Gargzdai (Gorzd), Lithuania

Reasons for Emigration

"Gittel (Gertrude) and Notte (Nathan) Suisman, the mother and father of Michael Suisman, lived in Gorsd in the 1880's...Gittel ran a bakery, an occupation which may have given rise to the family name 'Suisman,' ... that is, a seller of sweets....

"One might imagine that Michael Suisman was urged to flee his home by his pious father, for reasons of religious persecution. For life was not secure for Jews in Russia at the close of the 19th century....

"So in response to the Czar's plans, many Jews uprooted their Russian homes, much as dramatized in Fiddler on the Roof.

"Michael Suisman's reason for leaving, however, was not so much political as personal: he did not wish to pursue rabbinical studies at a yeshiva or to become a rabbi...His religious father had pressed him to continue his studies. Michael demurred, so it was decided, perhaps reinforced by the ominous political clouds over hanging Gorsd, that he would go to America....

"The 'ominous political clouds' were not theoretical. They were real and they broke, in the form of a pogrom in Gorsd, after Michael left [in 1886, at age thirteen]. Michael's mother, Gittel, hid his brother Saul and his sister Minnie in the family's bakery oven to protect them during the pogrom."


From Michael Suisman, Edward A. Suisman - On the occasion of his eightieth birthday (West Hartford, CT, 1982), pages 7 - 9.
Copyright 1982 by Michael Suisman

Permission to print provided courtesy of Michael Suisman (1928-2016).

Note: For further information about Michael Suisman (1873 - 1921), see Rabbi Morris Silverman, Hartford Jews 1659-1970, Connecticut Historical Society 1970, 72-132408, p. 279.

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