Sara Opesken Levien (“Sonya” is the Russian diminutive, which she used) was born on December 25, 1888, to Julius and Fanny Opesken in Panimunik, formerly Russia, now Lithuania. (She altered the date later to 1898). By the time her father immigrated to the United States in 1891, she had two younger brothers, Arnold and Max. Sonya’s father changed his name to Levien, the name of the man who had helped him escape from Siberia, where he had been exiled for political activities, and in 1896 brought his family to New York. By the time Sonya, her parents, and her Russian-born brothers were naturalized in 1905, she had two more brothers, Nathan and Edward.