"Now my father seriously began to make plans to go to America. A good many things
had to be settled. He decided to leave the family at home until he could establish
himself. He was determined to go where Jews could worship God as they pleased,
where they could breathe freedom, and where their life was not threatened every
minute of the day... that was infinitely more important than money.
Preparations were made for the great journey to America. Father wrote long
instructions (to mother): first you apply for a government pass; every time
you change trains, be sure to count the children; see that they are properly
fed and get milk at every station; do not give the cow away until the last
day for the young ones need the milk; etc. etc.
The day came at last when we were to depart for America. It was Saturday,
and my mother went to synagogue to say goodbye to our friends. I took out my
prayer book and began to pray wholeheartedly for the future looked so
uncertain and I felt the need of God's help. I noticed my sister Mary sewing
hooks and eyes on her skirt. "On the Sabbath day!" I wailed, "You know what
your doing, you sinner you."
Mother came home from the synagogue with a sad face, for it is hard to
leave relatives and friends and the place where one is established and
economically secure. It was a tremendous undertaking on such a long journey
with seven small children. Uncle William came over to tie up bundles and pack
the "carsinsky" (a large suitcase made of fiber).
All of us were in the wagon and when the horses gave a pull and the wagon
began to move, mother started to cry, but we refrained from tears in order to
spare her additional trouble. We traveled about three days before we reached
the Russian-German border. We had no difficulties crossing the Russian
frontier, for we had all the necessary permits, but we were all relieved when
we got off the train at Yatcoon which was the first town in Germany after
crossing the border.
The German cars used to transport immigrants were unfit even for cattle.
There were no benches, no toilets, no running water. The cars were locked so
no one could get out until an important station was reached, which often
meant a half a day or more. At last after four or five days we reached
beautiful Berlin with its fine railroad station. From Berlin we traveled for
about three days in the same horrible "cattle cars" to Hamburg which was the
port from which we were to embark for the United States.
We traveled steerage and it was not fit for dogs. I can still smell the
terrible odor that made me so sick; my mother was very sensitive to smells so
I came by it honestly. I was so ill that I didn't care whether I lived or
died. Of course mother did some tall praying; she did not want to feed the
fish with the bodies of her children. I practically lived on condensed milk
which they fed to the babies, but the doctor ordered it for me even though I
was too old for baby food, for it was about the only thing I could keep in my
We had our share of storms on the high seas and the ship swayed
unmercifully. There were good things to eat in the ship's store such as
oranges, candy, cookies and soda pop, but mother had no money to buy them for
us. She went to the family who had befriended me and said, "Here is one of my
rings. Please give me some money, I simply must buy some good things for my
children to eat. You are going to Philadelphia also, here is my address, and
as soon as I am settled there I will redeem the ring."
The next morning we saw that great symbol of hope for the immigrant, the
Statue of Liberty, and our hearts were filled with joy and thanksgiving.
Castle Garden. The name does not fit the place-Stable Barn would be more
proper. The authorities checked and examined us and I guess they were
satisfied that we would make good citizens for they let us through."