Powerful pics reveal emotional US reunions after the Holocaust

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Powerful pics reveal emotional US reunions after the Holocaust

Images are on display at the Centre for Jewish History in New York, based on archives from the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) show families meeting after being separated

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Powerful pictures showing Jewish families reunited in America after being separated in Europe during the Holocaust are on display at the Centre for Jewish History in New York, based on archives from the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS).

Annie Polland, the society’s executive director, said the timing of the exhibition, titled When The Golden Door Closed, They Carried The Torch,  was particularly relevant in light of recent reports that US President Donald Trump might return to his policy of separating families as parents or children are deported.

The pictures feature in an AJHS show at the Centre for Jewish History. It tracks the work of Jewish people and organisations that continued to help immigrants and refugees despite a punitive immigration quota law.

The “Golden Door” refers to the 1883 poem by Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus, whose lines are fixed to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbour. Its famous words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”, became the bedrock of the idea of melting-pot America.

Polland said: “Jews founded many organisations to help immigrants, despite political rhetoric supporting immigration restriction.”

Two years before Lazarus published her poem,  Jews founded the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), which continues to help displaced people and refugees.

Through the work of HIAS and the United Service for New Americans, Jews who had survived the Holocaust were gradually able to be reunited with their families in America.

In one striking picture, taken in December 1951, at the Hudson River, Helene Friedman of Brooklyn and her brother Leib – together with his wife, Estera and their five-year-old daughter Mirla – meet each other for the first time since they parted in their native Poland in 1934. A caption on the back of the picture says the family was among immigrants who arrived aboard the ship, the General Muir, which sailed from Bremerhaven under the auspices of the United Service for New Americans, an agency of the United Jewish Appeal.

“The Friedmans are immigrating here from Belgium under a special provision of the Amended DP (Displaced Persons) Act which now permits the immigration of DPs who found temporary haven in countries other than Germany, Austria and Italy.”

The pictures, from the HIAS collection, show family reunions and bewildered people who never believed they would see their loved ones again.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: