How my Great-Grandfather Came to America- Journal 10

My Great-Grandfather, my mother’s grandfather, Jules Cohen, later Jules Kagan, was born in Pinsk, Poland in 1915. Pinsk, at the time, had 35,000 Jews. It was on the Russian border. He left to go to America in 1923, with another lady from his village. He left because of the post-WWI Cossack pogroms. He was given jars of herring and loaves of bread. The bumpy ride in steerage made him seasick for eight days. When he got to Ellis Island, his uncle Israel Deretchin picked him up. He started his education in Brooklyn, knowing only Yiddish and Polish. He would be beat up for not knowing English, so he quickly learned it. He lived with his uncle for a year until his mother, my grandfather’s grandmother, came.

Herring, like my great-grandfather would've eaten on the ship.


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2 thoughts on “How my Great-Grandfather Came to America- Journal 10

  1. Jules Cohen (aka Kagan) entered through Ellis Island. We tried to find his name, on the lists , but couldnt find it. We”ll take another vacation to NY, and we can look again. It would be cool, if you and your classmates had a simulated immigrant entrance through Ellis Island. You can travel through the different departments: health checks, etc. You guys could even dress up like immigrants too !

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