Albert’s Story

Though life was pleasant in Cuba, the Friedlanders were still eager to immigrate to the United States. They believed the United States could offer them the best opportunities, but their American quota numbers were not due to come up until 1943.

Mr. and Mrs. Friedlander learned that there was a special children’s quota that would allow Albert, Karl-Heinz (who changed his name to Charles Henry), and Dorrit to immigrate in advance of their parents. With the assistance of Aunt Judith and her contacts, the Friedlanders found three Jewish foster families in Mississippi. They then contacted the state senator, Pat Harrison, to allow the three Friedlander children to enter the country.

After a year and a half in Cuba, the three siblings arrived in Miami, Florida where they met their foster families and traveled with them to their new homes in Mississippi. Once again, they started to adjust to their new lives. Albert stayed with the Gordon family.

On Sundays the twins would meet each other at the synagogue in Memphis for religious school, and prepare for their upcoming bar mitzvahs.

TESTIMONY: “bar mitzvah
“We didn’t have any friends in Memphis.”
—Albert Friedlander

After a year and a half, Mr. and Mrs. Friedlander finally joined their children in the United States. They first arrived in New York, and then made their way to Vicksburg, Mississippi. While it was difficult for the children to say goodbye to the foster families that had been so kind, they were overjoyed to be reunited with their own parents.

Albert (second from left) and Charles (second from right) with their confirmation class, 1942.
Albert (second from left) and Charles (second from right) with their confirmation class, 1942.

After finishing high school, Albert wanted to continue to college and even study to become a Rabbi . His father believed that his children should focus on getting jobs and earning money, but Mrs. Friedlander agreed that each of her children should pursue higher education.

The leader of the Jewish community in Vicksburg, Rabbi Stanley Brav, helped Albert obtain a scholarship. Albert graduated from college in 1946, and immediately enrolled in the Reform movement’s rabbinical seminary, Hebrew Union College, where he was ordained as a Rabbi in 1952.

It was in rabbinical seminary that Albert first learned the full extent of what happened in Europe during WWII.