This book analyses the role of social networks in the process of migration. Based on stories of Polish Jews who migrated between Poland and Palestine in the 1920s, the author presents all stages of the journey and shows how networks of friends and families spread in different countries contributed to the migration experience. Presenting these stories through correspondence, she shows how migrants were not only motivated by traditional push and pull factors, or ideology, but also by dependence on other members of their social network. This book shows the process of migration from the perspective of their international social ties.
At the beginning of January 1926, Malke Lewkowicz, the wife of Wolf Lewkowicz, a Jewish merchant from Łódź, wrote to her family in the United States asking for help in organizing her husbands’ departure from Poland:
I am really in agreement that my husband should leave as quickly as possible because I have tried a lot of things and none of them worked out. Now, Passover is approaching; I don’t know how I’ll manage. Everything in Łódź is at a standstill. Father has no work. Our brother, Hertzke, also has no work. And who has money to make payments to a customer peddler? A refined man doesn’t buy on payments, only a swindler who has nothing with which to make payments. These are the kind of dealings I have. Can I live from this and support a household and educate children [and provide] clothing?1
Despite this and other pleas to the family abroad, Malke and Wolf Lewkowicz stayed in Poland. However, many families facing similar difficulties emigrated from Poland. They were among the approximately 100,000 Polish Jews2 who left the country between 1924 and 1928. The emigrants suffered through an economic crisis while relocating from Poland. Nevertheless, like the Lewkowicz family, many of the emigrants could call on the help of other family members who had left the old country earlier.
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