Monday, October 22, 2018
Jewish immigrants arriving at Ellis Island from Europe in the early 1900s were met with heartache and hope. Starting new lives, many left families behind in Europe and as they attempted to resettle—lacking basic resources such as food, jobs, and living spaces needed to restart.
What emerged from the steady flow of Jewish immigrants to the Lower East Side is landsmanshaftn. The Landsman were people from the same town who settled on the Lower East Side and informally banded together to help new arriving immigrants find a job and other basic needs, essentially the same basic needs immigrants today are yearning for as they look to resettle.
Neil Perry Gordon's newly released Jewish Historical Fiction, A Cobbler's Tale [October 2018], is an immigration story about his great-grandfather who was the founder of the Landsman Society of Krzywcza, which helped people from his village establish new lives in America. In his new book, the stories of Jewish immigration to the Lower East Side are historically accurate; and their influence is still present today.
To research for the book, Gordon visited Ellis Island to gain an understanding of the Jewish immigration story. This included a private tour of the abandoned hospital facilities on the island, which offered insights to the immigration experience.