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And now for something completely different

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Last night was the first night of Passover, one of the most important Jewish holidays of the year. This has inspired me to blog about a personal ad that I learned about while attending a special Passover/family reunion many, many years ago, back in the hazy, distant, early 1990s. So this ad has nothing to do with love, but it is a very personal personal!

Mr. Maletz from HIAS [Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society] is looking for Chaim or Hyman Epstein.

Chaim or Hyman Epstein, 57 years old, born in Stavok, Minsk Province, near Pinsk. His wife's name is Sarah. His parents' names are Schlomo and Esther Fruma. Chaim Epstein lived in New York until about 20 years ago, when he moved to Chicago, where he should be found now. He has here in America 3 sisters, Eidel Miller, Chaya Wallach, and Dinya Epstein, and a brother with a name of Yitzhak Epstein. The office of HIAS has their addresses and it is of utmost importance that whoever knows anything where he is should as soon as possible call or write to HIAS and ask for Mr. Joseph Maletz.

I don't want to bore you with my family history; Chaim Epstein would - if I'm doing my geneology right - have been my great-great uncle who moved here at the turn of the twentieth century along with (as you can see from the ad) several of his brothers and sisters. (His brother was my great-grandfather.)

Over 10 million immigrants came into the United States in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, and they moved around a lot, so advertisements became a really important way to find your family. I see them in the personals columns every day. For example, picked at random:

Information wanted - of James A. Sullivan; last heard from about three years and a half ago, in Lehigh county, Pennsylvania. Any information respecting him will be thankfully received by his sister, Mary Sullivan, arrived a few days since from Dingle, Ireland, at Castle Garden, New York.

So you can see people from all over the world did this. But a lot of immigrants, of course, weren't literate in English and so had their own newspapers published in their own language (Yiddish, Italian, German, etc). The most famous Yiddish-language newspaper was the Jewish Daily Forward, which is still in print, and still publishes a Yiddish edition. So I'm not sure if this ad comes from the פֿאָרווערטס but most likely it did, as this paper had a very wide circulation.

Anyway, they never did find out what happened to Chaim, which is too bad. But I guess, you know, if there's anyone out there descended from a Chaim Epstein from Chicago...get in touch! We might be family!

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2010 Pam Epstein


Unknown March 31, 2010 at 1:15 PM  

That is so neat! You are the master of genealogy (we are what cousins how many times removed :)?). And I would love to hear the family history sometime.

We were just tracked down by Fannie's side of the family (Bennie's wife/Violet's mom). They are in NJ. Fannie was never very forthcoming with family information so it has been interesting. I'll tack you onto the email I keep meaning to send your mom and you can check it out if you're interested. Not really your family... But close? :)

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