One of the benefits of getting to meet six of my Brotman second cousins was that I was able to obtain a lot more photographs of my Brotman relatives. All six of the living grandchildren of Sophie and Hyman Brotman, my grandmother’s older brother, were able to attend our “reunion”—the three children of Saul and Vicky Brotman and the three children of Manny and Freda Brotman. Sadly, the two daughters of Joseph Brotman, Hyman and Sophie’s oldest son, have passed away. But I now have a good collection of pictures of Hyman, Sophie, their three sons, and their grandchildren.
Hyman Brotman was born in Galicia and arrived with his mother, my great-grandmother Bessie, and his sister Tillie in 1891 when he was about eight years old. He lived on Ridge Street with his family until he married Sophie Weiss on March 12, 1904. Hyman and Sophie had three sons. Joseph Jacob was born on February 4, 1905, and was named for Hyman’s father, my great-grandfather Joseph Jacob Brotman. Their second son, Saul, was born on April 27, 1907, and their third son Emanuel or Manny was born on May 9, 1910.
Hyman worked at various occupations, including as a chauffeur and in the sweatshops of NYC, but in the early 1920s he and his family moved to Hoboken, NJ, where he opened a liquor store. My mother has childhood memories of visiting her uncle and aunt in Hoboken, though by that time the three boys were all grown, and sadly she has no memories of her cousins.
As their children reported, all three Brotman brothers were very close and very athletic. They were all excellent swimmers and loved competing against each other, always arguing over who was the fastest.
Joe married Perle Gorlin on May 1, 1935, and they lived in Queens where Joe was employed as a salesman for Abbott Laboratories, according to the 1940 census. Joe was a pharmacist in New York, but later moved to Florida where he became involved in commercial real estate.
Joe and Perle had two daughters, Barbara, born in 1939 and probably named for Bessie, who had died just five years earlier, and Merle or Miki, born in 1941. Here are some photos of Joe and Perle and other family members:
Saul Brotman was an excellent athlete, especially in swimming and handball. He graduated from Hoboken High School and started college at the New Jersey College of Pharmacy in 1926; he then transferred to and graduated from Panzer College, which has since merged with Montclair State University in New Jersey. He later got a master’s from Rutgers University.
In a comment posted in response to an earlier blog post, Bruce wrote the following about how his parents Saul and Vicky met:
“In Manhattan Beach (Brooklyn) there was a beach club, Manhatten Private. It had pools, handball courts, tennis and other sports. My parents were playing handball, my parents were both fine athletes, but not with each other. The ball from my mom’s court was accidently hit toward my dad’s court some distance away. My mom called to my dad saying “ball please”. Dad picked it up and threw it to mom. He then turned to his cousin, with whom he was playing and said “I’m going to marry that girl”. That was about 1940 or 41 I guess. He asked her out several times but she refused. On December 7 1941 my cousin Mel was born. Somehow my father found out and went to the hospital. (Mel was mom’s older brother Al’s first child). Mom asked dad what he was doing there – he said that he thought she might need some help, noting that Pearl Harbor had just been attacked. She apparently knew at that moment that she loved him. The rest is history.”
Saul and Vicky were married in 1942.
Saul served in the US Army during World War II and won a handball championship while serving in the army. After the war, he became a teacher in New Jersey, where he coached many state championship teams. After 32 years as a teacher, he left teaching after being assaulted by the parent of one of his students. Saul then became the pension director for a union.
Saul and Vicky had three sons, Bruce, Ronald and Lester.
Saul remained a great athlete all his life. In fact, Bruce told me that when Saul was in his seventies, Bruce challenged him to a game of handball, thinking that he could easily beat his father. Instead, Saul soundly defeated his much younger son; he won four straight games, with Bruce unable to score a single point in any of the four games.
Manny, the youngest of Hyman and Sophie’s sons, was also an excellent athlete like his older brothers.
Like his brother Saul, he began college at the New Jersey College of Pharmacy, but he transferred to the University of Iowa, from which he graduated.
He also graduated from John Marshall Law School (New Jersey), which was later taken over by Seton Hall University. Manny became a member of the New Jersey bar in 1938.
Manny married Freda Feinman on December 22, 1940.
Manny enlisted in the US Army in 1944 during World War II.
Manny practiced law for some time, but then joined J.I. Kislak Mortgage Corporation, a subsidiary of J.I. Kislak, Inc. J.I.Kislak, Inc. was a residential and commercial Realtor, originally based in Hoboken and then in Jersey City, and Kislak Mortgage was primarily a residential mortgage banking company, one of the largest in NJ at the time, based in Newark. He was president and then chairman of Kislak Mortgage for many years, was president of the Mortgage Bankers Association of NJ, and a long-time board member and two-term Treasurer of the Mortgage Bankers Association of America, where he received the Distinguished Service award. Kislak Realty, a commercial mortgage firm, where he became the president. He was often quoted as an expert on veteran’s housing and housing in general in various newspaper articles. Here is one example of an article that ran in several newspapers across the country: Lebanon_Daily_News_July_10__1971_Lebanon__PA_Manny_Brotman
Manny and Freda had three children: Joel, Denny and Bonnie. Here are some pictures of Manny and his family:
From left to right: Aron Feinman, Hyman Brotman, Mary Feinman, Sophie Brotman, Manny Brotman, Sam Feinman, Freda Feinman, Saul Brotman (according to the back of this photograph)
I did not know Hyman or Sophie or any of their sons, but I was very fortunate to meet six members of the next generation, my second cousins Bruce, Ron, Les, Joel, Denny, and Bonnie. They all made the effort to come to New York City, some from as far away as Florida and Ohio. I really enjoyed meeting and talking to each one of them and getting a chance to meet some of their children, four of whom also showed up during the course of the weekend.
What a wonderful tribute to their grandparents and parents that these cousins and their children cared enough about the extended family, including some second cousins they’d never met, to make such a united effort to come to New York so that we could all be together.