New to America? What’s an immigrant to do? Suggestion: Become assimilated like this famous man.

Israel Baline, a Russian-born Jew, was born in a time of great turmoil in the empire of Russia.

18-year-old Russian immigrant Israel Baline

Russian pogroms intensely persecuted Jews over a three-year period from 1903 to 1906. If you are familiar with the musical “Fiddler On The Roof”, you can understand why his family wisely chose to immigrate to our shores a couple years before the pogroms took place.

The wedding day of Tzeitel and Motel

A natural singer, young Israel started off as a street singer. In a few years, he became the toast of the nation for the creation songs that touch the hearts of patriotic Americans to this day.

Along the way from street singer to a beloved songwriter, an American treasure, he adopted an accidental misspelling of his name. Israel Baline became Irving Berlin.

As a self-taught piano player who never learned to read music, he created a unique transposing keyboard which he would lift and move left or right to change key. You see, he could only play in the key of F#. Irving demonstrates his piano invention in the following video.

This prolific songwriter left us a treasure trove of musical entertainment. Click on this link for a list of his songs. His most popular and better-known songs include Puttin On The Ritz, White Christmas, and God Bless America.

Irving Berlin was born in Russia but he became the epitome of red-blooded Americans.

His family legally immigrated. Rather than segregating themselves from American society, they embraced it and became as American as, well, apple pie.

God bless America, land that I love.

I am forever thankful for Irving Berlin’s contributions to our country. It is people like this man who truly define America as exceptional.

John White
Rockwall, Texas

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