Sonam Lama was trained as a stonemason in his native Tibet. He worked as a volunteer apprentice to a master stonemason rebuilding monasteries after the cultural revolution. When Sonam moved to Massachusetts over 20 years ago, he started by volunteering to rebuild an old New England stone wall for a friend, and from there his reputation grew.
Paul Bloom’s father grew up in Lithuania at a time when all young men were subject to the draft. Like many Jews, he had to hide in his basement to stay safe. After marrying, he and his wife escaped across the border, crossing an icy river that reached up to their necks, and eventually traveled by boat to meet up with his father, a Hebrew teacher in Springfield, Massachusetts. Paul’s father became a peddler, selling thread, needles, and other products door to door. Wanting to move up in the world he went to New York to learn to repair umbrellas. At that time, people spent good money on umbrellas, sometimes buying ones with handles of silver and gold.
Photo: Paul Bloom/Jewish Historical Society of Western Massachusetts