Birth, family, ethnic culture: more about my early years

I was born on January 20, 1936 near the New Jersey Palisades Cliff, opposite 42nd Street in Manhattan. Born into a closely knit family of Jewish Eastern European immigrants.  A few came in the 1880s; more came in the 1920s and 1930s. They were hard-working lower middle class, religious but not ortrodox, and Zionists. They were very nurturing, supportive, and committed to  learning. None were “schooled” intellectuals, no college degrees. Sara Wittman Feigenbaum, my mother, was an American by birth, first generation after immigration. Solomon Feigenbaum was “brought over” by his brother Philip, and married Sara, the sister of Philip’s wife. Solomon died before I was two years old. My mothe with determination nurtured my early literacy. Family life involved much reading and singing– books, newspapers,  and traditional Yiddish/Hebrew and Zionist songs. My mother remarried in 1942, to a grocer’s son, Fred Joseph Rachman.  His activity after grocery hours was to travel to City College of New York to study for an degree in accounting. His education, and his profession as a CPA, helped to change my life.  He walked me through the first steps of an interest in Science by taking me on trips to the American Museum of Natural History every time the show at the Hayden Planetarium changed. We “studied” one museum room per visit. At home, on the Philco “console radio” (a  masterpiece of vacuum tube engineering, capable of the new FM) he listened mostly to classical music at every opportunity.  My love of classical music starts right there. He was an atheist, though quietly so in our Jewish family.