As I began to research these families something became very apparent to me. This group had a very strong connection one to another. This was much more than the connection we would have today with our neighbors, to them it seemed as if everyone was family. These were the Romaniote Jews of Ioannina, Greece, which is located in the Northwest part of Greece.
Romaniote Jews had lived in Greece and neighboring countries for over 2,000 years. Local tradition states that the first Jews into Ioannina arrived shortly after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70CE. These Jews were neither Ashkenazim or Sephardic but had their own traditions.
As I began the search, I quickly discovered that most of the families who left Ioannina, did so because they were looking for a new life in America. A large amount of the families had someone who left between 1904 and 1920 headed for New York City.
This people didn't just come one at a time, they came in groups, maybe to have the security of having friends and families around them. The passenger list below is just one example of that bond. This is page 1 of the manifest fro the S.S. Argentina which sailed out of Patras, Greece in November of 1912.
In the fourth column the passenger list the name and address of the person they will be living with upon arrival. As with many of the people on this page, thousands of the Jews form Greece and Turkey listed the final destination as the area around Allen Street, Manhattan. During the time frame of 1904-1920 there are thousands who list Allen Street, Broome Street, or Eldridge Street as their future home. One page from the 1920 United States Census for Allen Street reinforces this. On the page below, more than half of the families list themselves as either being from Greece or Turkey.
house number 94 and the first part of house number 96. There were many apartments in this area and because of that the residents of Allen Street alone fill hundreds of pages.
Upon arrival and after becoming established in their new neighborhood, many settled down and started families with those they know so well, people from Janina. The document below is the Naturalization Record of Esther Solomon.
Esther, who was born in Janina on 6 Mar 1908 arrived in New York on 30 Aug 1913 under the name of Esther Napthali. On 11 Dec 1929 she was married to Joseph Solomon who was born 10 May 1901, also in Janina. They then established a household at 278 Broome Street.
The fact that they were separate from other Jews, with their own traditions probably had a lot to do with the strength of their commitment to each other. Another group of these Jews also existed in Seattle, Washington, where they also maintained a tight bond.