House of Culture

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May 14, 2018 by Melanie L.

My maternal grandmother, Ita Chernowetsky, was born in “a beautiful country,” Uman, Ukraine in 1914. Her parents ran a laundry business and lived in a house on a main street directly across from the theater. She and her family frequently enjoyed free tickets to the theater in exchange for laundry services.

But the idyllic childhood stopped abruptly with the Russian Revolutions of 1917 and the spate of anti-Semitic pogroms that followed. One scary night, my grandmother’s compatriots took sport in firing their weapons at her house with her family inside. Fortunately, no one was injured.

By 1924, my tweenage grandmother and her family fled. It would take them six years of constant traveling to reach the shores of Rhode Island on New Year’s Day 1928.

No one ever looked back.

Until today. I stumbled upon an English website which translated and passed my queries to a local historian who was able to give me the address of the theater, which now houses a concert hall, House of Culture. When I entered the address into google maps, I found a 360 degree view of the intersection. Somewhere in this picture, the exact address still unknown, is either the house itself or the situs of my grandmother’s childhood pre-Revolution home.

Either way this was the view from her window 100 years ago.

Nezalezhnosti St, 2, Uman’, Cherkas’ka oblast, Ukraine, 20300

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Behind the Blog

Melanie L.

Melanie L.

I'm a happily re-married, full-time lawyer, and full-time mom raising two adorable vilde chayas (Yiddish: wild things) named Monkey and Peanut (not their real names!). I am often seen in public counting to three. In addition to parenting and writing, I also love photography, cosmology, evolutionary anthropology, and all things Israel.

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