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July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
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Passover, 1910

Passover, 1910

Photo Credit: From the Steinfeldt Photography Collection of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest.

This picture was taken either during the Popkin family Seder in Duluth, in 1910, or right before the holiday. It’s difficult to imagine someone just snapping a photograph at the seder back then, because it probably required a very large apparatus, as well as a strong source of light, which probably didn’t go well with their notion of Jewish Law. Unless the picture was shot by a gentile.

So they probably sat down and posed ahead of the actual seder.

They’re so solemn. Look at them, they’re outright sad.

I’ve spent my share of Passovers in the Midwest, so I’m familiar with the somewhat joyless approach to life of the Jews of the North – but this is funeral sadness.

Or maybe they’re just waiting for the guy with the camera to finish, so they can crack a smile, or just move. You couldn’t move while those shoebox cameras were taking in the light reflected off your body.

Talk about the Holiday of Freedom…

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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3 Responses to “Passover, 1910”

  1. Robin Meltzer says:

    Many families hired professional photographers in advance to come to their homes either just before or during seder to photograph the family at the table. As a family researcher, I have seen many such photographs.

  2. Susan Larson says:

    And you had to sit very, very still…

  3. Susan Larson says:

    And you had to sit very, very still…

Comments are closed.

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