From Andrew Argintar:
"My grandfather, Max Argintar, emigrated to Tampa, Florida from Husi, Romania in 1900. This photo was taken in Husi in approximately 1895. Max is on the left in the back row. His mother, Esther Argintar, is in the middle row, second from the left. His father, Elik Argintar, is in the middle row, fifth from the left. Max's siblings are sitting in the front row.
The Romanian army reinstituted conscription of Jewish boys in the late 1870s. Due to the rampant anti-semitism in the army, as well as the length of time a man would have to serve, this was a disaster for the entire community. Max Argintar, then 18 years old, was chosen to go to the United States in 1900 to find a place for Jews from Husi to emigrate to.
Max came to Florida because there was a family friend, Isidor Kaunitz, who owned a dry goods business named El Sombrero Blanco in Ybor City. Max reported back to Husi that Tampa was a great place to make a life. As a result, many Jews from Husi emigrated to Tampa. In doing research on Max, I became aware that, once he became a citizen in 1907, he was named as a witness in petitions for citizenship for dozens of Husi Jews who sought United States citizenship.
In 1908, Max opened his own business, a casa de empeno (pawn shop), which he later transformed into a haberdashery. Max brought his siblings — Ben, Oscar, Sender, Cy, Pauline, and Reva — and his father, Elik, to Tampa from Romania in the early 1920's. Max assisted each of his brothers in establishing businesses of their own in West Palm Beach, Miami, and Asheville, North Carolina.
Max's mother refused to leave Romania until each of her children and her husband were safe in Tampa. Max sent his mother the funds to emigrate to the United States, but she purchased a counterfeit ticket and her passage was refused at Bremen. She died in Romania before she was able to leave.
Max died in 1963, the oldest active merchant in Tampa. The clothing store continued to operate as a family business until 2004."
The story of Max Argintar and the Jewish immigrants from Husi who came to Florida is told in this excerpt from Barbara Rosenthal's documentary, Seders & Cigars – A History of Jews in Tampa.
Some Jews came to the Tampa area from Husi; others arrived from elsewhere. The resulting Jewish community that sprung up in Florida is documented in Barbara Rosenthal's film:
Seders & Cigars – A History of Jews in Tampa is a story of America. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, facing conscription and consequent persecution in Europe, Jewish immigrants came to Tampa, particularly West Tampa and Ybor City, and opened retail businesses to support the demand created by the rapidly expanding cigar industry. Like their fellow immigrants from Spain, Italy, Sicily, Cuba, Bavaria, and other parts of the world, Jewish family members followed one another here in search of a better life.
The 71-minute documentary explores a variety of themes including overcoming quotas on Jewish immigration, the challenge of maintaining extended family bonds in a competitive economic environment, cultural assimilation, the nexus of anti-Semitism and segregation, and the rise of women in politics in Tampa and beyond.
Seders & Cigars is the result of four years of interviews and editing by filmmaker Barbara Rosenthal. The film features archival family photos and documents, home movie footage, and audio recordings from decades old oral histories, allowing these stories to be shared through the eyes and words of the primary participants and witnesses.
You can see the official trailer for Seders & Cigars on YouTube.