The Friends from Kishinev

I discovered this studio portrait in my grandmother’s album after my return from Kishinev. The photograph and a few others like it, all taken in Kishinev studios, made me understand how European and modern the milieu in which my grandparents lived had already become in the first decade of the twentieth century. If my grandfather had been born in the shtetl of Bratslav, by the time he was a young father, he had trimmed his beard and married a woman who did not wear a wig. Their friends were elegant and stylish, and dressed more like characters in Chekhov’s world than in Sholem Aleichem’s. Seeing these pictures changed my view of Kishinev and ultimately my relationship to its history.

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