Meyer Loshak from Hritsiv, Ukraine

Ari’s 3x great-grandfather Meyer Loshak was born on 4 April 1884 in a town that is now called Hritsiv in Ukraine.

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Before WWI the town was called Gritsev, and it was in the Volhynia district of the Russian Empire. In 1879, the year of the Russian census, the Jewish population of the town was 979. There was a pogrom there on 21 Sept 1917. The town was captured by the Germans on 5 July 1941, and a ghetto was established. All the Jewish people of the town (c.1900 at that time)  were murdered either in 1941 or in 1942 after being transferred to another ghetto.

Meyer was the son of Lazarus (Eleazer) Loshak and Dvossie Singer. He came to England in 1906, following the 1905 Russian Revolution. His son Harry has given us the story:

“He was the youngest but one of a large family. He soon displayed a formidable aptitude at the casuistic arguments about the significance of the sacred texts. The result was that he was regarded by his teachers and his father as destined to become a rabbi. He had a remarkable gift for languages. Yiddish was his mother tongue. He quickly acquired the Hebrew and Aramaic needed for the Talmud. Before the age of 13 he had also learnt to read and speak Russian as well as the Ukrainian dialect. When he came to Britain in 1906 he soon became fluent in English, which he spoke without trace of a foreign accent. Having learnt Russian he read widely in Russian literature, both the classic authors and contemporary left-wing literature. It was the latter which, when he was about 14, led him to lose religious faith and to become an atheist, much to his father’s disgust. At 15, he left home and supported himself by teaching Russian to Yiddish-speaking Jews. He joined the Bund, a left-wing Jewish political group which was then allied to the Communist movement. As such, he took an active part in the unsuccessful 1905 revolution. Exactly what his role was, I do not know, but it led to a warrant for his arrest by the Tsarist police. He went into hiding and was later smuggled across the border into Germany to avoid probable deportation to Siberia. After spending a few weeks in Germany, he came to Britain on a ship from Hamburg to London.”

This passport  was issued by the “Headman of Middle Class citizens of Settlement Grizev. The bearer of this document, the Middle Class citizen Meer Leizorovich Loshak, from Volynsky province, Zaslavski region, settlement Grizev, is discharged to various cities and settlements of the Russian Empire till 22 April 1904. Issued 22 April 1903.”

meyerpassport0001

In London, “he took a room in a lodging house and, for a month or two, made a meagre living by selling neckties from a barrow in Petticoat Lane. A fellow lodger, named Pertschuk, who worked for a fur skin merchant in the City, told him of a vacancy at this merchant’s. My father applied for it and was appointed. He remained for a few years, when he left the job and set up in business as a fur skin merchant on his own account.”

This is a photo from 1906.

meyer1906

Meyer married Freida (Fannie) Nisman on 4 July 1907 in the Register Office in Whitechapel (I had never noticed before, but you can see that Joseph Pertschuk was a witness to the marriage).

Meyer Loshak Fannie Nisman_mc

We have many letters that Meyer wrote to his son and other family members, and the National Archives at Kew holds some of his business records. There are also many passenger records showing him travelling to New York on business. He became a British citizen in 1911.

Meyernaturalization

Meyer and Fannie had four sons. This picture shows the family in 1928:

Loshaks 1928

A claim to fame from the Jewish Chronicle, 14 Nov 1947:

meyer JC 14 Nov 1947

Meyer died on 22 May 1937 at 26 Exeter Rd, Kilburn, at the age of 53 (the causes were syncope, coronary occlusion, coronary thrombosis), and was buried at Willesden Cemetery.

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In his will he left many interesting bequests, including to his sister Leah Singer of Poland and her daughter Sosia Gejfman (I believe that they died in the Holocaust). He also mentions other siblings I did not know: “WHEREAS I have been allowing various sums of money monthly to each of my brothers O. Loshak of Tulchin Russia, [and] my sister Chissie Tachtenberg of Odessa Russia … it is my earnest wish that my wife should continue to make them allowances of at least Four pounds a month each.”

I would love to find any descendants of these relations, and more information about them.

An obituary of Meyer was published in the Fur News.

1937 Fur News article on Meyer Loshak.jpg

Ari, this is how you are related to Meyer:

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Eleazer Loshak

Eleazer (or Lazarus) Loshak was Ari’s 4x great-grandfather. We know he was born in about 1845, somewhere near Gritsev, Ukraine. The date of birth comes from this amazing papercut, handed down in the family and now in my possession, which gives the date of his bar mitzvah in Hebrew.

Zoharistic Scroll

I found this information by uploading the image to a wonderful resource called ViewMate on the website JewishGen, where you can ask for translations. Rivka Chaya Baddiel kindly sent me this very helpful explanation:

This is a standard decoration showing the direction of ‘East’ – towards which Jews pray.
The words around the edge of the semicircle are a verse in Psalms 113:3. “From the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof, the Lord’s name is to be praised” – the word used here for ‘rising’ also means ‘East’ (Mizrach). The word in the center of the semicircle says ‘Mizrach’ – ‘East’.

Below that, the center box says ‘to the year of my splendor’ which is the numerical value of the Jewish year 5619 (1858–1859). The boxes to the right and left read ‘From this side comes the spirit of Life’ – (Ab hac parte spiritus vitae – source: Compendia vocum hebraico-rabbinicarum) often put on ‘Mizrach’ signs, as these four Hebrew words begin with the letters m-z-r-ch, which spell Mizrach in Hebrew.

We know from the marriage certificate of one of his sons that Eleazer was a dealer of some kind, and we know that he and his wife Devorah (Dvossie) had eleven children.

One of his grandsons, Harry Loshak, left an autobiography that tells us a bit more:

[Eleazer] was an ultra-strict Chassid who, for religious reasons, never had his photograph taken, and underwent an operation for cataract without any anaesthetic.

I don’t know when he died, or the names of his parents or any siblings.

Ari, this shows how you are related to Eleazer:

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