Category Archives: Judaism

Sept. 10 1934 I did a very big laundry. “I did not want to take any dirt with me into the New Year.”

Sept. 10 1934 I did a very big laundry. “I did not want to take any dirt with me into the New Year.”

Sept. 10, 1934

Dear Papa:

Since the ladies do not find time to write to me I am sending my letters to you now.*

Today you have the 2nd day of Rosh HaShana (Jewish New Year). Here we celebrated only one day so I am going to take it easy and write to you.

Your letter, dear Papa, arrived today at the same time with one from Trums and Alice.

Do not worry about my request for information about Grandfather Stern. During one of the arguments between Aunt and Uncle I heard something which I could not understand well and would have liked to know what Julius was referring to. Actually I have already forgotten about it. Bismarck Bier Stube

I hope that you received stockings, playing cards etc. o.k.

Saturday Hans K. took me to a beautiful film. “Dames,” and afterwards to the Bierstube in the Bismark Hotel. I sent you a folder for more explanation. Friday night I went to another movie, “Fog Over Frisco,” terribly exciting junk.

Something unusual happened to me last week. I took a dress to the cleaners and when I wanted to pick it up I was informed that there was a strike. The dress is ready, hanging somewhere but will not be delivered to the shop until the strike is over. Have you ever heard of something like that? It is nothing unusual here. If anybody does not pay enough wages or there are other complaints the workers just go on strike and walk up and down in front of that business with big posters saying why they are on strike.
Dames PosterFog over Frisco Poster

Sorry if I did not mention anything about Liss’s letter. I received it and it made me very happy.

You must be awfully busy now. The jet black dress and anything else you want to get rid of, you can send me. It is nice that Papa will be a lot closer to Trums in the new apartment.

Yesterday, Sunday, I did a very big laundry. I did not want to take any dirt with me into the New Year.

I do like the Synagogue [but] I went swimming once instead of going to Services. It was really like a service in that horrible heat to which I don’t think I will ever get used.

Rosenwald Museum by Bertha E. Jaques

Rosenwald Museum - Now the Museum of Science and Industry

Opa picked me up and we went for a walk in gorgeous weather and ended up in the Rosenwald Museum just 2 min from here. It is the only building left from the 1893 Worlds Fair and built like the “Deutsche Haus” in Munich.

We went by elevator downstairs in a replica of a real coal mine. I had never seen anything like it and found it very interesting. There we had dinner together. Did you too have noodle soup and roast beef [brisket]?

And then we each went to our different Synagogues for services on the eve of the new year. As I mentioned before I got a free ticket and they even paid the postage to mail it to me. It seemed strange to sit in a very crowded temple and not see one familiar face. The gentlemen sitting next to me is here only 4 weeks from Hechingen.

I had no trouble following the service with my prayer book. And as much as I could understand the Rabbi gave a very good sermon but I would have preferred to hear Dr. Salzberger. After services I talked for ½ hr with Rose on the telephone.

September 11, 1934 – continued from September 10, 1934.

Yontiff [the new year holiday] is over for you too now, while I had to work [on the second day].

Jewish New Year. Htde Park Herald

Hyde Park Herald announces Jewish New Year

After talking to Rose, on my way home I passed the Lindheimers from the boat and their lights were still on so I visited with them for an hour. They were happy to have company and I was even happier to visit with them for a while. They invited me for anbeissen [to break the fast] after Yom Kippur.

On the way to the Synagogue yesterday morning I read your letter.

This time [at the synagogue] a lady changed seats with the gentleman next to me and it turned out she is here since January from Berlin and a cousin of Miss Wurzman.

A few minutes after the service started Erwin Grumbacher, a cousin of Halbreichs, came in. I doubt you know him but Ilse Neiderman had written to me that he was coming here. He came only three days ago.


Synagogue in Hyde Park

I do not care too much about him but he has nice young friends and mishpoche. He spoke already with Miss Samuel from Bad Hamburg who asked him to look for me. Although they live near Rose Seckbach, I have not had a chance to look them up.

The service was pretty much as we are used to. Except that instead of blowing the shofar they played the sounds on the organ — terrible. In my mind I was watching Scheurman and all of us holding our breath to make sure the tones came out o.k.

After Services I wanted to visit Mrs. Hess but talked to her only on the house phone. Then I wanted to visit Mrs. Joseph, but she is never home.


A German-Hebrew Machzor (High Holiday Prayer Book)

The reason I stopped this letter so suddenly is the fact that it had gotten late and I had promised to do a little shopping.

But since I had to iron the dress I wanted to wear, it got too late for the shopping anyhow.

For supper I went to Harry Ehrlich’s Restaurant. I like the meals there very much. From there I went across the street to his mother to try on some hats.

This is the time I like, when I can work on hats in the evenings for friends but none for my self. So for I have only worked for Aunt Henny and Rose, who was very sick for a few days.

Every year at this time she gets hay fever like 1/3 of the population. But she also has asthma and suffers very much.

She wanted to go away for a few weeks but bought a machine to put in front of the window to filter the air that comes in. Of course she will have to stay most of the time in that room.

At work I am cutting a little faster all the time. They worked on all the holidays. . .

Of course a year ago I would not have written a letter [or] taken a streetcar ride on Rosh HaShana. One adopts bad habits fast.



And now a question? Have you not noticed that I do not mention Julius at all anymore in my letters? And if I do only a nasty comment? I just took your card addressed to Mr. and Mrs. J. Seckbach out of the mailbox and I figure it is about time to tell you that Mr. Julius Seckbach removed himself and everything that is his from our apt on 8/22. Thank G’d. He moved to the opposite side of this city. Amen.

If I remember right I wrote you in the beginning that the two had been separated for a year and only got together so he could sign the papers for me. For which I am very grateful.

There is no sense in my describing what went on here in the last 12 weeks. I should have made a sound film… You would get stomach cramps watching and listening to it.

I guess Aunt Henny was not thinking clearly when she married this person who cannot get along with any person. It is well known that people who think everybody is wrong are really nuts themselves. Thank G’d I did not get affected by his nuttiness. I believe really he should be in Doctor’s care. I know he liked me and was always cordial to me but I too could not stand his unending speeches and complaints.

Anyhow, when I came home 3 weeks ago my bed and several pieces of furniture were gone. And the apt looked like a gypsy camp. A few days later we re-arranged the whole place again. Aunt Henny and her bed into the kitchen. She likes that better because it is more quiet. My bed, covered with a big blanket in the living room to look like a couch.

It looks like a real so-called Parlor now and I do not have to be ashamed if somebody wants to visit us. A young man who works at the fair wants to move into the other room, but it is already 10:15 p.m. and he is not here yet. I guess he will come with Aunt Henny.

Now that the old nut is out of the house we two women get along excellently.

We are thinking of going to Florida for the winter. She just can’t stand the cold here. She would sell jewelry and I can make hats there since it is the big season then.

We have not made any definite plans but I will go only if I can be taken by car. I do not think I could earn enough money there to pay the railroad fare. Then I would rather stay here and do some work at home besides my job. It is really wonderful to be so independent.

I pay Aunt Henny something weekly and prepare breakfast for us both, the only meal we eat at home. I live decently, eat only in good restaurants and have about $1 left every week, which I try to save for the time business gets bad.

Trudel I think I have very much grown up and gotten prettier since I am here [and] I am feeling well.

I am constantly trying to learn more English, read good books and am trying with some help to read the daily newspaper. Also I am attending regularly our “Chai-50” club and will probably take a drama course under Edith Grossberg starting next week. I do that only for her sake but am sure it will improve my English.

The weather changes all the time. I can hear it rain now, after we had beautiful sunshine. Anyway I am happy that the terrible heat is hopefully over for this year. Now I think I wrote enough today. If I am not asleep before Aunt H. comes home we will talk for a few more hours. Last night I fell asleep during our conversation.

Love and kisses for you dear Papa.

*[Trudel is referring to her sisters who don’t write as often as she would like.]

[Trudel does not mention the names of the synagogues she attended. Photos of former synagogues can be found at this Flicker site.]

Shortlink to this page


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Sept. 22, 1934 “I have to join the union…30 cents a week”

Sept. 22, 1934 “I have to join the union…30 cents a week”


My Dear Goldkind:

First of all I am glad my sisters agreed that they should write a little more.

Please excuse that I am writing with pencil today. Since I am very busy I took this pad to work with me and am starting this letter in my lunchtime.

By the time you receive this I hope you landed safe and sound in your new apt on Beethoven Str. Of course I wish you all the very best for your new home. Only happiness and good health.

Did you all fast well? I did very well.

Of course there was that one short sentence in the prayers where I am sure you thought of me like I thought of you. Right?

I also met some more people from Germany in the Synagogue. From 1-3 was lunchtime on Yom Kippur and I went home with one of them, but ate no lunch. For “umbeisen” [breaking the fast] I was at Lindheimer’s. Some of the richest families here are their relatives.

Last night I was with Tante and Opa at a big money raiser for the Democratic party. Mr. Lindheimer’s cousin is on the top of the ballot. The entree was free but you were urged to spend money on lottery tickets, games etc. I never saw so many people so much in a hurry to get rid of their money.

On Saturday we bought a new radio since Mr. Seckbach had taken ours with him. In the evening we went to the new movie “Now and Forever” with the darling Shirley Temple. Afterwards we stopped for a drink. Sunday afternoon we went to the Fair for a change. There is not much going on anymore. Aunt Henny is not working since one week.Shirley Temple

Of course I am happy that I do not have to spend my evenings alone, eating in restaurants, anymore. You would be very much surprised to see how wonderful a cook Aunt Henny is. And she likes it too.

What did you do with the small easy chair from the salon? Here you could get big money for it. I like to remind you that Hedwig has a birthday on Nov 9 and we wanted to give her a nutcracker.

Affairs_of_CelliniLast night I had again a date with a new guy. A cousin of Hans Roos, Alex Heyman who lives in Cleveland. Hans wrote both of us about the other and we got together via telephone. First we went to a movie “Affairs of Cellini.” Very good. Then we went for a soda. I had to speak English all evening and he is one of the few people who correct me which I like very much.

I have to join the Union now. It costs initially $5 and then 30¢ a week.

Bruno Hauptman

Lindbergh Killer Arrested

This afternoon I have a date with Alice Weil. We are first going to an art exhibit and then I will go home with her. You probably heard that they found the killer of the Lindbergh child.

By the way I heard that Hans Werthahn comes here. He is the nice young man with black hair who used to live in Leerbach Str.

Please send me the recipe of that delicious chocolate cake. You know what I mean, Doddo. Please excuse my handwriting and probably my spelling errors. I am very much in a hurry right now to meet Alice in time.

Regards to and from all,


Short link to this page:


Tags: , , , , , ,

December 5 – A Birthday Tribute to Trudel

December 5  –  A Birthday Tribute to Trudel

A note from the editor:
Trudel was born on December 5, 1912 and died on October 12, 2007. By then she had had two sons, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren, and now a third as well. She was known affectionately by all as “Omi.” A dozen years ago she was honored by her synagogue for a half century of volunteerism and participation. On that occasion, her granddaughter, my daughter Sarah Pelton, made some very special remarks. I thought that on the anniversary of her birthday I would share my daughter’s tribute with Trudel’s fans and followers, to give you an idea of the rich life the young woman you are meeting on these pages had over the next three quarters of a century. Today would have been her 99th birthday.

By the way the “Omi Cookies” Sarah refers to in this tribute are the same kind of cookies Trudel so eagerly awaited from Germany in her last letter and which she will talk about in the next. The recipe is at the bottom of the page.

A Tribute to Omi

Trudel and Sarah at Trudel's 90th birthday tribute

Trudel and Sarah at Trudel's 90th Birthday Party

I’d like to tell you a little story so that you can see my grandmother, Trudel Grossman, through her family’s eyes.

With two honks of the horn of her ‘88 Oldsmobile, Omi, my grandma lets us know she’s arrived for the usual Shabbos dinner at the Grossman house. Omi and Shabbos have come hand in hand for as long as I can remember. On Friday nights we have always alternated dinner at our house and dinner at Omi’s.

The car door opens and out climbs my tiny, high heeled, 86 year old grandmother. She makes her way to the top of our stairs loaded with shopping bags filled with all sorts of things from a dress she mended for me earlier in the week to slips of paper covered with questions she doesn’t want to forget to ask us.

As Omi comes through the door off comes her hat, which by the way she made herself, which makes her hearing aide whistle. Omi fidgets with her hearing aid for a few seconds until the high pitched sounds stops and then takes a seat on the stairs and hands out the goodies from her many shopping bags.

Omi then makes her way to the mirror in the front hall and pulls out her small brush and whisks her soft, thin, grey hair back into a short pony tail. I take a look into the mirror and see a strong, remarkable woman. A loving grandmother, mother, and friend who still drives all across the Chicago area doing errands for not only herself but other people.

After that we make our way over to the dining room. Each of us taking our usual spot. We say the blessing over the candles, the kiddish, and the motzi and then mom brings out dinner. With her usual appetite ( ya know she’s really got a somewhat surprising appetite for the 5 foot petite woman she is) Omi carefully chews off every last bit of chicken from the leg bone. Nothing is ever left on Omi’s plate, or left unused for that matter.

Even ripped nylons don’t go to waste in Omi’s house. She cuts them up and uses them as bands later to hold together anything and everything.

After dinner dad puts on the pot of coffee. While the coffee is brewing I take my place behind Omi’s chair to give her a massage while she tells about her week. She volunteered at the Mount Sinai Resale shop where she recently began doing their book keeping. Omi visited her friend Trudle at her Nursing home in Skokie twice, took her friend Maggie shopping, and did the synagogue’s shopping as well, she went the health club twice for her weekly swim and hot tub treatment, went to Friday night services at the Temple and somewhere in there she found the time to make a batch of her famous Omi cookies to send back to school with me.

For those of you who don’t know, Omi Cookies are a Trudel Grossman Specialty, she’s famous nation wide among her grandchildren’s friends because of these cookies. She has sent them everywhere. To Camp OSRUI in Wisconsin and with all of us on our various trips to Israel. Omi Cookies are simply very thin butter cookies.

But like Omi, looks can be deceiving, they may not look all that special on the outside but they are one of my favorite treats.

Some of you might remember the days when we all used to take a bus up to the Kallah [Synagogue annual retreat]. The bus ride home was never complete without the unveiling and distribution of Omi Cookies. I can remember being six years old and being so proud to pass out MY Omi’s cookies to everyone on the bus!

Trudel in Driver's Seat


As I finish Omi’s massage, Dad brings in the coffee and we have dessert. Once the last drop of coffee and the final bite of the desert she said she should not eat are gone, Omi gets ready to leave.

Hugging everyone goodbye and grabbing the now empty Jewel bags to reuse later Omi and I walk outside. Once she climbs back into her car, she gives us one farewell wave, and she drives away into the night.

Omi’s life has not been easy but through it all she has remained positive and has always given of herself. She has taught my Cousins Aryn, Maris, Seth and me the importance of perseverance and how to survive horrible things and never complain. She has really taught me who I want to be and what qualities are important to have in order to get by in life and still remain a person that you can be proud of.

Thank you Omi.

Trudel’s Famous Butter Cookie Recipe “Omi Cookies.”

Dough (which can also be used for pie crusts):
1 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla flavoring
2 cups flour

1 egg
1/4 cup milk

Trudel's Kitchen

Trudel in Her Cozy Kitchen

let butter soften
mix after adding each ingredient
roll dough into sausage shape
slice as thin as you can (Omi used a cheese slicer)
put on cookie sheet lined with wax paper
spread glaze thinly over slices
bake for 20 min. at 275 degrees

Guten Appetit!

Thanks to another of Trudel’s granddaughters, Aryn Froum, who reports that Trudel told her this recipe while they were baking them in her cozy kitchen several years ago.

Shortlink to this post


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

February 22, 1935 “The girls call each other by the same silly names as we used to do.”

February 22, 1935 “The girls call each other by the same silly names as we used to do.”

Feb 22, 1935
671 N. Dearborn St.

My very dear Goldchildren:

How do you like me? Here everybody thinks the photo is very nice. Especially Leonard, who got an enlargement for a Valentine, likes it very much.

It is exactly 3 yrs that we 3 had our pictures taken at Gabor Hirsch* and 1 yr ago today I was with the motorbike at the cemetery.

Trudel Erna Lotte

Trudel, Erna, Lotte - 1932

I guess I bought my Hyacinth bulbs too late this year. They are not blooming yet as they should today on Mother’s birthday. Did one of you go to the cemetery today?* How does the grave look? Is my geranium still alive?

I really intended to go to the synagogue tonight but I am invited at Samuels again like last Friday night. I feel very much at home with them. Father Samuel makes Kiddish. It is a household very much like ours used to be. The girls call each other by the same silly names as we used to do.

Erna Tows Trudel

Trudel and Erna 1934

Last week a brother of Mr. Samuel who is here 45 yrs was there. He lived for some time in Darmstadt. So they all talked Frankfurter and Darmstaedter German.

Dear Papa do you or did you know Leopold Hirsch and Adolf Furth? They are related to Samuels.

Last Saturday I heard Leonard for the first time talking in court, in the Yogi case. After 4 hrs the case was postponed.

On Sunday Flora Mae had her 6th birthday. I made a real cute present for her — A clothes hanger as a doll, from material from my evening dress and some red velvet. It really is very pretty. In honor of the day we took her along to the radio station in Hammond. And then she had dinner with us at the Madison Park Hotel. Besides her birthday we celebrated my being 3/4 yr in the U.S.A.

LJG Argues for Yogi Roy

Click to read story

Now that we are working full time again I can write in my lunchtime again or do something else.

I had to make my brown coat and skirt much tighter and took out enough material to make a cap for myself.

Something strange happened to me last night, while I was at Mrs. Saunders, the lady here in my house. The Landlord called to ask her if she would take a message for me. He knows we are good friends and see each other daily. He said a woman called and said she was my German friend and would like to meet me at 7:00 p.m. tonight or call her. I am supposed to have her phone number#. Well, I immediately called Claire Samuels but it was not her. Now I cannot imagine who it was. Maybe it was a hoax. Well, she can call again. Last Wed. I was as usual at Gwen’s.

I think I wrote you before that I was making hats for her and a new customer. Saturday the new customer returned hers.

Why did Erna not take her skis with her to Oberreifenberg? That would have been more fun. I did not see Aunt Henny all this week. She called me Tuesday night but I was not at home. Now I have to spend several nickels until I can reach her. Otherwise I do not know anything more today. I am very tired since I am too lazy to go to bed every night and stay up much too late. I hope to hear from you soon again.

A million kisses,
Yours Trudel.

*Gabor Hirsh was a famous German photographer. Trudel may have been talking about his studio or shop

*Trudel’s mother died in 1933, nearly a year before Trudel left Germany.

[Spoiler alert: References to “Leonard,” refer to the man who would become my father. He was Leonard Jacob Grossman. I was named Leonard Albert Grossman. Editor ]


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

March 1, 1935 “My forelady just told me that I can’t sit still for 5 minutes without writing or doing something.”

March 1, 1935  “My forelady just told me that I can’t sit still for 5 minutes without writing or doing something.”

March 1, 1935

My Golden Goldkind:

Actually the weather is much too nice to be sitting here writing to you. But what does one not do for love. After having a big snowstorm and very cold weather this week, we now have beautiful spring weather.

If you receive a letter with the stamps upside down, Leonard must have mailed it. Here nobody pays much attention to that.

First of all I like to answer Dear Papa’s letter of Feb. 13.

I have not talked to or seen Grossbergs for ages. The Mother has gone on my nerves for a long time since she is so slow and boring. And the daughter is too intelligent for me to keep up with her. We have really very little to talk about. And that club does not really interest me anymore.*

Dear Papa asked me what Aunt Henny is living on. That is really something I am wondering about too. I visited with her Monday night and I am always trying to find out what she does during the day. But to no avail. She does not tell me. After I went with her looking for a room in my neighborhood she called me that she just moved around the corner from her old place. So she won’t need my suitcase that I was going to loan her for moving, also it goes almost daily to court filled with books and papers. On Tuesday she helped at the election for the Democratic party. We are Republicans.


Grace Gray

Did you forget to keep your fingers crossed for us? As we had feared, Grace Gray was not elected. After all she was the first woman ever to run for Mayor of Chicago and that makes history. While the other candidates spent loads of money, she did not spend a penny, but she made a lot of new friends.**

Of course we spent the evening at her house and I am sure that it was not any nicer, relaxing, enjoyable and merry at the house of Mr. Kelly the newly elected mayor. We were about 25 people. Her [Grace Gray’s] mother, daughter, son-in-law and grandchild and best friends. Mr. Gray has a special cocktail called: “Bosom Caresser” of which I drank 4 glasses and a glass of beer. Besides they served wonderful cold cuts and all kinds of pickles, mustard etc.

Bosom Caresser Recipe

Bosom Caresser Recipe

Except for 1 man who came rather late we all were a little more or less very cheerful, a little tipsy.

I really talk and understand English quite well now and feel very much at ease in American company. Just as we were ready to leave I was introduced to a couple who just came. Her parents came from Stuttgart and she has a cousin, “Heidecker” in Ffm. Unfortunately we had very little time to talk.

Bosom caresser

Grace's Drink

This week I have felt like usually during Mardi Gras. Saturday morning I was about 3 hrs downtown with Mrs. Saunders. Then I met Claire Samuels and we went to see her sister-in-law, also a German girl, with an adorable 2 yr old boy who knows exactly with whom to talk German or English.

For the 1st time here I had a real afternoon coffee and I took home a hat to be altered.

Dear Papa: you really have no idea about prices here. Gwen bought recently 3 beautiful hats at $2 each. And I should charge $3 for alteration? Actually I had saved a little money but had to use it all during the quiet season. I do not skimp on anything but try to make surprises for others. Starting next week I hope to be able to save a little again.

Saturday after dinner at Samuels I went to the North Side to meet Leonard at a meshuggenah club. They are all atheist, a very funny bunch who had asked to Len to speak.


A great spot for afernoon coffee

Actually I am glad now that I do not understand everything in English. Otherwise I would have a red face all the time. That were the kind of jokes they were telling. I met a few very nice rich people who read the announcement of the meeting in the paper and came only to hear Leonard. It was really a nice entertaining evening and did not break up until 2:00 a.m. Of course on Sunday I slept ½ of the day as usual.

Then Leonard and I went downtown to different newspaper offices to take care of some things for Grace Gray. We then went to her house. She is not allowed to go out since her recent car accident. She is OK again, and we had a very good supper there and stayed until 1:00 a.m.

Monday at work at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., home from Aunt Henny and still shampoo. Tuesday 9:00 a.m. at work. Evening at Grays’. Home 1:00 a.m., Wednesday 9:00 a.m. at work. Evening at Gwen’s. Already 11:30p.m. to bed.

Yesterday again 9:00 a.m. work and as a result of so little sleep, I fell asleep while waiting for work until the boss woke me and asked if I was OK. I told him that I still had a little hangover from the beginning of the week. Last night, I fixed the two hats for the Samuel girls and was in bed at 10:30 pm.

It felt good to sleep from 10:00 p.m. to 8 a.m. for a change. We have hardly any thing to do at work. I have not earned 20 cents so far today. My boss just asked me if I am writing a book because he sees me writing so much.

I hope you have received the Chicago map by now. From the family Klee I can find only 1 son left. If he could still remember you? Guess this is all for today. More next week.

Best regards to all from all.

Loads of love and kisses from your

PS My forelady just told me that I can’t sit still for 5 minutes without writing or doing something. Mrs. Saunders said the same last week. I am not all nervous.

PPS Julius Seckbach, who now lives with Mr. Kasterlitz (better known by me as Opa) came to Leonard’s office asking for my address. He did not get it. Leonard does not want me to have any contact with him. Thanks G’d.

*Trudel mentioned going to a “Chai-Club” with the Grossbergs in an earlier letter. Apparently to help her with her English.
**The election Trudel is talking about was the Republican primary. Edward J. Kelly won the Democratic primary which was held the same day and was eventually elected mayor.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,