My family arrived in New York on Friday, July 13, 1962. We were picked up at Idlewild Airport by our cousin, Shimon Friedman and taken to my uncle Chaim’s house in Williamsburg. That very Monday he threw us out and we had to get our own apartment. We spent the next five years at 193 Lee Avenue. After one weekend in Brooklyn I wanted to go back to Vienna.
The Great Zaide
This is the “Zaide” Shlomo Aahron Friedman. He is my father’s grandfather on his mother’s side. He loved to smoke cigars. Once the doctor told him that smoking cigars was bad for his health and he should give them up. He did, but rolled himself cigarettes that were as fat as cigars instead.
Yankel & Yossel
My uncles. On the left is Yossel and on the right is Yankel. Both were artists. Yankel supposedly was a great artist as well as a brilliant scholar. None of Yankel’s work survive and Yossel’s works unfortunately aren’t worth saving. When I was seven I asked Yossel to draw me a picture; he drew a scene of children learning in a cheder. Seeing that the lines were crooked, I drew right over them.
Uncles and Aunts
Pictured from right to left are Rivkah, Malka, Sarah, Chanah, Yehudit and Sheu. They are my father’s sisters and brothers. Of those pictured only Yossel survived. All the rest were murdered by the Nazis during the war. Not pictured are my father and his brothers, Baruch Yehuda and Chaim. There are no pictures of Baruch Yehuda. Malka, Baruch Yehuda, Chaim and Yossel were all married, and their families were all wiped out.
Born Adalbert Weil, January 6, 1910. My father has lead quite a life. Among other things he has held jobs as a cantor, sexton, reverend, upholsterer, book binder and painter. During the war he was imprisoned in a Romanian labor camp where he was one of only two survivors.
Parents’ Wedding 1948
I asked my parents when their anniversary was. Their recollections are that it was January 10, 1948, and that there was a hint of snow making it a beautiful day. This photo was taken at a later date. My mother’s parents Faige and Shmaya Rosenrauch don’t seem too overjoyed. My aunt Gita is the one who blinked.
Shelly & Yuli in 1958
My sister Shelly. Born Rachel Ester on January 5, 1950. Sibling rivalry doesn’t do justice to our relationship growing up. Pictured is one of the few tranquil moments we ever shared.
I don’t remember this boy’s name but from the looks of things we must have been friends, unlike the neighbor I had whose father was a member of the secret police. This boy would bite me, then bite himself on the arm and run crying to his parents claiming that I bit him. His father made life miserable for my family. I only hope the whole lot of them were killed in the revolt of 1989.
Romanian Visa 1960
This photo appeared on my mother’s Visa. In October, 1961, we left Romania via train at night. We had to leave everything behind. The last indignity was as the railroad station when a soldier ripped a gold necklace off my mother’s neck. Is it any wonder that I have absolutely no desire to go back.
The Weil Family in Vienna 1962
This family portrait was taken in Vienna in January 1962. We didn’t come to America by boat, we came by airplane. Unfortunately, we had no idea they served food on the flight. My father had my mother make fried chicken for the flight. We packed it in a tin container. Not only did we have the best food on the flight, but that tin is where most of these photos have been stored safely for the last 30 years.
My Bar Mitzvah
It was a rainy night in late March. I am pictured between my father and the Mudzjaer Rebbe, Rabbi Rubin. I did not receive a fountain pen, and made the sum of $500, which was deposited in the bank, and never amounted to much. As with all family events, there was trouble as part of my father’s family didn’t show up. My father was so angry he didn’t talk to them for ten years.
Catskill Summer 1966
What would growing up Jewish and from Brooklyn be without memories of the Catskills. Here I am in the pool at Rubenstein’s Hotel. The hotel doesn’t exist anymore. I guess you could trace it all the way back to Moses. I’m sure he collected insurance on the burning bush, as did Mr. Rubenstein on the hotel.
Senior Year at RJJ
I graduated from Rabbi Jacob Joseph High School. There were 17 boys in my graduating class. The valedictorian was an idiot savant. Not only did I calligrapher the diplomas for the class but for anyone who paid the principal $500. I even had blanks and made them out for friends. There is a former Brooklyn Assistant DA who is going around with one of my diplomas. As I’ve grown older, the Daily News headline I’m holding in the picture sums it all up.
At the “G”, Summer 1977
It was the summer of Son of Sam. The death of Elvis, Zero Mostel and Groucho. Saturday Night Fever was still months away, yet I was doing the Hustle, discoing the night away in my white suit at Grossinger’s.
I graduated the School of Visual Arts in the spring of 1978. Here I am with three friends and fellow graduates: Susan, Kate and Roxanne. I got my first job in advertising at Foote, Cone & Belding at a starting salary of $8,500 a year. After one year I was earning $10,000 which wouldn’t have been bad had they not been hiring fresh from school at a starting salary of $12,000.
Coming Up Short
Advertising affords me the opportunity to accomplish my two favorite things: Meet celebrities and shop. I’ve met the great and the near-great. From Tony Randall, George the Animal Steele, Willis Reed, Stanley Kamel and Sid Melton. I’ve shopped all over the world: Harrod’s – Okay, I spend most of my time shopping at Nordstrom’s Rack.
There are four events that stand out in 1979. I got fired from Foote, Cone & Belding. Thurman Munson was killed in a plane crash. The US Embassy in Iran was taken, along with 52 hostages. And on the rainy night of November 11, 1979, Dina and I got married.
The Next Generation
Chloe Alexandra Weil was born on Friday, June 21, 1985, the first day of summer. Daniel Jared Weil was born on Tuesday, February 2, 1988, Groundhog’s Day.
Woman In Tech
For my dad’s 30th anniversary in the United States, he designed and printed trading cards of our family’s history in Romania and his life in the States. Decades later, I’ve adapted these trading cards into a story for the web. I've been lucky enough to have built a career out of making internet, but my technical interests began much earlier. Above, I explain computers to a room full of guys.▲