My grandfather and his family immigrated from Russia, in part, to escape persecution of Jews. They came through Ellis Island seeking a better life, like many immigrants at that time. They took up life in the working-class, Jewish and African-American neighborhood of Brooklyn called Brownsville. As a girl, I often forgot Grandpa Joe came from another country, but there were always small reminders. Nobody knew how old he was because his family never celebrated birthdays back in Russia. Instead, we celebrated his birthday on January 1st, and just took our best guess at his age.


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