By Gillian Liman
Being part of the great influx of Jews immigrating to the United States in the 1880’s was not easy for Harry, a man from Poland, immigrating on his own. Thankfully, the actual immigration process was not too difficult; He was a strong and smart young man that passed all the tests and answered all the questions Ellis Island had put in front of him.
The Jewish community was heavily discriminated against in America at the time. Not being accepted by most Americans made it hard for Harry to find a community to live in. And even if he found a community, there was no money to buy a house. With no stable home, no stable income, and no family to come home to at the end of the day, he resorted to being a traveling businessman. The daily routine included traveling door to door, community to community, throughout many towns, selling goods and trying to get enough money to eventually purchase a place to live. Seeing signs spread across town that read “No Jews, Dogs, or Consumptives” enforced to him that anti-Jewish rhetoric was widely accepted across the country.
It was one morning in the spring when Harry started the day in New Orleans. Walking through the towns selling his goods, he soon came across a woman named Seal’s door. Seal too was a Jew who had immigrated from Russia years ago. Receptive to the goods he was selling and enthused by the connection they had, she invited him into her home. This small invitation turned into a meal, a nap, and consequently a stay at her house. This was the start to a great friendship, and when Harry had enough money to buy a house, he came back to Seal’s neighborhood in New Orleans to settle there. Though he was still discriminated against by most Americans, this small community in New Orleans became a happy loving home for him. From hearing his story I learned that despite the legalization of a citizen circumstance, it is the people around who truly determine the experiences that will ensue.