Adler’s Bordello: Jewish Female Paths in America


41P4ERBQCRL._On the 16th of April 1900, Pearl (Polly) Adler was born in Ivanava (Yanow), Belarus, as the oldest of 9 siblings in a traditional Jewish family. When she was 12, her father, a successful travelling tailor, decided to send her ahead as the first link in the Russian “chain emigration” to the United States to stay with friends in Holyoke, Massachusetts. For 2 years she lived with “the Grodeskys, doing housework for them and attending public school. Shortly after her fourteenth birthday she began work in the local paper mills. The next year she moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., and lived with her cousins Lena and Yossell Rosen, working successively in a corset factory, as a seamstress at home, and as a machine operator in a shirt factory. An attractive teenager eager to escape the grinding poverty of immigrant life, Adler refused the penniless suitor her relatives had chosen…

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