A Donation from the Heart

 

Former HIAS Client Donates Over 30 Pillows

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Roberta and her husband, Hans, donated over 30 pillows on behalf of the Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations. The pillows will be given to new arrivals as well as recently arrived clients who need them. Exactly 100 years ago, Roberta’s grandmother arrived through Ellis Island where they were helped by HIAS. Roberta shares her family’s story:

From left to right: Minnie (Masia) Feinstein (nee Schmais, Louis (Layzer) Schmais, Becky (Nakhoma) Schmais (nee Feinstein), Ray (Rifke) Feldman (nee Schmais), Esther (Ester) Blatt (nee Schmais).

From left to right: Minnie (Masia) Feinstein (nee Schmais, Louis (Layzer) Schmais, Becky (Nakhoma) Schmais (nee Feinstein), Ray (Rifke) Feldman (nee Schmais), Esther (Ester) Blatt (nee Schmais).

“In 1919, a year after the end of WWI, my Bobbe (grandmother in Yiddish) owned a grocery store in her home town of Siroki, which was in Moldavia. She used the system of credit when dealing with the local authorities and became endeared to them. One day, a captain in the Russian army, remembering Bobbe’s kindness to him, told her that a road was going to be built through Siroki and her store would be demolished. My Bobbe gathered her four children still living with her and secured a passage to the United States.

Bobbe’s three oldest children were already in New York, thanks to an uncle. My mother, Minnie, was one of the four children emigrating in 1919.

 When my Bobbe and her children arrived at Ellis Island in New York, their uncle was waiting for them and had found them lodging in the lower east side of New York. However, they had no furniture, bedding, or kitchen equipment. That’s when HIAS helped them!

 As I grew older, I always heard my mother, who was 13 at the time of her arrival in Ellis Island, talk about HIAS and how the organization had helped them. My Bobbe also talked lovingly about how HIAS had helped them settle into a new life. Both my Bobbe, Nakhoma, and my mother, Minnie, reminded me that I should never forget the organization that had helped our family. And I never have.”