Israel Isaac Rabi was born on 29 July 1898 into a Polish Jewish Orthodox family in Rymanów, Galicia, in what was then part of Austria-Hungary but is now Poland. Soon after he was born, his father, David Rabi, emigrated to the United States. The younger Rabi and his mother, Sheindel, joined David there a few months later, and the family moved into a two-room apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. At home the family spoke Yiddish. When Rabi was enrolled in school, Sheindel said his name was Izzy, and a school official, thinking it was short for Isidor, put that down as his name. Henceforth, that became his official name. Later, in response to anti-Semitism, he started writing his name as Isidor Isaac Rabi, and was known professionally as I.I. Rabi. To most of his friends and family, including his sister Gertrude, who was born in 1903, he was known simply as "Rabi", which was pronounced "Robby". In 1907, the family moved to Brownsville, Brooklyn, where they ran a grocery store.