22 August 2009

New York: One foot in America, Sept. 10

As you look at immigration manifests for your ancestors, do you see ships of the Red Star Line?

From 1873-1934, more than 2 million European emigrants left for the US via Antwerp. The city was a major junction of European rail connections and transatlantic steamship links.

Since the mid-19th century, a direct rail link to the Central Station existed between Antwerp, Germany and beyond to Eastern Europe. Once in the city, passengers were housed (according to their budgets) close to the station or the piers.

The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, in association with the City of Antwerp, The Eugeen Van Mieghem Foundation and the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, is hosting a special program on the Jewish emigrants of the Red Star Line and Eugeen Van Mieghem.

The CJH will also present an exhibit on the Red Star Line's Jewish emigrants in YIVO Constantiner Gallery, with brief tours conducted by Mandy Nauwelaerts, Red Star Line Museum curator. A related panel discussion is also set for the following week (details below).

"One Foot in America: The Jewish Emigrants of the Red Star Line and Eugeen Van Mieghem" is set for 7pm, Thursday, September 10, at the Center for Jewish History in New York City.

Speakers will be Antwerp vice mayor and promoter of the Red Star Line Museum Philip Heylen, and Erwin Joos, co-author of "One Foot in America" and director of the Van Mieghem Museum and Foundation. There will also be a book-signing by Joos.

Many Eastern European Jews who immigrated to the United States around the turn of the 20th century began their journey in Antwerp, Belgium, on the steamships of the Red Star Line.

They made a deep impression on the Flemish artist and Antwerp native Eugeen Van Mieghem (1875-1930), whose timeless, evocative drawings and paintings of the emigrants are beautifully reproduced in "One Foot in America."

This new book, and the Red Star Line Museum scheduled to open in Antwerp in 2012, will do much to illuminate the experience of those who made the brave decision to leave their old lives behind for the New World.
A related panel discussion, "Shtetl on the high seas: the steamship companies and Jewish emigration from Eastern Europe," with the participation of Gur Alroey (University of Haifa), Frank Caestecker (University of Ghent) and moderator Hasia Diner (New York University), is set for 7pm, Tuesday, September 15.

For more information and reservations (by August 31) for both the lecture and panel discussion, email yivorsvp@yivo.cjh.org .

Philadelphia-area readers can attend Erwin Joos' lecture at The Kaiserman JCC, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, at 10am Monday, September 14. Make reservations (by August 31) to http://us.mc337.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=goldenslipper@phillyjcc.com .

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