Yudel Krinsky hasn't exactly had it easy. He's a Russian Jew who survived Stalin's reign of terror. He was captured during a factory revolt and spent several years in prison in Siberia before being rescued by the Rabbi and Aryeh Lev, who smuggled him to the United States—Brooklyn, New York to be specific. Talk about a hipster refugee.
Yudel has been separated from his family and never starts a new family in Brooklyn. He is a tragic figure to Asher, who visits Yudel's stationery store constantly and talks with him about the difficult plight of the Jewish people:
Yudel Krinsky looked across the counter and smiled at me.
'What else can I do for the son of Reb Aryeh Lev?'
'Did Stalin send many people to Siberia?'
He blinked. Then he said, nodding, 'Ah, I understand.'
'Did the world do anything?'
'Exactly what it did when Hitler killed the Jews.'
'Absolutely nothing.' (71.9-20)
Yudel Krinsky is a constant reminder for Asher about the struggle of Jewish people to survive around the world, and the importance of Aryeh's work in helping them survive and thrive. Asher feels a strong connection to Yudel, and tries to represent his struggle in his artwork.