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Nobody Wanted to Take Us In: The Story of Jared Kushner’s Family

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Chatting with Rabbi Mike

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As Trump bars refugees & Muslim immigrants from coming to this country, it’s worth remembering the Jews who were shut out the last time we closed our borders—like Jared Kushner’s grandmother.

By Lizzy Ratner, a Senior Editor at www.TheNation.com

Oszcar Ratowzer, also known as Osher, was my grandfather. The manifest lists him as being 16, but my family believes he was closer to 19 or 20 when he boarded the Aquitania in Southampton, England, on Oct. 23, 1920, & began his 3rd-class voyage across the Atlantic. The journey took 7 days, finally depositing ? him at Ellis Island, America’s “Golden Door,” the gateway to a world without pogroms or hunger or the horror of world war.

There, he would almost certainly have been met by an assembly line of doctors & inspectors, who would have poked & peered at him, pried & questioned until, content with what they’d found, they would send him on his way with a landing card & a new identity: Harry Ratner.

A pogrom is a violent riot aimed at the massacre or persecution of an ethnic or religious group, particularly one aimed at Jews. The term originally entered the English language in order to describe 19th & 20th-century attacks on Jews in the Russian Empire (mostly within the Pale of Settlement, what would become Ukraine and Belarus). 

Three laws in particular stand out, an unholy trinity that, one by one, narrowed the range of immigrants who were allowed entry via Ellis Island. the 1917 Immigration Act the Emergency Quota Act of 1921, and the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924