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November 18, 1988 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-11-18

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Abraham Lincoln Marovity

80, U.S. district court judge, Chicago,
My father and mother come from Kov-
no, part of Lithuania at the time. My
mother was 15, she was brought here by
her older brother, along with her younger
sister Lena, who was thirteen. He got
Mother a job in the sweatshops in New
York. She didn't have any education in the
old country and she wanted to learn and
she went to the settlement houses to hear
some lectures. Of the many lectures that
Mother heard, two were most impressive.
One was on Samuel Gompers, who was a
Jew and founded the American Federation
of Labor. The other was on Abraham
First, she saw pictures of Abraham Lin-
coln — he had a beard, his name was
Abraham, father of our people. And one of
the speakers said, "He was shot in the tem-
ple." She thought that was the synagogue
and she really thought he was Jewish.
'lb her dying day, no one could convince
her he wasn't.
She made up her mind that one of her

a stroke. And I pinched her thigh; she had
hardening of the arteries. I said, "Can't you
feel that, Mother?" She said, "Sure. Who
is that?" I said, "Abe." She said, "Ah, my
Abraham Lincoln," and she expired; the
last words she said.

for the reception with what I collected
from my bar mitzvah gifts. My parents re-
jected that idea, and they let me keep it.
When I was about 18, I think, I blew it at
the track.

David Goldring

73, retired businessman, Silver Spring,
I remember we had a very tough teacher
who thought nothing of throwing kids
down the stairs if they didn't behave or
didn't know their lessons. Apparently he
was a very frustrated old man who eked
out a bare existence, and he used to take
it out on the kids, to the point where I
hated it. I learned enough to get through
my bar mitzvah, and from that time on I
wanted nothing to do with it. Later I had
an uncle I was very fond of. He used to go
to Reform temple, which I enjoyed. But I
had a mental block as far as the Hebrew
was concerned, to the point where today
I can only understand or read a few words
of Hebrew. But I enjoy the Reform
synagogue. -

70, physician and professor of pediatrics,
St. Louis, Missouri
One of my uncles came over to this coun-
try long before my family did. His name
in Russia was Mack. When he came over
to this country — and I can't, for the life
of me, understand the rationale behind it
— believe it or nit, he changed his name
to Weinberger.

Bar Mitzvah

have two impressions of my own bar
mitzvah. The first is the joke "Thday
I am a fountain pen," because that
item seemed to be the gift of choice in
the early 1940s. The second is the frenzy
after the ceremony, at which the Saturday
morning regulars at our small Orthodox
shul devoured the pickled herring that had
been set out on newspaper, and drowned
the fish with shots of schnapps -- cheap
rye with names like PM and Four Roses.

Stuart Lewengrub

Art By Barbara Kiwak

boys had to be named Abraham Lincoln.
So when my brother Harold was born two
years before I was born, my mother wanted
to name the boy Abraham Lincoln. But my
father wanted him named after his father.
Shortly before I was born, my father's
mother said to my mother, "I have no right
to ask you, Ruchel, but there is no one
named after my father. And I wondered if
it's a boy, will you do me the honor — my
own four daughters haven't done it — to
name him after my father?" My mother
said, "What was your father's name?" She
said, "Avram." My mother said, "No prob-
So when I was born she named me
Abraham Lincoln; that's what my birth
certificate shows. Matter of fact, she died
right in this room and we were all around
her bedside and she thought she'd suffered

47, Anti-Defamation League regional
director, Atlanta, Georgia
I remember the reception much more
than I remember the ceremony. It was in
the back of a delicatessen. I think it was
called Upper's Delicatessen on Second
Avenue and Threlfth or Fourteenth Street
in. Manhattan. We weren't allowed to have
any music, because my grandfather, on the
paternal side, had just passed away within
the month. So we couldn't have any music,
and the festivity of the bar mitzvah was
somewhat hampered.
My family didn't have a great deal of
money. In fact, I won't say we lived from
hand to mouth, but it was kind of a strug-
gle. I remember offering to chip in to pay

Abraham Chasanow

World of
Their Fathers


am still astounded by how many Jews,
as very young boys or as fathers, left
their homelands in the late 19th. and
early 20th centuries to travel alone to
the United States. Often the reason was to
escape military service, which in Russia
could be for as long as 25 years; or there
was the deep urge to find the proverbial
better life, which meant religious freedom,
freedom from persecution, and a better
education. One, two, five, ten years later
they sent for their families, usually siblings
and wives, but not always in that order,
and then mothers and fathers. Most, if not
all, were illiterate in English. And they
were impoverished. Some brought a radical
ferment with them from Germany, espec-
ially after the disorders of 1848 and later;
others brought a new radicalism from pre-
Revolutionary Russia. Some established
secular schools to teach not the Jewish
religion, but Yiddish and socialism. They
argued, debated, created tumult, went to
plays, listened to lectures, and argued some
As the Washington lawyer Leonard Gar-
ment put it: "Generally, almost all the
places where I lived, and worked occa-
sionally as a kid, were densely packed with
immigrants and children of immigrants.
They were places of mixed language —
English, Jewish, German, Russian; yelling,
incomprehensible language, muttering,
screaming — very lively."
Zita Cogan, who was raised in Chicago
and is a university concert manager there,
remembered how, late in her life, she
learned a startling fact about her parents:
"My mother and father were never mar-



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