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November 13, 1987 - Image 31

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-11-13

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from Poland

from Russia



from Russia

from Hungary from Russia


By Arnold Wisper

What lands did they leave, from where did they flow,
Those early refugees, from so long ago.
They trembled in waiting rooms, in stations, on docks,
From Poland, from Germany, from life on the rocks.

The lists go on, seems like forever,
These resourceful people, who also were clever.
Nobel Prize Winners, they received thirty percent,
In medicine, math, and law, they made quite a dent.

From Greece, from Italy, they showed their mettle,
Each left behind, their own little shtetel.
Russian women in babushkas, the French with grace.
They didn't look back, they left not a trace.

When it came to talent, they soared in the arts.
Playwrights, like Kaufman, Moss Hart, Ben Hecht
wrote the parts,
Lil Hellman, Arthur Miller, Neil Simon wrote more.
Brothers Gershwin, Berlin, Jerome Kern wrote the score.

After endless days, jammed below decks,
They shivered and prayed, oh Lord, what's next?"
They met hunger and fear, they were hot, then cold.
They faced every challenge, they tried to be bold.

Finally the day they all waited for,
The Statue of Liberty, and that golden shore.
A new life was there, but what lay in the mist?
They descended the ladder, the ground they all kissed.

They landed with nothing, just the clothes on their back
A few little trinkets, they clutched in a sack.
Their commitment to a new life, in the Promised Land.
Where will it lead, it all looked so grand.

The stories are legion, the peaks they did climb.
Overcoming obstacles, time after time.
Consider their numbers the roles they did play.
Consider their problems, day after day.

Chaym Solomon loaned cash to the Fed at no interest.
Merchants and peddlers, moved the frontiers West.
They exchanged wagons for trading posts and stores.
Levi Straus was there, during the Indian Wars.

Some of these men made marvelous gains.
They built from nothing today's retail chains.
Magnins, Macy's, Altman and Saks
Straus, Neiman-Marcus, they started as hacks.

Richard Rogers, Oscar Hammerstein, what a pair!
Leonard Bernstein, who can compare.
Jack Benny, George Burns, the Marx Brothers for laffs.
Woody Allen, Mell Brooks are great at their crafts.

Who pioneered the movies? Who made them so great?
Goldwyn and Mayer, they knew how to create.
Zukor and Lasky, they frosted the cake.
Warner Brothers and Selznick, for goodness sake!

The Rabbis, the Judges, the Scientists and more.
The teachers, the doctors, just add up the score.
The bankers, the lawyers, and last but not least,
The business man, who just adds to the feast.

They did it all, but they were not alone,
With their wives beside them, protecting their own.
Their women raised families, and worked hard at their side.
They deserve equal praise, they did it with pride.

When you look back, you look back and wonder.
These are the people, who brought lightning and thunder.
They came from many lands, without fortune or fame,
And they brought to America, their courage and name.

What lands did they leave? From where did they flow?
Those early refugees, from so long ago.
"ONLY IN AMERICA," are just words to me and you,
But the words that GAVE LIFE TO "THE AMERICAN JEW."

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