Thursday, March 19, 2009

My ancestors in Jerusalem

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This is a photo of my maternal great-great-grandparents. The photo was taken in Jerusalem about 150 years ago when that city was ruled by the Ottoman Turks.

My maternal grandmother, with whom I lived during my childhood, brought this photo of her own maternal grandparents with her when she arrived in the U.S. in 1903. The family came from the Czarist Russian province of Minsk in what is now Belarus. The picture was obviously an extremely important possession of Grandma's, having survived that arduous journey with her husband, three small children and all their belongings.

I do not know whether these ancestors of mine were visiting Jerusalem on a religious pilgrimage or whether they had come from Russia to settle in the Holy Land. As a boy, I was aware of the photo's existence. But I do not recall that Grandma, beyond identifying the couple in the picture as her grandparents, ever explained their presence in Jerusalem.

The photo, which was restored, was originally on a postcard. The word "Jerusalem" was elaborately printed on its back, as was the photographer's Armenian name.

The couple's family name was Gurevich, which I believe is the Russian version of the name Horowitz. I do not know their first names. Nor have I ever known any relatives who bear their surname. I do take some satisfaction, however, in imagining that I may have been distantly related to the late, great Russian-born pianist, Vladimir Horowitz.

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Blogger Sylvia K said...

Oh, what a great post, Mort! I act like I'm surprised and that's really dumb as all of your posts are wonderful! How fascinating this photo is! And how old! Don't you wish it could speak? You have so much wonderful family history and it's always delightful to read! Thanks as always for sharing your wonderful life!

Thursday, March 19, 2009 5:32:00 PM  
Blogger Kay Dennison said...

What a great photo!!!! And how wonderful that you have it!!! I don't have any old photos of my grandparents but hope to soon.

Thank you for sharing it with us!

And I think it would be cool if you were related to Vladimir Horowitz, too.

Thursday, March 19, 2009 6:12:00 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

The photo is a priceless treasure and how wonderful that it survived to become yours. Our heritage is so important and I am glad you have a record of yours.

I hope a genealogy search will prove that you are related to Vladimir Horowitz. You would really have a famous relative. [Or maybe he would have one in you. ;-).]

Friday, March 20, 2009 1:38:00 PM  
Blogger Dorothy said...

What a treasure my husband just found some old photos I'm going to post on our site in the next week or so..the clothes and expressions are so worth seeing..
besides the history..

Dorothy from grammology

Saturday, March 21, 2009 1:27:00 PM  
Blogger Norma said...

We were in Jerusalem last week. We saw some clothing that resembled this! What a wonderful photo. One of the humbling experiences of being in great spiritual and historical sites is the knowledge of how many pilgrims have visited before.

Saturday, March 21, 2009 1:35:00 PM  
Blogger Marjorie said...

I happened upon your blog, and I also have a memoir in a blog. It is filled with photos and stories. There are almost 100 entries, which you can read in "March" and if you click on "2008" and open "December." You can also click on "Older Posts" at the bottom of each blog page.
I have photos up of my ancestors from Minsk and photos of my father's days in the army during WW2. There are photos of me growing up and photos of my family. I think you will love it and I hope you look at it and let me know what you think. People think it is very funny and nostalgic.
You can link to it by clicking on my name here which will take you to my profile. It is:

Monday, March 23, 2009 11:02:00 PM  
Blogger Lydia said...

What a special special special photograph. I love the post about your great-great grandparents and wish that we could know their first names. But the last name is very exciting in reference to Vladimir Horowitz. He's one of my heroes!

Is it just because I want to or do you see a resemblance of your face to your great-great grandfather's face? A little bit?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009 4:09:00 AM  

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