Updated: 5 days ago
Raisa Berovna Abramova (nee Rifkina) was born in Odessa, Ukraine, in 1873. She is Sam's mother. She is less strict than her husband, Lev, but she can be quite demanding at times, although she is much more understanding of Sam than Lev usually is.
Growing up, she was the youngest of her parents' 5 children and as such, was babied through her formative years. Her family was originally from Slutsk in Belarus, thus making her family of Litvak origin, just like Lev's.
Her father was a Yiddish poet and involved in the Yiddishist movement, which sought to promote Yiddish literature and art. She met Lev at the Yiddish theatre and was thoroughly impressed by his convictions and intense personality.
She is a sensitive person who always thinks of the worst possible outcome. As such, she can be quite the worrywart.
She met Lev while they were both at the Yiddish theatre in 1894 or so. Lev was 24 and Raisa was 21. Raisa was working in her watch-maker father’s shop and Lev was working as a newspaper editor at the time. After having a whirlwind romance and marrying Lev, she and Lev decided to immigrate to America due to the pogroms rocking Ukraine in the 1890s.
Raisa and Lev settle on the Lower East Side and become newspaper editors and writers for a number of Yiddish newspapers.
In the USA, she is also known as "Raisa Abramov" to avoid confusion, since "Abramova" is the feminine version of "Abramov" and there are no gendered last names in English.
Find out more about her in this episode of our podcast: