Mendel (Manny) Chulew was born on January 5, 1924, in Rymanow, Poland. Its pre-war population was more than 90 percent Jewish. Manny was the son of a small business owner. As war approached in September 1939, Manny’s family fled east into Russian-occupied Poland to escape persecution. Late in 1940, Soviet authorities shipped the Chulews’ to work camps in Siberia along with over 50,000 other Polish Jewish refugees.
When the Germans attacked on Russia in June 1941, the Siberian refugees were released. The Chulew family made their way to Kazakhstan, in Central Asia, where they lived until 1946. On their return trip to Poland, Manny’s mother died in Lublin. They continued their journey only to find that every Jew in their city had been killed. The family reached a displaced persons camp at Steyr, Austria, and spent nearly five years in various camps before immigrating to New York in December 1951.
Manny’s uncle convinced the family to join him in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the summer of 1952. Within a month of their arrival, the family opened Chulew Furniture. In 1960 they acquired Barr Furniture, which they operated for the next several decades. Manny became a well-known member of the Kenosha business community and married Lenore Shain of Chicago in 1956. The couple have two daughters.