About Abraham Back
Having emigrated from his birthplace in Vilna, Poland, Abraham Back eventually married Clara and had two daughters, Evelyn & Mildred, living at 3315 Cruger Avenue in the Bronx. He had met Clara while they were both working as cigarette rollers and he was organizing cigar and cigarette rollers into labor unions. While both Abraham & Clara were from Vilna, they did not know each other until meeting in the United States.
Abraham was a tireless worker for the Socialist Party and the labor union movement. He was a member of the National Executive of the Arbeter Ring, also known as Workmen's Circle, and was a Member of the Executive Board of the Forward Association, a supportive body for the Jewish Daily Forward a.k.a. Forvitz, which as a Yiddish newspaper at one-time had the largest circulation of a non-English newspaper in the United States. He was also a member of the Naturalization Aid League, the United Jewish Trade Unions and the Bronx Socialist Branch # 6.
On October 18, 1931 at 8:15 a.m., Abraham was walking in lower Manhattan on Canal Street near Orchard Street when, although at a relatively young age, he suddenly collapsed. Two clothing salesmen tried to revive him but were unsuccessful. A doctor was called to the scene who pronounced Abraham dead of a heart attack.
On a subsequent day, hundreds of people showed up for his funeral with a procession beginning at 1 p.m. at the former headquarters of the Forward in lower Manhattan and ending at the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Glendale, Queens near the Brooklyn-Queens border, where Abraham would be buried among prominent people in the labor movement with Vilna Branch 367 of the Workmen's Circle. The Vilna Branch and the Forward Association sent floral wreaths to the grave. Serving as chairman of the funeral procession was Henry Fruchter, who was made Chairman of the Naturalization Aid League earlier in 1922 and would also later serve as a New York delegate to the 1932 convention of the Socialist Party of America held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The article about Abraham's funeral was published in the Forward under the headline, "Socialists Give the Last Honor to the Deceased Comrade." Abraham was noted for his humility, humbleness, idealism, and devotion to the workers movement. He was called a man of action in his own quiet way. Abraham was called one of the most beloved personalities in the workers movement, an activist who was truly active, a quiet worker who did not attract attention to himself, and a doer. The article also stated that his unexpected death shocked everyone who knew this humble and beloved movement activist, and that Abraham had a "frumkite" i.e. religious-like devotion to the Socialist movement.
Giving eulogies at his funeral were some of the most preeminent individuals in the labor movement and progressive politics. Among them were Abraham Cahan who was the longtime editor of the Forward, a Yiddish & English novelist and a moderate voice within the Socialist Party. Cahan was quoted in the Forward (translated from Yiddish) as saying about Abraham, "The deceased comrade was the best example of an idealistic rank & filer. He was an idealist in the fullest sense of the word. He was from those people about one would always have to say praises. His sudden death is a shocking misfortune. We are accompanying to the funeral a friend whom we can speak with pride."
Another eulogist was Samuel Orr who was one of five Socialist members of the New York Assembly ousted by his fellow lawmakers in 1920 for alleged disloyalty to the United States simply for membership in the Socialist Party. Other eulogies were given by Zelig Tygel, Executive Secretary of the Federation of Polish Jews, and Nathan Chanin, onetime Chairman of the United Hebrew Trades and Secretary of the Jewish Socialist Alliance.