Thursday, May 17, 2007

Saturday May 17

Again Sniatyner Shul,
evening sat down shivah


Matt's Notes

As mentioned yesterday, the Sniatyner shul was likely a congregation of Jews from Papa's home town of Sniatyn that shared a house of worship with many other such immigrant congregations. Papa's father was a teacher at the Talmud Torah (religious school) in Sniatyn, and would have been as well-known a figure as any small-town school teacher.

How many people in New York's Sniatyner shul had known him, questioned him, admired or feared him? How many had heard stories about him from their parents, or had their own stories to tell of his advice, methods, and habits? How well did they know the tones of his voice, the look of his hand as he pointed at a page, the way he positioned his paralyzed arm? How many had sat beside him while he explained a difficult concept, nodded their heads, met his gaze? As Papa sat and said kaddish there on the Lower East Side, how many people consoled him, or kept their distance, or stole glances at him and thought to themselves, yes, I remember his father's face?

photo of Papa's parents


Since Papa's diary deals with sitting shiva at the moment, I should again mention that The Lower East Side Tenement Museum Web site has a good depiction of what the home of a mourning Jewish family would have looked like in the early 1900's. Papa lived alone so his place wouldn't have looked quite like this, but maybe it's a closer approximation of what his sister Clara's apartment looked like a few days earlier.


Update -- May 19, 2007

A couple of editions of the American Jewish Yearbook from the early 1900's say the Congregation Sniatyner Agudath Achim was located at 209 East Broadway between Clinton and Jefferson Streets. Papa would have walked about four blocks south from his apartment on Attorney Street to reach it.

Further update: 209 East Broadway is currently the location of the Primitive Christian Church. Reverend Rivera, the lead pastor there, tells me the spot used to be occupied by an establishment called Broadway Manor, a reception and meeting facility that catered to the Jewish community. I imagine that's where Snityner Agudath Achim, among other congregations, held their services.

Image source: "Khaim Lib, the Talmud Torah [talmetoyre] 'melamed' [teacher] with his pupils." Courtesy of the Yivo Institue for Jewish Research's People of a Thousand Towns site.

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