Updated: Jan 4
Henry Jackson (originally: Yakov Glickman) and Irene Jackson (originally: Ida Glickman)
They are the couple Lev and Raisa talk to while waiting in line to enter the United States. Originally from Minsk, Belarus, Henry and Irene choose to change their names to fit better into the American mainstream. They believe that natural-born Americans did not want to hire people with "foreign"-sounding names, so they encourage Lev and Raisa to Anglicize their names.
This suggestion, of course, is shot down by Lev, who does not believe in changing aspects of himself to fit into society, as he and Raisa came to America to be "free."
The Abramovs' neighbour when Sam was a toddler, Mrs. Katz is a retired piano teacher who looks after Sam when his parents are at work. She had immigrated from Galicia, Poland, in the early 1890s, a few years before Sam's parents immigrated to America in 1898.
She is a kindly old lady who lets Sam do whatever he wants when he is at her place. She makes delicious food and is known particularly for her knishes.
Born in 1876, Pinchas is Joel's father. A peddler by trade, Pinchas had grown up in Lemberg, Galicia (then a part of Austria-Hungary, now in Ukraine), before immigrating to New York City's Lower East Side.
A laid-back man, Pinchas tries to avoid confrontation as much as possible. He is rather passive and would prefer not to get involved in politics or anything "too extreme."
He met his wife, Rachel, back in Warsaw. In her youth, she was a striking beauty, though proud and distant.
Rachel (Rokhl) Farber
Born in 1878, Rachel is Joel's mother. She had grown up in Lemberg, Galicia (then a part of Austria-Hungary, now in Ukraine) and immigrated to America in her early twenties with her husband, Pinchas.
Proud and cold, she was very proud of her good looks in her youth. She is ambitious (although she doesn't have a good work ethic) and longs for a better life. This is why she (along with Raisa and Lev, who are her friends) pushes Joel to get good marks so he can get into an elite university.
Joel probably got his hot-headed personality from her. She is much more temperamental than Pinchas and often speaks without thinking. As such, she has a tendency to hurt her husband and son with her sharp words...