My Immigration Story: A Tale of Two Doras & How My Parents Met

I have always loved hearing the story behind how my parents met and fell in love. It started with my grandfathers, Benjamin (Benny was his nickname) and Murray, who met after emigrating to the United States from Russia and Romania. Both came into the States through a port in Philadelphia in their teens. Benny and Murray instantly became friends and both moved to New York to find work and eventually, they found their wives too. My Grandma Dora Berger made it to Ellis Island prior to World War II along with several of her brothers and sisters. Grandma Dora always said that she was from Austria but according to her immigration papers that I recently found online, she actually came in from Poland.

Benny and Murray arrived in New York and a short time after, they met two women named Dora. Benny’s Dora was actually an American – born and bred in Brooklyn, New York and Murray’s Dora was tough as nails, knew what she wanted and was a total straight shooter. Eventually, Murray and Dora Stoller moved to the Bronx, while Benjamin and Dora Goldman moved to Brooklyn. They still managed to stay in touch and when they started having children – two boys for the Stollers and two girls for the Goldmans, the couples dreamed that their kids would one day walk down the aisle together. While there weren’t any sparks between my aunt and uncle, it turns out my mom and dad fell for each other in their teens and eventually married when my mom was 20 and my dad was 21.

I consider myself incredibly lucky that my family came to the United States prior to World War II. After reading about the village where my grandfather grew up in Romania, I discovered that nearly all the Jews were killed in that location during World War II. Considering the fact that my grandmother was from Poland, there’s no telling what could have happened to her family too.

I am named for my Grandpa Benny who sadly passed away the year before I was born. My son and my daughter are both named for the Doras. The tough Dora from Austria/Poland always spoke her mind – my favorite line from Grandma was this one: “Rich or poor, it’s good to have money.” While that definitely is true, I have to say, that while they were never rich, my grandparents gave my family the greatest gift by taking a chance, leaving their native homes behind and pursuing the American Dream.