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Dear America Wiki

Zipporah on the cover

All of the characters that appear in Kathryn Lasky's Dreams in the Golden Country. Some of the characters appear in the film adaptation and stage play.

Main characters[]

Zipporah Feldman[]

Main article: Zipporah Feldman

Natalie Vansier as Zipporah

Zipporah "Zippy" Feldman (born June 23, 1891)[1][2] was a Russian Jewish immigrant, who settled in New York City with her family. She was the third daughter of Sarah and Yekl, and the younger sister of Tovah and Miriam. In 1903, Zipporah, her mother, and sisters immigrated to New York City, where they joined her father. Zipporah aspired to become an actress, after attending the Yiddish theater. Her best friends were Blu Wolf and Yitzy Silver.

Supporting characters[]

Blu Wolf[]

Bluma "Blu" Wolf (born c. 1891)[3] was the German Jewish best friend of Zipporah Feldman. She spoke a mix of Polish and German. Blu lived with her family at 20 Orchard Street, just down the street from Zipporah. After Blu's father abandoned his family in November 1903, Blu took on more responsibility at home and fell behind Zipporah. However, Blu was eventually promoted to the seventh grade, thanks to help from Zipporah.

Miriam Feldman[]

Miriam O'Malley (née Feldman; born c. 1888)[2] was the second daughter of Sarah and Yekl Feldman. She immigrated to New York City, where she began working at the same tailoring shop as her father. In July 1904, Miriam eloped with Sean O'Malley, causing a rift between her and her family. Miriam later made up with her mother, after declaring "Mama, I am alive. You cannot make me dead." She and Sean had four children and moved to Brooklyn.

Sarah Feldman[]


Maggie Huculak as Sarah

Sarah[4] Feldman ("Mama") was the mother of Tovah, Miriam, and Zipporah, and wife of Yekl. She arrived in New York with her daughters in 1903. Sarah often struggled between newfound American ways and Jewish traditions, leading Zipporah to say "she wants it both ways". At Zipporah's suggestion, Yekl rented a sewing machine for Sarah and she began sewing clothes for money. After Miriam eloped, Sarah pretended she was dead, though they later made up. In February 1905, she gave birth to a son, who died of a cold several days later. Sarah continued sewing for uptown clients for several years.

Tovah Feldman[]


Heather Brown as Tovah

Tovah Feldman (born c. 1886)[2] was elder sister of Miriam and Zipporah. Tovah was depicted as "nosy", as well as ambitious and quick-witted. After arriving in America, Tovah got a job at a shirtwaist factory and joined an organization called Yiddishe Yugend. Tovah organized a cloth workers' union for women in February 1904. Her union eventually joined the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. She became secretary of the organization and was also a contributor to the Jewish Daily Forward.

Yekl Feldman[]


Paul Hecht as Yasha

Yekl[5] Feldman ("Papa"), also known by his Russian name Yasha,[6] was the husband of Sarah, and father of their three children. He graduated from a music school in St. Petersburg, where he studied the violin and later worked as a teacher. In 1901, he immigrated to New York City and began work at a tailor shop. His family followed two years later. He began playing the violin again, after joining Russian Symphony Society. In 1904, Yekl began teaching at the New York Conservatory of Music, while working part-time for Yitzy's father. He went on to join New York Philharmonic and moved near Carnegie Hall.

Yitzy Silver[]


Dov Tiefenbach as Yitzy

Yitchak[7] "Yitzy" Silver (born c. April 1890)[8] was a good friend of Zipporah and Bluma. Zipporah found him "annoying" at first, but gradually warmed up to his personality. He often talked about having "connections", which Zipporah called "talking through his hat." Yitzy also expressed dissatisfaction about his reserved father, whom he called a "patsy", though he later persuaded him to start a coat business. In later life, Yitzy became a millionaire as a manufacturer of women's cloaks, one of the largest in the business. He married Zipporah, with whom he had three sons.

Minor characters[]

  • Bessie, a friend of Tovah. She helped Tovah organize a cloth workers' union for women.
  • Boris was Mamie's boyfriend. He worked backstage at a Yiddish theater, and often invited Zipporah to watch rehearsals. After Mamie's death, Zipporah described Boris as "a shadow of a man."
  • Caroline, the governess of Flora and Rosellen Meyer. She was Sarah's first client.
  • Emmanuel Wolf (born c. March 1903)[3] was the youngest child of Mr. and Mrs. Wolf, and brother of Blu.
  • Flora and Rosellen Meyer were the snobby daughters of Mrs. Meyer.
  • Tanta Fruma was Schmully's wife. Zipporah called her "Tanta Fruma of the thousand proverbs." The Feldmans often quote her, when trying to make a point during an argument.
  • Jacob Adler, a popular actor in Yiddish theater. He was Zipporah's favorite actor. She was able to meet him on three occasions through her work as a prop girl and later child actress.
  • Malachy Sheehan (born c. 1896)[9] was the oldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Sheehan. He became the Feldmans Shabbos goy, after Sean and Miriam eloped.
  • Mamie (c. 1884[10] – November 22, 1904)[11] was Boris's girlfriend, and a friend of Tovah and Zipporah. She was a member of Yiddishe Yugend. Mamie worked at the Diamond Shirtwaist Factory, where she died in a fire. Zipporah was greatly affected by her death.
  • Mandy Levin, a friend of Tovah's that she meet through the group, Yiddishe Yugend.
  • Marie Curie was a famous scientist. Zipporah admired her and at one point wished to become a scientist like her. However, Zipporah lost interest when Curie failed to answer her letter.
  • Mrs. Meyer was a German Jew from uptown. She had two daughters, Flora and Rosellen. Mrs. Meyer ordered clothes from Sarah, after seeing her work worn by her daughter's governess, Caroline.
  • Modeste Altshuler, an old friend of Yekl Feldman and member of the Russian Symphony Society. He also studied music in St. Petersburg.
  • Moishe was Sarah's brother, who became an American citizen sometime before the Feldmans arrival. He worked as a tailor at Brooks Brothers.

Joyce Gordon as Pesseye

  • Pesseye, a Jewish matchmaker. Sarah asked her to find a husband for Tovah, who dissuaded the matchmaker with talk of unions and women's rights.
  • Uncle Schmully (born 1840s)[12] was Fruma's husband prior to her death. In 1904, he immigrated to America when the Russians start drafting older men. He boarded with the Feldmans and worked for Yitzy's father. Schmully later fell in love with Mrs. Wolf.

Josh Peace as Sean

  • Sean O'Malley was an Irish fireman and a relative of the Sheehan family. He was also a Shabbos goy for the Feldmans. Sean married Miriam, with whom he had four children. They moved to Brooklyn, where Sean was promoted to fire chief.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Sheehan were the Feldmans Irish neighbors. They lived with Mr. Sheehan's mother, who often fought with her daughter-in-law because of regional differences. In November 1903, one of Mr. and Mrs. Sheehan's sons died. Their eldest son was Malachy.
  • Reb Simcha (died April 16, 1904)[13] was a Jewish gaon. He boarded at the Feldmans apartment. In her diary, Zipporah often complained about his smell.
  • Mr. Wolf was Bluma's father. He worked as a photographer in Germany, but operated a push cart in New York. In November 1903, Mr. Wolf left his family without a word, leaving his wife pregnant. Zipporah later saw working as a photographer uptown
  • Mrs. Wolf were the German Jewish mother of five. After her husband abandoned her, she gave birth to a daughter in January 1904. She later fell in love with Schmully and the two planned to marry.
  • Yossel Feldman (February 19 – February 26, 1905)[14] was the son of Sarah and Yekl. He died of a cold just a few days after his birth.

Epilogue characters[]


See also[]

Dear America characters
Main characters

Remember "Mem" Whipple | Deliverance Trembley | Lozette Moreau | Catharine Logan | Prudence Emerson
Abigail Stewart | Lucinda Lawrence | María Rosalia de Milagros | Hattie Campbell | Mary Driscoll
Florence "Florrie" Mack Ryder | Susanna Fairchild | Clotee Henley | Amelia Martin | Emma Simpson
Sarah Nita | Phillis "Patsy" Frederick | Libby West | Priscilla "Pringle" Rose | Mary "Polly" Rodgers
Nannie Little Rose | Angeline Reddy | Sarah Jane Price | Teresa Viscardi | Anetka Kaminska
Zipporah Feldman | Minette "Minnie" Bonner | Angela Denoto | Margaret Ann Brady | Kathleen Bowen
Simone Spencer | Lydia Pierce | Nell "Nellie Lee" Love | Bess Brennan | Minerva "Minnie" Swift | Grace Edwards
Julie Weiss | Madeline Beck | Amber Billows | Piper Davis | Dawn "Dawnie Rae" Johnson | Molly Flaherty

Supporting characters

Antoinetta Viscardi | Leon Nasevich | Daniel Pierce | Erma Jean Love | Patrick Flaherty

Lists of characters by book

A Journey to the New World | I Walk in Dread | Look to the Hills | Standing in the Light
Love Thy Neighbor | The Winter of Red Snow | Cannons at Dawn | A Line in the Sand
Valley of the Moon | Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie | So Far from Home | All the Stars in the Sky
Seeds of Hope | A Picture of Freedom | A Light in the Storm | When Will This Cruel War Be Over?
The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow | I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly | The Great Railroad Race
Down the Rabbit Hole | Land of the Buffalo Bones | My Heart Is on the Ground | Behind the Masks
My Face to the Wind | West to a Land of Plenty | A Coal Miner's Bride | Dreams in the Golden Country
A City Tossed and Broken | Hear My Sorrow | Voyage on the Great Titanic | A Time for Courage
When Christmas Comes Again | Like the Willow Tree | Color Me Dark | Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Christmas After All | Survival in the Storm | One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping
My Secret War | Early Sunday Morning | The Fences Between Us | With the Might of Angels
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?