Solomon Booke is a family hero. He made it his personal mission to save his sister’s family from the pogroms which were sweeping Poland after World War I. After fleeing to Scotland, he made his way to the United States and settled in Buffalo, New York. Solomon wrote often to his sister and brother-in law, Regina and Alex Ogradowski. He strongly encouraged them to leave their Polish village and emigrate to America. Having made a good life in Buffalo as a barber, Solomon offered to sponsor his family and sent them steamship tickets from Danzig to New York City.
By then, Poland was occupied by the Germans and anti-Semitic propaganda had increased. Their village was threatened. Solomon pleaded with his family to leave. In 1922, the village was attacked and the Hebrew school burned. Regina, Alex and their six daughters fled in a hay wagon to Danzig. They survived the trip and Solomon met them at Ellis Island. He helped them get settled, on the path to the American dream.
Helen, one of the six daughters of Regina and Alex Ogradowski, later earned a degree from the University of Buffalo, thanks to a scholarship from the Jewish Federation of Buffalo. She married Carl Pratter, a Ukrainian immigrant who was a pharmacist with his own drug store in Buffalo. The inspiring story of Helen and Carl Pratter appeared in The Scholarship Foundation’s newsletter in the fall of 2015 after their son Sherwood Jerome (Jerry) Pratter , created a Designated Scholar Loan in their memory. In doing so, Jerry honored his parents’ deep understanding of the importance of educational opportunity.
S. Jerome Pratter recently discovered that all of the sisters who safely emigrated agreed that if they had children born in America that they would name their first child with a first name beginning with “S” in honor of Solomon and all he did for their family. As former legal counsel and a loyal supporter of the Foundation, Jerry wanted to do something to counter the unjust treatment of DREAMers and other young undocumented immigrants. Jerry’s understanding of the struggles immigrants must overcome moved him to establish a second Designated Scholar Loan in honor of his great uncle Solomon Booke.
The Pratter Family Designated Scholar Loan recognizes the strength and sacrifice that families made to escape terror and start anew, together. Solomon’s story is carried on by his great nieces and nephews as well as by the current and future students of The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis.