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Jennifer Archive



What Would You Do For Love?

Me at school in Israel
Growing up, I remember hearing that my grandparents met on a boat traveling from Poland to Israel. But why were they on the boat? Did they know each other in Poland before they left? When the US Trek asked that I write about my heritage, I decided to get the answers to these questions, and more.

Since both my grandparents have passed away, I called my dad, their son, to get the scoop. I asked, "What is the real story about Sabta and Sabaj?" (Sabta and Saba mean Grandma and Grandpa in the Yiddish language.) Here's what I found out.

My grandmother, Hannah, lived in Poland and had fallen in love with her second cousin, who lived in Israel. (Ok, I know that sounds weird, but back then it wasn't all that strange to date someone who was a relative.) Her second cousin lived in a town by the coast, called Hyfa. My grandmother decided she had to go to Israel to see him. So, she went by herself to Israel. At the time my grandmother did that, girls and young women did not usually travel to far away places by themselves. Now I know why I like to travel and see new places. I take after my grandmother!

so cute at 7
My grandfather, Abe, was on the same boat as my grandmother. They didn't know each other. When Abe saw Hannah, it was love at first sight. By the time they got to Israel, my grandmother decided to marry my grandfather -- and she never did see her cousin! The wedding took place in the region of Palestine, before it became Israel. My dad was born in Palestine. His birth certificate has both Hebrew and Arabic writing on it.

In 1955 my grandfather, Abe, decided to come to America. His two brothers, David and Joe, were living in Los Angeles, so he left his family (my grandmother and father) and went to Los Angeles to see if this is where he wanted his family to live. My dad was only seven years old, and my grandfather was gone for a whole year. When my grandfather decided that Los Angeles was the place to be, he sent for my grandmother, my dad, and my aunt.

My dad says he remembers the boat ride they took from Israel to the United States. The water was very choppy and he was very sick. When they arrived in America, they didn't have much money. My grandfather had sold his barbershop in Tel Aviv and had to start all over in America. My dad changed his name from Ami (rhymes with "Tommy") which is his Hebrew name, to Ted. I asked him why he chose that name, but he doesn't remember. I guess he thought it sounded American.

Here's the family!
America is where I call my home. I would like very much to visit the places of my heritage -- Israel, Poland, and other parts of Eastern Europe where my mom's family comes from. I wonder who I might meet on the boat! It is strange to think that if my grandmother weren't so independent or if my grandfather did not fall in love with my grandmother and ask her to marry him, my family wouldn't be what it is today.


Please email me at: jennifer@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

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Stephen - All that and more. Say hello to Trekker Stephen!
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Making A Difference - America's corporate battlefield claims another victim: the car consumer
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Rebecca - One heroic woman that no one will honor