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One of our members dug out an article that ran several years ago in everyone's favorite neighborhood paper, the Medford Transcript. (REPRINTED FROM THE MEDFORD TRANSCRIPT, January 20, 2000, with the generous permission of Community Newspaper Group. Special thanks to editor-in-chief Marlene Switzer.)
CREATING A COMMUNITY
By Jennifer M. Berkley, Transcript Staff
It was 1901 when Marshall Adler's grandfather, Henry Risman, immigrated to the United States from Kusmine, Russia, near the city of Kiev in the Ukraine. He came to the City of Medford with his young wife, Jennie, and their 4-year-old daughter, Rose, and settled in the small community.
The young family lived in a small apartment in the home of a distant cousin, Philip Bornstein, on Riverside Avenue, near the Fellsway. As the Risman family grew to include four more children, the family moved to a three-family house on the corner of Grant and Central avenues.
"My mother was just a little girl when she came to the United States from Eastern Europe," says Marshall, 73, the youngest child of Rose Risman Adler and Samuel Adler, who married in 1916. "I don't have the vaguest idea why my grandparents came to Medford. It certainly was not because of the Jewish population."
The first Jewish families did not begin to move into Medford until after 1910. Many of the city's first Jewish families came to Medford from Chelsea and Boston's West End neighborhood.
"My father's family, his sister and brother, all came here and my mother's younger siblings were all born in Medford," says Marshall who lives on Pine Ridge Road with his wife, Selma.
At that time, most of the city's Jewish families went outside Medford for their religious needs and many returned to their home communities to attend synagogue.
"There was not enough of a group to start a synagogue," explains Selma Adler.
However, there was no shortage of eager, young Jewish businessmen. In the first decades of the 20th century, a number of small Jewish businesses opened their doors in Medford.
"They opened their businesses here because they lived here," says Marshall. "Transportation wasn't what it is now."
Risman's real estate company was among the city's fastest-growing businesses, alongside New England Bedding Company on Amaranth Avenue, which was owned by Dorchester's Henry Mintz.
"We produced the largest amount of emergency rescue equipment during World War II and Korea," says Allen Mintz, now a Cambridge resident, who worked in his father's business.
Mintz recalls a few other Jewish-owned businesses in Medford, including Worcester Paper Box, which was owned by Harry Posner. He remembers a gas station owned by Eddie Wishnauer and a liquor store in Medford Square that was owned by Al Segal.