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How our family history has strained our finances

How our family history has strained our finances

In the late-1920s, Lithuania was an increasingly difficult place to live for Jewish families like my wife’s great-grandparents. The family had established a comfortable life near Germany’s border, but anti-Semitism increased as the economy declined.

At a play that they attended one night, a violent assault was committed against a Jewish man. One day as they walked down the street, a neighbor whose house had been rebuilt after a fire by them uttered an anti-Semitic insult. The family decided that it was time to leave Europe. 

They almost didn’t make it because of a hangnail. At the port, the youngest daughter was denied boarding papers because the ship’s doctor was concerned it could lead to an infection on the ship. The ship was leaving for Canada in a few hours.

They were able, with the money they had saved, to pay for a doctor who could give her a clean health certificate. 

Money: life or death.

Nomi’s great-grandparents and their children in Lithuania, circa 1920s. Her grandfather, the boy wearing the striped shirts in the second row from the left.

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My dad’s parents, meanwhile, were growing up in Depression-era, rural Canada. Two…

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