Butcher from Dubno

„Pictures from Dubno. Motel, a city butcher allows to be photographed specially for ’Forwerts’ so that all people from Dubno living in America could see that he is healthy and sends his regards.”

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At the back of the photo depicting a small, bearded man, who is standing with folded arms on a dirt floor in front of his house, Kipnis made an inscription, unusual for other photographs. He wrote down why and for whom he had taken it. Therefore, he made us realize that his photographs were supposed to link locally famous citizens of cities and towns of Poland with the readers of a big New York newspaper. 

It is estimated that from the areas of East-Central Europe, in the years 1880–1920, 33% of the Jewish population left for the United States. The majority of the emigrants headed for New York. In their new country they began organising social life: they opened schools and theatres, engaged themselves in politics and published newspapers in Hebrew and Yiddish.

An example of such papers can be „The Jewish Daily Forward” (”Forwerts”), whose first issue came out on 22 April, 1897. At the beginning, it was associated with the labour movement. However, in time it gained a larger audience. In 1919, it had already a daily circulation of 200 000. By the same token, it became the biggest foreign-language newspaper in the United States and the biggest in the world paper published in Yiddish. 

It was this megacirculation newspaper which published a photo of Mr. Motel so that its readers originally from Dubno could know that he was well. Sending the photograph to „Forwerts”, Kipnis knew that the former citizens of Dubno had not forgotten about the butcher. Not only were they able to recognize him, but they were also glad that he was healthy and were happy to have received regards. Despite far distance and difficulties in staying in touch, the bond between former neighbours remained strong. 

Simultaneously, in an incredible way, locality and the city meet here head-on. The readers of „Forwerts”, moved from cities and towns of Poland to New York, had to face previously unknown reality. However, in spite of many changes, they managed to keep their local identity. Not only were they immigrants from far Europe, fledgling New Yorkers, but they also felt they were still citizens of Dubno. And it was them that Kipnis addressed this photo to; a fragment of a well-known world, memory of which is part of their identity. 

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