A Child’s Journey Through Ellis Island- Shmuel Menachem Kanievsky’s New World

I wrote this essay for the Daughters of the American Revolution contest, and I actually won for my grade in my chapter! It is now going to the state finals.


July 7, 1892


My Dearest Cousin and Friend, Moshe Shlomo Kaganovich,


I am writing this letter from Zeide’s home in Flatbush, New York. I have successfully passed through the trials of Ellis Island. You would not believe everything that I went through just to escape persecution. However, it was surely worth it. The old world of Russia is gone; a new hope in dy gyld’n’ l’and is dawning.

I immediately packed a few bags and left without saying goodbye. I walked to Sevastopol, and travelled across the Black Sea to Constantinople. When I got to the city, I realized the Saviour, my ship, left two days earlier!  I was devastated and overwhelmed with hopelessness. I wandered the streets for days and  prayed daily  “Let me go to America!” I suppose, as I am only thirteen years old, God answered me. Two days later, a man approached me, and offered to trade my ticket for a ticket on the Le Voyageur, a French ship that would be leaving the next day. I gladly accepted and found my way to the ship’s steerage area of filthy rooms and screaming children. I put my luggage down, remembering the clean ocean air.

We left the harbor of Constantinople at 5:00 P.M. The next day, as I said Shacharis, I was able to see the coastline of Greece. A week later, the Le Voyageur left Cadiz, Spain. The trip through the Mediterranean was beautiful and uneventful.  However, once we got to the Atlantic we didn’t see land for two weeks, and then everything went downhill!

Almost immediately everybody felt seasick. They went down to their beds to try to feel better; but the hull was no improvement. Our food started to run low because we had thirteen stowaways. By the time we neared New York, we did not have any food left in steerage, and we smelled horrible. Entering the harbor, we were allowed on deck to see Lady Liberty welcoming us into her country. Soon after, we headed towards Ellis Island.

A doctor came aboard our ship for a quick check, making sure everybody looked all right. We then began our wait for a ferry to Ellis Island, two more days for me.  During that time, American workers brought us meals, the first real food I’d had for a week. Eventually, the ferry came.

When I walked across the gangplank and stepped foot on the soil, I could not believe it. The building looked like a castle! I thought to myself, If this is a normal building in the United States, then what do mansions look like? I never saw anything like it in my life. I walked up to the door and saw a policeman. In Russia, this was a bad thing; the police meant evil. However, before I left, Zeide sent me a letter. He told me that the police here would help me. He also arranged for me to learn some English.

The police officer walked up to me. “Do you speak English, boy?”

“Yes, I know basic words.”

He responded, “Great. Place your bags here. I’ll move you to the Registration Room immediately. What ship did you come on?”

“The Le Voyageur.”

“Right this way.”

The policeman led me to a large building and up some stairs where I saw thousands of people in a gargantuan room. Everywhere I saw men in white coats-doctors-looking over new immigrants for a few seconds, scribbling something on a piece of paper and then saying, “NEXT!” I later found out that this was called a six-second physical.

After an hour, there were still 300 people ahead of me. Finally, I entered the Registration Room, where doctors were everywhere, checking our health. The doctor, a short, pudgy man, looked up at me. “Well, well, well. What do we have here? Another young immigrant?”

“I suppose so,” I said, as he checked my ears and mouth.

“Ah, you also speak English. Well, you’re quite healthy. Good luck and welcome to the United States.”

“Thank you”, I said.

I was ushered by a different policeman to a seven-hour line, where I waited for the legal test. I was given lunch while I waited. Soon enough, my turn came. I was met by the interrogator. “Do you speak English?”


“Let me see your tag.”

“I see,” he said after looking at it. “I am now going to ask you twenty-nine questions. First off, What is your name?”

“Shmuel Menachem Kanievsky.”

“Where were you born?”

“Ovruch, Russia. In Ukraine.”

“Did you come with anybody?”


“Is anybody expecting you?”

“Yes, my grandfather.”

The questions went on and on until I was cleared. I went up a set of stairs that said “To New York” and exchanged my Russian currency for American money. I had fifteen rubles and fifty-six kopecks. I gave that to the man, who in return gave me two crisp bills that said “Five Dollars,” and two coins that said “Nickel.” I exited and went to get my bags.

I walked around the courtyard, looking for Zeide. Eventually, policemen began to usher those still waiting, back inside for the night. “Please, just let me wait a little longer,” I asked.

“Five minutes, son.”

I waited, staring into the darkness. I saw a large shadow. I screamed and ran… into my Zeide. “Oof! Not so hard, Shmuli!”

“Zeide! You’re here!”

“Of course! Come back with me to my house. There’s a shul on the same street, and lots of kids your age. You’ll love it.”

And he was right. I enjoy everything about America. I am now in school with other kids with whom I have made friends. I’m still a frum Jew in all aspects. I highly suggest for you to come to America, Moshe. Convince your parents, because in this world, America is the only hope for life, happiness, peace and prosperity.

I hope to see you soon,

                                                                                                      Shmuel Kanievsky

Scientific Summer

This summer, I took a long and exciting trip to the Florida Keys. We stayed in Key Largo, and also went to Islamorada and Marathon. We snorkeled in John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo and off of Sombrero Beach in Marathon. I also bought tons of souvenirs. (As you could imagine, I had a really fun time). However, to get there, I had to take a six hour car ride down from Jacksonville. MC900189589 A map of Florida, with the Florida Keys above.  Image Credit: Microsoft Clipart

There is a lot of science involved in driving a car on trips. Well, first of all, we had to drive the car in a way that it didn’t crash or fail. We couldn’t drive too fast or the car would overheat and the engine would strain itself. Also, we had to calculate how far we could go before we had to refill. We also had to calculate the cost of gas, with gas currently about $3.60 a gallon. So, in conclusion, I had a very scientific summer!

Mesopotamian Script

I ,with my group (Sarah C., Sydney, and Talya), made a Mesopotamian city called Ummania. We  had to write a script and present it to our class. Here is our script:


Sarah: Hello my name is Sarah.
Talya: Hello my name is Talya.
Jake: Hello my name is Jake.
Sydney: And,  hello my name is Sydney .

Sarah: We are going to take you on a tour on our perspective of what Ummania looked like. Ummania is our creation of a Sumerian city-state in ancient Mesopotamia. Ummania was near present day Baghdad, on the Euphrates River.

Sydney: As we are walking down you can see all of the houses. First you will probably see the lower class houses, since the poor live at the edge of the wall. The people who live in lower class houses are farmers and/or fishermen. The poorest people’s houses have one story and no courtyard.

Talya: Next you will see the middle class houses where the government officials and artisans live. You will see that they are painted brown. That represents their being made out of sun-dried bricks, because there were very few trees and stones. Almost everything was made out of this brick. The middle class houses also are one story, but they have courtyards, though they were  less beautiful than the first class courtyards.

Jake: Finally you should see the first class people’s homes! They are the only class homes that have two stories, and they also have the biggest, best courtyards. The first class that live in in these homes are the wealthiest like the merchants, but with the exception of the priest that lives in the ziggurat. Hey, let’s go there now!

Sarah: The ziggurat is where the priest lives and only he can go in there. The ziggurat is found in the middle of the city and is a temple so the priest can go and pray to the idol of that city. Around the ziggurat you will see shops and  a festival area that we will talk about while walking through the city.

Sydney:  There are dozens of shops surrounding the ziggurat, including a shoe and clothing shop. We also have an “Idol-Mart.” That is where you can go buy anything that has to do with idols, such as the home-style mini idols. That is their signature item. We have a select offer–1 idol for only 1,000 Sumerian dollars!

Talya: There is also a festival section where the city residents usually have their parties and get togethers. Also, while we are walking, you will see a man hanging. The leaders hanged the man because he wasn’t respecting the rules of our city; he is a criminal. The sign near him reads, “ This man did not follow Hammurabi’s Law!”

Sarah: As we are leaving the festival area, you will see the river. This represents part of the Euphrates. In the river, you will see three boats. One boat came back from fishing and trading and is unloading its goods at the dock; the other two are guarding the city and fishing. The river was also for swimming, and you will see the dock; the dock was for loading and unloading supplies and travelers, and for the fishermen.

Jake: I almost forgot! Close to the ziggurat and to the water you will see the well. The well’s purpose is to get water for drinking or bathing if it was not polluted.  The Sumerians had to drink beer (alcohol) because the water often wasn’t clean enough for them to drink. The water contained a LOT of bacteria; if they drink water from the river, then they might get sick because of all of it. We Sumerians aren’t advanced enough to make a purification system for our water yet.

Sydney: We are almost done with this tour. But, before we end it, you will see big walls surrounding the city. The walls are made out of sun-dried brick, because we had little to no trees and stone. In the middle of the wall there is a sparkly, gold-colored thing. That is the bronze gate through which visitors enter. Those walls are for two reasons.

Talya: The first reason is to keep the wild animals outside of the city-state. If we didn’t have the walls, we wouldn’t have anything to protect ourselves from the wild animals. Also, we need to protect ourselves from bandit gangs or invaders. The non-wild animals are domesticated in corrals, so when the time comes we can kill and eat them. You see the corral in the city, but sometimes the animals tend to get out. If we didn’t kill the animals, or if we didn’t tame the animals, we wouldn’t be getting enough protein from meat.

Jake: Also by the river, you will see two other things: the orchard and the fields. The orchard is symbolized by three trees and is an important part because it represents a good amount of our food supply. We are growing apples. The two fields are another important part because the Sumerians grew a lot of plants. The main crop of the Sumerians was barley, but we also grew a variety of plants including tomatoes and beans.

Sarah: To conclude this tour of ancient Mespotamia, we would love to show you our idol. The idol is on top of her throne, high in the clouds. We worship idols, so every single city-state has their own idol to worship. We have idols, because we believe they are our gods. Did you know the Sumerians had over 3,000 gods?  We pray to them every day to keep us safe and have all we need to survive.

Sydney: The last thing we would like to tell you about Mespotamia is that we had special handwriting called cuneiform. Cuneiform was used to keep track of trades. Cuneiform is just many triangles and marks like this ( Student holds a piece of paper with cuneiform  on it.) You can see the school in the ziggurat and a student. The student is practicing to be a scribe and is writing cuneiform on a clay tablet.

Sarah: Now we are finished with the tour of our city. We are now going to take you back to the ziggurat so you can go home. Thank you for coming on this tour with us.

ALL: Thank you for taking this tour.  We hope you all loved our project; please come again!


A Mesopotamian ziggurat.

A Mesopotamian     ziggurat.


A glimpse of the Euphrates River.

A glimpse of the Euphrates River.

Image Credits:








Social Studies: Story of my Life- Klednt Gwalisd

Hello, modern scientists. I am Klednt Gwalisd. I was born in 250,000 B.C.E.  from this modern year. According to your measurements, I am 5 feet, 3 inches. I was born in modern Kenya. I have mated thrice, always with the same person. I am a great nest-builder. My nests could fit 4 persons with room to spare. Once, in one of my nests, I saw storm clouds coming. I thought I would be fine, for leaves were over my head. But then, a yellow streak from the sky came and destroyed a tree, by making it hot enough so it burned, as you call it.  It was fire! I am still troubled with making fires. I have no need, though, except for light. The heat is great in Africa, so I have no use for that. I tend to not eat much meat, so I don’t need it to cook. And I chose a place where animals dare not go, for many other hunters live in my area and they fear them.

One cool spring day, I was gathering some food when I heard a rustling noise behind me. I thought it was the annoying Jyerw Yiuot, who likes to scare people. I ignored it and continued gathering. The noise came closer. I turned around…and stared right into the green eyes of a saber tooth tiger, twice my size, with teeth 2 feet long. I started to run, fast as my hairy legs carried me. The tiger followed, nearly catching up. I threw the berries at it, but that just made it madder. I tried to climb up to my nest. As I did, the tiger took a bite of my leg. I kept going, climbing until the tiger was long gone. I laid on a branch to inspect my leg. It would heal, but it would later cause my death.

At about 236,000 B.C.E., 5 years later when I was the age of 14, I started to dislike the nomadic life. I decided to bring my mate, by the name of Gwea, to a cave with another family. I realized that being in groups was safer, and others could help make a fire. At first the others looked at me distastefully, but then, after 3 caves and their inhabitants were destroyed, they started their own. But, since caves are few in our areas, and I had taken the biggest one, they had some difficulties. Now there are 4 families in the cave, the Blashoks, the Jindfs, the Rewsacs, and mine. I also have two boy twins, Filgh and Frit. We all have an alliance of sorts.

Then, while I was out hunting and Gwea gathering with Frit, I had an idea. I told my hunting partner, Hiutyg Jindif, “What if we brought a male and female deer and caged them? Then, they would have baby deer and we wouldn’t need to hunt!” “What a great idea! We shall live in pleasure!” And so the Domestication of Animals began, at approximately 214,000 B.C.E. Then, a few months later, Fudish Blashoks, with Gwea, thought about planting berries so berry bushes would grow. So the women didn’t need to gather! If we were hungry, we just had to go outside.

We 12 families, mine, the Blashoks, the Jindfs, the Rewsacs, and 8 others, started building a walled area in which we could build huts to live in and to protect ourselves against others. But to do that, we needed to move north, to the Nile. So we did in 216,000 B.C.E. when I was 30. I was getting to be too old to be hunting. I started to think about how the universe worked and why things happened. I was able to predict the correct time to plant crops and when to retreat to our homes. Since I was very good at keeping up with the religion I made which every body liked, I was appointed a special job.  They made me leader and I appointed Hiutyg Jindif and Fligh, who had grown to be men, leaders of hunting. Frit is head of gathering the water. A man named Guytik Definsa is head of repairs, and his wife is in charge of making clothes. My third son, Hgifd, is the doctor. I am the military and religious leader, because I can think of strategy quickly and efficiently. Everybody prospered under my care.

One summer, we decided to have a feast. We built a huge bonfire and roasted pigs on it. We built a huge rock wall foundation so the village didn’t burn down. While having lots of fun dancing and singing, the fire heated up rocks that had tin and copper in them. The goo combined and made bronze goo. I didn’t notice it until I stepped in it. It was hot, so burning hot; it burned the sole of my shoe and went onto my foot. And it stuck. It was hard! I had to go to Hgifd’s office. He told me, “Father, I will have to cut off your leg, if you are going to live.” I agreed for him to do so. I was 43 then. He had his attendants tie me to a table and give me a root to chew on. He used the bronze to make a harder knife, for my discovery had gone around the village that the bronze is harder and better than stone. I had helped my village, but for a price.

The surgery was very painful, so that I went into blackness at the first small cut. I woke up a day later, in my own large bed. I looked down at my leg and saw… a little stump with leaves as bandages covering it. I found a note from Hgifd:
Dear Father:
The surgery was successful. Your leg is off. You will see a cane on your bed. Use it in the place of your leg. Try to lean on it and walk. You must stay at home for 5 days and eat only vegetables and fruits.
Your son,

I tried walking around for a couple of days and the cane was ok. It was hard, but I got used to it. On the fifth day, I went out of my house and into the village. Everybody stopped working and clapped as I walked through. I found out this:
While I was away, the village was storing food for a great feast they were going to have after I recovered. They harvested massive amounts of food, gathered much water and made decorations out of the bronze I had discovered. It was a great feast. We built another huge bonfire (which I stayed away from) and had a great time dancing and eating.

The next day, I woke up, still sluggish from the party. The village was a mess!  I started to clean it up as best as I could. Suddenly, I heard a great stampeding noise, with shouting and the clatter of metal. “Metal?” I wondered. With horror I realized it was another village attacking us. I ran to the center, racing towards the bell. RING! RING! RING! I did three chimes, the code for attackers. Wake up! We’re being attacked! Wake up! Men rushed to the walls, some only in their undergarments. The archers started to fire from the towers. Enemies fell, but more came. I estimated there was 3,200 compared to our 1,750. We had bronze. They had stone, though. It must’ve been the rebels who are so stupid they didn’t evolve, I thought. The archers kept firing. Women and children hid in underground bases. We opened the gates and the horse-backed men attacked, following by those on foot. I wanted to fight, but Hgifd stopped me. “Your health won’t allow it,” he said.

Finally, 5 hours later, we won, exhausted and depleted but glorious. I did a quick scan. We had 854 men left. Among those dead were Frit, 8 of my 12 generals ,and 46 of my 60 officers.
My wife also died. The north wall is beyond repair. The west wall took substantial damage, but it will be fixed. The irrigation lanes are half destroyed; a half an acre of farmland is destroyed. 17 huts destroyed, 4 workshops. It will take a year to recover, I estimated.

So there I was, in 203,000 B.C.E., starting to almost entirely rebuild my village. We harvested more stone to make the wall and covered it with bronze to make it harder. Towers could hold 12 archers and could store food so they could live for a week. The wood top was covered with bronze. We planted more vegetables and added more irrigation systems so they could grow bigger and better. Huts were made stronger, made out of stone and wood instead of just wood. It took 2 years to recover instead of one. By then I was 45.

I decided to take a journey to sail the Red Sea. I took my new wife, Fligh, Hgifd, and a servant or two. We built a huge ship, with three masts each 30 feet high. We named her The Sea Queen. Before we set sail, I stocked the boat with food and water for 3 months. I needed to find a crew. I took the water gatherers and some officers and they became my crew. I loved the fresh sea air. It looked beautiful, clear skies and water. The sun was a bit hot. We sailed to 4 different small islands. They were abundant in wood and game. We could come here again and make little colonies, I thought.

After I got back, the village made an amazing discovery. They had invaded a village, killed or imprisoned all the inhabitants, and walked through. They found beautiful clothes, marvelous weapons, and astonishing jewelery. The additions will be wonderful for the village.

The years passed. I became older. Eventually, my leg failed me so Hgifd built me a wooden one. In the year 194,000 B.C.E. I stepped down as leader at the age of 56. I made Fligh the new leader of the village. He will succeed, I thought. He will be brave like his brother. The village has prospered under his care. For the last year of my life, I was confined to my bed, eating only fruit and vegetables. Everybody came to visit me. I died in the year 181,000 B.C.E., at the age of 61. Everybody mourned me as the first leader. Eventually, they came across the ideas of using pictures as writing for records. Their pictures became very famous, as the Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Image Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ltinner/6391559337/

Surviving Jamestown Political Cartoon- The Cross of Lies

This is my political cartoon that I made. I made it based on a scene from the book, Surviving Jamestown. In one scene, the colonists were with the Native Americans. They were along the river and the leader of the colonists, Captain Newport, christened the river with a cross. The Native Americans didn’t know what was happening. Captain Newport lied and told the Native Americans that the cross signified there friendship.

Interview With a 1700’s Slave

Me: Do you live in the North or South?

Slave: I live in the South, but it is harder here.

Me: What is it like, living on a Southern plantation?

Slave: Well, we work a lot. We get up with the sun and work ’til the moon. And we rarely get an opportunity to earn money.

Me: Do you keep African culture? If so, how?

Slave: Yes, we do. We make African instruments, but our owners disapprove. They think that we are sending messages to each other!

Me: Has your family been separated?

Slave: Yes. Fortunately, I have my sister on this plantation with me. Others aren’t so lucky.

Me: What is your profession?

Slave: I am a tailor. I mend my owner’s clothes and I makes clothes that my owner sells.

Benjamin Franklin the…

Benjamin Franklin was born at Boston in 1706. One of the things that he was is a water baby. He LOVED to swim. In fact, when he created a school, one of the subjects he insisted on was swimming lessons! He also became a printer apprentice to his brother. James, his brother, was much crueler to him than he was to other apprentices, which led him to run away to Philadelphia. He made Philadelphia the safest city in the world, at the time. He installed a volunteer fire department, a better police station, and a fort to protect against pirates!

Ben Franklin would’ve not been surprised at today’s technology. He always said that this country would grow up to be a good one. He invented many things himself. That’s another thing he was : an inventor. Anyway, I think he would most like airplanes because when he visited France as an ambassador, he saw air balloons. Although many people didn’t like the idea of air transportation, he approved of it very greatly. In fact, he said that aircraft could be used to transport troops and that people could be launched behind enemy lines, from aircraft. This turned out to be true, as of today’s paratroopers.

In total, Ben Franklin was a Water Baby, Schoolboy, Apprentice, Runaway, Printer, Good Citizen, Ambassador, Friend, Merchant, Postmaster, Editor,American, and so many other things!

To find out more about Franklin click here or here.

We had to write this post for a Social Studies I.R. (Independent Research). We were learning about the pre- American Revolution era and in my group, we had to write a biography of Benjamin Franklin. In our biography, we had to write an accurate account of his life, with two other points: Would he be surprised by today’s technology and what invention would he be most amazed at?

My Best A+ Articles

I have 2 pieces of work that I am very proud of and want to show you. I am very proud of both of these Social Studies papers because they are both over 100 percent. Social Studies is my best subject, so I always get A+ in it. Doing extra credit for my second article saved my A+ report card grade. But that’s a different story, so for now let’s talk about the test. For my Social Studies test, we got to use our notes, but I barely needed them. Mrs. Zavon said that if we did all 8 problems, we would get 25 points extra credit. I did, and got all right! For the homework, we had to do 3 problems on our S.S. page. If we did the other 2, then we would get 20 extra credit points for each problem. I am especially proud of this one because even though I got 10 points off, I did extra credit so I got over a 100. Did you ever do really well on a test that you’re happy with?

A 130% homework grade for Social Studies.

My Social Studies test got a well-earned 125%.

Christopher Columbus

We just finished a chapter in Social Studies. It was about Christopher Columbus. Mrs. Zavon likes to start with him because she thinks it takes too much time to learn about Indians. We had a chapter test today. Mrs. Zavon was so nice and let us use the study guide! Last year her class made a video about Christopher Columbus. I wish we could’ve done that!

The Jew who did his share- Einstein

Albert Einstein the Jew.

You probally heard of Albert Einstein. He was the smartest man in the world, discovered E=Mc2………and a Jew!

Albert was born on March 14, 1879 in Wurrtenberg, Germany. When Little Albert was 6 weeks old, his family moved to Muinch.  He started a Catholic school (they weren’t observant Jews) at age 5. When he was 8, he transferred to the Luitpold Gymnasium. He showed an intrest in mathmetics as a kid.  When his family moved to Italy, Albert had to stay behind to finish school.

In 1902,Einstein and his future wife had a kid, who they gave to an orphanage. He married Mileva Maric in January 1903. Their two sons, Hans and Eduard, were born 6 years apart. They divorced in Febuary 1919. In June 1919, Einstein married Elsa Lowenthal, who died in 1936.

He was awarded a PhD from the Universty of Zurich on April 1905. Einstein was recognized as a leading scientist in 1908. He was also promoted lecturer at the University of Bern. He   quit the job the same year to go to the University of Zurich. In 1919, a man confirmed facts that Einstein discovered, which made him famous. He got a Nobel Prize in 1922, and Einstein was awarded the Copley Medal in 1925.

He eimgrated to the U.S. as soon as Hitler came to power. When WWII started, Albert Einstein warned President Roosevelt that Germany might be making atomic bombs. Roosevelt put him in charge of the Manhattan Project, the one that created the atomic bomb.

Einstein took a job at the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton, which he held until his death. In May 1933, the Nazis burned his books and works. He discovered he had a reward of death for $5,000 dollars, nowadays worth $90,000.   When other scientists from Germany fled to America, he wrote “I have never felt so Jewish.” Einstein, with other immgrated scientists, warned the U.S. that Germany might  build the atomic bomb, but the first time his warnings were ignored.

He became a American citizen in 1940. In 1952, David-Ben Gurion asked Einstein if he would like to become the Prime Minister of Israel. Albert refused, saying that he “lacked the apitude and experience to deal properly with people and to exercise offical functions.”

On  April 17th, 1955, an internal organ inside Albert Einstein’s body exploded. He didn’t want to have surgery, saying that ”  It is tasteless to prolong life artificially.” He also said that “I have done my share.” He was working on scientific papers the next morning when he died at 1 AM. He was cremated the same day, but scientists kept his brain in hopes of discovering what made him so smart.

One of the greatest  people in the world was from a religon that was hurt the most. Just goes to show that it matters by how the personality is, not what color or what language they speak. What matters is how they act.