Houdini inspired immigrants 100 years ago

Houdini’s first important magic trick was called the Metamorphosis. “Bess Houdini would be put into a sack, and she would go into the trunk. A curtain would be closed around it for a moment, bang, the curtains would open, Bess would be standing on top of the trunk. And inside the trunk, the locked trunk, would be Houdini! They would change places, this metamorphosis.” said Brook Kamin Rapaport, curator of “Houdini: Art and Magic,” at the Jewish Museum in New York City. “What interested me about the Metamorphosis trunk is how poignant a symbol it would have been to the immigrant community in this time.” The millions of poor immigrants who arrived with similar trunks, seeking metamorphoses of their own. “In this period there was anti-immigrant sentiment, anti-Semitic sentiment, and people wanted to become Americans and really slough off their historic past and their roots. And by seeing Houdini’s own transformation, it was really a great story of liberation from your past.” (cbs)

Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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