640px-Wolpa_Synagogue_Poland_1920

The Wooden Synagogue

My great-grandparents Harry and Tillie Kubrin came from a town called Volpa, which in their day was part of the Russian Empire. Nowadays it is called Voupa, or Woupa, and it is part of Belarus. How you identify this place depends on where you locate it in the long view. Over the centuries, Volpa has belonged to Lithuania, Poland,…

Sam_Kubrin_arrival_record

Origins: Taube Kurdabrin

I never knew my great-grandmother was originally called Taube. I always thought her name was Tillie, the name she used most of her life, the name by which she is remembered today. But apparently I was wrong. I stand corrected now thanks to the record of her arrival at Ellis Island, which I located through the…

Chaim Kurdabrin's Arrival Record at Ellis Island

Origins: Chaim Kurdabrin

My great-grandfather Chaim Kurdabrin landed at Ellis Island on June 6, 1903, arriving on the S.S. Finland out of Antwerp. I make this statement with reasonable certainty, having located his arrival in records posted online by the Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation, which also sold me a facsimile of the ship’s manifest. That’s him on the seventh…

Old Love Letters by Rachael Ashe from Vancouver, Canada (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Then and Now

I was down in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago for another round of spelunking in the family archives. My explorations were extremely successful. I found scads of old letters, notebooks, calendars, and greeting cards. My grandmother was a terrific archivist, and my mother has preserved everything.

Posing after the citizenship ceremony with Judge Joan May Way

Becoming Canadian

We gathered in a government office building on a Thursday afternoon, some 120 of us, from 30 different countries. It was as diverse a crowd as you will see anywhere—young and old, male and female, of every class and ethnicity. Some wore business suits, other hockey shirts and jeans. Looking on, you might have thought…