8: Newspaper excerpt, "Gallery of Missing Husbands," Forverts, December 10, 1913.
During the height of Eastern European Jewish settlement in America, the trauma of immigration took an enormous toll on the stability of Jewish families. One significant consequence of mass immigration was wife abandonment: men who left behind wives and children until money could be saved for passage might ultimately never send for them, or might shirk the burden of feeding their families by "disappearing." Jewish charitable organizations in a number of American cities devoted considerable resources and energy to curbing this problem, including, by 1911, the establishment of a National Desertion Bureau. Jake’s divorce from Gitl to marry Mamie is part of this larger phenomenon.
The image below is of the "Gallery of Missing Husbands," a regular feature in the Forverts (Jewish Daily Forward) that solicited the community’s help in finding men who had deserted their wives and families. The headline above the men's portraits reads, "A galerye fun fershvundene mener - Oyb ihr derkent zey, un veyst vu zey zaynen, lozt visn zeyere froyen durkh'n 'forverts'" ("A Gallery of Missing Husbands - If you recognize them, and know where they are, let their wives know through the Forverts").
Suggested Activity: Examine the artifact and discuss: what do you find unusual, if anything, about the publishing, composition, or wording of this newspaper item? Why do you think immigration and Americanization precipitated the breakdown of families? How does Yekl help to illustrate this phenomenon? What other reasons, aside from those observed in Yekl, might account for this phenomenon? Why do you think Jewish social institutions like newspapers and charities were invested in solving this problem?
Source: Anonymous, "A galerye fun fershvundene mener" (New York: Forverts, December 10, 1913), 8. Digitized by the Historical Jewish Press (JPress) project of the National Library of Israel and Tel Aviv University.