When I think about my family’s journey to this country, my maternal great-grandfather, Usher Scolnick (man in old fashioned picture), comes to mind. As a kid, I remember our trip to Ellis Island to view his name along the wall of all the immigrants (see certificate). He came alone on his journey to America in the early 1910s from Kiev, Russia. He came here to this country, like many immigrants, poor, no English, and looking for a new beginning. In his youth he worked as a boxer and as an apprentice in a sheet metal factory. He took any job he could find in order to support his family. He was also very proud of his humble roots and heritage. Even when he was in poor health in his final years, he would still drink wine during Jewish holidays against his doctor’s orders. His wife, Ida, urged to him in Yiddish that he shouldn’t drink it, but he stuck strongly to his Jewish traditions. He always stood proudly to his values and heritage, and he wore the same tallit (see picture) for most of his life. My mother was very young when he passed, but he still had a major influence in her life. She was so proud to name me after him and never ceases to tell me how he was a wonderful and hardworking man with a strong Jewish identity. As I recall his story, I’m truly grateful that his name was not the only thing he inherited on to me.

Place(s): Russia, Ellis Island
Year: 1920

– Andrew Ross Abramowitz

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more