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Honoring a Grandparent’s American Journey: Our Shared Journeys Program


Long-time Tenement Museum supporter Marilyn Machlowitz wanted to honor her grandmother’s extraordinary journey from Russia to the United States at the turn of the 20th century. Dr. Machlowitz asked Museum staff about opportunities to support the Museum and celebrate her grandmother, Ida Gorelick Levin, in a meaningful way.

Ida Gorelick came to the United States as a teenager, alone, passing through Antwerp and sailing to America on the Red Star Line. She settled on the Lower East Side and found work in a garment factory, saving enough money over the next few years to send for her mother and brother.

Ida Gorelick Levin, 1906

While continuing to work to support herself and her family, Ida Gorelick took evening English classes at one of the neighborhood settlement houses. She married, and with her husband, owned a delicatessen and had three children. She died in 1989 at the age of 103.

Ida Gorelick Levin and Max Levin on the occasion of the their engagement, 1906

Tenement Museum staff suggested underwriting a very special program in Ida Gorelick Levin’s name: Shared Journeys brings thousands of English language learners – newcomers from more than 50 countries – to the Museum free of charge. Participants learn about America’s long history of immigration and gain a sense of their part in this important and ongoing story, while at the same time engaging in a forum to practice English.

Photo of a Shared Journeys tour of 97 Orchard

Shared Journeys is a program where Dr. Machlowitz’s generous contribution in her grandmother’s honor has terrific impact, helping more than 3,000 students annually learn English, celebrate the immigrant experience, and understand their role as part of the larger American story – a story that includes Ida Gorelick Levin and the families of 97 Orchard Street . Recently, the Associated Press wrote a profile of the Shared Journeys program.

As Dr. Machlowitz notes, “learning English was essential to [my grandmother’s] later life in this country”, affecting not only her own future but also her three children, six grandchildren, thirteen great-grandchildren, and eighteen great-great- grandchildren.

To learn more about honoring an ancestor or loved one at the Tenement Museum, call Christiana Killian at (212) 431-0233, x267 or email to [email protected].