Dora Ail (1901-1990)

Dora Ail was born in the small village of Ugrain, near the larger town of Echelanislov in Poland in 1901. Fearing the pogroms then prevalent in that area, the family traveled a circuitous route through Siberia, Vladivostok, and Yokohama, finally reaching Harbin, Manchuria when Dora was 15 years old. Her memories of Harbin are mostly happy, highlighted by the fact that it was here that she met her future husband, Morris Ail.

Dora sailed on a Japanese boat, the “Araba Moru,” to Seattle, where the family was provided with new clothing by the National Council of Jewish Women in preparation for the last leg of their trip to reunite with the rest of their family in Providence, Rhode Island. In the meantime, Morris Ail had moved to Portland, Oregon to join the rest of his family. The two young people remained in contact, and Morris traveled to Providence where they married. Their son Nathan was born a year later.

Morris aspired to be an opera singer, but finding work difficult to obtain in the Boston area, the family moved to Portland in 1921. They lived in South Portland and soon joined in Jewish communal life there, Morris' services as a cantor becoming much in demand. He became the cantor of Congregation Ahavai Sholom, where he served for 35 years. He also augmented their income by operating a small print shop. The family, now four, with the addition of daughter Ruth, moved to Irvington, in Northeast Portland, but their lives continued to be closely connected to the synagogue, the shops, and the vibrant Jewish communal life that was, at that time, still centered in South Portland.

Throughout her life, Dora enjoyed being a homemaker and became an accomplished cook, baker and seamstress, sewing all of her and her daughter's clothing. Dora always took great pleasure in the accomplishments of her children and grand children and cherished the closeness of their families, as well as the freedom that life in America offered to them.