Family of Sara Brin and Irwin Clorfene

Sara Brin Clorfene

Sara Brin Clorfene


Klarfeyn (Yiddish) = Pure and Refined

Max Klorfine and sons-b

Max Klorfine’s family. Eden Clorfene Elieff reports: “The adults are Max and Bertha Klorfine. My grandfather Irwin is the one on the far left, sitting on the chair. The baby is Milton.” Bruce Clorfene adds: “Harry is behind my mother, Bill is standing on the right, Meyer is below him. “

Menasha Monya ‘Mani’ Klarfein

aka Max Klorfine,

Progenitor of the Klorfine / Clorfene Family in America

Max Klorfine was born on July 1, 1868 as Menasha Monya ‘Mani’ Klarfein in the town of Yanov, then located in the Pale of Permanent Jewish Settlement of Imperial Russia (now in Belarus). He died on February 15, 1939 in Chicago IL. Max’s parents were  Yosele ‘Joseph’ de Kateka, a butcher [shoychet], and Minnie. Max had at least two siblings: his sisters Chaya Malke Klarfein and Esther Klarfein. Max’s first wife died in childbirth, so he was asked to marry her sister, Breine ‘Bertha’ Swerinsky. Bertha was born  in  1875, most-probably in Yanov, and died in Chicago not long after Max on July 6, 1939. For the latter part of their lives, Max and Bertha lived apart. Bertha had 4 sisters and 3 brothers who lived in Chicago.

The Yiddish family name, Klarfeyn, would have been taken sometime in the early years of the 19th century when the usual community tax imposed on the Jewish populations of eastern Europe and collected by their governing bodies, the Kahals, was changed over to a head tax. In a short time every Jewish person now had to develop a family name. It was no longer good enough to be simply a man named Yitzhak bar Mendel (Isaac son of Mendel); now Yitzhak and everyone in his family had to have the same Yiddish surname, Mendelssohn (son of Mendel): husband, wife, and offspring.

Klarfeyn  (pure and refined) seems to indicate that the family which took this name had distinguished itself in some manner. In a small village like Yanov, this would have surely been in the area of Jewish scholarship, and seems to point to excellence in the study of Talmud by its male members at the local Yeshiva. Perhaps the elders in the family were outstanding lawyers in the local Kahal,  or teachers (Melamed and Lehrer are the terms in use) in the town Heder,  or rabbis teaching in the Yeshiva and caring to the religious and corporal needs of the community.

Furthermore, the ‘de Kateka’ part of Max Klorfine’s father’s name, Yosele de Kateka, appears to point towards the Hebrew term ‘Kaddesh’ meaning ‘sanctified or holy’. So, it could very well be that Klarfeyn  meaning ‘pure and refined’ is the the Yiddish equivalent of de Kateka. One can only wonder if it might have been originally applied to a Tzadik (righteous one) in the family, that is to say, one of the many Hasidic miracle-working holy men, in intimate contact with the Deity,  found throughout the Pale of Permanent Jewish Settlement of Imperial Russia during the late 1700s-early 1800s.

Yanov, the town where Max and his family originated, is now located in Belarus and is known as Ivanava. During the Middle Ages, though, it was located in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania which was part of the Kingdom of Poland, the largest country in Western Europe. Not long before the start of the 19th century, the great kingdom began to break up, and its Eastern part, where Yanov was located, was annexed by Imperial Russia, while the remaining sections were taken by  the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires.

This situation caused no end of trouble for the Jews, because up to that time, they were actually forbidden to live in Imperial Russia because it was the policy of the Russian Orthodox Church that the Jews, as a whole, were forever responsible for the death of Jesus. With the collapse of feudalism in Imperial Russia during the 1860s, the freed serfs sought to drive the Jews out of Russia in order to obtain their jobs and real estate. By century’s end, Jews were leaving Imperial Russia by the droves, heading for the Americas.

Between the World Wars Yanov was transferred to Poland. After World War II Yanov was back in Russia, the primary soviet socialist republic in the Soviet Union, and after the breakup of the latter, Yanov found itself in Belarus, a land which Americans often referred to as ‘White Russia’. Additional details follow:


Yanov (Belarusian: Іванава = Ivanava ; Russian: Иваново; Polish: Janów Poleski) is a city in the Brest Province of Belarus.  It is the town where Max Klorfine and his family originated.


Location of Yanov near the town of Pinsk in modern Belarus.

First mentioned in 14th century, initially Yanov was a village named Porkhovo located in the Kingdom of Poland-Lithuania. In 1423 the village was presented to the cathedral chapter in Lutsk by king Władysław Jagiełło. Renamed Janów, in 1465 Yanov (its Yiddish name) was given city rights. A small town in Polesia, it shared the fate of the region. On May 16, 1657 Yanov was the location of the martyrdom of Saint Andrzej Bobola. Annexed by Russia during the Partitions of Poland in 1795, the town did not develop much, primarily because of its proximity of the more populous town of Pinsk. By the end of 19th century, when Max  Klorfine and his family left, Yanov had about 3000 inhabitants, mostly peasants and textile workers.

Between 1915 and 1918 Yanov was occupied by Germany; in 1919 it was transferred to Poland. During the Polish-Bolshevik War Yanov was briefly occupied between July and October of 1920 by the Russians. After being retaken by Poland, the town became the center of mobilization for Gen. Jarosławcew’s 3rd Volga Infantry Division, a part of Gen. Stanisław Bułak-Bałachowicz’s forces. Between the wars, the town remained a minor and rather non-notable center of commerce in the area. In 1926 it was linked by railroad to nearby industrial centers. However, this did not lead to any overnight development as serious industry was attracted to other regions of Poland.

During the Polish Defensive War of 1939, there was an armed uprising of local Jewish inhabitants, who supported the invading Soviet forces, against the Polish Army and Polish refugees. Until June 27, 1941 the town was occupied by the Soviet Union and then, until July 1944, by Nazi Germany. During the German occupation most of the Jewish inhabitants of the area perished in the Holocaust. On January 22, 1943 30 local folks were murdered as a reprisal for Ponury’s action against the Gestapo prison in Pinsk. After bring occupied by the Soviet 61st Army, the town was annexed by the USSR to become part of the Byelorussian SSR. Seat of a rayon [administrative district] between 1954 and 1962 and again from 1965, the town has been part of Belarus since 1991.

Kingdom of Poland Lithuania

The vast Kingdom of Poland-Lithuania was safe haven for Jews fleeing from Western Europe in the Middles Ages. This map shows the kingdom as it was in the 1420s. Yanov is located in the middle of the section in red (the Grand Duchy of Lithuania) not far from Minsk. As a Feudal Estate, the Jews of Poland-Lithuania were subject to Talmudic Law, and were ruled by an administrative council known as a Kahal comprised of elders who were, in essence, lawyers.

Max Klorfine, a pious Orthodox Jew (this reported by his son, Milton), was a clothing merchant and cobbler, trades he taught to several of his 6 boys. According to Milton, when Max was a boy he attended ‘Hebrew School’ [most-probably Heder] in Europe. Together with his sister, Esther, Max emigrated to America from Europe in 1899 when he was 33 years of age. Sailing on the Steamship München from Bremen, Imperial Germany on March 2, 1889, he and Esther arrived in Baltimore on March 17th. They still had a long train ride ahead of them for they were headed to Chicago to join M. Levine, Max’s brother-in-law whose residence was at 46 Johnson Street. The ship’s manifest lists Grodno (Hrodna) not far from Yanov in Imperial Russia as Max and Esther’s last residence together. The ship’s manifest follows:

Manny and Esther

Manny And Esther 2

Manny and Esther 3

Baltimore-Port of Entry

Baltimore-Port of Entry. After arriving in Baltimore from Bremen on the Streamship München, Max and Esther boarded a train on the B&O railroad which met immigrants from Europe right at the docks. They were heading for Chicago.

B&O Station Chicago

Grand Central Station in Chicago. It was here that Max’s brother-in-law M. Levine met him and Esther when they arrived from Baltimore on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

According to the manifest of the Steamship Assyria, Max’s wife Breine (later to be called Bertha) and 4 of her children left Janowa (Yanov) near Grodno (Hrodna), Imperial Russia sometime in late November-early December 1902. Arriving in Hamburg, Imperial Germany they boarded the Assyria on December 6, 1902 which sailed to Halifax, Canada. Arriving in Halifax on December 24th, they were put into quarantine with everyone else on that voyage. After being examined on January 10, 1903, they took the train to  St. Albans, Vermont where they crossed into the United States. Bertha and her boys were on their way to Chicago to join Max, still known as Menasha ‘Moni’ (Manny) Klarfein, who was living at 53 Johnson Street at the time. Most likely Bertha and the boys took the Rutland Railroad from St. Albans to Chatham NY, where they changed over to the New York Central, which took them across the continent and into La Salle Street Station in Chicago.

The first three of Max and Bertha’s boys born in Yanov, were originally named Welwel [Velvel], Hirsch, and Israel. Their names were ‘Americanized’ later to William, Harry, and Isidore ‘Irwin’ respectively. The 4th boy, Meyer, retained his original name throughout his life. Two additional children, Milton ‘Mike’ and Hyman ‘Hamilton’ were born to Max and Bertha in Chicago. The ship’s manifest follows:

SS Assyria part 1

SS Assyria part 2

SS Assyria part 3

Port of Halifax

The Port of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: This was the first view of America seen by Bertha and her 4 boys: William, Harry, Irwin, and Meyer. From here they took a train to St. Alban’s Vermont.

St. Albans RR Station

The St. Albans RR Station. From here Bertha and the boys headed for Chicago, via the Rutland and New York Central Railroads to meet up with Max.

La Salle Street Station Chicago

La Salle Street Station Chicago. Bertha and the boys were among the first immigrants to arrive in the new La Salle Street Station in 1903. It actually was not fully completed at the time.


Max Klorfine’s naturalization card of 1926.

The family of Max and Bertha Klorfine first appeared in the census records of the US during the year 1910. The family was living in Chicago at 936 Maxwell Street in the 9th Ward and Max was working as a clothing merchant. In 1910, this section of Maxwell Street was settled primarily by Jewish families. The Klorfines shared the building with two other families.

Their children are listed as follows: Willie, Harry, Isidor, Meyer, Milton, and Hyman. Max and Bertha report their own ages to be 46 and 43 respectively, that is to say, according to the census, there is just a difference of three years between them.  Max reports that he emigrated from Russia to America in 1896 (although the year was actually 1899) and, that although he speaks English, Bertha cannot: Yiddish is her primary tongue. Note that the census taker was having a difficult time trying to spell the family surname, Klorfine!

Klorfine 1910 Census part A

Klorfine Family: 1910 Census part A

Klorfine 1910 Census part B

Klorfine Family: 1910 Census part B

The second appearance of the Klorfine Family occurs in the 1920 US Census for Chicago. By this time the family had moved around the block to 1303 Morgan Street in the 20th Ward. The area appears to be 100% Jewish, most families having formerly lived in Russia. The Klorfines, who own this house, rent out the remaining rooms to two additional families.

In this census, two of the children’s names are altered: Isidor is now being called Irwin, and Hyman has updated his name to Hamilton. For some unknown reason, Max and Bertha report a 5-year age difference between them: 50 for Max and 45 for Bertha. According to their original 1910 statements, they would now be 56 and 53 respectively.  Max, who heretofore said that he had emigrated in 1896, now reports 1898 as the correct year (although, in reality, it was 1899). Max lies about his naturalization which he says occurred in 1910, but in fact, Max was not naturalized until 1926. According to this census Harry, Irwin, and Meyer are all working as salesmen: the first two in department stores, the third in a dry goods store. What we are not told here, is that, in 1920, these boys  were actually working and living, in Champaign, IL.

Klorfine Family 1920 Census part A

Klorfine Family: 1920 Census part A

Klorfine Family 1920 Census part B

Klorfine Family: 1920 Census part B

Both Max and his 2nd oldest son, Harry, appear in the US Census for 1920 a second time. Here we find them living out on the prairie in  the town of Champaign, IL, located 135 miles south of Chicago on the line of the Illinois Central Railroad. They are boarding at the home of one William Westall on 408 West Clark Street. Max and his son are listed respectively as clothing merchant and clothing salesman.

Max & Harry on the road 1920 Census

Max and Harry in the 1920 Census for Champaign IL.

The following addresses in the CLARK-ELWELL CO.  CITY DIRECTORY OF CHAMPAIGN-URBANA ILLINOIS for 1919-1920 clarify the above entries in the US Census of 1920. Indeed, Max and his sons had established a store in Champaign appropriately named Klorfine Brothers, where they sold clothing and shoes. It was managed by Meyer.

Klorfine Bros (Harry and Max) clothing and shoes 47 Main
Klorfine Harry (Klorfine Bros), r 406 W Clark
Klorfine Max (Klorfine Bros) rms 408 W Clark
Klorfine Meyer mngr Klorfine Bros, r 111 W Main
Klorfine Wm (Klorfine Bros), r 111 W Main

In addition, the PRAIRIE FARMERS DIRECTORY OF CHAMPAIGN COUNTY presents a special aspect of the Klorfine Bros. operations in Champaign:

Johnson, W. H., 207 S. Market, U.
Klorfine Bros., 125 E. University.
Kruse, W. C., 113-115 S. 1st.
Phillips & Co., 113 N. Market.
Simetsky, A., 201-2 E. University.
Stoolman, Chas., 116 E. University.

An earlier advertisement in JOHNSON’S URBANA-CHAMPAIGN ILLINOIS CITY DIRECTORY of 1918 presents further clarification:








From the same directory of 1918, we learn that Irwin was living with his brothers in Champaign during the time he was an education major at the University of Illinois (BA 1919). It would appear that Irwin was living over the store on an upper floor.

KLORFINE BROS (Wm and Harry), clothing, shoes and shoe repairing, 2nd hand clothes, 47 Main
KLORFINE HARRY (Klorfine Bros), r 47 Main
Klorfine Irwin, stu U of I, r 47 Main
KLORFINE MAX, wks Klorfine Bros, r 47 Main
KLORFINE WM (Klorfine Bros), r 47 Main

April 21, 1916 part 1

Urbana Daily Courier, April 21, 1916

Part 2 burgular

Urbana Daily Courier, April 21, 1916

Klorfine Bros. Ad

Klorfine Bros. Ad:  Urbana Daily Courier

Klorfine Bros. Feb. 26, 1920

Urbana Daily Courier: February 26, 1920

Klorfine Store Champaign IL

Location of the Klorfine Bros. store in Champaign IL at 47 Main Street. Max, William, Harry, and (perhaps) Meyer were all associated with this store.

Joseph Kuhn & Co. Clothiers Champaign IL

Joseph Kuhn & Co. Clothiers on the corner of Walnut and Main Streets, Champaign IL. The Klorfine Brothers store was located on the land in the opening just beyond the 5th building.

By the time of the 1930 US Census for Chicago, Max and Bertha had broken up (they never divorced). Bertha had left the Morgan Street residence and moved to the 30th Ward on 4057 West Congress St. She shared this new residence with one additional family. In addition, three of three of Bertha’s unmarried offspring had established residence with her: William (36), Milton (25), and Hamilton (21).

William had become the manager of a shoe store (clearly this is Klorfine Bros. in Campaign, IL), Milton (BS Chemistry U Illinois 1925) was working for the US government, and Hamilton was unemployed. (Most probably he was still in school at U Illinois). Though Bertha reported that at age 54 she was still married, Max, living in the Klorfine house on 1303 Morgan St. reported that at 63 he was now single!

Then there is that widening reported-age difference reported in the US Census: in 1910 it was a mere 3 years. By 1920 it had expanded to 5 years, and now in 1930 it is at 9 years. Based on their 1910 report, Max should be 66 and Bertha 63. Clearly these folks did not know exactly when they were born.

The 1930 Census shows that, although Max was living alone at 1303 South Morgan Street (a house he still owned), he had continued to rent out the remaining rooms. (Nowadays, the soccer field of the University of Illinois at Chicago occupies the land in the southern part of Chicago’s ‘Little Italy’ on which Max’s Morgan Street home once stood):

Max's residence 1930

Location of Max’s residence in 1930.

Even more fascinating is the fact that all of Max’s neighbors are Black; that is to say, Max, a white man, now found himself living in a Black neighborhood, a very unusual situation at that time. Born in Imperial Russia, Max is surrounded by Black folk who hail from Louisiana, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, Alabama, and Texas. They were newcomers from the South who were part of the Great Migration of the 1920s-30s. Louis Armstrong and his musician friends were part of this historical event that made Chicago the new Jazz capitol of the US in those days. To be sure, these newcomers had replaced the formerly Jewish residents who had fled the area.

Although it was the start of the Great Depression, it would appear that Max was in pretty good shape: rents were (theoretically) coming in, and in the Champaign store, used clothing could be bought at a modest price by those folks who were heavily affected by the times.

Eden Clorfene Elieff commented: “I knew Max and Bertha were estranged. He married her after her sister died [giving birth]. It had to do with the family not wanting to pay a second dowry. They did not get along. He left and was for some time a traveling salesman. My father might have met him once. That fact stoked my curiosity. To think he was living on the south side of Chicago among the ‘schvartzes’ is amazing.”

Bertha Klorfine Census 1930

Bertha and three of her children in the 1930 US Census for Chicago. They were living at 4057 West Congress St. in what is now Oak Park.

Max in a Black neighborhood

Max Klorfine in the 1930 US Census for Chicago (11th entry). Max, still living at 1303 South Morgan Street,  reports that he is now single!

In 1935 Meyer was operating the Swan Hand Laundry in Champaign IL . One wonders if the Klorfine Bros. store really had closed in 1920.

Sawn Hand Laundry

The Six Children of Max and Bertha Klorfine

Six Klorfine Brothers-b

The Six Klorfine Brothers. Back row l-r: Bill, Harry, Meyer. Front row l-r: Milton, Hamilton, Irwin.

Velvel Klorfein aka William Morris ‘Bill’ Klorfine b. Feb. 12, 1892, Yanov, Imperial Russia;  d. Dec. 1962, Florida. m. Jean Caplan b. May 18, 1902; Congress Poland; d. Jan. 1976, Beverly Hills.

William K.

William Klorfine’s naturalization card of 1920

Jean Caplan K.

Jeran Caplan Klorfine’s naturalization card of 1940.

William Klorfine

William Klorfine: 1918 Draft Registration Card for World War I. He was living in Champaign, IL at the time where he worked in the Klorfine Bros. store.

Hirsch Klorfein aka Harry Ira Klorfine b. Jan. 10, 1895, Yanov,  Imperial Russia; d. Jun. 1971, Champaign, IL. m. Mabel b. Feb 21, 1908; d. Aug. 1983, Winter Park, FL. Owner of Klorfine Bootery in Chicago during the early 1940s. Harry was also associated with the Klorfine clothing store in Champaign IL. In fact, his last known residence was in Champaign.

Harry Klorfine

Harry Klorfine: 1918 Draft Registration Card for World War I. Like his brother William, Harry was living at 47 Main St. in Champaign, IL during this time.

Harry Klorfine WW II Registration

Harry Klorfine’s WW II Registration

Israel Klorfein aka Isidore Bernard Klorfine aka Irwin Clorfene, BA in Education: University Illinois 1919; LL.D: Kent College of Law c. 1929. Public School Teacher, Lawyer, Judge b. Jul. 26, 1896, Yanov, Imperial Russia; d. Dec. 5, 1981, Chicago, IL. married Sara Brin b. Dec. 23, 1897; d. Jul. 21, 1997, Chicago, IL. Two children:

Bruce E. Clorfene, b. Nov. 24, 1925. BA Journalism: University of Illinois 1948; JD (Juris Doctor): De Paul University 1953. Practiced law in Chicago 1953-1974. Managing editor for Pioneer Press, Chicago (suburban-weekly newspaper company) 1977-1990. Awarded Best Columnist of 1979 by Suburban Newspapers of America. Lisagor Award from the Chicago Headline Club.

1st wife: m. Liane Kohn (2nd marriage: Casten), Free-lance journalist b. Jun. 12 1932 on Aug. 9, 1953, Cook County, IL, divorced 1974. 2nd wife: m. unknown divorced. 3rd wife: m. unknown divorced.

Four children by Liane Kohn:

Eden Clorfene, Literature Teacher. Educ:  BA: U. of Chicago, MFA: Bennington College. b. Mar. 12, 1956, Chicago, IL. m. Tom Elieff, Head of a Jewish School. BA: Brown University, MA: Northwestern. b. Mar. 26, ? Portland, Oregon on Oct. 16, 1986, Milwaukee, WI. Daughter:

Lydia Elieff b. Jun. 1, 1998, Moscow, Russia. Adopted in 1999

Erica E. Clorfene, Skin Esthetician and Astrologer. BA: Evergreen State College, Olympia WA. b. Dec. 10, 1957, Chicago, IL (twin of Andrea Ruth). m. Richard Trojan b. Feb. 27, ? in Evanston, IL

Andrea Ruth Clorfene, Oriental Medicine, BA: Evergreen State College, Olympia WA. b. Dec. 10, 1957, Chicago, IL (twin of Erica). m. Richard ‘Rich’ Winship b. Feb. 5, 1954, Chicago, IL in New Buffalo, MI.

Jeremy B. Clorfene, Clinical Psychologist, BA: Miami University,  PhD: Illinois Institute of Technology. b. Jul. 2, 1966, Chicago, IL. m. Dana Lee Slotar b. Mar. 21, 1970 on Jun. 29, 1997, Chicago, IL. Children:

Romy Clorfene b. Jan. 13, 1996

Jacob ‘Jake’ Clorfene b. June 13, 1999

Tess Clorfene b. June 14, 2002

Richard Clorfene aka Chaim Noach Clorfene b. Feb. 1939. 1st wife: m. Bonnie L. Weiss b. 1940 on  Jan. 28, 1962, Los Angeles, CA.; divorced Mar. 1968, Los Angeles, CA. (Bonnie married Gerald T. Payne on 16 Jun 1971); 2nd wife: m. Jane E. Hartford aka Ariela Clorfene b. Dec. 12, 1956.

Child with Bonnie Weiss:

Joshua L. Clorfene b. Aug. 5, 1965

Two children with Jane E. Hartford aka Ariela Clorfene

Yisrael B. Clorfene b. Aug. 1989, Jerusalem, Israel

Joseph ‘Joey’ I. Clorfene b. Feb. 1993, Jerusalem, Israel


Sara Brin and her husband Isidore ‘Irwin’ Clorfene

Sarah & Irwin.jpg

Sara Brin with her husband, Judge Irwin Clorfene. Sarah taught elementary school.

Obituaries of Irwin Clorfene

1981-12-07 Chicago Tribune (IL) Judge Irwin B. Clorfene, beloved husband of Sarah, nee Brin; dear father of Bruce and Richard (wife: Ariella); five grandchildren; fond brother of Milton Klorfine and the late William, Harry, Meyer and Hamilton. Services Tuesday, 11 a.m. at Weinstein Brothers North Shore Chapel, 111 Skokie Blvd., Wilmette. Visitation at time of services. In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to the American Heart Association. For info. AL6-5700.

1981-12-07 Chicago Tribune (IL) Services for Irwin B. Clorfene, a former judge and Longtime Chicago resident, will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the chapel at 111 Skokie Blvd., Wilmette. Mr. Clorfene, 84, of 2800 N. Lake Shore Dr., died Saturday at Weiss Memorial Hospital. He was graduated from the University of Illinois in 1919, and taught in Chicago public schools for 10 years while studying at Kent College of Law at night. Later, he was an assistant state's attorney for 10 years. He was elected a judge in 1943, and served until 1952. He moved to Los Angeles in 1954, where he practiced law until 1960, when he returned to Chicago. Survivors include his wife, Sarah; two sons, Bruce and Richard; a brother; and five grandchildren.

Obituary of Sara Brin Clorfene

Chicago Tribune - Wednesday, July 23, 1997
Sara B. Clorfene , 99, a longtime Chicago resident and former schoolteacher, died Monday in St. Joseph Hospital. During the 1930s and '40s, Mrs. Clorfene taught 3rd grade at the old William Penn School on Chicago's West Side. She was active in numerous charities, including Hadassah, a Jewish charity group, and the Home and Aid Society. She also was active in the Order of the Eastern Star. She was the wife of the late Irwin B. Clorfene , a former Chicago municipal court judge.

Uncle Irwin Clorfene.jpg

Judge Irwin Clorfine

Irwin K.

Irwin Clorfene’s naturalization card of 1921. Born Klarfein / Klorfine, he first changed his surname to Clorfine before settling on Clorfene.


Irwin was denied naturalization on September 29, 1921, but on October 20th, he was successful.

Irwin and Sarah Clorfene with their son Richard (Chiam)

Irwin and Sarah Clorfene with their son, Richard aka Chiam Noach

Sara and Irwin Clorfene, Richard Clorfene and Bonnie (1st wife).jpg

Sara and Irwin Clorfene with their son, Richard, and his 1st wife, Bonnie Weiss.


The young Bruce Clorfene


Bruce and his wife Liane Kohn Clorfene. They were married on August 9, 1953.

Bruce at 65

Bruce Clorfene

It Only Hurts When I Speak


After going to speech therapy off and on since kindergarten, two years ago I could finally say “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” without stuttering. Trouble was I had a helluva time working it into the conversation.

It took me almost a lifetime to get to where I could tell this joke on myself, even though my family, friends, and business associates will swear that I have no self-consciousness about the fact that I am a stutterer.

Yet, despite my openness about my speech problem, I still feel a tug of reluctance when I say the word “stutter” or “stutterer,” as if it’s something to be ashamed of.

When I was growing up, and even as a young adult, I was ashamed of it. I was different from everyone else. I was handicapped. There were things I could never do without extreme pain and embarrassment. Simple things like asking the telephone operator for a number (how happy I was when the dial phone was installed); buying an Illinois Central train ticket to “53rd Street;” ordering a meal in a restaurant; speaking in class.

Speaking in class. That was the worst. Especially in high school French. It was bad enough to be called on in zoology or algebra and suffer through a few tortuous English syllables (syllables, not whole words, were all I could manage back then), but try to say something in a foreign language with 40 pairs of peers’ ears listening? Forget it.

I developed an arsenal of excuses to get out of speaking, which I communicated to the teacher, Madame Harriet Sedlack, in a daily note I put on her desk before class  began.

Such as:

“I couldn’t do my homework because I had to go to the doctor yesterday after school and somebody came into the doctor’s office with a contagious disease so my books were impounded.”


“When I came to school on the street car this morning the door closed on my homework paper, which was sticking out of my book, and tore off the part with all the sentences.”


“Our house was burglarized last night and they took the silverware and wrapped it in my homework paper, which I had put next to it.


“The dog ate my homework.”


“The cat ate my homework.”

Later still:

“My little brother ate my homework.”

Whether or not the teacher believed me, I couldn’t say. But she did let me get away with it, and I was never made to speak in class.

Her kindness, however, was misplaced. You see, the worst thing you can do for a stutterer is to let him or her remain silent. One definition of a stutterer, one that I’ve always agreed with, is that a stutterer is a person who seldom speaks.

It’s a self-defeating round robin. The real person (stutterers, at least this stutterer, tend to regard fluent speakers as real people) just speaks without thinking about it. They take a breath, make a sound with the vocal cords, move their jaw, lips, and tongue, nice and easy, and words come out.

Not so with the stutterer. Each part of the process can be a separate torture. You gasp for breath; then try to make a sound, which more often than not either doesn’t happen or sounds like the cry of a wounded animal; then try to push a word out with clenched jaw, tensed lips, and rigid tongue. Of course, the mix and the pain can be more or less depending on the severity of the stutter.

That’s why a stutterer seldom speaks. It’s too difficult, too frustrating, too painfully embarrassing.

Which is exactly why he should speak as much as he can—to call a halt to that vicious round robin. The more you hide from speaking, the more you retreat from normalcy; the more you retreat, the larger grows the label “I am a stutterer;” the larger the label, the greater the shame; the greater the shame, the less you speak and the more you’re a stutterer.

I’ll let you in on a secret I know as a stutterer. Stuttering for me, for the most part, is only a state of mind. If a stutterer thinks of himself as a stutterer, he is one. If he doesn’t he isn’t. He or she can be a world-class orator like Winston Churchill (a halt control stutterer); a world-class actor like James Earl Jones (a pause control stutterer); a world-class icon like John Wayne (a metronome control stutterer); a world class opera baritone like Robert Merrill (a singing control stutterer); a world class seductress like Marilyn Monroe (a whisper control stutterer). Or me, who, before I became a writer and editor, was a pretty good trial lawyer, who at the time just stuttered with no control.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to get those helpful hints from friends and others.


“Try talking slower.” (Who talks slower than a stutterer?)

“Try taking a deep breath first.” (Try speaking without breathing!)

“Why don’t you sing the words?” (Great. Shall I be Rigoletto or Elvis?)

“Think before you speak.” (No comment!)

No, the best way to help a stutterer is to look him or her straight in the eye when they’re speaking, don’t turn away when they block, don’t say the word they’re blocking on.

And act interested when they try to work “Peter Piper” into the conversation.

Liane Casten_NLehrer_20110611

Liane Kohn Casten, the mother of Eden, Erica, Andrea, and Jeremy Clorfene. Liane is a free-lance investigative environmental journalist whose articles have appeared in The Nation, Mother Jones, Ms., and many other publications. A powerhouse in Chicago political life, Liane is also the founder of Chicago Media Watch. She was Bruce Clorfene’s first wife.

Chicago Media Watch REPORT, Spring 2003
Title: “Court Ruled That Media Can Legally Lie”
Author: Liane Casten

If we needed any more proof that we now live in an upside down world, the saga of Jane Akre, along with her husband, Steve Wilson, could not be more compelling.

Akre and Wilson won the first legal round. Akre was awarded $425,000 in a jury trial with well-crafted arguments for their wrongful termination as whistleblowers. And in the process, they also won the prestigious “Goldman Environmental” prize for their outstanding efforts. However, FOX turned around and appealed the verdict. This time, FOX won; the original verdict was overturned in the Appellate Court of Florida’s Second District. The court implied there was no restriction against distorting the truth. Technically, there was no violation of the news distortion because the FCC’s policy of news distortion does not have the weight of the law. Thus, said the court, Akre-Wilson never qualified as whistleblowers.

What is more appalling are the five major media outlets that filed briefs of Amici Curiae- or friend of FOX – to support FOX’s position: Belo Corporation, Cox Television, Inc., Gannett Co., Inc., Media General Operations, Inc., and Post-Newsweek Stations, Inc. These are major media players! Their statement, “The station argued that it simply wanted to ensure that a news story about a scientific controversy regarding a commercial product was present with fairness and balance, and to ensure that it had a sound defense to any potential defamation claim.”

“Fairness and balance?” Monsanto hardly demonstrated “fairness and balance” when it threatened a lawsuit and demanded the elimination of important, verifiable information!

The Amici position was “If upheld by this court, the decision would convert personnel actions arising from disagreements over editorial policy into litigation battles in which state courts would interpret and apply federal policies that raise significant and delicate constitutional and statutory issues.” After all, Amici argued, 40 states now have Whistleblower laws, imagine what would happen if employees in those 40 states followed the same course of actio

The position implies that First Amendment rights belong to the employers – in this case the five power media groups. And when convenient, the First Amendment becomes a broad shield to hide behind. Let’s not forget, however; the airwaves belong to the people. Is there no public interest left-while these media giants make their private fortunes using the public airwaves? Can corporations have the power to influence the media reporting, even at the expense of the truth? Apparently so.

In addition, the five “friends” referred to FCC policies. The five admit they are “vitally interested in the outcome of this appeal, which will determine the extent to which state whistleblower laws may incorporate federal policies that touch on sensitive questions of editorial judgment.”

Anyone concerned with media must hear the alarm bells. The Bush FCC, under Michael Powell’s leadership, has shown repeatedly that greater media consolidation is encouraged, that liars like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are perfectly acceptable, that to refer to the FCC interpretation of “editorial judgment” is to potentially throw out any pretense at editorial accuracy if the “accuracy” harms a large corporation and its bottom line. This is our “Brave New Media”, the corporate media that protects its friends and now lies, unchallenged if need be.

The next assault: the Fox station then filed a series of motions in a Tampa Circuit Court seeking more than $1.7 million in trial fees and costs from both Akre and Wilson. The motions were filed on March 30 and April 16 by Fox attorney, William McDaniels-who bills his client at $525 to $550 an hour. The costs are to cover legal fees and trial costs incurred by FOX in defending itself at the first trial. The issue may be heard by the original trial judge, Ralph Steinberg-a logical step in the whole process. However, Judge Steinberg must come out of retirement if he is to hear this, so the hearing, set for June 1, may go to a new judge, Judge Maye.

Akre and her husband feel the stress. “There is no justification for the five stations not to support us,” she said. “Attaching legal fees to whistleblowers is unprecedented, absurd. The ‘business’ of broadcasting trumps it all. These news organizations must ensure they are worthy of the public trust while they use OUR airwaves, free of charge. Public trust is alarmingly absent here.”

Indeed. This is what our corporate media, led by such as Rupert Murdoch, have come to. How low we have fallen.

The four children of Bruce and Liane Kohn Clorfene:


Eden at one-year with her dad, Bruce Clorfene

Eden Clorefene_NLehrer_20110611

The multi-talented Eden Clorfene Elieff as photographed by her 2nd cousin, Nancy Bonar Lehrer. Both Eden and Nancy are oboists.


Eden Clorfene Elieff (b. March 12, 1956) and her husband Tom Elieff with their daughter Lydia (born in Moscow, adopted in 1999).

In addition to being an oboist, Eden Clorfene Elieff is also a writer:

The Root-a

The Root-b


Lydia Elieff, daughter of Eden Clorfene and Tom Elieff at her Bas Mitzvah Party as photographed by Nancy Lehrer

Erica and Audry_NLehrer_20110611

The Clorfene Twins (b. December 10, 1957) l-r: Erica and Andrea. Erica is married to Richard Trojan; Andrea’s husband is Richard Winship.

Erica Clorfene and husband Richard Trojan

Erica Clorfene and her husband, Richard Trojan

Jeremy Clorfene_NLehrer_20110611

Jeremy Clorfene

Jeremy's Family

Jeremy Clorfene with his wife Dana Slotar and their children: l-r: Romy, Tess, and Jacob.

Jeremy's wedding

Bruce Clorfene’s Family l-r: Richard Winship, Andrea Winship, Erica Trojan, Richard Trojan, Bruce Clorfene, Dana Clorfene, Jeremy Clorfene, Liane Kohn Casten, Tom Elieff, Eden Elieff. June 29, 1997.


l-r: Bruce Clorfene, Arthur Shapiro, Jeremy Clorfene, Dana Clorfene, Andrea Clorfene Winship, Richard Winship, Eden Clorfene. Richard Trojan, Erica Clorfene Trojan


l-r: Bruce Clorfene, Linda DeWoskin Clorfene (Bruce’s 3rd wife), Merrill Bonar, Edith Brin Poppie, Linda Poppie, Sandra Bonar, Norman Shapiro, Leona Shapiro. Sitting: Joe Poppie

Meyer Klorfein aka Meyer Klorfine b. Mar. 18, 1898 Yanov,  Imperial Russia; d. Nov. 7, 1971, Champaign, IL. m. Ida Borowsky b. Feb. 4, 1907; d. Aug. 22, 1992, Champaign, IL; father: Nacham ‘Nathan’ Borowsky, b. March 6, 1880. When Meyer registered for the WW I draft in 1918, Meyer listed his profession as: machinist. By 1920, Meyer had become the manager of the Klorfine Bros. store in Champaign IL. Later on, in 1935, he operated the Swan Hand Laundry there.

It is notable that Meyer’s son-in-law Bill Graff who married Meyer’s only child Lorna, is buried in Champaign, IL. Prior to his passing, Bill and Lorna had lived in Nashville, TN for a number of years.

Meyer K.

Meyer Klorfine’s naturalization card of 1921.

Meyer Klorfine

Meyer Klorfine: 1918 Draft Registration Card for World War I

Large Photo Meyer's headstone

The graves of Meyer and Ida Klorfine at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Urbana, IL.


Lorna Mae Klorfine b. Jun. 12, 1939 Champaign IN; m. William Arthur ‘Bill’ Graff d. May 6, 2011.

William Graff

William Graff, husband of Lorna Klorfine

Obituary of William Arthur Graff

GRAFF, William Arthur – Born January 1, 1940 in Terre Haute, Indiana, passed away May 6, 2011. He was a graduate of Danville High School in 1957, GMI Kettering University in 1961, MBA at MTSU in 2002. Was a career employee of General Motors – Central Foundry in Danville, Illinois and Saturn Corporation in Springhill, Tennessee. Mr. Graff was an avid sports fan, Active member of West End Synagogue, organizer and treasurer of the GMI Alumni Club in Nashville. Mr. Graff is survived by his wife Lorna Klorfine Graff; sons, Michael (Lisa), Jay (Amy) and Aaron Graff; grandchildren, Lukus, Noah, Olivia and Sophia. Funeral services will be conducted at West End Synagogue at 2 pm on Sunday. Graveside services will be held on Monday at 2 pm at Mt. Hope Cemetery, Champaign, Illinois. In lieu flowers donations may be made to West End Synagogue, Hadassah or Cure PSP. MARSHALL-DONNELLY-COMBS, 201 25th Ave North, Nashville, Tennessee 37203. 615-327-1111.

Children of Lorna Klorfine and William Graff:

Michael Graff m. Lisa

Jay Graff m. Amy Lipka. Children:

Noah Graff

Aaron Graff

Milton ‘Mike’ Klorfine, BS Chemistry University of Illinois 1925;  b. Jun. 30, 1904 IL; d. Jun 24, 1988, La Jolla, CA. m. Mildred Doris Reisenfeld b. Aug. 27, 1910, Ukraine, Imperial Russia, d. May 17, 2004, Glenview,  IL on August 11, 1939. Mildred owned a clothing store which gave her a substantial income. Children:

Byron Klorfine b. 1939; died in a drowning accident Mar. 26, 1964

David Klorfine (aka David Lionel)

Hyman ‘Hy’ ‘Ham’ Klorfine aka Hamilton Clorfene Attorney (Rappaport, Clorfene and Rappaport: Chicago IL) b. May 17, 1908 IL; d. Sept. 25, 1971, Chicago, IL. 1st wife: m. Pearl Lipkin d. Oct. 31, 1957 on Oct. 24, 1931, Cook County., IL. 2nd wife: m. Hilda Yablong Goldman on Sep. 7, 1960, Cook County, IL.

Obituary of Hamilton Clorfene

1971-09-26 Chicago Tribune (IL) Hamilton Clorfene of 910 N. Lake Shore Dr., beloved husband of Hilda Goldman Clorfene, nee Yablong, and the late Pearl, nee Lipkin; loving father of Dr. Brenda [Dr. David] Solomon of Glencoe, Sheila [Milton] Hyman of Beverly Hills, Cal., and Dr. A. Richard [Linda] Goldman of Northbrook; devoted grandfather of Joshua and Zachary Solomon, Lauren Hyman and Heather Goldman; fond brother of Judge Irwin Clorfene, Meyer Klorfine of Champaign, Milton Klorfine, the late William and Harry Klorfine. Services Monday, 1 p.m., at Weinstein Bros. Chapel, 1300 Devon. Interment Westlawn. Member of Chicago Bar and Illinois Bar Assn. and Green Acres Country Club. In lieu of flowers contributions to Michael Reese Hospital, Renal Unit. Visitation at time of service. RO 1-2400.

Child of Hamilton Clorfene and Pearl Lipkin:

Brenda Clorfene MD, Psychiatrist b. Dec. 7, 1939; m. David Sheldon Solomon MD, Psychiatrist

Joshua Solomon m. Angela

Zachary Solomon m. Cindy

Obituary of Hilda Clorfene

CHICAGO TRIBUNE November 29, 2009

Hilda Y. Spertus, nee Yablong, age 93, beloved wife of the late Herman Spertus, Abel Fagen, Hamilton Clorfene and Dr. Louis B. Goldman; loving mother of Dr. Sheila (Milton) Hyman, Dr. A.Richard (Linda) Goldman and Dr. Brenda (Dr. David) Solomon; proud grandmother of Rabbi Micah (Dr. Erin) Hyman, Dr. Lauren (David) Krovitz, Heather Goldman,Benjamin Goldman, Dr. Joshua (Angela)Solomon and Dr. Zachary (Cindy) Solomon; proud great-grandmother of many; dear sister of David (the late Inez) Yablong, the late Agatha (the late Harry) Singer and Janet (the late Jerome) Graff.

Services Sunday, 1 p.m. at the Hennig Chapel of Rosehill Cemetery with interment to follow, 5800 N. Ravenswood, Chicago.

Max Klorfine’s two sisters:

Chaya Malke Klarfein m. most-probably M. Levine in Chicago.

Esther Klarfein m. Max Jacobson b. Sep. 1, 1877; d. Sep. 1972, Chicago, IL on Oct. 26, 1901. Children:

Jack Jacobson m. Dorothy

Annete Jacobson m. Al Kiser

Idelle Jacobson m. Mr. Pintoczi

Harry Jacobson m. Mary

Sally Jacobson m. Jack Feldman

Henrietta Jacobson m. Herman Robins

Josephine Jacobson m. Oscar Levine


  1. found this web site by googling my grandma’s name. she was one of max jacobson and esther klorfine’s children (henrietta). just want to let you know idelle jacobson’s husband was named daniel pintozzi

  2. Hi, I am Brenda Clorfene Solomon, daughter of Hamilton and Pearl. My parents were not divorced. In fact, my mother, Pearl Lipkin Clorfene died October 31, 1957.
    My first cousin Lorna Klorfine Graff are together reading this with great interest.
    Lorna’s husband, William Graff died May 6, 2011.

    Thanks for your corrections and attention.

  3. We have been discussing your family’s store in Champaign, IL at our CU History Group. Someone found your blog with more information about the family! You already have the advertisement one of our members found and posted here:

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