Ida B. Rehr

Leo V. Berger Immigrants Trunk: Living History Performance

Ida Rehr was an Ukranian immigrant and garment industry worker in the bustling metropolis of Baltimore, MD.

Katherine Lyons as Ida Rehr


Ida Rehr was born Chaye Bezoomna on August 12, 1896 in Besnovez, a small Jewish town, with a population of 225 people, in the Ukraine.  Her family was Hasidic, and Ida’s father, Shulem, was the Rabbi of the town.  Ida had one older sister, Minnie, and four other siblings: Mayer, Zlottamy (Zlotti), Herschel, and Devorah.  Ida’s uncle, Louis, had immigrated to Baltimore in the early 1900’s to avoid conscription into the Russian army.  It was at this point that Ida’s uncle changed his last name to Rosen.  Ida’s sister Minnie soon followed, and on September 5, 1913, Ida arrived at Locust Point in Baltimore aboard a ship called the Frankfurt.  Ida was seventeen years old.  The ship manifest indicates that Minnie paid for Ida’s passage to the United States; Ida arrived with five dollars in her pocket.  Her father and the rest of her family remained behind in the Ukraine.

A photograph of immigrant Ida Rehr with her siblings before she left her home in Ukraine to settle in Baltimore

Ida first settled in East Baltimore at 116 S. Bond Street, where she lived with her uncle and sister (see 1863 Map of Baltimore).  East Baltimore was home to a large Jewish immigrant community.  She found work at Sonneborn’s Clothing Factory at Pratt and Paca Streets (see 1863 Map of Baltimore)—a company that employed a large number of immigrants.  Ida attended night school to learn English language, American history, and other topics necessary for the citizenship exam.  During this period, Ida maintained close contact with her family in the Ukraine.

In 1923 Ida met Daniel Rehr, an Austrian Jewish immigrant, and they were married on June 24, 1923.  Although her family could not attend the wedding, Ida’s father Shulem sent her a handcrafted wedding blessing (see Wedding Blessing).  Ida and Daniel had three children: Aaron Jerome, Dorothy, and Elaine.  By 1926, two years after Aaron was born, the couple had moved to 623 Light Street, where the Maryland Science Center resides today.  They owned a confectionary shop at that address and lived above it.  Later that year, Daniel received his citizenship; Ida’s naturalization came a year later in 1927.  The rest of Ida’s family remained in the Ukraine.  Her entire family, with the exception of her youngest sister, was killed during the Holocaust.  Ida died in Baltimore on August 26, 1988, at the age of ninety-two.

Actress Katherine Lyons portrays Ida Rehr in the Leo V. Berger Immigrant’s Trunk
Courtesy of videographer Chris Smith

Katherine Lyons has appeared on Baltimore stages at Performance Workshop Theatre, Center Stage, Fells Point Corner Theatre, and the Theatre Project as well as in theater and film projects in San Francisco and New York. She tours regionally with her interactive story dramas and is a Master Teaching Artist for the Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts.

Living History Program performances are available for schools, public and private events and can take place at the Museum or outside venues.

Learn about booking the performance for an adult group here.

Learn about booking the performance for a school group here.

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