Jules Davison: Julius, known as Jules, was born in Shenandoah on November 11, 1915 to Bessie (Shapiro) and Leonard J. Davison. He was the first born in a family of five siblings; Sidney, Bernard T. (Bud), Ruby, and Maxwell. At the age of 11, his brother, Sidney suddenly passed away despite heroic efforts to save him from illness. Jules attended local schools and for one year, attended New York University, before he was called home to enter the family furniture business. Jules met Gertrude Kemper at a social gathering in Shenandoah. They married on July 4th, 1941, when he was 26 years old. The wedding took place at the Davison summer cottage in Lakeside at the bedside of his mother, Bessie, who was quite ill and passed away a few months later. For their honeymoon, the couple visited Chicago where they attended The Furniture Show. The newlywed couple had many friends and enjoyed an active social life. Within that first year of their marriage, Bessie and Leonard both passed away leaving behind Max (8 years), Ruby (13 years), and Bernard (20 years). Jules and Gert immediately took care of Jules’s siblings; all lived above the Davison Furniture Store on North Main Street in Shenandoah. They then became parents to Irwin, their first child. Soon thereafter, Gert’s father passed away leaving his ill wife and their children; Larry, in his early 20s (who enlisted in the Navy) and Manny (16 years). Jules and Gert found themselves fully responsible for both of their entire families and after moving to a large house on White Street welcomed their second son, Leonard. The household was very busy providing for such a large extended family. An enterprising and assertive businessman, Jules had many mouths to feed and expanded the business by opening four additional stores; Bloomsburg, Williamsport, Wilkes-Barre and Mahanoy City (called Morton’s). The stores sold furniture, appliances, and floor coverings and were highly successful. A civic-minded person, Jules was very involved in the community. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Union National Bank, a position he inherited from his father, Leonard. In addition, Jules was a loyal Rotarian. A member of Kehillat Israel Synagogue, he served as President for a two-year term. Jules was also active in the Shenandoah Industrial Authority which attracted manufacturing to the region. A travel enthusiast, Jules took his family to Europe for a six-week summer vacation which included visits to his wife’s family living in England. In preparation for the trip, Jules arranged for a tour of the Bank of England and the Times of London. While in Rome, visiting the Vatican, Jules purchased many religious items that he gifted to his friends and employees upon his return to Shenandoah. The trip also included tours of Paris, Venice and Zurich. He and Gert also traveled to the young State of Israel in the 1960s. He was a generous and passionate supporter of Israel, as well as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). While visiting The Furniture Show in New York City with Gert and other family members in June of 1964, Jules suddenly passed away from a heart attack at the age of 48. Jules’s passing was a great shock to his family and the community.
Henry Hershinson: Henry Hershinson was born on July 7, 1913 in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York. He was the second of five siblings born to Rose and Isadore Hershinson, who emigrated to the United States from Romania. Henry attended Franklin K. Lane High School in Brooklyn. Henry was drafted into the Army and was stationed at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. He rose in the ranks, eventually becoming a Captain. Henry told his young daughters about an event that troubled him when he was in the Army. During World War II the Army was segregated, with African-American soldiers and Caucasian soldiers living in separate barracks. Henry related to his daughters that when African-American soldiers were moved from a barracks, the Army fumigated the barracks. Henry made this a “teachable moment” because he believed that that was terribly wrong. Henry met Mildred Sorin at Friday night Shabbat Services when they were both stationed in Aberdeen. Soon thereafter, Mildred, who was an army nurse, was deployed to Great Britain to care for patients in an Army hospital for almost three years. When Mildred returned to the United States, she and Henry were married in Brooklyn, New York on August 26, 1945. Henry was a very impressive looking man; tall, good looking with a respectful demeanor particularly when he was in uniform. As a result of the timing, both Mildred and Henry were married in uniform. Because of the wartime housing shortage, they lived with Henry’s parents for almost two years. In 1946, their first daughter, Ilene, was born, followed by Pamela in 1950. In 1951, Henry and Mildred with their two young daughters moved to Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. For years Henry was the owner and manager of R. Sorin and Company, which was a scrap yard. He particularly enjoyed living in a small town of friendly people. He seemed to be in his element. During his time in Shenandoah, Henry was an active member of the Community. He was a leader in the Kehillat Israel Synagogue rising to the office of President. His presidency could be characterized as dignified, businesslike and successful. Henry enjoyed making presentations to the congregation. He had a wry sense of humor and was well received. An active member of the Lions Club, he performed many mitzvot. Henry always watched the nightly news with Mildred and was current with all major events. The New York Times was delivered to their home daily and over the weekends. He was also a voracious reader, enjoying all genres. Every bookcase in their home was overflowing with books, magazines and newspapers. Ten years after Mildred’s passing, Henry relocated to the Hebrew Home in West Hartford, Connecticut, to be closer to one of his daughters. Henry died in 1997.
Gertrude Kempner Davison Weisbrod: Gertrude was born in Brooklyn, New York on January 29th, 1922 to Rachel and Isaac Kempner. She had an older brother, Lawrence (Larry) and a younger one, Manuel (Manny). Gert, as she was known, attended school in Brooklyn until her senior year of high school when her family moved to Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania. The move took place because her father was transferred to a job in Pennsylvania from a shoe factory in Brooklyn. An affable young woman, Gert enjoyed living in the coal regions where all the small town’s young Jewish adults would participate in social functions. Gert met Jules S. Davison at one of these social gatherings. They married on July 4th, 1941 when Gert was 19 years old. The wedding took place at the Davison summer cottage in Lakeside at the bedside of Jules’s mother, Bessie, who was quite ill and passed away a few months later. The newlywed couple had many friends and enjoyed an active social life. Within the first year of their marriage Jules’s parents Bessie and Leonard both passed away leaving behind Max (8 years), Ruby (13 years), and Bernard known as BT (20 years). Gert and Jules immediately took care of Jules’s siblings; all lived above the Davison Furniture Store on North Main Street in Shenandoah. They then became parents to Irwin, their first child. Soon thereafter, Gert’s father, Isaac, passed away leaving his ill wife, Rachel, and their children; Larry (in his early 20s) who joined the Navy and Manny (16 years). Gert and Jules found themselves fully responsible for both of their entire families. After moving to a large house on White Street, Leonard was born. The household was very busy providing for such a large extended family. Gert was a very sociable and popular young woman. She became the Hospitality Chairperson of the regional Hadassah chapter and the Sisterhood of the Kehillat Israel Congregation. After a number of years, when all the siblings grew up and had lives of their own, Gert and Jules built a house on the Shenandoah Heights. One summer in the 1960s they traveled to the young State of Israel. Gert enjoyed playing bridge with her friends. Bridge provided the opportunity for them to socialize. Having fun and enjoying each other’s company was the real reason for their weekly gathering. Gert was usually the life of the party and had an infectious laugh. During the summers, she and Jules moved to the family cottage in Lakeside. An avid swimmer, Gert escaped from all the family and friends who would relax at the cottage by walking down to the lake for her daily solitary swim. When Gert was 42 years old, her beloved Jules passed away. After three years as a widow, she remarried Dr. Lawrence (Larry) Weisbrod and moved to Allentown where she continued her active social life and thoroughly enjoyed her new community. She became a consistent benefactor to UJA and was an enthusiastic supporter of the State of Israel. Gert was a kind and generous mother-in-law to Ilene Hershinson Davison, also of Shenandoah. She took great pride in her grandchildren, Jill Sara, Joshua Ari and Josh’s wife, Robin Lorell. Known as Nani, she was a loving great grandmother to Derek, Samuel and Shaine. Gert passed away on March 7, 2015 at the age of 93.
David Sorin: David Sorin, called Davie by his seven siblings, and Uncle Davie by his nieces and nephew, was the oldest child of Rebecca and Max Sorin. He was born in 1912 in Shenandoah. David was a night watchman at the United Wiping Cloth Company and the R. Sorin Scrap Yard where he worked for the family businesses. When he was young, he would visit his grandparents in Hazleton where his grandfather, Chazzan Karll, taught him Hebrew and synagogue davening. He would often diligently study a Haftorah portion and chant it at the Kehillat Israel Synagogue in Shenandoah. David prided himself in his extensive collection of famous Chazzans’ records. He immersed himself in Jewish music and ideas. David also served as a “shomer”, a Jewish person who is entrusted with watching over a deceased person at a funeral home from death until the body is buried. He was very serious about serving in this role and recited tehillim, Jewish psalms, for the deceased. Rough around the edges, David had a sweet neshama (soul) which was reflected in his writings. David loved to write poetry and compose letters which he would send to the editor of the Shenandoah Evening Herald newspaper. The writings, which appeared in print, were often about the politics of Israel or the passing of his parents or siblings. David also loved his siblings and to their delight, would occasionally surprise them with a letter or poem.
Max Sorin: Max Sorin was born in Smolensk, Russia in 1878. He, like many Jewish men, fled from Russia after being drafted into the Russian Army. He left behind his parents, who he talked about with his children and grandchildren. Max’s brother, Samuel, also emigrated to the United States with him. Max settled in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania because presumably he knew someone else who had settled there. He worked in the quarry mines, which resulted in his having emphysema during his long life. Max married Rebecca Karll and they had eight children: David, Reuben, Sylvia, Mildred, Milton, Frances, Sherwin and Ruth. Max, with his brother, Sam, opened two stores, one on East Centre Street and another on East Mount Vernon Street, that sold potbellied stoves, carpets, oil cloths, and hardware. The Max Sorin family lived behind the store on East Centre Street, but after hours, the store doubled as a living room for the large family. Years later, Max founded R. Sorin and Company, a scrap yard in Shenandoah, and worked there until his sons and son-in-law were old enough to manage on their own. He loved hearing stories about the business. One of his sons, Sherwin, spent time in the Brooklyn Navy Yard dismantling a ship. The unusable parts were sent to the scrap yard in Shenandoah. Max enjoyed hearing all about this exciting new enterprise. Unfortunately in 1957 his beloved wife, Rebecca, died after an allergic reaction to anesthesia during surgery in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Max lived in a house with his unmarried sons, Milton, Sherwin and David. Eventually Mildred, a registered nurse, and her family moved in with Max so that she could monitor his health and his sons moved to a nearby apartment. A very generous man, Max always had an “open house” welcoming friends and acquaintances to stop by unannounced to visit. This offered him great satisfaction and stimulation. He welcomed many travelers (meshulachim) from New York who made the rounds in Shenandoah and surrounding towns collecting donations for Yeshivot and Jewish nursing homes. Max enjoyed socializing. When his dear friend, Mr. Abeshaus, who lived in Philadelphia, would come to visit his daughter in Shenandoah, Max was delighted to see him. They would play pinocle for entire days on the dining room table, not even stopping for lunch. Max, also known as Zadie to his many grandchildren, enjoyed watching wrestling on the television. He would often yell at the wrestlers in Yiddish. Fluent in English, Max read the Jewish Daily Forward newspaper and also was a regular at the daily minyan at the Kehillat Israel Synagogue. Max enjoyed people and loved when family members visited him. Surrounded by his family, Max died on May 18, 1964 after a long illness. He was lovingly prepared for burial by the Chevra Kadisha (burial society) including his sons, at the age of 86.
Mildred Sorin Hershinson: Mildred Sorin Hershinson was born on March 25, 1919 in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. She was the fourth child and second daughter born to Rebecca and Max Sorin. After graduating from high school in Shenandoah, Mildred worked and saved for over 3 years so that she would have the funds ($100) to attend The Training School for Nurses of the Jewish Hospital in Philadelphia. By then, World War II was raging in Europe, and Mildred, as a young nurse, enlisted in the army. She was initially stationed in Aberdeen, Maryland Proving Grounds for additional training. Subsequently, Mildred served in an army hospital in the Midlands of Great Britain. Mildred also spent time in London during the blitz, when bombs were dropped on the city by the Germans. She and her fellow nurses had to sew blackout curtains for the hospital’s windows. In the hospital in the Midlands, Mildred was taking care of not only American and British soldiers, but also prisoners of war. One young prisoner of war, who looked like he was about eighteen years old, was in considerable pain. The young soldier looked up at Mildred and saw that she was wearing a Jewish star around her neck. She related that he looked up at her with fear in his eyes. Mildred took care of him in the same manner that she would take care of American and British soldiers. Because she knew how to speak Yiddish, she was able to communicate with him since he spoke German. After Mildred was discharged from the Army and returned to the United States, she married Henry Hershinson, a Captain in the Army. They lived in Brooklyn, New York. She gave birth to two daughters, Ilene and Pamela. In 1951, Mildred and Henry moved with their two young daughters to Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. Mildred was the consummate caregiver. After her mother’s passing in 1957, she, her husband and daughters moved in with her father, Max Sorin. She took care of her father who died in 1964, and also made sure that her single brothers – David, Milton, and Sheila, were well taken care of. Mildred was a very kind and generous woman. She cared enormously about people. She had a deep personal interest in everyone she met, especially members of the Jewish Community with whom she enjoyed many friendships. Mildred was well read and well versed in current events. She was a very understated person, never looking for accolades. She enjoyed working behind the scenes. Mildred worked for Hadassah, B’nai B’rith Women and the Shenandoah Jewish Synagogue Sisterhood, editing and compiling one of the first community kosher cookbooks. She enjoyed volunteering at blood drives in Shenandoah each year. Because she was a nurse, she was asked to join the Chevra Kaddisha. As a result, for many years, she would volunteer to prepare the body of a Jewish woman for burial, ultimately becoming the chair of that group of dedicated women. It pained her terribly when one of those women was a close personal friend.
Milton Sorin: Milton was born in Shenandoah on November 1, 1923. He was the fifth of eight siblings and was the son of Rebecca and Max Sorin. Milton’s life was devoted to his family, to his friends, to his Shenandoah community and to so many others whose personal lives he touched. He was an example of optimism and faith and the epitome of selflessness. His concern for others came naturally. After his Bar Mitzvah, when he was 13 years old, he had a bicycle accident which involved many surgeries and a year long hospitalization in Philadelphia, far away from family. We are told that he never complained, was never demanding of his nurses or doctors, and worked hard at improving his mobility. Although he lived with a disfigured and immobile arm, he never let it stop him from working or helping others. He was totally devoted to the Shenandoah Community. Soft spoken, humorous and always a gentleman, he considered all those in his home town important people to support in whatever way he could. Milt was dedicated to the United Wiping Cloth Company, his life’s work, where he spent a large part of his time. He was very concerned with the welfare of his employees. Generous and kind, Milt had an aristocratic spirit and a humble soul. Milt was affectionally called “Uncle Miltie”, “Uncle Milkshake” and “Uncle Butterscotch” by his nieces and nephew. That latter was because he always put a butterscotch candy taped inside a birthday card he was sending and he never forgot their birthdays! Milt loved sports! He and his brother, Ruby, would watch football games, banging on the table or stomping their feet whenever their team made a touchdown hoping that their wager was successful. He was an ardent Phillies and Eagles fan. He sponsored a Little League Baseball Team calling it “Sorin’s Scrappers.” He also loved to watch silly comedies. Over the years, he and his father, Max, would watch The Three Stooges, laughing and clapping loudly at the antics of these characters on the television. A lover of Judaism, Milt was dedicated to its teachings. Not enough for a minyan for someone saying Kaddish? Call Milt – he will come, pick you up and to ensure the minyan, pick up someone else on the way! Milt made the best of every situation and appreciated the beauty of doing for others. Milton taught us that life is a gift given when one is born, but what one does with this gift is up to each and every individual person. People, through the years, have made these comments about Milt: Have a problem? Need something? Go to Milton. He’ll help you! “Got to” see Milt if you need a driver, “Got to” see Milt if you need a mover, “Got to” see Milt if you have a problem. “Got to” see Milt if you need something. He’ll never let you down. MILTON SORIN WAS KNOWN AS MR. SHENANDOAH – DOING EVERYTHING FOR EVERYBODY!
Rebecca Karll Sorin: Rebecca Karll Sorin, known as Becky to her late husband, Max, was born in Kiev, Russia in 1890 to Rachel (Rochel) and Nathan Karll, possibly shortened from Karlinsky. Her father was a chazzan (cantor). After arriving from Russia, her family settled in Hazleton, Pennsylvania where her father took a position as a chazzan in one of the thriving Orthodox Synagogues at that time. Rebecca married Max Sorin and they had eight children: David, Reuben, Sylvia, Mildred, Milton, Frances, Sherwin and Ruth. Rebecca had a sister, Zelda Mirsky, and a brother, Louis Karll, who both lived in New York City with their families. A wonderful woman, Rebecca was highly regarded in the Jewish community. Younger women in the community would come to speak to her for her sage advice. A loving grandmother, known to her grandchildren as Bubee, she kept a kosher home and was generous to anyone who came to her door. Always concerned about her children (even as adults), she always cooked many different items for each of their meals wanting to satisfy each of them and her husband, Max. She always considered her sons-in -law as her children and also made entrees that they enjoyed. There were at least six or more people for every meal; family members and whomever was visiting one of her children. Every Friday afternoon she would trudge through the streets of Shenandoah carrying a pot of chicken soup wrapped in a big kitchen towel for her daughter, Mildred, and her family. She knew Mildred was capable of making soup, but she tried to make life a bit easier for her. And, it also gave her an opportunity to visit. In the spring, Rebecca prepared her home for Pesach (Passover). Knowing that she would have a large crowd of family and friends, she started cooking well in advance. She enlisted the aid of her daughters and daughter-in-law and divided up the tasks. The Sedorim were loud and long with Sherwin translating the four questions into Yiddish, Max and Milton reading Hebrew in unison, and David chanting in a beautiful voice. Depending on how many people could fit into the dining room around the table, the women and granddaughters usually ended up serving the food, joining in to the Hagaddah reading and often ended up in the kitchen at their own table. There was nothing that Rebecca loved more than being surrounded by her family and their friends. Rebecca was fluent in Yiddish and communicated in that language to her husband, Max, and their children. To her grandchildren, she spoke in English, interspersed with favorite Yiddish words. A deeply religious woman, Rebecca was interested in the growth of Jewish education for all of her grandchildren. She was most definitely the matriarch of the family. Although Rebecca could read Yiddish, she was not fluent in reading English. When her grandchildren entered elementary school, she asked them to tutor her. Embarrassed that she was unable to read in English, she would practice daily always keeping some early readers under the cushions of the sofa in the living room. Unfortunately, Rebecca died in 1957 at the age of 67, as a result of an allergic reaction to anesthesia following an operation in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Her family was devastated by her passing.
Ruth Sorin Rosenbaum: Ruth Sorin Rosenbaum was born May 11, 1935 in Shenandoah, PA and was the youngest of eight children of Rebecca and Max Sorin. She was a graduate of J.W. Cooper High School in Shenandoah and earned a nursing degree from Temple University School of Nursing in Philly. She worked as a registered nurse in Harrisburg and later in Wilmington, DE before raising her three daughters. When her youngest were in high school, she renewed her nursing license and went to work at the Mary Campbell Center in Wilmington, a home for people with disabilities. Her kind and loving nature shined when she was helping others and she loved her work there. Ruth enjoyed reading, doing puzzles and shouting out the answers as she watched game shows. At various times she wrote poems and short stories for her own enjoyment. She loved reading to children and volunteered with Read Aloud Delaware and at Camp Curtin School in Harrisburg. She also volunteered on the Junior Board at Wilmington Hospital. She loved to play the stock market and talk about her investments. She loved the simple things in life, like going out for ice-cream. She made friends easily and liked talking to all sorts of people. Ruth was devoted to her family. She was a homemaker and raised three daughters. Ruth loved her family and extended family and was very close to her siblings. She never wanted to miss a family occasion. Ruth was selfless with her family and others and took care of her parents in-law as well as being the emotional lifeline for her sister-in-law. She was the youngest aunt to Rhoda and they always had fun together and were very close. Ruth always talked toRhoda about how much she loved nursing, and that is probably why Rhoda became a nurse. Her son-in-law Mark remembers feeling immediately accepted as her son, not just as her daughter’s husband. She trusted his judgment and valued his opinions. She reached out to Mark’s family as well, remembering birthdays, celebrating new births, and anniversaries. Ruth became a grandmother when she was 50 and was thrilled with her time with her granddaughters. She loved to spoil them and would always arrive for visits to Israel with a huge suitcase full of presents, and one tiny bag with clothes for herself. And, she would always buy clothes for her sons-in-law. And of course, she spoiled her daughters. Even after they were grown, she loved to buy things for them and take care of them. She loved giving to people. She had patience with what became quite a menagerie in her house. At one point, her two youngest daughters had 18 gerbils, 3 hamsters, a guinea pig, a goldfish and a dog. Yet, she never said no. She knew her daughters loved animals, and their happiness came first. When the girls were grown and moved back home she accepted their cats too. Ruth was a wonderful cook. Her daughters loved her spaghetti, vegetable and chicken soups, brisket (yum!), and her Challah stuffing and special cranberry jello mold at Thanksgiving. Yet, as always, she was humble, modest and unassuming and didn’t realize just how good it was. She had an adventurous spirit! She loved a sailboat ride in Annapolis that she took with daughter and son-in-law. In Israel, Ruth tried an adventure sport – zip lining James Bond style. She loved it so much she did it twice! Ruth and her youngest daughter had many adventures where they would drive somewhere, get lost and somehow find their way back again — in
Washington DC, England, Canada, Arizona, Harrisburg and other places. Ruth passed away far too early, and at a young age, only 70 years old, and is deeply missed by her family.
Sherwin Joshua Sorin: Sherwin was the son of Rebecca and Max Sorin. He was born in Shenandoah, Pa. in 1930. Sheila, as he was known, was the seventh child in a family with eight children, and the youngest of four sons. Sheila became the center of attention with all his nieces and nephews, from the United States and Israel. He was fun, emotional and uninhibited. Caring and sensitive, he sometimes had difficulty expressing what he really wanted to convey and he would often get frustrated that his message wasn’t getting through to his family and friends. He wanted you to listen to him. He found unique ways of showing his interest and devotion to his family. He enjoyed giving novelty gifts, keychains, oversized barrettes, big Jewish stars, and gorillas that sang the macarena! No one will ever forget his neon colored socks, never matching, long before they became fashionable, or his colorful yarmulkes! A creative and diligent worker, Sheila was also a very effective boss. He loved manual labor and he was very good at it. He would never ask anyone who worked for him to do anything that he would not do himself. A life long learner, Sheila did not learn in a conventional way. He had a set of encyclopedias and he would sit and faithfully read them to relax. He was never shy about sharing all the interesting things he had learned, especially about science. Sheila had an eccentric and unique personality. He was devoted and loyal to his family. He loved everyone and cared deeply about their welfare. When Sherwin Joshua Sorin was around, you always knew it. He had a distinct presence. His most outstanding feature was his humanity to both people and animals alike. He gave freely to those in financial need, be it employees or friends. Loans were made “interest free.” He had a forgiving heart. No one in need ever went unfed or unclothed. People had a roof over their heads because he paid overdue rents, unpaid utility bills and provided necessities to families in need. Any stray or abandoned animal that found its way to Sheila was immediately adopted and given the best of food, housing and veterinary care. They were loved unconditionally and lived out their lives with Sheila. Upon death they were buried with dignity and prayers. Sheila followed the dictates of Judaism and the beliefs by which he was raised. The many caring and unselfish mitzvot he performed toward his fellow men and women and the creatures in his care were his success in life. They honored his parents who raised him. He respected and loved his parents, his sisters and brothers, their spouses and children. He connected to everyone in playful ways. He was very proud of being a Jew and he always wore a large gold Jewish star around his neck.
Sylvia Sorin: Sylvia Sorin, also known as Tzippi, was born in 1916 in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. She was the third child and first daughter of eight children born to Rebecca and Max Sorin. She was a graduate of the J. W. Cooper High School. Sylvia was exceptionally bright and a gifted pianist. Upon entering the Sorin home, one could hear the beautiful melodies permeate the rooms inside. She loved to read and shared her love of books with her siblings and their children. Sylvia was very protective of her young nieces. Her siblings would always comment about her beauty and independence. Unfortunately, Sylvia was ill for most of her adult life. She succumbed to Leukemia when she was just 40 years old.