Morris Chamovitz (1888-1974) immigrated to the United States from Romania in 1903 and married Mollie Eger (1887-1974), who had grown up in a nearby village. They were related by marriage — his half-brother was married to her half-sister — and they had met as children when Mollie came to stay with the Chamovitz family while recovering from typhoid fever. At the time, an uncle told young Morris Chamovitz he could marry the girl someday if he took on the task of getting her medicine from the store, which he did.
Once in the United States, Morris and Mollie Chamovitz had five sons, Jerome (1912-1996), Allen (1921-1943), Irvin (1922-1996), Robert (1924-) and David (1925-2014).
Morris and Mollie rolled stogies and worked at odd jobs while attending night school. In 1925, Morris Chamovitz and his brother-in-law Harry Jackson bought the Economy Shoe Store, a bankrupt business in Aliquippa, Pa. They changed the name to Jackson Shoe Stores Inc. and gradually expanded, eventually opening a branch in Pittsburgh.
The children all worked in the store, sorting shoeboxes in the stock room, and moving to the sales floor when they were older. Before a big sale, they would blanket Aliquippa with flyers. “With eight of us working out of two cars, we would cover the whole town in one day,” David Chamovitz recalled in his memoir By All Means, Resuscitate.
Morris Chamovitz was involved in many civic and religious groups in Aliquippa. He served at least 14 years as the treasurer of the Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa and was a member of the Aliquippa B’nai B’rith, the United Jewish Community Center of Aliquippa and Ambridge, the United Jewish Appeal and the Judah Club for Boys.
Jerome Chamovitz, the oldest son, said his family “scrounged” to send him to Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He helped defray the cost by working for Jones & Laughlin Steel during the summers. After an internship at Montefiore Hospital and training at hospitals on the East Coast, he returned to Aliquippa to start a private practice. He served in the Army Medical Corps during World War II and, after the war, practiced medicine for nearly 40 years in Sewickley. “When I’m close with a patient, I feel like a priest,” he told the Sewickley Herald in 1986. “Maybe even closer than the priest.”
The second oldest, Allen Chamovitz, worked in a family jewelry store until he enlisted in the Air Corps in 1942. He was killed in June 1943 when two B-24 airplanes collided in mid-air during a training exercise at Alamogordo Army Air Base in New Mexico, where he was stationed. The three younger Chamovitz sons all followed their brother Jerome into medicine. David was a cardiologist and later moved to Israel. Irvin became the first pediatric neurologist at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Robert practiced gastroenterology.