowitz/Gurevich, my great great great grandfather. He was born about 1805.

David Fox
Arnold, MD

Saturday, November 25, 2006 2:04:00 PM  
Blogger Mortart said...

For the record, "anonymous" is my cousin --first cousin once removed, to be exact. He's also the family geneologist. Thanks Dave for this information, which I did not know before.

Saturday, November 25, 2006 3:25:00 PM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

An amazing picture and post, in general. I was particulary interested to see the nice smiles on both of their faces. Usually those old, formal photos had very grim looking people in them but they seem to be very serene and happy to be together.

Saturday, November 25, 2006 7:12:00 PM  
Blogger Mortart said...

Pardon the misspelling of "genealogist."

Sunday, November 26, 2006 12:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is a WONDERFUL photo Mort! I wonder if those are their "best" clothes or if they had their photos taken on a particularly cold day in Palestine.

When are you going to put in a photo of you and Mrs Mort?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 4:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Claude said...

Quite an amazing photo. And an interesting story. My mother was from the Gubernya of Minsk, from a shtetl called Slonim. Now of course when she was born in 1909, it was Poland, then became Russia and back to Poland again. Lately it has become Belarus.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006 6:12:00 PM  

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