1993 | Tashkent, Uzbekistan | Age: 65
They couldn’t have children, and he took her to Berlin for fertility treatment, but they never did have any of their own. I was 3 years old when my mother passed away, and 5 when my father left my life, so they took me in and raised me. They were parents to me. This is my aunt and uncle in Berlin at the turn of the century. Look at their fancy clothes. You can’t even begin to understand how unusual it was for them to be in Berlin at that time. This was right before the Revolution. They were from wealthy families and were very afraid to draw attention. The family owned a cotton processing plant. There were bottles of cottonseed oil with the family name etched on them, but we had to hide all that evidence. Look at how she’s dressed though. So European! But you still see Uzbek touches on her outfit.
In 1939 she had the chance to go to - what was then - Palestine. This was during Stalin’s reign. People were afraid to breathe about leaving, but she had gotten a visa. How? One of my other uncles had been able to emigrate in 1935. Legally! He was a very active Zionist; there is a picture somewhere of him with Ben Gurion. He obtained visas from there for my aunt and me. In the ‘30s! But it took a year or two for the paperwork, and by that time the War had started, and there was no leaving.
Years later, in 1955, my aunt finally moved to Israel. She begged me to go with her. She didn’t want to leave without me, but I couldn’t. I just didn’t have the desire to go.
When we were leaving for America, we had to leave so much behind, including photographs. But we couldn’t just leave them; we had to burn them. This one I couldn’t leave. It’s so precious to me. It was framed in a massive, gilded frame. Of course I wasn’t allowed to take that. So I had to pry the photograph from it. I wanted to have it restored here, but no one would take the job. There’s a Sephardic museum that wants to add it to their collection, but I could never part with it.