This is a slice of shtetl life for the Strauber-Strober-Struber family more than three-quarters of a century ago. This picture materialized in an unusual way (and one we should celebrate). Yogev Strauber, who lives in Israel and who only recently joined our Google group, called me on Skype a few weeks ago. I suggested he might want to make contact with Zipora Stavi, another Strauber-Strober-Struber family member living in Israel.
A few weeks later, Yogev messaged me to say he had indeed met Stavi for coffee, that he had a wonderful conversation with her, and that she gave him a copy of a family picture. Yogev then tried to identify the people in the photo for me, but between our language difficulties and some cultural ones (Israelis, it seems, like their IDs to run right to left, while Americans are more comfortable with left to right), I wasn’t sure who was who.
On Saturday morning, my phone rang with an unusual number. It was Stavi from Israel. She is more comfortable with telephone than with email, but between us, we managed to get names with the faces.
Stavi told me this picture was taken on the occasion of Berthe Strober (#1187 on the Strauber-Strober-Struber family tree) visiting Potok Zloty, where she was born, from Budapest, Hungary, where she was then living. (It’s a distance of roughly 400 miles.)
One other thing to note: the fashion. Though these people lived in the country, Stavi pointed out to me, they’re wearing current fashions and “city” clothing, one sign that our ancestors were not the “country bumpkins” living in a shtetl may have implied. Stavi also noted that they were all educated, literate people.
Over the next ten years, many of those in this photo would be dead, killed in the atrocities of World War II. A few would survive and bear witness of what happened. But without the wonderful gift of this photo, we could not so easily see the good times in Potok Zloty.