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Journey to America


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My father Illya Pinhkus Kirtsman was born in 1909 in Odessa, Ukraine, the youngest of 11 children. His older sister and brother immigrated to America in 1912. The whole family planned to follow them. It was their dream for many years. In the 1930s, my father received few letters from his American siblings, and only after W.W.II did he establish communication with them again. By this time, only he and his sister Sonia (the 10th child) were alive. When we received a letter, my father took it to a translator (letters were written in Yiddish) and the whole family would listen to the news from America. We kept the door to our apartment locked. My mother was afraid that people from the KGB might come over, see us reading the letters, and put us in jail.

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