Houdini’s Father Struggled to Make Money

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Houdini’s father, Rabbi Mayer Samuel Weiss, struggled to earn money as a new immigrant to the U.S. Houdini’s family immigrated to the U.S. from Hungary in 1878 with four children, including the four-year-old Houdini. In 1882, Houdini’s father lost the first job he had found in the U.S. That job was rabbi of a small congregation in Appleton, Wisconsin. Moving his family to Milwaukee and then New York City, Mayer Samuel sought whatever work he could find. He had printed a business card that declared “all religious Services a Specialty,” “Marriages and Funerals, also practical MOHEL.”^

Houdini’s natal family included at least six children. Houdini grew up with two older brothers, one younger brother, and a younger sister, who was the youngest child. Houdini’s parents’ oldest child, a boy, died nine years before Houdini’s birth. Economically supporting these children must have been challenging for Houdini’s parents.

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