Mysterious Letter: Abram Orlow’s Yahrzeit

Tomorrow is the 72th Yahrzeit of Abram Orlow z’l. He is important to me, but alas I know very little about him. My paternal grandfather passed away when my father was younger than Yishama. It always seemed a little mysterious to be the namesake for something with whom I have no connection.

This is what I do know. He was born May 3, 1900 and died April 30, 1950. He was born in Poltava, Ukraine, a region of the world that has been top of mind. I had the fortune of visiting there during my stay in the FSU. His family emigrated from northern Ukraine to Philadelphia when he was young. His first language was Yiddish, but he seemed to do fine in English. He went to University of Pennsylvania where he later was a political science professor. The story goes that he was the first Jewish professor at Wharton.

Image result for abram orlow

Abram and my grandmother Lena had two sons. My father James Joseph and his younger brother David. Abram, Lena, and my father were all immigration lawyers. In fact in 1948 Abram was the Second President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Interestingly Lena went on to be the president of AILA in 1954 and twenty years later my father was president of that organization the year I, Avram Orlow, was born. 

A few month ago I got a mysterious Facebook message from on Laurence Tauber. He was reaching out after having gone through their father’s papers. There he found an amazing letter from Abram. When he looked him up online he found about about Abram Laurence found a post that I published in 2018. I republished a poem that Abram wrote  January 11, 2018. Here is the letter:

Rabbi Kirschenzweig was a survivor of Buchenwald. Abram was working to get him sanctuary here in this country.  

There are still many mysteries here. But now I know a little bit more. Abram Orlow was a mensch. May your memory be for a blessing. Thank you Laurence Tauber.


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