The first door, "Passages,"
shows Bella leaving Russia alone. She
keeps the light of her menorah and heritage
close to her. Her strength and fear as
she arrives at Ellis Island are depicted
in the second door, "Entrance to
America." Next, "Matchmaker,"
marks Bella's arrival in Michigan and
the efforts of her two brothers to secure
a husband for her through a traveling
suit salesman. "Wedding," the
fourth door, celebrates her marriage and
the continuity of Jewish ritual. The fifth
door, "Home," shows Bella and
her husband Abraham, living behind a curtain
in the back of their grocery store. This
lifestyle, which blurrs the boundaries
of home and work, was not uncommon for
immigrants of the time. "Sabbath,"
the sixth door, characterizes family dynamics
at Bella's Sabbath dinner table with the
traveling Rabbi. The final door, "Encounter"
depicts recent history. Bella is passing
the light of her menorah to me as I board
a plane for the Ukraine. My mother and
I returned to the "old country"
to participate in the International Conference
for Jewish Women in Kiev. In researching
and documenting Bella's life, the relativism
of her history has become evident.
Everyone has his or her own version of
the story. The doors, which reflect my
life as well as Bella's, will also contribute
to the remaking of her history. Viewers
who experience the doors are often prompted
to tell their own stories of immigration
and search for heritage. These doors are
a passageway for others to explore and
document their oral histories.