Sarah Brod and Sam Goldfarb’s fourth child and second daughter was Bessie, born in 1890 in Galicia. She was just six years old when she came to the US with her mother and settled in Pittsgrove, New Jersey, and then the Lower East Side of New York City. Bessie married Meyer Malzberg in 1914 in Detroit, and I’ve yet to learn what took them from New York to Detroit. Although they appear to have been in Detroit for a few years, they soon returned to New York and eventually settled in New Jersey near Bessie’s brothers Julius and Joseph.
By 1930, Meyer and Bessie had four sons: Norman, born in 1915, Gustave, born in 1919, Burton, born in 1923, and finally Saul, born in 1928. That gave Sarah two grandsons named Saul—Bessie’s son and Morris’ son, born in 1930. I assume they were both named in memory of their grandfather Samuel, who died in 1926, although Saul and Samuel are different biblical names (Samuel was actually known as Shlomo or Solomon in Europe).
Here (again) are the two photographs that we believe are the Malzbergs with Sarah Brod Goldfarb—first, with Bessie and Meyer, second, with two of their sons.
Meyer, like his brother-in-law Julius, was for some time in the liquor business. But with Prohibition, his livelihood was threatened, and his bar was one of many that were padlocked by the authorities in 1929.
The 1930 census shows that a year later Meyer was the owner of a delicatessen instead. The family was living in North Bergen, New Jersey, where they owned their own home, valued at $15,000, and had a radio.
Meyer Malzberg and family, 1930 US census, Census Place: North Bergen, Hudson, New Jersey; Page: 20A; Enumeration District: 0351; FHL microfilm: 2341093, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census
In 1931, Gustave Malzberg, then twelve years old, was injured when he was hit by a car—as had happened to his cousin Martin Goldfarb. The Malzbergs won a lawsuit against the driver and were awarded $175 in damages. That would be the equivalent of about $2777 dollars in today’s money. As far as I know, unlike Martin Goldfarb, Gustave did not suffer any long-term consequences from his injuries.
“Father of North Bergen Boy Injured by Auto Awarded $175,” Jersey Journal, March 4, 1931, p. 4.
Meanwhile, Bessie and Meyer’s oldest son Norman was becoming well-known in the area for his chess prowess. I found close to one hundred news articles in the New Jersey papers starting in 1931 when Norman was 16 describing his success as a chess player. He also wrote columns for the newspaper about chess and chess strategy. In 1934 he was the champion of the Jersey City Chess Club and retained that title for six years until 1940. By that time Norman was 24 and in law school.
Jersey Journal, December 29, 1934, p. 11.
The 1940 census shows that Meyer Malzberg, like his brother-in-law Julius Goldfarb, had returned to the liquor business once Prohibition ended. He was now a wholesale liquor salesman as was his son Norman, who was working his way through law school at the John Marshall College of Law in Jersey City. Meyer and Bessie’s three younger sons were still in school and not employed out of the home.
But soon their world would change as the US entered World War II in December 1941. Norman had already registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, listing his employer as Federal Wine & Liquor Company in Jersey City, presumably his father’s business. He was living at home with his parents at 87 Van Wagenen Avenue in Jersey City.
Norman Malzberg, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New Jersey, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 409, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947
Gustave registered on the same day as his older brother. He listed himself as self-employed, and like Norman, he was living at home in Jersey City. He was now 21 years old. Gustave enlisted on February 27, 1941, almost a year before Pearl Harbor. He was honorably discharged on December 2, 1945.
Gustave Malzberg World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New Jersey, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 409, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947
Burton was too young to register in 1940, but he registered in June 1942. He was working for American Home Products Corporation and living at home with his parents in Jersey City.
Burton Malzberg World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New Jersey, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 409, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947
The four Malzberg brothers all served during World War II. Norman served with the Medical Administration Corps in France, and Gustave was in an anti-aircraft unit stationed in Seattle.
Although Saul was only sixteen at the time, he enlisted in April 1944 when he would have been only sixteen. According to his son Mark, Saul served in the Pacific Theater near the end of the war in Guam, the Phillipines, and the Panama Canal Zone.
Burton’s military service was particularly harrowing. He enlisted on May 17, 1943, and was an infantryman in the Army and sent to France. In December, 1944, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was captured by the Germans. The Jersey Journal reported in September, 1944, that the family had not heard from Burton for seven weeks at that time, but that the Army had informed them that he had been “slightly wounded.” A later article in February 1945 reported that in fact Burton was a prisoner of war. He was liberated when the war ended a few months later. According to family lore, his war experiences haunted him long after the war ended.
Here is a photograph of Burton with the note he inscribed on the back:
Burton Malzberg, September 1943. Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt
Jersey Journal, September 29 1944, p. 7.
Jersey Journal, February 1, 1945, p. 5.
Meyer Malzberg and Bessie Goldfarb Malzberg lived to see their sons return from the war, get married, and father nine Malzberg grandchildren. Meyer was 75 when he died on January 11, 1966; Bessie died five years later on November 9, 1971. She was 81.
When Norman returned from the war, he took and passed the New Jersey bar and began practicing law. One of his long-time clients was the Allied Grocers Association, an association of independent grocery stores. He also became involved in various Jewish communal and religious organizations including his synagogue and the Jewish War Veterans branch in Jersey City.
In 1964 when he was 49, Norman married Thelma “Toby” Diller, the daughter of Philip Diller and Jenny Englart. She was born in Bayonne, New Jersey in 1926. Norman and Toby had two children together.
In December 1974, Norman was sworn in as an acting judge in the Jersey City Municipal Court. After three years, he decided not to continue because of a possible conflict of interest for one of his associates and returned to private practice. He continued practicing law until his death on July 10, 1999, at the age of 84 from pancreatic cancer.
Jersey Journal, December 24, 1974, p. 3
Gustave Malzberg married Barbara Weinberg in 1957. She was born in Brooklyn, and she and Gustave settled in Brooklyn where they had two children. According to his son Steve, Gustave “worked in retail his whole life. He was a hard working loving caring man who always provided for his family.” Steve said that his father’s greatest joy was holding his grandchild the night he was born and watching him grow for almost ten years until Gustave passed away in Brooklyn on September 14, 2009, at the age of 90.
Burton Malzberg married Evelyn Ginsberg on June 2, 1947, in New York. Evelyn was born in New York in 1927 to Jacob and Esther Ginsberg. She and Burton had two children together, but later divorced. Evelyn made a name for herself many years later when she graduated from New Jersey City University in 2011 at the age of 84. Burton later married Jeanie Jones in December 1974 in Jersey City. Burton died on March 5, 1994; he was seventy years old. Like his brother Norman, he died from pancreatic cancer
Saul Malzberg married Anita Spector in Newark, New Jersey, in 1954. Anita was born in Jersey City on May 26, 1931, to Benjamin Spector and Sadie Berman. A year after marrying, Saul graduated from Rutgers University. Saul and Anita had three children together. Saul worked as a credit manager for many years primarily for the Homelite division of Textron in North Arlington, New Jersey, before purchasing and running Union Center Card and Gift in Union, New Jersey. Sadly, his wife Anita died when she was only 46 on January 14, 1978. Saul remarried in 1997; his second wife was Beryl Baranker. Saul was 75 when he died from a bile duct carcinoma on August 14, 2003.
My cousin Alyce shared these photographs from her brother’s bar mitzvah in 1960 of three of the Malzberg sons and their wives:
Evelyn Ginsberg, Burt Malzberg, Marcia Berger Goldfarb, seated. Standing, Gus Malzberg and Barbara Weinberg. Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt
Saul and Anita (Spector) Malzberg, 1960. Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt
Gustave’s son Steve shared this photograph of the Malzbergs at Mark Malzberg’s bar mitzvah in 1970. It includes his grandmother Bessie Goldfarb Malzberg and all four of her sons and their wives as well as her sister Rose Goldfarb Levine and her husband Max and Joe Goldfarb’s son Marvin and his wife Florence. How proud Bessie must have been of her four sons.
Standing, Burt Malzberg, Max Levine, Rose Goldfarb Levine, Gustave Malzberg, Barbara Weinberg Malzberg, Saul and Anita (Spector) Malzberg. Seated, Bessie Goldfarb Malzberg, Toby (Diller) and Norman Malzberg, Marvin and Florence (Glasser) Goldfarb. 1970 Courtesy of Steve Malzberg and Mark Malzberg
My grandmother’s first cousin Bessie Goldfarb was born in Galicia and just six years old when she came to America. Like her older brothers Julius and Morris, she adapted to her new country and new language and raised four American-born sons, all of whom served their country during World War II. One son endured life in a German POW camp during that service. Bessie and Meyer Malzberg were immigrants whose sons protected their parents’ adopted country. The sons of Bessie Goldfarb and Meyer Malzberg are evidence of the many contributions immigrants have made to America. We should all be very proud of them.
Thank you to Steve, Mark, and Alyce for their contributions to this post.