All of my family photos are my favorite! I have a difficult time saying anything is my favorite, to the exclusion of any other in the category, however here is one of my favorite family pictures. This is Nechame Dvorah Yellin and Itzhak Levin, my husband’s great-grandparents. There is no date on the picture, but the photographer’s stamp says it was taken in Bialystok. It was likely taken around the time one or more of their children migrated out of the country. Three of their six children (found so far) left Russia and migrated west, eventually to the United States. The first to have left was likely Shmuel or Sam Levin, who left in 1899. Choneh or Harry Levine may have also migrated about the same year. He was already married and his second child was born in May 1899 in Russia. His next child was not born until the family had reunited in Syracuse in 1906. The last known child of Nechame Dvorah and Itzhak Levin to migrate probably left about 1904 or 1905. This was my husband’s grandmother, Mata (maybe Meite) Leah or Lena Levine. So the picture was probably taken between early 1899 and 1905. I believe that children of all three of the Levin children who came to the U.S. had copies of the picture.
Note that Nechame was wearing both a wig and a scarf to cover her hair. This is a visual indication of the family’s strict adherence to Jewish practices. Itzhak’s beard and skull cap are probably also indications. There is a family story about one of the sons, Loeb, who did not migrate out of Russia: the family being very strict about religious practices, especially making graven images, refused to let him go to the Royal Academy of Art in Russia although he had been offered a place there.
Very little is known in the present family about either of these two people who were the ancestors of the Levine side of the family. They lived and raised a family in the small shtetl of Jalowka in Grodno Guberniya in the Russian Empire. Itzak was a tailor and Nechame was said to be described as a saintly woman throughout the area. Based on probable birth dates of their children, they were likely married around 1865 so might have been born around 1840 or so. These are broad generalized estimates based on very incomplete information.