“Len” was born in the Bronx to Hungarian immigrants who immigrated to the United States in their early twenties. Len’s mother was a housekeeper in Brooklyn until she married Len’s father, a factory worker. After marriage, Len’s mother became a homemaker, and both of Len’s parents moved to the Bronx. Len’s mother had aspirations for him to become a rabbi, and as a result, he attended yeshiva before electing to leave parochial school for high school. Len’s family lived within two blocks of the yeshiva for the first fourteen years of his life, and Len describes his childhood as insular and stifling, leading him to become a “rebel.”
Len began working at a young age in order to support himself. At around the age of fifteen, Len became a toy stuffer at a factory and traveled an hour and fifteen minutes each way before school in order to work. However, after Len’s father became ill, Len took up an office job which he began at 2:00 pm after school let out and worked until 8:00 pm, leaving him very little time for his studies. This continued through both high school and law school. Len describes his education as not being the best because he was spread too thin and had to rely on his photographic memory rather than being able to devote time to studying. In addition to his office job, Len worked summers at a hotel in the Catskills as a camp counselor.
Due to Len’s busy schedule, he describes himself as being poorly socialized. However, midway through college, he joined the YM-YWHA, allowing him to talk to more people his age and socialize. Len also joined a ski club through which Len met his wife, who was from Brooklyn. After getting married, Len and his wife moved to Queens, equidistant between Len’s parent’s home and his in-law’s home, but as the Bronx began changing, Len and his wife moved Len’s parents to the Pelham Parkway area where they lived until they passed.
Overall, Len describes his childhood as being unique because of the circumstances he was in. Going to parochial school had its merits and demerits for Len. However, Len believes that his early education gave him a foundation that allowed him to think philosophically despite the other constraints that made him feel stifled.
Yeshiva, DeWitt Clinton High School, City College Uptown, NYU Law School, Zionism, Communism, Socialism, St. Paul's Place, Washington Avenue, Hunts Point, Pelham Parkway, Catskills, Great Depression, World War II, Korean War
Maier Garcia, Sophia, ""Len"" (2023). Bronx Jewish History Project. 24.