(47) – Manuel Aronovitz Store
“In the month of June 1914, I arrived in this country and at that time there were two stations, one in Ybor City and one in Union Station. And by mistake my brother waited for me in Ybor City…I had to walk eighteen blocks to get to my brother.”
- Manuel Aronovitz, early Jewish immigrant
Some of Ybor City’s earliest and most adventurous immigrant residents were Jews. Ybor City’s Jews came primarily from Germany, Russia and Rumania, and many were fleeing pogroms and anti-Semitism in their native lands. Jews were quick to respond to labor agents, posters, and handbills seeking workers for the cigar factories of Key West and Tampa. Some Jews found their way to Ybor City by word of mouth alone, like Louis Schein whose family had fled Austria because of pogroms. Escaping lung ailments caused by New York’s climate, Schein came in a roundabout way to Ybor City in the 1890s. Told “there are Jews in Ybor City,” Schein made his way there and encountered Isidore Kaunitz (proprietor of the dry goods store El Sombrero Blanco.) Kaunitz, who had known Schein’s family in Austria, helped the newer immigrant enter the small but industrious group of Jews who called Ybor City home. Schein’s story exemplifies not only the “chain migration” that characterized much European immigration, but also the resourcefulness and verve of Ybor City’s immigrant Jews.