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  • Writer's pictureJessica Feinstein

A story in a photograph

I recently rediscovered this wonderful photograph of my grandfather Louis. It is a cabinet portrait taken in a photographic studio in Libau, Latvia (now Liepaja), in about 1904, and shows Louis, looking slightly anxious, seated on cushions. Behind him stands his older sister Bessie (born in 1894). Sharing a chair are Mary (born in 1898) and Sarah (1897) in matching dresses. Louis was the baby of the family, born in 1900.

The photographer was Abram Leibovich, born in 1869, who had set up his studio in the early 1890s. He was killed in Riga in 1941.[1]

Who took these children to his studio, and why was the photograph taken? The children’s mother, Hinda, had died from tuberculosis in December 1901, and their father, Khatzkiel (Charles) Feinstein decided to leave Latvia and start a new life in South Africa. The children were sent to stay with relatives, while Charles took the oldest son, Sam, and sailed to Johannesburg, where his younger brother, Aron, was already living.

The photograph must have been taken so that Charles would be able to see the faces of his youngest children until they could meet again.

In 1907 the family were able to send money to Libau so that Louis and his sisters could travel to South Africa.

You can see them here in the 1940s, with Louis in the centre and brother Sam on the right.

Sarah (on the left) owned a dress shop in Bulawayo for many years and died in Durban in 1963.

Mary (second left) married Harry Edelstein and died in Durban in 1958.

Bessie (between her brothers) married Samuel Kroll, and died in Israel in 1975.

Louis’s story can be read in full here: and


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