Raye and Maurice Katz – a newly discovered wedding photo

Ari’s 3x great-grandparents, Raye Cohen and Maurice Katz, were married at the Great Synagogue in London on 28 December 1909. I have just been given this photograph of them on their wedding day.

The original photo is at the top, with a digitally enhanced and colorised version below.

Two discoveries about Jacob Cohen

I have written before about Ari’s 4x great-grandfather, Jacob Cohen. Yesterday I made two new discoveries about him.

The first one was a newspaper report showing that in November 1889 he had been assaulted at his own front door:

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East London Observer, 23 Nov 1889, Findmypast.co.uk

I love the things this tells us. He had a hat! He had a sitting room!

The second, potentially much more exciting, is that I think I have found him with his first wife and a daughter, in 1881.

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The address is 8 Hutchinson Avenue, in Aldgate. (Milly, his second wife, was living at no. 12 Hutchinson Ave before their marriage in 1889.)

So now I need to find out what happened to his first wife (Zerah?) and daughter Rose, because we know he was a widower by 1889. More to come on this story!


This second one is not our Jacob Cohen, so still looking …

Bicycles, pickles, and matzos

I recently discovered a South African newspaper online. The Zionist Record is available as part of the University of Florida Digital Collection. Since there are not many South African newspapers online, I took the opportunity to browse the pages, looking for any of Ari’s ancestors.

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In 1958 the paper was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the South African Zionist Federation, and Ari’s 3x great-grandfather, cycle merchant L.K. Hurwitz, took out an advertisement in a special supplement.

lkh p 90 zionist record 1958

(According to Google Translate this says “Drive on a Raleigh pedal bike”.)

Another side of the family was also represented in 1948:

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The Rand Steam Matzo Factory and Cohen’s Bakery were founded by Wolf (Wulf) Cohen, great-grandfather of Ari’s great-great-uncle Manley. The 1945 book The Jew in South Africa: A record of what individual Jews are doing in various spheres of the country’s life, edited by Rabbi Maurice Konvisser and Dora Sowden, lists him as:

“COHEN, Wolf. One of the early pioneers on the Rand and one of the leading figures in the ranks of traditional Judaism in the country. Founder of the Rand Steam Matzo Factory Ltd., and of Cohen’s Bakery. Born in 1848 in Pumpiani [Pumpenai], Lithuania, came to South Africa in 1895 when he immediately concentrated on the manufacture of Matzoth. Imported Matzoth were retailed in Johannesburg at that time at the almost prohibited figure of 2/6 per lb., and the Rand Steam Matzo Factory attained within a very short time an annual production, which at that time was sufficient for the needs of the whole of Transvaal Jewry.

During the Boer War, when the British were advancing in the Free State, and great difficulties were experienced in carrying on the industry, Mr. Cohen was granted a special permit by the Boer Government which enabled him to travel to Bloemfontein for the purpose of obtaining supplies of Kosher flour. While this flour was being ground in Bloemfontein the British Army was approaching the city and the noise of battle could be distinctly heard in the mill. When the occupation of Johannesburg was becoming imminent, the Boer troops attempted to commandeer Mr. Cohen’s supply of flour, but the plan was frustrated by Dr. (now Mr. Justice) F.E.T. Krause, who at that time was commandant of the town.

In 1903 the factory was transferred to Ophirton where it is still situated today.

Mr. Cohen died at the ripe old age of 90 years on the 1st May, 1938, and left in his will considerable sums of money for all Jewish institutions in Johannesburg, and for a number of Talmud Torahs in Eastern Europe. His estate which is not to be wound up for 50 years makes ample provision for his grand, great-grand children, should any of them desire to study Rabbinics in any of the Yeshivas of Europe and Palestine.”

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Part of Wolf Cohen’s will

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SA Jewish Chronicle, 8 March 1946

The South African Sunday Times is also available online, but only for some dates in 1945 (on Findmypast and newspaperarchive.com).

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Ari’s great-great-grandfather Louis Feinstein co-owned a pickle factory before he became a stockbroker, and there were a couple of advertisements in the Sunday Times:

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30 Sept 1945

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19 August 1945

I will continue to search for South African newspapers online, but this is a nice reminder of what can be found in the papers!

Jacob Cohen of Kalisz

Jacob Cohen was born in Kalisz, Poland, in 1850. He was Ari’s 4x great-grandfather. From his marriage certificate, we know that his father was called Moses. We don’t know the name of his mother. Jacob was a widower when he married Milly Gross on13 August 1889 at the Great Synagogue in London. His residence was given as 8 East Mount Street, and his occupation was tailor. We do not know any details of his first wife, or if he had any children with her. The marriage authorisation from the synagogue states that he has no brothers. His Hebrew name is given as Yehuda ben Moshe HaCohen.

The 1891 census shows Jacob with his wife and daughter Rachel living at 24 Green Dragon Yard in Whitechapel. Included in the census record are a married lodger, Fanny Michaels (a tailoress from Poland), and her two daughters, Rebecca (6) and Rachel (4), as well as Jacob and Millie’s two-week-old son, Morris.

They were at the same address in 1901. By this time, three more children had been born. Annie Rosa (born in 1893) died as a baby but Jacob (16) and Solomon (14) are listed and are at school. At the same address are two other families.

Jacob died at 24 Green Dragon Yard on 30 January 1907, at the age of 57. His occupation was given as master tailor, and cause of death was exhaustion and pulmonary tuberculosis.

He was buried at Edmonton Cemetery.

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The Hebrew reads: Here lies Yehuda son of Moshe HaCohen
Died 15 Shevat 5667
May his soul be bound up in the bond of (everlasting) life.

Ari, this is how you are related to Jacob:

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Mindel (Millie) Gross from Kalisz

One of Ari’s 4x great-grandmothers was Mindel or Millie Gross, the mother of Grandma Raye. Her Hebrew name was Mindel Bat [daughter of] Shlomo Zalma Halevy.

I don’t have a photo of her.

Mindel was born in about 1868 in Kalisz, Poland, which had a big Jewish community going back to the twelfth century. The city was famous for its lace and other textiles. In 1827 a Jewish quarter was established. In 1881 the Russian authorities expelled the Jewish residents of Kalisz who lacked Russian citizenship, but I think Millie had already left by then.

“The Jewish neighborhood of Kalisz was in the northwest area of the central city, along the main boulevard – Nowa Street. Nowa and adjacent streets were the site of the Great Synagogue and the House of Study. Along its expanse were the offices of Jewish organizations and clubs, as well as many Jewish shops ranging from large stores to small shops to tiny holes in the wall: bookstores, taverns, shops selling Hebrew and Yiddish newspapers, butchers, fish stores, and boutiques.”

“In 1939, on the eve of the German invasion, the Jewish population of Kalisz numbered over 20,000. There is no Jewish community in Kalisz today.” (Holocaust Encyclopedia)

More information and photos of Kalisz can be seen here.

According to her grandson Michael Arkus, Millie was orphaned in Poland at the age of 4 and was brought to England by an uncle called Peter who settled in England after being captured when fighting against the British in the Crimean War. I have been unable to find out who this uncle is.

My big breakthrough with Millie came when I was able to order her daughter’s birth certificate, giving me her maiden name of Gross. I could then find her marriage certificate. She married Yehudah (or Jacob) Cohen on 13 August 1889 at the Great Synagogue in London.

The marriage certificate gave me the new information that Jacob was a widower, and that Millie’s father was Solomon Gross (deceased), a general dealer.

I now also have the marriage authorisation for the couple. This mentions her uncle, and gives her address before marriage as 12 Hutchison Avenue, Gravel Lane, Houndsditch.

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I checked the census to see who else was at this address, and found the family of Jonas Barnett, also from Kalisz. I am hoping that this will lead me to other family members.

In the 1891 census they were living at 24 Green Dragon Yard, in Whitechapel, and her name was given as Amelia. In 1901 her name was given as Minnie. By the time of the 1911 census she was a widow, aged 42, living at 10 Fremont Street in Hackney. In addition to four of her children, there were two boarders: Cyril and Leo Krantz, aged 12 and 11, from Australia.

Millie and Jacob had six children: Rachel (Raye); Morris (Maurice), who became a journalist and film producer and married the glamorous German dancer and actor Lore Sello; Annie Rosa who died as a baby; Jacob (Jack), who was killed in action on 5 August 1916 aged 21 and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France; Solomon (Sidney), who owned a rag trade factory; and Esther (Hettie), who married an East End tailor whose family were also from Kalisz, Jack Arkus.

Millie died aged 64 on 20 July 1932 at 12 Anson Rd, Cricklewood. The cause of death was “myocarditis, arteriosclerosis, infarction of the lung”.

Millie’s gravestone at Edmonton Cemetery

Ari, this shows how you are related to Millie:

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Grandma Raye

Ari’s 3x great-grandmother Rachel Cohen was always known to me as Grandma Raye. She was born at 8 East Mount Street in Whitechapel on 5 Feb 1890, the first child of Jacob (or Judah) Cohen and Mindel (Millie) Gross, who had emigrated from Kalisz in Poland.

It took me a long time to get hold of her birth certificate as there were so many Rachel Cohens born in Whitechapel, but the 1939 Register gave me the exact birth date and I could then order it and finally discover her mother’s maiden name.

One very sad discovery I made was that Rachel had a baby sister called Annie Rosa, who was born in the last quarter of 1893 and died in January 1894. Rachel would have been just three years old when this happened.

annie rosa cohen


In the same year, Rachel started attending Chicksand Street School, as we know from the London, England, School Admissions and Discharges, 1840–1911 collection on Ancestry:

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In the 1901 census the family are living at 24 Green Dragon Yard, just off Brick Lane.

In 1908 she became engaged to Maurice Katz. This was announced in the Jewish Chronicle:

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And the wedding took place on 28 Dec 1909 at the Great Synagogue in London when she was just 19. Their two daughters were born in 1910 and 1914.

The earliest photo I have of Raye is this very formal one taken in Whitechapel. I have no idea who the other women are!


This one was taken in 1930.


And this is a lovely one with Maurice.

Maurice and Raye

Raye died from bronchopneumonia on 21 Jan 1976 at Whittington Hospital in Islington.

Postscript: I now have the birth and death certificates for Annie Rosa. She was born on 27 Aug 1893 at 24 Green Dragon Yard, and died of measles at the same address on 26 Jan 1894.

Ari, this shows how you are related to Raye:

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