Interview with Sam and Esther Naimark

Wedding photo of Sam and Esther Naimark, Palestine, 1934

This is the transcript of an interview with Sam and Esther Naimark, conducted by Eleanor O’Bryon, January 1991.


Sam Naimark is the oldest surviving son of Minnie (Menya) and Jacob Naimark. Menya was Sam Gass’s sister. The Naimarks emigrated from Turiysk in 1927, two decades later than any of the other members of the Gass Family – and they settled in Montreal. As a result they had only a limited acquaintance with their Boston-area relatives. Eleanor O’Bryon was the first researcher hired by Paul to write his family history.


Sam: I grew up in Turiysk, a small village on a river in the Ukraine, near the Polish-Russian border. The town was one third Jewish, one third Polish and one third Ukrainian. The Ukrainians hated the Poles, the Poles hated the Ukrainians, and both of them hated the Jews.

In Turiysk my mother had a lot of friends. She was a very likable woman. And the same thing when we came to Montreal. Right away she acquired a lot of friends. She was very good to the children. There were eight of us, five brothers and three sisters. Actually Menya had ten children, not eight. There was an older brother that I vaguely remember. He was older then Sarah. I used to like him very much. We used to play with him. He died when he was sixteen, in Turiysk. The other one died at birth.

She [Menya] worked very, very hard. You can imagine. But she did have always a Ukrainian woman. She lived with us. As cramped as we were in the house we had to find her a place to sleep. And she helped Mama out with the housework. And besides that, in back of the house we had about three acres of land. Every season this woman and Mama and the elder children would help. She would cultivate the land for all kinds of vegetables, lots of vegetables, which would last us practically from season to season.

My father worked at different things. For a while he would travel to Warsaw and pick up wool material to be dyed. He would be gone three or four days. Then he would come back and dye the wool. Tuesday was market day. Everyone would come from all the small villages around to Turiysk for selling and buying. The people would come and pay and pick up the dyed wool from my father.

The Ukraine is a place for growing grain. At first in Turiysk there were only windmills to grind the grain. Then one man built a water mill on the river. And he knew the business, but he was uneducated and old, so he needed a smart Jew to run it. My father ran the mill for him, and we all worked at the mill. My job was this: they would bring the grain in fifty-pound sacks to weigh. I would write down the weight and figure out the price for grinding it. Then they’d carry the sacks upstairs and grind the grain into flour.


Esther: I grew up in a town in Poland that you’ll find in this book, Rozhan, Rozan.[1] We were nine children and my mother died at the age of 38 when she had the ninth. It was twins. One remained alive. [My mother died with the other twin.]. I don’t remember that. That I was told. I was three years old when she died. After my mother died, my father sat shiva. My father was a very religious man. We had a cousin in another town. She was a first cousin… and she wasn’t married. So my father sent a matchmaker to tell her to wait for him. He was in his forties. And they were married after the year was up. That was the law. He couldn’t marry before.

The stepmother was like a princess. She was almost the age of my oldest sister, and not much older. She bore him two children. So we were eleven. And then she died. How old she was, I don’t know, but I remember the funeral. I remember walking with the two little children, one boy, one girl, one on each side of me, to the funeral. They were maybe three and five years old.

After that we had a very happy life. We were well-to-do. We had our own home. We had a business that everybody worked, from the smallest to the oldest. We used to have keg beer siphoned into bottles. We were bottling beer and selling it to retailers. So everybody ha a job. We had to wash the bottles, we had to bring the bottles, we had to siphon the beer, we had to cork them – so there was jobs for everybody.

Then we had like a little store. In the house we had bedrooms upstairs, some bedrooms downstairs, a kitchen, a living room, and the store was in the front. The store had beer on tap. The men would come in, people after work, sit down… at the tables, and we would serve bottles of beer. …we had sandwiches and things that go with it. I remember it because in 1927, I came here [the United States], and in 1931, I went back on a visit. So I have a pretty good memory of the whole thing.

I remember behind the counter, we had a rail and there were salamis hanging to dry. We used to cut the salami off for sandwiches. I being next to the youngest, had my chores, I had to go to the bakery before school and bring the bread and rolls for the whole day, for the family and for the sandwiches that we sold. The baker knew. He had everything ready. Then I ran back home, ate breakfast, took my books and I went to school.

I was brought up by my sisters and brothers. I was never brought up by a mother. There isn’t a picture in the world of my mother. Because during the lifetime of my mother in religious circles pictures were not allowed. It was like taking an image of a person and that was not allowed.


Sam: I used to go to the Hebrew School in Turiysk. That’s where [my] idea of becoming a pioneer and going to Palestine actually started.

Eleanor: So there was a real Zionist movement in Poland, where you were living when you were a boy?

Sam: At first there was only a Polish school. And of the Jewish children, very few, two of my sisters I think, attended the Polish school. But no boy would be allowed by the parents to attend a Polish school. So they used to send them to private homes. A cheder is [a religious school run by] a rabbi in his own house, where he has some eight or maybe ten students. And there were several like that. And all they will teach you is about the Jewish religion, nothing else.

I attended one of those cheders for not even a year, because right at that time the Hebrew school was started by a Zionist organization. I must have been about nine or ten years old. So I came home one day and I says, “I’m not going anymore to the Rabbi. I want to go that school.” So I was beaten up pretty much by my father. But it didn’t help. I’d run away from the house. He wanted me to learn about the Jewish religion. The purpose of the Hebrew school was not teaching religion. The purpose of it was the history of the Jewish people, from the beginning. And that’s what interested me. Anyway, he had to give in finally and he let me attend the school. Myself and my older brother Aaron.

When Sam Naimark was about 10 years old he joined the Zionist organization, Hashomer Hatzair, in Turiysk, Poland. He is shown here with the group, in the top row, third from left.

When Sam Naimark was about 10 years old he joined the Zionist organization, Hashomer Hatzair, in Turiysk, Poland. He is shown here with the group, in the top row, third from left.

When Sam Naimark was about 10 years old he joined the Zionist organization, Hashomer Hatzair, in Turiysk, Poland. He is shown here with the group, in the top row, third from left.

When I came into that school, my eyes opened up. I always had in my mind when I saw the terrorist activities against the Jews, and what they did to the women, the Jewish girls, I always used to think to myself, “Why couldn’t we have a land like any other people? We could have our own government.” Not knowing that at one time, two or three thousand years ago, we did have our own.

…there was a man by the name of Gudnov. He wrote the history of the Jewish people from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob until when Hitler was in power. And that book was accepted by all the schools. Not only all over Poland, but all over Europe. As a matter of fact, I have two volumes in Hebrew. I still have them. Well my eyes opened up and I saw that years ago we were an independent nation, just like any other nation.

And I also find out that in 1860, I think, there was a man in Vienna, Austria, a Jewish man whose family didn’t know anything about Judaism, anything at all. And this man… was Dr. Herzl. He was the father of the Zionist movement. Even though he was far from Judaism. And he organized the Zionist movement.

At the time Turkey was ruling all over the Middle East, including Palestine. Turkey was the greatest empire, greater than England after the war [World War I]. Herzl was a correspondent for a good newspaper, well known over the world. So with his credentials, somehow he got finally to the head of the Turkish government. He put the plan before him, he should let the Jewish people into Israel, that Israel was wasteland from thousands and thousands of years of neglecting. It was malaria, desert, nothing else. The Arabs didn’t do anything at all to develop the land. And he laid forth a plan where Jewish people from United States and European countries will give all the money necessary to make this part of the world another place for human beings to live. But the Turkish government said no, nothing doing. Because after all, the Turkish people there also believe in Mohammed, in the Koran.

Five years later, he called for the first Zionist Congress, to see what can be done. They must find a way to get permission. A lot of Jewish people already live there very primitively, but they got in illegally. But he saw that at that time he could forget about Palestine. At that time there was a place in Africa [Uganda], the country where Idi Amin was the ruler. There was a chance at that time that the Jewish people could get into Uganda and develop it as a Jewish land. Well, the biggest majority of the Congress at that time were against it. It was voted down, because they said the masses of the Jewish people will not go any place at all for a Jewish homeland except to revive the old homeland.

So nothing could be done until the First World War, and Turkey lost the war. The League of Nations gave Britain the mandate over Palestine. Britain had a very hard time during the First World War against Germany. There was a man by the name of Dr. Chaim Weizman. Dr. Herzl died very young and this Dr. Weizman was second to him. He was then head of the Zionist movement. But he was also a scientist. He developed a powder, and he gave that to the British. And this powder helped the British defeat the Germans. So the British people they felt they owe something to the Jewish people.

Lord Balfour was that time the British Secretary of State. And he was very good friends with this Dr. Chaim Weizman. So he gave out, in the name of the British government, the Balfour Declaration, which said that the British government would help to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Well, of course when the Arabs heard that, they started to fight the British. And to the British the oil was more important than a promise to the Jewish people. We know that. As far as myself, I learned all this in that Hebrew School.

Eleanor: So the Zionist movement was sending teachers…

Sam: Leaders, you might say. And they came to our town too. They organized young groups, kids from age six and older. They didn’t care about the old people, because they knew the old people believed that nobody can rebuild Israel except when the Messiah comes. Some of them still believe even now. There’s religious organization in Israel right now that they don’t recognize Israel as a government, because the Messiah didn’t come yet.

In our town they organized different groups. In the Zionist movement there may be a dozen different organizations with different political outlooks of how to rebuild the land. Well, we belonged to one of those organizations. And the moral of our organization was, at the age of eighteen you have two choices. Either you have to go to Israel, or you have to drop out of the organization.

Eleanor: Esther, before you came you were also in a Zionist group?

Esther: Yes, since I was eight years old. But we didn’t know each other because he was in Canada and I was in New York. But it was the same idea.

[pg2233w.jpg  The Hashomer Hatzair,  Zionist youth group in Rozhan, Poland. Esther Bloom (Naimark) is in the middle row, fifth from left.]

Eleanor: How did you get interested in Zionism?

Esther: The leader of the group [in Rozhan], Arie Buchner, was a teacher. And he organized it. I was eight years old. And we used to have lectures, discussions, outings, play games, all kinds of things that eight years old can do, and more. I remember we had a big house and all our friends used to gather. My father even used to take part in the discussions. Because what did we talk about? We talked about books and Israel. It was OK because Israel was involved. It wasn’t that we were just playing around like kids.

The education was there, but as long as I’m alive I will not forgive the older ones of that organization for depriving the little ones of an education. See we never thought of getting a higher education. Our education was Dr. Herzl, and books written about the Zionist organization. We used to read chapters and discuss them—all pertaining to the homeland, Israel, to be.

Eleanor: So you didn’t go to school in the United States?

Esther: I only made grammar school. College was out of the question. The fact that we are growing up in the United States, maybe we should get a better education, that never came into being. We were living a very lonesome life for about a year. And then, as soon as we found the organization in New York, the Zionist organization… they had a hall in Manhattan. So we used to work until about six. From six to seven-thirty we went to school at night. And then we used to take the subway to the Bronx and go home. On weekends we used to go to the organization. And there we met boys and girls our age.


Sam: It was coming pretty close to the time when my mother’s brothers started sending letters to us that they want to take us over to United States. We should leave Poland. Of course we were ready to go. But at that time the immigration closed and there was a quota. Only so many could come in to the United States. We would have to wait ten or twenty years. And by that time Hitler came around, so we would have ended up in the gas chambers.

My father, he was a big fool. He was in United States together with my three uncles before most of the kids were born. He came over when they came. They settled in Boston. But he had some landsleit, landsman,[2] some friends from Turiysk, so he remained in New York. He didn’t want to go to Boston. Had he gone to Boston, chances are that he would have been a partner in that big shoe business [owned by the Gass brothers] and he would be able to bring us over much sooner. No, he wanted to remain in New York. He didn’t have any trade at all, or any education. So after a short time he came back. He got lonesome. We could have been all born in United States. That’s why I say, he’s my father, but he was a big fool.

It was 1927 when we emigrated. He still didn’t want to leave Poland. My two older sisters, Sarah and Devorah, they already could open up their mouths and talk against him, or talk to him, and he would listen. Us, if we said anything, right away he would hit us, so we couldn’t say anything. But he was persuaded finally to give in and leave.

My mother insisted on going only because of us children. She didn’t want us to grow up and then have to go into the Polish army. Any Jew who was in the Polish army suffered. At the same time they had to fight for Poland they suffered from anti-Semitism. They were treated very badly. I know in our hometown—at least a dozen boys they made themselves crippled on purpose. Either they cut off a couple of fingers, or they cut off an ear, so that when the draft calls them they couldn’t take them into the army because they were no good. That’s the only way they could get out of going into the army; they made themselves a cripple.

At seventeen they started calling the boys. Aaron was of age in another year. He would have been called. As a matter of fact, had Aaron given his right age from sixteen on, they wouldn’t let anybody [family members] out. Aaron was sixteen actually. So what we did through lawyers, and we paid a lot of money–we shifted the birth certificates of all the boys a year younger. I know that I was born in 1912, but on all my papers I am 1913. And the same thing with Aaron. He was sixteen, but at fifteen they would let him out.

Esther: She [Menya] wanted to save the boys from that torture.

Sam: And then there were the pogroms. A pogrom…

Esther: …is an onslaught. They come into your house and they kill you.

Sam: Townspeople. Your neighbors. It was all over Poland that way. All over Hungary, Rumania. It was always the same. When our town was a part of Russia… the Cossacks were a part of the Russian Army. And their job was to go and make pogroms on Jews. Legally. From my hometown dozens and dozens left.

We traveled by train to some port in Poland. The name of the ship was Vollendam. All I know is that every one of us was seasick except my older brother Aaron. And he attended to everybody. He had a job. Nobody could sleep and nobody could eat. There were no accommodations. It was a ship not for passengers, mostly for freight. There is extra room left, they would sell tickets. Most of the time we were down below the decks, and it was in the wintertime. No matter how cold it is, if you have to throw up you ran upstairs.

In Montreal, Uncle Morris [Gass] and his wife Sarah met us. She put in a lot of work. She found us a house. She went shopping. Everybody needed clothing. Henry was the youngest, seven years old.

Esther: I guess it was the First World War, and my brother was eligible for a draft already. And he didn’t want to go to the Polish army. So we used to hide him in the attic. The police used to come looking for him. And he used to walk around sometimes dressed as a woman. He crossed the Polish border as a woman, in women’s clothing, and he went to Chicago, and then to New York.

When I came to the United States, we came five children. We were seven at home. Two were in the United States already. My stepmother died young and my father died at fifty-seven in the early 1920’s. We came in 1927. That’s when my sister and brother in the United States started to work on a plan to get us out of there. My oldest sister at that time was of marriageable age, but she couldn’t get married because every boy loves her but they wouldn’t come into the house where there was six more mouths to feed. Although we had our own business. Where would we go? Somebody had to take care of us.

I had one sister and brother in New York. They worked in a shop. My brother never came home during the week. He used to go home on Saturday afternoon until Monday morning. He had a cot there. He used to sleep in the shop, be the first one up to start working, and then work overtime to make a lot of money so he can bring us over. In order to help us and to help my sister. It was too much for her to do it all by herself. So anyway, when we came here, the two sisters stayed with my older sister who was here before. She came in 1920 and my brother came in 1921. And the two brothers stayed with my brother.

But I said we came five. We were four, two sister and two brothers. But since we couldn’t get a visa to the United States, we had to come to Canada. We had a cousin in Ontario. She had a sister not far from us. And she went to City Hall, she swore on the Bible that we are her sisters and brothers. Why? Because my sister and brother from United States paid for her sister’s ticket. Otherwise she couldn’t bring her.

Originally I came to Canada. And then I had to come to the United States because there was nothing for me in Canada. My cousin has four children on her back.

Sam: In 1940, there was the [U.S.] Alien Registration Act. If you register, five years later you can become a citizen. That’s how we became citizens.

Esther: What happened is that we actually crossed the water with a guide. [Esther pointed across the room.] He was as far from us as this window over there, pitch dark. There were the lights of the bridge and we were on this side [Canadian]. Climbing down there’s a little river, and we had a boat that was very slow going. And then we climbed up the hill. We were on top. About half a mile away was already the United States. And then they took us to a basement. We went there and my brother came and took us to the United States.


Eleanor: When you first came over to Canada, what was the house like?

Sam: It was a house. Not large enough. There are five boys and three girls. Most of us slept two in a bed, sometimes three. The house wasn’t small, the family was too big for that house. We were there…a little more than a year. Until we moved to Henry Julian. It also wasn’t that big. Two bedrooms. I went to work and those after me, they were too young, they went to school. We were there a long time. I left, Aaron got married, Sarah left, so there was extra space little by little.

Esther: Most of the income came from Boston. My mother-in-law used to go once a year to Boston. And when she came back she had a permanent, they [Menya’s brothers] bought her clothes from top to bottom, everything that she needed. Her husband never gave her any money. When they came from Europe, Sarah [Morris Gass’s wife and Sonya [Nathan Gass’s wife] came to Montreal, found them the apartment, they rented it, and they bought newsstands for the old man, for Aaron and for Sam. And that was supposed to be an income for the family. But Sam left and went to Israel. Aaron sold it and went into business for himself and got married. And the old man, I think he also left it because it was too cold for him.

Sam: My father had a newspaper stand. He bought a stand for Aaron and he bought a stand for me. But all the money that came in, we had to give it to him. When I came home I had to open my pockets and take out the change or whatever and put it out in front of him. He thought he set himself up. He’ll make us work, and he will have all the money, and he will run the house. It was probably for no more than a year. Then… it was in the wintertime so cold. You had to stay outside. I could never be warm. So I told him, “You take the stand back or you sell it, because I’m not going to run it.” And Aaron also gave him back the stand he bought for him, and Aaron went for himself.

Esther: We got to United States, everything was wonderful. We all got jobs. My sister-in-law and my brother were just married six months. And she was a forelady in a shop. My brother owed a lot of money. Because four children is a lot of money to pay out for tickets in those days. We had to go to work. The only one who didn’t go to work is my brother, because he was way too young. So he went to school. I went up to the shop with my older sister. We made brassieres, piecework. They used to come from the immigration department to look for youngsters there, if they had minors working. And I was tipped off; I used to hide in the ladies room because I was a minor.

But I worked. My brother, we paid him back a lot of money, my sister and I. My sister and I kept close. We used to go to shows. We use to work on Saturday half a day. The other half a day we used to go on Broadway and see all the shows. And in the summer we used to go to 86th Street to the [Metropolitan] Museum of Art where they used to have open-air concerts.

At one time we went down to a theater where Mahatma Ghandi was performing with Isadora Duncan. He was reading his poems and she was with her dancers. We wanted to go to that show. It was in the afternoon. We come to the box office. It was twenty-five dollars a ticket—a lot of money then.

Sam: Twenty-five dollars was half a month’s wages.

Esther: So we walked back and forth, and the man at the window saw us. We made sure he saw us. We saw Mahatma Ghandi go in with a hoopla, four guards and he was under it and he walked into the theater. Well five minutes before the show started the man at the ticket office called us. He says “I have two tickets, but they’re not together, and they’re five dollars a ticket.” We said we’ll take them. So that was really something.


[pg2234w.jpg title: Montreal Hashomer Hatzair caption: Sam Naimark joined the Montreal chapter of the Zionist organization Hashomer Hatzair. In this group photo, he is in the back row, fourth from the left.]

Sam: In the meantime, 1921 came around, and we came to Canada. But I knew that this [Hashomer Hatzair] is a world organization, that there’s got to be one of our clubs in Montreal. And sure enough, in a short time I found them. Right away, of course, I joined up, and that’s where I spent most of my time. And I was eighteen years old, and I was eligible to go [to Palestine], but at that time the immigration was already restricted to Israel by the British. They only give so many certificates. They allowed so many to each country. And the Zionist organizations in turn allowed so many to each political group.

In Canada in 1932, all they allowed is five certificates. And being I was the youngest, there were a lot more older than I. They were eligible. I was not eligible. I couldn’t get a certificate. So they left and I remained, but not for long. Three months later I just went in as a tourist from Canada. Only trouble was, that I didn’t have enough money saved up to buy a ticket on a ship. I wasn’t short very much, but on top of that, when my father found out that I’m going to Palestine he threw me out of the house.

Jobs was hard to get. I finally found a little job after the newsstand. I went to work operating a sewing machine in a factory that made men’s clothes. I was making six dollars a week for fourteen hours a day, six days a week. And from that six dollars – I think the ticket was somewhere close to three hundred dollars and I had over two hundred dollars saved up. So from this six dollars I had to rent a room, clothes, whoever thought about buying clothes? I had to eat, and I had to save up the rest of the money. And a lot of times, believe me, I went hungry.

One time my mother calls me up, my father isn’t home, I should come home at least once or twice a week in the daytime when he is gone, to have a good meal. And believe me, I needed it. So one time I was up there and I was eating and here he comes in. And don’t you think he took the plate and threw it in the sink, and he says, “Get out of here.”

Eleanor: Why was he so set against your going to Palestine?

Sam: I really can’t figure him out. You know, it’s so many years back, but to this day I start thinking about it, I still can’t forgive him. I still have it against him. How a man can behave like that to his own child?

[pg2232w.jpg title: Montreal Hasohomer Hatzair Caption: Hashomer Hatzair Organization, Montreal, Canada. Sam Naimark, back row, third from left. These young Zionists were the first North American youths to set out for Palestine to form a Canadian-American kibbutz. They immigrated between 1932 and 1934.]

Well, finally made it. This was 1932. I was going on 19. I went by train to Halifax. We went on the Atlantic first to France. And from France we took a ship across the Mediterranean to Egypt. I spent four or five days in Egypt before I crossed the desert. I saw the whole city of Cairo and a couple of cities on the Suez Canal. At that time there was no Israel of course. We drove in to Haifa and my friends came out, waited for us and took us to the kibbutz. And that was it.

Esther: The difference between my going and his going – when he left Canada it was almost like a protest against the family. Whether it was family unity that his father tried to keep, or he wanted his children near him, or whether he thought that Sam could bring in a living to help the family, I don’t know what it was.

But I know in my case, I remember like it was today. My brother sat down on easy chair and I sat down on a hassock near him. He says, “I slaved and I worked so I can have you have you here because I wanted my family. I wanted us to be together, and now you are leaving.” He says, “You can have anything you want. You can have any boy our want. You can have a good life; you can get married; you can have a family of your own. But we would be one, together.”

And I, like a fool, said… I don’t know if it was the upbringing I had with the organization, but I resented very much that when I left for Israel I was already twenty-two and I hadn’t had an education. And I didn’t see, if I didn’t go, how I could accomplish anything. Because I would have to go to work. My family meant a lot to me, but I left with a good feeling, that I’m doing what I was taught to do. It’s like you graduate college in computer science, you go to work in computers, you follow up. I followed up too. And my brother understood that. He tried to stop us going, but it wasn’t done with animosity. It was done out of love.

My sister and I were very, very close. We worked together, we slept in the same bed, we went to school together and we went to the Zionist organization together. So when Shoshana left I wasn’t going to stay in New York.

Before you go to Israel they send you to a farm to learn how to cope with farm life. Because we were coming from a big city. Shoshana went [to Palestine] in 1932. I went in 1933.


Sam: A kibbutz is people. The main thing is the people. They have land. The Jewish National Front who owns most of the land gave us temporary pieces of land until we can acquire land we can go on and settle. Chadera was on a temporary basis. A plot of land on the edge of the town on the way to the ocean. But there was nothing on it. We had to build housing there, everything a group of thirty or fifty or a hundred people would need. We started from scratch.

Most of the income was provided from people like myself who were strong and healthy. We would go outside to the union, and the union would give us jobs. They would send us out to different jobs. Most of it was in construction. I never saw a paycheck or anything. It went directly to the kibbutz.

Eleanor: How did you two meet?

Esther: I knew most everyone from Canada. It was a United States and Canadian combination group, the kibbutz. All of them went through New York. They took the boat in Canada and they came through New York and when we found out that a group is leaving the New Yorkers used to get on board and just sort of dance and sing and wish them well and spend some time with them. So I knew most of the people that went from Canada when I came there. But this guy went through Halifax. And who do you go for? The unknown.

Sam: We were working together. We had a factory for making tiles.

Esther: About a mile outside the kibbutz was the factory. It was color tile. There was six or seven colors on every tile. You had to be very fast. I was appointed to work in that factory. I put on the colors, because I was very quick. After I came they give you about a week to rest up and then he took me horseback riding to the factory. So that’s how we met. That was in 1933. In 1934 we were married.

Sam & Esther Caption: Wedding photo of Sam and Esther Naimark, Palestine, 1934

Sam & Esther Caption: Wedding photo of Sam and Esther Naimark, Palestine, 1934

He knew Hebrew very well. And the others knew. And if I spoke English or Yiddish they wouldn’t talk to me. But he talked to me because he wanted to please me. My Hebrew came much later. He was different than any man that I knew. He wasn’t as loud. By loud I mean… he didn’t pursue me very much. The others were after me. I was very pretty.

When we were in Israel we lived in tents. And I had a tent with two other girls. And Sam started… he paid more attention to me than any of the others. And I picked Sam because of his character. The others were too American. And he was more like… he made more sense in a way. You see, none of the Americans had a formal education. And they weren’t as interesting as Sam. He’s a very intelligent man. He never went to school, but he can talk to you about American history, European history; he knows everything from reading. When I used to walk with Sam we talked like two intelligent people. And I found him very close to my way of thinking.

We lived together for about six, seven months on the kibbutz. You couldn’t do that here then, but over there it was different. We just moved in together in one place. We got married the same night as my best friend, two couples. We went to the rabbi’s house, but she came in shorts and I came in a skirt. And I said to her, “Shirley, how could you come to get married in shorts? Aren’t you ashamed of the rabbi?” She says, “I didn’t think about it.” So I got married first and then we went to the ladies room, I gave her my skirt and she put it on over her shorts.

Sam: While we were in the kibbutz we enjoyed it very much. We enjoyed the people although economic conditions were very bad. We had a fight to get any job, even at Jewish enterprises, because Arab labor was very cheap, and we couldn’t exist on the same kind of wages the Arabs could. We were pioneers to rebuild the land. That’s what actually we did. We dried the land where it was full with swamps and malaria. Some friends of mine lost their lives from malaria. Now, after fifty years it’s the richest, cotton-growing land in the world where these swamps were. The land elsewhere was all desert. And we brought the land to life with our plain hands. There was no machinery or anything like that.


How, coming back to why we left. It was 1935, the end of ’35. When we came there I was among the first group. We were nine pioneers from Montreal and New York, Toronto some, and Chicago, Boston. We went to one of the older Kibbutzim, from the same political beliefs, to get some experience how to build a kibbutz from scratch. We were there for nine months. In the meantime some new members started to come along. We were already a group of about twenty-six, twenty-eight.

The Jewish National Front supplies the land to build kibbutzim – even now all the kibbutzim, the oldest ones who are sixty, seventy years old, they don’t own the land. Jewish National Front owns the land and they lease it to the kibbutz for a dollar a year to make it legal. But before they could find land for us they gave us temporary plot of land in a town called Chadera, halfway between Haifa and Tel Aviv. On that plot of land there were three kibbutzim: one from Poland, who were from the same organization as ours, only they were from Poland and we were from the United States. We were supposed to be the first American kibbutz in Israel. And the third kibbutz was from the Irgun.

Well the question came up that immigration was pretty slow from United States because they would give most of the certificates to Europe. They knew that the Jews in United States are not in any danger. So naturally they wanted to bring the people over from Eastern Europe. So some of the members came up with an idea, in order that we should be able to come to the Jewish National Front and demand a steady parcel of land in some part of Israel where we can build our home we need more members. You got to have at least sixty, seventy members, otherwise they wouldn’t even talk to us. So some came up with idea we should unite with the Polish kibbutz.

Well, it was nights until midnight we had discussions, hot discussions, fights, not fistfights but verbal, arguments, and they won. They didn’t want to wait and they won. As a result, at least twelve or fourteen of us left the kibbutz at that time.

Esther: They had a meeting and decided to unite, and Sam and a dozen others were against it. They said that if we unite the aliya will stop altogether the immigration of Americans. And they wanted more Americans to come. The organization was still active in United States and Canada. And if the kibbutz was closed they wouldn’t go to just any kibbutz. The majority voted for uniting. So those who were against it left.

I came to Palestine and I wasn’t sure about kibbutz life. I knew that I want to be a Zionist and I can be in Israel. But I wasn’t sure if I want to live in the kibbutz or I want to live private. Kibbutz life is communal, everything, you don’t own a thing. The children have a children’s home. You get your children at four o’clock to play with them and then at six o’clock they go back to the children’s home and they feed them and they put them to sleep. And I wasn’t sure I wanted that. I wanted a private life. But after I met Sam I realized… who needs that part of it: the home and the cooking and the shopping.

My personal view… I argued with Sum. I said, “You came to Israel to stay in the kibbutz. They are the same movement as we are.” And I wanted to stay. But he didn’t want to. What am I going to do, leave him? So I went with him. I was too young to know my own rights. I am married now. I was young. And it got to a point where I wanted what was good for my child.

Sam: That wasn’t the whole story. The main story for me, and this I can never forget. In Canada yet we had these meetings, and they talked to us about what this organization is all about. What it means and what the aim is and so forth. They never told us that actually this organization is the most leftist organization in the Zionist movement. And the difference between our organization and the Communist party was that far (holds up a finger and thumb).

At one time there was a yearly meeting from all the kibbutzim in our town. Chadera. So, it was on a weekend, so naturally I wanted to go and hear what it’s all about. I wanted to see who our leaders are, those who organized.

That was during the Stalin terrorist activities in the Soviet Union. You know Stalin killed twenty million of his own people. I’m sure that you know the story. I sit in that meeting and I hear our leaders, how they praise this man Stalin. It didn’t bother me that it (Russia) is a communist country. If they want it that way, it’s OK. But people that are against him, he killed. Not knowing that they are against him; if he was only suspicious that you think that he’s no good, right away they kill you. And here I’m sitting and I’m listening to our leaders, the way they praise this butcher Stalin. And they way they praise what he wants to do in the Soviet Union.

Do you know anything at all about the kolhozim? The kolhozim are in the Ukraine, the bread-basket of all Russia during the Czar. Kolhozim are communes like our kibbutzim. There was no private enterprise. Stalin took away all the land. He gave so much land to the people in a certain town, and they were supposed to work the land collectively and give it [their agricultural products] to the government and the government would pay them enough to exist. Well the people revolted, they were against it. That’s why in Russia now, and for years, they have to buy wheat, food from us. Whereas the Ukraine can actually feed all the world if they had the right machinery.

So when we went out I walked home with a friend of mine from Montreal who came about three months ahead of me. And I says to him, “You know I was sitting and listening and I thought I am sitting in a Communist party meeting.” So he says to me. “I feel the same way but I learned. They almost kicked me out. Because if you keep on talking to the wrong people and they reproach you, they’ll kick you our.” In other words, at that time when there was election you had to vote the way they told you to, otherwise you couldn’t belong to a kibbutz. Now it’s different, entirely different.

And that was the main reason for me personally, why I would have left the kibbutz anyway, I mean that particular group. But maybe I would have remained in Israel – you know in Israel there are three different political groups of kibbutzim. The next one, the biggest one actually, is the one that belongs to the labor party. I thought of joining them, because I had a lot of friends from my hometown, those who were lucky enough to get out in time before the Nazi’s power, all those were in one kibbutz. So I probably would have joined them.


Sam: We left the kibbutz and we lived privately in Chadera. We rented a room. I had a steady job. I was in the building line at that time. That was considered at that time the best paying jobs.

Esther: I was pregnant when left the kibbutz. When my baby was born, a car came on a Friday night. And they said that the kibbutz is making a little party for you because of the birth of the baby. And we danced and sang until four o’clock in the morning. She was the second baby born of people from the kibbutz. We lived privately for about a year. He was working in construction. He was in the Haganah.

Sam: The word Haganah means defense, to defend yourself. Eventually from the Haganah it became the regular Israeli army. Every member up to a certain age had to go in the Haganah. Almost all the residents of Israel at that time belonged to Haganah. The beginning of it started maybe a year before I came. So we didn’t know how to handle any guns. And where do we find a place that we can hide out from the British? Because it was an illegal organization. So they used to take us in the basement of the City Hall. They figured the British wouldn’t dare go to the City Hall and look for illegal members of Haganah. That is where they trained us. That’s where I learned how to use a gun. It was rifles.

At that time it was already the beginning of Hitler in Europe. And hundreds and hundreds of thousands, mostly young people, the Jewish organizations raised the money and they hired steamships to bring in these immigrants illegally to Israel. A lot of them the British intercepted, and they sent them to Cypress until the duration of the war. Some of them were in Cypress for four years, five years, until actually the British left and Israel became a state. And then the came in the hundreds of thousands.

Our job was… we were only about an hour’s walk from the ocean. For some reason the British ships never came to close to us. And we were able to intercept some of the ships of illegal immigrants. The ship would be about three miles offshore. They would anchor and we would go out in rowboats or motorboats, whatever we were able to get, and take these boys and girls, ages from sixteen to thirty, to bring them in to our kibbutz. Everything had to be done at night of course, and then we’d spread the out all around the town of Chadera, change their clothes and they mix in with the rest of the population. Ninety percent of them already knew Hebrew from Europe. The British knew that we were doing it and they would start looking for the illegal immigrants. So we told them, go ahead and look. Look any place you want, we don’t know about any illegal immigrants. But we did, plenty. There were hundreds and thousands of them. That was the main job of the Haganah at that time. Until the real fighting started.


That was already 1936. I was married and we had a child. And in 1936 the real terrorist activities had started from the Arabs against the Jews. In 1936 the Arabs attacked any place where they saw a Jew, any settlement which was isolated. And the reason the land for the kibbutzim was in isolated places was to intercept the Arabs before they can come into the cities. It was very, very dangerous. And I kept on getting letters from my mother crying, crying to come home, to come home.

I had to go to work. I worked out quite a ways from the town and it was too far to walk and too dangerous. They used to wait for you. They used to hide in the bushes there and when they saw a Jew they’d kill him. But when they saw a Jew carrying a rifle they would run away right away. They were cowards. The government allowed our kibbutz three rifles for protection so the kibbutz allowed me a donkey to ride on because I couldn’t walk that far, and a rifle. So the smart one, my wife, she writes to my mother, “Don’t worry, Sam to work he has rifle…”

Esther: I wrote, “Sam goes to work and he has a rifle hidden, and he’s protected and he’s OK. Not to worry about anything.” To us it was a privilege. People went to work without a rifle. They were in danger. At least Sam had something to protect himself. And Menya got the letter when she came home on Yom Kippur from shul. And started to cry.

Sam: When she heard that, that was the story for our leaving. So finally we said, OK, we come back.

Esther: Elaine was a year and a half old when we come back. When I left Israel, I left my sister. She begged me, “That baby was born is Israel. Why are you leaving?” And I said, “Shoshana, I’m a married woman now. I have a husband.” The riots were there, all the time, so I just submitted. I just gave in. Aaron sent us the money to come back. So we left.

I cried for six months after we came back. It wasn’t an easy time. Then I realized you can’t go back. They would have taken us back, the kibbutz, but I wasn’t in a position to go back. And then a few years went by and it wasn’t the kind of life that I had before I left New York. I was my own self. I was very independent. I worked and I had money and I did what I wanted.

Sam: Just before we left the JNF acquired the land for our kibbutz where they are now at Ein-Hashofet. For many years we thought that after we make some money, that eventually we will go back. Two years ago they celebrated their fiftieth anniversary.

The first time we went back to Israel to visit was in 1964. Until that time we just didn’t have the money. But then things got better, and I went back three or four times together with Esther, and she [Esther] went back once or twice alone at the time when her sister Shoshana was sick and she knew that she wouldn’t pull through.

Shoshana stayed in that kibbutz until she died. She married a man from that Polish kibbutz that united with our kibbutz, a very fine fellow, and they had one daughter. The daughter married and had one son, a grandson to Shoshana. When she was pregnant, on the last day when the war of independence ended, the firing ceased already. But the Syrians on their way home with their planes dropped their last bomb and her husband was killed.


Sam: We had very, very bad times when we came back. The depression was still on and many times we said to ourselves, “What did we do? Why did we have to come back? Why didn’t we remain there?” We came back to Montreal for six months or less. Then we came to New York.

When we came to Montreal they were still in that small house. Then we came in.

Esther: They needed us like a hole in the head. Dora was still home. She worked in a factory. Sarah was in New York already. Then there’s Mary, Norman, Eddie and Henry, and then we came. So there were seven. And there was no room; it was a two-bedroom apartment. They had a day-bed in the living room where the girls used to sleep. And there was a small room off the kitchen, a little bedroom. Our bed was from wall to wall. Then there was a window and the crib was near the window. In order to get the baby into the crib I had to climb over the bed.

There was a wholesale market in Montreal, pretty far from where they used to live. And Jacob used to go and bring her enough stuff to last for a week. Chicken and fish. And fish is very difficult to clean. Her hands used to bleed. I used to help her. But I came with a baby of fifteen months old. During the day I used to help as much as I could. You can imagine how I felt coming into a house with all these youngsters. The only one that was married was Aaron. I took a liking to Anne. And she was like a rescue person to me. She used to come in during the day when she knew that I’d put the baby down to sleep, and she says, “Esther, let’s go out for a while.” And we would talk.

I tried to help my mother-in-law as much as I could. And Mary, Henry and Eddie used to go to school and every day. Mary used to come home and scream. I used to take the baby down for fresh air after breakfast, just to get her a little bit away from the house. There was a little park nearby. And Mary found out about it and used to give me hell. I go down and have a good time and I don’t’ help… and my mother-in-law would contradict her. We had no money to go on our own and we were just waiting for a chance for my family to take us to New York.

I was in a daze. I didn’t know how to act. I didn’t know the nature of the people. I was in a strange house. I left my sister, my kibbutz. And I was yearning to see my family in New York. Eddie was the one that kept me going. He saw the way I saw things. And he saw the abuse I took from his sister Mary. But nothing he could do. So one time… I was forever sad and crying. They had one room in the house that was entirely dark, it had no window. They kept it as storage. So one day he came home and he calls me to that dark room. He says, “Esther, nothing lasts forever. There will come a day when you will forget all this. You will survive it. Don’t pay attention to my sister.” And that kept me going. Since then I really have a soft spot for Eddie.

Sam tried to get a job. And jobs was scarce then. There was no jobs. My mother-in-law found out about a butcher who wanted a partner. So my father-in-law gave Sam two hundred dollars to go into partnership with that man. And Sam knew as much about butchering as I know about flying. But he tried to learn. And he was getting there. Then the butcher went bankrupt and the money got lost.

Then Sam and a cousin went into the broom business. They bought from big manufacturers and sold to local stores. Sam never drove in his life, he got into a truck and he drove it. In the snow, everything. He had to start something. And that fizzled out. And my sister and brother from New York used to send me money, they used to send me bundles. Especially clothes for the baby. And I wrote my brother one day, I says, “Look. You can’t fill up a sack with a hole. It goes right through.” No matter what you do I can’t accomplish anything with it. I says, “The only thing you can do for me is I want to leave this place. I want to come to New York.”

I did get there. Norman had a lot of friends. So there were four boys and Sam. They got in a car and they went from Montreal to Plattsburgh [New York]. Plattsburgh is United States already. And they left Sam there and they came back. And nobody asked questions. So Sam took the train and went to New York. And I remained. I had a friend who was in the kibbutz who had [returned to Canada] long before we did, a Montreal girl. One day I spoke to her and I said, “How can I get to New York? There must be a way.” Eventually, she typed a letter and signed her boss’s name that she and her friend and the baby are going to Plattsburgh for weekend. And we got through the border like that.

In New York, my brother gave my husband right away a job. I rented an apartment. I said, “I want to go to work.” So my brother gave me a job in the bakery. Sam went at two o’clock in the morning. And I went in at four o’clock in the afternoon. At four, I had the baby bathed, she had her lunch, and she had her nap. When Sam came home dinner was on the stove, he fed the baby, and the baby went to sleep at six o’clock. And he went to sleep with her. And I went to work. Twelve o’clock at night I walked home and Sam was up and getting ready to get to work. That went on for a few years.

Sam: I always had a job, but I wasn’t making any money until I was lucky enough… I was working as a truck driver for a bakery delivering bread, I was getting $18 a week for six days, I don’t know how many hours. I gave Esther the $18. She had to pay rent and feed her child, and by Thursday she was broke so she had to borrow $5 from her brother until Friday when I get paid. Then she paid him back.

The bakery belonged to Esther’s brother and brother-in-law. They sold the bakery and it so happened that her brother was very good friends with the head of the Teamsters Union in New York. And through him I got into the Union. Once I became a union member my worries were over. Because union wages at that time was $9 a day, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. So right away instead of making $18 I was making $45. As the outside man in the bakery, they told me if I could get them more customers they’d raise my wages. Well I knew a lot of people, good customers. I get him so many customers that my wages was already $18 a day. I was able to open up a bank account I saved money. And from then on the financial worries were over.

And that, by the way, kept me out of the war. It was considered an essential industry. They called me three times to the draft and three times they gave me a deferment because of my job. The fourth time they called me they said, now you have to go. They gave me two weeks to go home, settle my affairs, see that my boss hires somebody else. When I got back the war was over. That was in 1945.

Esther: When we wanted to buy into the business we needed a thousand dollars. So this man went around to our friends and each gave a hundred or two hundred dollars, and he gave us a thousand dollars. It took six months and we paid them all back. Because the bakery was good business. We had three thousand dollars in the bank when we came to California.


In the same year, 1945, I had vacation. And I saw an ad in the paper where an old man is looking for somebody to drive a car out to Los Angeles. He would pay all the expenses. So I drove out here. I made it in three and a half days. I was young. And when I came into Los Angeles, I said, “Oh my God, this is wonderful, exactly the same climate as in Palestine. I couldn’t take the climate in New York. In the winter the cold, the summer the sweat. So I came back, I says, we’re going to Los Angeles. Pack everything, put it in the car, we shipped the furniture, and drove out again with Esther and the two children.

We had a few thousand dollars saved up. We bought a business in Glendale, a beer joint, sandwiches, cigarettes, candy and all that staff. Sarah, my sister, came out from New York as a partner for a few years. But her husband didn’t like it, so I had a good friend that was together with us in the kibbutz and he left the same time and he was working in New York. So I wrote to him if he would like to come here and buy out my brother-in-law. So he said yeah, he would, but he doesn’t have any money. I says don’t worry about it, I’ll lend you the money, you pay him out and you’ll pay me back. And that’s how it was. Three years later he gave me back the money; I never charged him any interest. And we did pretty good there until three blocks away they build the first Bob’s Big Boy and it was very big competition to us. So we sold it. We tried a few more things until finally I went in the liquor business. I had two stores and that’s where I made all my money.


Esther: Crossing borders… it never was anything legitimate. I didn’t tell you how we became citizens. First we had to become legal. I told you how we came in. so we were all illegal here. Then the Alien Registration Act came out. And that was very secretive. Nobody could get out the information. It was only for the government to know how many aliens reside in the United States.

That’s when we contacted an immigration lawyer. And he said, “Register. You will be sent back, no matter where you came from, if they catch you. You’re taking a big risk.” So we went and we registered. And then he worked for us to become legal. We had to go back to Ellis Island, Sam and I and the baby. Elaine was already a little over two years old, but she looked like five. And we come to the final questioning, how we come to United States. There was a big table of people that threw questions at you. The three of us were sitting all the way back against the wall on a bench. And then they called us one at a time. And questions. All we told them, “We came in on a library card. We cross the border on a library card, as tourists. We came into New York and we had family, and we decided to stay.” That’s all. We said we all came together.

They got through with one of us they called the second one. The second one said the same thing. Then all of a sudden they called the baby. They said to me, “You go back. We just want the baby.” And I said, “Oh no. I go with the baby. The baby goes with me. You can’t question her alone.” Well she had her instructions. She came with her parents. She doesn’t know anything. And she wasn’t afraid even. They couldn’t get anything out of her. She held her place, it was remarkable. They even looked at each other and they laughed. And so we became legal. Then we had to wait five years to become citizens. In 1946, we became citizens.


Esther: Menya was very closed mouthed. She suffered a lot inside of her. She never talked about her hurt. It wasn’t a good marriage. And she never talked about it. She had so many children. Evidently, she couldn’t communicate with him. When he wants sex, he wants sex, that’s it. And the woman can’t do anything about it. This woman couldn’t. She was very good natured. And she was a very smart woman. But she couldn’t do anything with it.

Sam: She was very good to the children. She had a heart. If a kid hurt himself and started crying, she was crying. But not my father. He was strict with everybody.

Esther: She never told him that he was wrong. She swallowed it. Jacob never talked to his children, never talked to his wife. The only one he used to kiss and hug and love is my baby. When I came, I used to be angry sometimes, he used to kiss her on the cheeks and the blood would come out. Very strong, and I didn’t like it. But I was in their hands.

Sam: Once and a while he used to beat her. Although in those years it was common. Not in Montreal. In Montreal we were already old enough to stop it. And he knew we would.

Esther: I think Jacob’s attitude towards the children and his wife was mostly pride. His pride. He couldn’t do anything. He had no money, no profession. And everything that he got came from Boston. And whatever the children accomplished was with help from Boston. He didn’t have it. So I personally think it was a lot of pride, hurt pride.

Sam: There’s a lot of truth in that.

Esther: I was there only about a year and a half in that house. But I saw that man. He helped Sam when we came from Israel. He gave him two hundred dollars to go into business. And when the other kids heard it they wouldn’t believe it. He calls him into a room, he says, “Schleime, here’s two hundred dollars. Go into business with that man.”

Sam: I am surprised. I couldn’t believe it. I think he did it on account of Elaine. Because of the child. He just was crazy about her.

Esther: He loved the baby and he wanted us to stay there. And maybe because at that time he had two hundred dollars. Maybe he wanted in other days to help too, but he couldn’t.

After we moved here already and they couldn’t take care of each other, they put him in a home and she moved to an apartment and the children had a woman stay with her.


Eleanor: What happened to the members of your family who stayed in Europe?

Esther: Three stayed behind, the oldest sister and the two youngest ones from the second mother. Hitler took care of most of them. My two sisters and their families.

One of my sisters had already three children and her husband was in Argentina. He sent my sister papers after the war broke out. But it was too late. She was going to Argentina when she was stopped. And she was killed. She had a daughter who died with her. One of her sons remained alive. He saw his mother and sister be shot. He witnessed it. He was a little boy. Maybe he was ten, no more. The was a rabbi who is a prophet, Rabbi Rashi. And one of his followers got hold of this little boy and took him under his wings. He hid him under his long cloaks. And this boy got into Germany when the war was over, as a displaced person. He had a father in Argentina. So he was torn between his father or the family in United States. He decided to go to his father.

The other sister got out to Cypress, and from Cypress she got to Israel. She was alone. She had no husband. And she had a son and three daughters in Israel. She escaped from Rozhan to Germany and got on a boat to Israel but the boat was intercepted in Cypress. They put them in camp. My sister in Israel, Shoshana had a friend whose mother was dead. And in her passport picture she was wearing a kerchief and looked like an old lady, and she looked very much like my sister. That’s how she got a passport. She went in that woman’s name.

My youngest brother Ephraim had a legitimate visa to go to United States. The war broke out and he was caught in China, on a boat going to the U. S. Seven years he lived in China. He worked in a kitchen where they used to cook for the refugees. We used to send him bundles, mostly rice which he used to sell. All food. He came here he was twenty-seven, he looked like a man of fifty. Many years after the war. He couldn’t come in [to the U.S.] regular. He got a rabbi at an ultra-religious Jewish school to sign him up that he is a student there. And then they sent him a branch of that school in Chicago.


Sam: Aaron had a lingerie factory. Then he went into import/export. After the lingerie, Aaron used to make about three or four trips a year to Japan and buy a lot of the stuff that you find in five and ten cent stores. And he used to sell to them. He had a big place at that time. The other boys were working for Aaron as salesmen. He had customers practically all over Canada. Retail stores. Until the war broke out.

The two younger brothers were taken into the army, Edward and Henry. When the war was over they said they didn’t even want a partnership. They just wanted to go for themselves. So they went ahead and started the same kind of business and they went to Aaron’s customers. But Aaron didn’t mind. He gave it up. For the first couple of months there was some friction. But then he gave it up and went into lingerie.

Eddie and Henry took over the whole business. They bought out the inventory. And they are still in that business now.

Aaron is like Paul [Gass]. He can take five thousand dollars and build a business of five million dollars. Aaron was that way too. Aaron built the Naimark Building in Montreal. Not long ago, Henry and Eddie bought the building from him, just before he died. And now they own the building and they are millionaires. But Eddie is not well, so he pulled out, they paid him out and now Henry owns it with his two sons. Henry’s boys run the business today. It’s called Supreme Lace.

Norman got married and got into his in-laws business, cardboard boxes. He was a salesman.

Sarah was a self-made person all her life. She worked in the needle trade, the factories. Her husband was in the fur business. They made fur coats; her second husband was also a furrier.

Mona… wherever there is trouble she goes and tries to help the poor people. That’s her goal in life.

Sam: My brother Aaron was a much stronger Zionist than I was, because he was older. He understood more, to me it was like a dream. And yet, when we came to Canada, he dropped out completely. He never even went to any Zionist meetings. He was a very, very wealthy man. Yet he never contributed any money towards (Zionism). Just like it never existed. I can never understand why. The only thing that mattered to him was to make money. And he did make money. He was a wealthy man. Although I think in 1948 after Israel became a state Ann and Aaron made one trip.


Eleanor: Did you know any of your Gass relatives well?

Sam: I was once in Boston before I left for Israel. And we visited the three uncles and their children. Other than that… After I came back we were mostly close with Morris and Sarah.

Esther: Patty, the youngest [of Samuel Gass’s children], we saw a lot more, because we used to see her every winter taking her father the Florida. They seemed to be very close.

Sam: Uncle Sam was a very, very religious man. You used to say he is a fanatic. But that’s his life. I was never religious. I didn’t believe it then and I still don’t. So he and I didn’t get along naturally. But Uncle Morris, we were very close. A very fine man. There is nothing bad I can say in any respect.

[1] Halevy, Benjamin, editor. Rozan/Rozhan [Sefer zikaron li-kehilat Roz’an ‘al ha-Narev], Tel Aviv, Israel: Rozhan Societies in Israel and the USA, 1977, 518 pages. A memorial book written in Hebrew, Yiddish, and English.

[2] Landsman is a Yiddish term meaning countryman, someone from the same place; landsleit is the plur