Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight: Susan Bachner

Black and White photo of man and pushcart


Susan Bachner

Relocated from the Tri-State area to Kentucky in 1993

How long have you been a member of the Tenement Museum?
Several years. Additionally, I have given gift memberships to friends.

What drew you to the Tenement Museum?
The wonderful history authentically presented; the ability to be “in the space” and appreciate the building, layout, artifacts, stories. This and more attracted me to the Tenement Museum. It gave new, palpable meaning to my Dad’s stories and is a link to my family’s early history here in the USA (they came through Ellis Island).

Does the Museum make you reflect on any of your family stories?
Yes, my Dad, William (Bill) Gershen lived with his adoptive parents (Esther and Morris Rabinowitz) in a Lower East Side tenement. They subleased one windowless room from the tenants in a three-room apartment. I grew up hearing stories that were told with enormous affection. I often share stories that were told to me by my Dad with my kids and grandkids.

Do you have a favorite Tenement tour or program (virtual or in-person)?
In 2004, my Dad (92 years old at the time), my son, and myself had a private tour with Victoria. This was special. The power of being in that apartment with all its familiarity created a transformation, so he began speaking in the present tense with Victoria. He spoke about the pushcarts outside and asked how Victoria’s papa was earning a living! Once outside again, he returned to the present (with no pushcarts) and hailed a cab for us with his NY whistle.

What are some other cultural institutions that you frequent/support?
Ellis Island & the Statue of Liberty

Anything else you’d like to add?
I published Bringing the Meaning Home in the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Special Interest Section Quarterly (Vol 12, Number 1) in March 2005 which described the power of meaningful objects. I am a retired Occupational Therapist. To underscore the points, I described the visit my Dad, son, and I made to the Tenement Museum to have a tour with Victoria and to experience tenement life, which was well-known to my Dad. To that point, I spoke about the interaction between my Dad and Victoria and the memories the visit elicited.

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