Day 1 : April, 12th 1892
|A Jewish immigrant|
My name is Deborah Attman and I am thirteen years old. I live in the city of
Kovno, in the northwest of … and I am a Jew. It is now a part of my identity. In the street, this question became a habit: “Are you Jewish?” because people know that we are no longer safe here. The Jewish community is persecuted in southwestern Russia ; people are killed – especially children. Their homes, businesses and religious centers are destroyed. We call these “Pogroms”, but I call it genocide… We are scared; if it started in the south, it will surely ‘come’ in the north. Our only solution is to leave, but we don’t have enough money. A lot of Jews are going to Russia . My mother thinks that we would be safe, and have a better life there, but it is too far. My father says that it will be okay, and that we’ll find a way. I hope so … America
Day 2 : May 25th 1892
|A steam boat|
It has been almost a month, a month of travel in this boat, and it has been more than a month that I didn’t write in my journal, but I didn’t have time to. The moving took us a lot of time and everything went so fast...
Our Orthodox rabbi lent us money so that we would have enough for living in
. It was really hard to say goodbye to all my friends and my family because I don’t know if I will ever see them again. New York
We first took a horse car to the train station, and then we took the train to Marseille, in
. It took us almost six days to arrive there because of some connection problems I guess. I didn’t really understand what they were saying though. I was exhausted when we arrived in Marseille, but the travel in the train was really fun. I spent the whole time playing board games with my father. When we finally arrived, we didn’t have time to rest. Marcel, a friend that my dad met while he was working in France, drove us to the port where we were supposed to take our boat. He is very nice, and he has this really weird accent when he is speaking English. But since none of us knows how to speak French! We spent a night there and we took our boat the next day at 7; because it was getting dark, and no one could see us. What we were doing was technically illegal. France
There are a lot of people in the boat, from all over the world. The beginning of the trip was great, but it is starting to get boring. The only children that are on the boat are babies.
My 18-month-old little brother, Jacob, caught cholera, like a lot of the passengers. He can not stop throwing up and he has a fever. A lady told my dad that it was because of the conditions of the trip. We only have one cabin for four people. There are two beds of medium size. I am sharing mine with my brother which is very annoying because he wakes up really early.
We are also not eating really well because my parents said that we had to keep money for when we will be in New York, and the captain makes us pay for two meals a day. I heard some people saying that it is because we were Jews …
I have to go, Mom is calling me. I will probably be back later.
Day 5 : June 25th 1892
|Street view in the Lower East Side|
Day 6 : July 2nd 1892
Day 7 : July 9th 1892
Here, we are in a regular school near our house. We have friends and we go to the park during our free time when it doesn’t rain outside. I like to go to the park with my friends because it is the only time when we can have a bit of fun and anyways, it’s the only recreation we have. When we’re in the streets to go back home after going to the park or when we come back from school, there are many immigrants just like us, who left their hometown to find safety in
. But sometimes, there are also people who are anti-semitic and who often insult us in a really mean way. New York
Day 8 : July 13th 1892
When I arrived home, my parents were not there yet. I ate a snack and I did my homework. This night, when I was done with all my work, I started to write a letter to my friends in
. I miss them a lot. I think they will never get my letter, because from New York to Russia is a long distance and I don’t even know if my friends still have the same address as they used to have when I lived in Kovno. I hope they are okay. Russia
Later in the evening, my parents finally came back from work. They were exhausted, like every night. Mom quickly prepared a dinner and then we went to bed. I ran so much today that I fell asleep instantly.
Day 9 : December 3rd 1905
As I am now 26, I am not going to school anymore. I recently found a good job after university. My father saved money during the last years for me to go to a good university. Thanks to him, now I am a teacher in the school I used to go to and I earn a bit more money for both of us than he used to earn with his old job in the textile industry. I am happy to be with those children who are now in the same conditions as I was. There are children from all over the world. The majority of them are immigrants who had to leave their country. I listen to their story, and then they listen to mine.
I never saw my Russian friends again, and unless if all of those problems in the world finally stop one day, I don’t think I have chances to meet them again. I don’t even have news of them. It is the same story for my grandma, my uncles, aunts, etc. They did not follow us when we left
14 years ago, because they said that God would not do that to them: they believed that the pogroms against Jews would stop in a short while. I’m really upset right now. I miss everybody and especially my family and I curse the ones that were against us, the Jewish people. Russia