Yesterday, Linda Silvern came to our office with a simple request: to see the photographs of the Jewish Foster Home that her uncle had taken. It turned into a visit that touched on many elements of local Jewish history.
Mrs. Silvern's parents met while living at the Jewish Foster Home. Her father, Bucky Rosenthal, was one of five brothers; Bucky's future wife, Ann Gnatt, was also one of five. Bucky's older brother, Joe, who also lived in the Foster Home and possibly took the two photographs of the Home that are in our archival collection, became a professional photographer. In fact, one of his photographs became internationally famous: Linda Silvern's uncle Joe Rosenthal took the famous photograph of the flag-raising at Iwo Jima.
Accompanying Mrs. Silvern yesterday was Sol Gnatt, an uncle from the other side of her family. We'd known Mr. Gnatt to be the donor of the Jewish Foster Home photograph that was in our Jewish Washington exhibition. Like photographer Joe Rosenthal, Mr. Gnatt spent his childhood in the Jewish Foster Home. He wrote an article about this experience for our journal, The Record, in 1989. We were excited to have the opportunity to talk to him again and hear about his time at the Foster Home, eating ice cream with Aunt Minnie, going to religious school at Washington Hebrew, being a member of the Jewish Lions Club and one of the four men in his class at Wilson Teachers College (predecessor to the University of the District of Columbia).