After much planning and anticipation, ten of Joseph and Bessie Brotman’s great-grandchildren, four of their great-great-grandchildren and one great-great-greatgrandchild as well as a number of spouses spent the weekend, talking, eating, laughing and connecting and reconnecting in NYC. Some of us had known each other all our lives, some had never met at all, and some had not seen each other in many years. We represented two of Joseph and Bessie’s children, Hyman and Gussie. Although a few people could not make it for various reasons, there were several others who wanted to join us but were unable to do so, including one of Max’s granddaughters and one of hisgreat- granddaughters and one of Abraham’s granddaughters. We had a wonderful tour of the Tenement Museum and several of us walked along Ridge Street between Rivington and Delancey where our ancestors lived between about 1891 and 1907.
It was everything I had hoped it would be and more so. We shared stories about our lives and about our grandparents and parents. We shared photographs. We got to know and learned about our children and grandchildren. We came from as far away as Cleveland and Florida and Massachusetts. Some lived closer by in New Jersey or even in NYC itself. There were lots of photos taken. Included here are just a representative few to illustrate the excitement and love that was shared.
I cannot speak for everyone, but for me it was magical. A year ago I did not even know I had second cousins. Through the course of doing family research, I had found all these new wonderful people, people I would have chosen as friends even if they were not my relatives. We may live far apart, we may have known each other only for a short time, but I know that for me I felt a deep connection. No, it’s not the same as growing up with a first cousin who shared grandparents and holidays and vacations, but it is nevertheless a real connection. We all came from the same place, we all are here because Joseph and Bessie decided to leave Galicia and come to America. We all started somewhere on Ridge Street where our grandparents learned to speak English and the skills that were necessary to rise above the poverty.
I am so grateful for all who were able to make it and all who helped make this dream come true. I hope that those who were unable to join us will be able to do so another time. And now I am inspired to starting planning the first Goldschlager-Rosenzweig reunion and then the second Brotman reunion. These things take time and effort, and I was lucky to have lots of help with the planning, but I encourage any of my fellow family researchers to reach out and make your family tree more than a two-dimensional document or digital record. Find a way to meet your cousins and make them a part of your life.
UPDATE: For more photos, click here.