Thursday, September 10, 2009

Some Words

The last two Wednesdays I have posted for Wordless Wednesday photographs received from a first cousin of my mother's. There was no writing on the back of the photographs and the cousin was unable to identify them. However, they were with other photographs of Deutsch and Lichtmann kin, so we are relatively certain (no pun intended) they are from those family lines.

This means they are likely from a region of Transylvania that was then Hungary, and is now Romania. (Though it is possible they are relatives post-immigration to America.)

Here are the faces of the two men:

It is my understanding that both the Lichtmann and Deutsch families were Orthodox Jews. And the individual on the right looks like traditional images with which I am familiar. Not so the individual on the left.

The head covering the relative on the right is wearing appears reminiscent of what I sometimes see Hasidim wear. The relative on the left appears to be wearing a more 'cowboy-style' hat to me. Though it may just be the way the hat is turned.

Even more interesting than the hats, is the facial hair, or the lack thereof.
With the spread of kabbalism to Eastern Europe, trimming the beard was gradually prohibited by leading rabbinic authorities (Noda bi-Yhudah, Mahadura Tinyana, YD 80) and with the rise of Ḥasidism, the removal of the beard became tantamount to a formal break with Jewish tradition. [Source]
Not growing up in an Orthodox household, and used to 20th and 21st century changes in tradition, this difference didn't occur to me until I pasted their faces one next to the other. My Great-grandfather, Samuel Deutsch, also didn't have a beard. This may be representative of a generational break with tradition, as if the two pictures are from a similar time period, the individual on the right appears older.

The woman in last week's photo is holding a book.

I wonder what the book is. While such movies as Yentl have ingrained in popular culture the idea that Jewish women in Eastern Europe were discouraged from education -- it has been suggested recently that paradoxically, the restriction from reading religious literature resulted in women reading secular literature, and becoming key players in the latter half of the 19th century enlightenment. (The law of unintended consequences strikes again.)

I'd like to be able to put some names to these faces someday. Perhaps similar pictures will turn up in other cousin's collections, but with labels.

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