(AMHERST, Mass.) – No One Remembers Alone: Memory, Migration, and the Making of an American Family, an exhibition that tells the story of an American family that immigrated from Eastern Europe through postcards, photographs, travel documents, and materials from newly opened Soviet archives, is on exhibit at the Yiddish Book Center through March 2014.
When Abram Spiwak and Sophie Schochetman married in the spring of 1909, they became the founders of a huge American family. In their lifetime, Abram became a prosperous grower of flowers on a farm in Queens and Sophie a renowned dressmaker, then beloved for her artistry with flowers.
Together they used their money to bring dozens of members of their families out of Eastern Europe. In 1929, Abram Spiwak made his only trip back to what was, by then, Romania, carrying his American passport. Postcards from family and friends he hadn’t seen in 23 years and would never see again had disappeared for 80 years until Patricia Klindienst, exhibition curator, found them scattered through family photo albums and locked away in drawers, closets, and suitcases.
Over a period of several years, 200 volunteers from 16 countries helped translate and interpret the postcards, photographs, travel documents, and materials from newly opened Soviet archives that now make it possible to reconstruct the story of how Abram Spiwak and Sophie Schochetman founded a new family in America.
Though it begins in Czarist Russia, theirs is an American story. It is the universal story of the emigrant.