Over a period of forty years, Abe Lebewohl (1931-1996) transformed his Second Avenue Deli into a New York institution, drawing loyal customers from celebrities, tourists and locals alike with his Jewish culinary delicacies and generous and magnetic spirit.
Lebewohl was born in Kulykiv, Ukraine, in 1931. When the Soviets occupied western Ukraine, Abe’s father was arrested and exiled to Siberia, and Abe and his mother were banished to Kazakhstan. The family was reunited and traveled to western Ukraine and then to Poland. They illegally escaped Poland, and made their way through Austria to a refugee camp in Italy, where they spent five years before immigrating to America in 1950.