Questions posed by our visitors lead to great conversations. Occasionally, we’ll post a great question that’s frequently asked, along with the answer, to give you a bit of back story on our exhibits.
The Confino Family emigrated from Kastoria to New York in 1913. Where is Kastoria located, and how would the Confino family have answered the question, “where are you from”?
Kastoria is located within the borders of present-day Greece, in the northwest section of the country, and it has always been considered part of the larger region of Macedonia.
Oral histories have taught us that even years after emigrating, many Sephardic immigrants from this part of the world expressed multiple, overlapping and inextricable identities. First, most immigrants identified themselves as Sephardic Jews. Second, each immigrant identified as either Greek or Turkish. And, lastly, each identified with the region or town they hailed from.
On ship manifests and census records, the Confinos are noted as having emigrated from Turkey. So why are they referred to as a Greek family here at the Museum?
Confusion surrounding the question of the Confinos’ country of origin stems from the constant turmoil over the borders of Greece and Turkey during the early twentieth century. The First Balkan War (1912-1913) that wracked the region was in many ways a fight for territorial control. Because of this constant flux, some Sephardic Jews who emigrated may have identified culturally with Greece, while others identified culturally with Turkey.
The Confinos identified as Sephardim and Kastoriali. It is possible that they identified themselves as Sephardim more often when interacting with Ashkenazi Jews and identified as Kastoriali when interacting with other Sephardic Jews.
You can learn more about the Confino family and their immigration experience through the Museum’s Victoria Confino tour.
– Posted by David Favaloro