The Storm Postcard by Ephraim Moshe Lilien (1920)


This postcard depicts two Jews who were turned back by the American March 3, 1891, immigration law which barred entry to "paupers or persons likely to become a public charge." They are sitting in the hold of the storm-tossed ship.  The two men are seated, one on a steamer trunk, the other on the floor, and in their eyes, staring into nothingness, is the despair of a two-millennial exile.  Across the hold, black-winged skeletal death waits expectantly.

Identifer: CJF-RFC2013101


Miscellaneous Jewish Art

This picture first appeared in an illustrated German edition of the Songs of the Ghetto, (Lieder des Ghetto), Berlin, 1903, translated from the Yiddish by Berthold Feivel and illustrated by E. M. Lilien.
Many Jews came and were admitted to America but a few were sent back. The "Poet of the Ghetto," Morris Rosenfeld, sang of their plight. Leo Wiener, Instructor in Slavic Languages at Harvard, translated the poem into prose in his Songs of the Ghetto (LIEDER DES GHETTO), Boston, 1898, a collection of' Rosenfeld's poems in transliteration and prose translation.

On the Bosom of the Ocean,
The terrible wind, the dangerous storm, is wrestling with a ship on the ocean....

Children weep, women wail; the people cry and confess their sins; Souls flutter, bodies tremble in terror of the angry, destructive wind.

But below in the steerage, two men sit quietly; no pain assails them; they seek no salvation, they make no plans, just as if it were safe and calm about them.

"Who are you wretched ones ... that you have no sighs and no tears even at tire awful gates of Death?

Have you no fatherland, no country, no home ... no friendly house.... No one in heaven above to whom to cry when you are in trouble?"

"A mother has fondled us ... a father ... kissed us tenderly.

We have a house but it has been destroyed, and our holy things have been burned

You know our Country; it is easily recognized ... by its cruel riots, its ruthless destruction, dealing death to the wretched Jew,

Yes we are Jews, miserable Jews, without friends or joys, without hopes of happiness ... America drives us back to Russia. To Russia, because we have no money ...

... Earth is too mean to give us a resting place; we are voyaging, but.... no one waits for us.

Related person
Ephraim Moshe Lilien

Leave a Comment

Cincinnati Judaica Fund| 8401 Montgomery Road | Cincinnati, OH 45236 | 513-241-5748
Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education | 8401 Montgomery Road | Cincinnati, OH 45236 | 513-487-3055
powered by CollectiveAccess 2014