Sokolivka: Once Home

Sokolifkers are Beautiful

Slutsky Cousin Club with members of the Recoon and Shuman families, courtesy of Sue and Eric Recoon.

Nostalgia and Reunion

By the time of the first major reunion of Sokolivker descendants took place in Buffalo over 1990 to 1991, two of the three Sokolivker related immigrant organizations had been closed for almost twenty years. Within a decade of their closure, several factors came together to promote the possibility of reunion across the Sokolivker community. During the 1970s a growing fascination and desire for ethnic pride alongside an interest in genealogy merged with nostalgia. Dr. Ruben Kaiser had brought together all of these strands in his idea for a special order bumper sticker: “Sokolifkers are Beautiful”. He captured the feelings of many so well. His car with the bumper sticker was regularly followed and stopped as Sokolifkers descendants sought to get their own stickers. Eventually orders became so numerous it became a Fingold Cousin Club special project! In the 1990s, a reunion enabled the last of the immigrant generation to gather again and enjoy connections with other Sokolivkas. The sense of joy in this event is captured in a clip created by Rich Newberg. Our thanks to him for providing us with it. The event was held at Temple Beth Zion and a booklet was created by Ferne Mittleman and Muriel Selling.

Returning to Sokolivka

On a modern day map of Ukraine you’ll find Sokolivka, but it is not the Sokolivka of history. That is only in the memory of the descendants and in histories committed to articles, film and books created by Sokilifkers and researchers. Returning to your roots is a powerful expression of identity and that leitmotif is fully present in this video filmed in the 1980s, and narrated by Charlie Shuman. It includes other members of the Shuman family and the discovery of distant relatives. It’s a mediation on the meaning of return to a location from where their own immediate family members left in order to find safety and build a better life. Abraham Wagner’s photographs, taken some twenty years laters show a similar landscape not much changed from the video two decades earlier.

Our thanks to Charlie Shuman and Abraham Wagner for these materials.


Sokolivka Reunion, 1990