Schlaum Levin Feinstein is Ari’s 6x great-grandfather, born in about 1760 in Palanga, Lithuania.
The only record we have for him is the 1845 All Lithuania Revision List on JewishGen, which tells us that he is no longer listed because he died in 1830.
The LitvakSIG page tells us that “Revision Lists (“Reviski Skaski”) are comprehensive lists of the taxpaying population to which almost all the Jews belonged. They were first recorded in 1772. The last Revision List was compiled in 1858. Revision Lists were revised or updated, sometimes several times, until the next census was recorded. Such information frequently covered a period of ten years or more. Revision Lists are by far the most useful of all of the 19th century records. These records are written in Russian (Cyrillic) except for those in the Memel (Klaipeda) Archive, which are written mainly in German. Some records contain additional notations written in Yiddish or Hebrew.”
With such a small amount of information, all we can do is to follow all the branches of the family and hope that more clues emerge or that new information is online. Schlaum and his wife (her name is not known) had three sons: Hirsch Schlaume, Abram Schlaume and Shmuel.
Hirsch Schlaume was born in 1787 in Palanga and died in 1842. Again, the military lists from 1845 give us the information that help us piece together this branch of the family:
His two sons, Jossel (born 1811) and Michel (1814) are not recorded anywhere else, and I do not know what happened to them.
Schlaum Levin had a brother called Behr Levin, who died in 1838 in Palanga. His three sons were Moses Behr Feinstein (1813–1893), Elias Behr Feinstein (born 1815), and Levin Behr Feinstein (born 1819).
Moses Behr married Hanna and died of a heart attack in 1893 in Liepaja, Latvia. Hanna died in 1896 of kidney disease. Their daughter Sheina was born on 30 Dec 1846 in Liepaja.
Nothing more is known about Elias Behr or Levin Behr. It’s very frustrating that we have so little information, but I continue to hope that more will turn up!
Ari, this is how you are related to Schlaum Levin:
The fourth record is obviously a relation, and it turns out that Basia Ziv (or Sive) married Shaya’s second son, Zusman. They emigrated to South Africa. (He died in 1931 and she died in 1933. They are buried at Brixton Cemetery, Johannesburg.)
They left a joint will:
The Revision List (census) taken on 29 May 1858 gives us another clue about Shaya:
The first entry is for Shaya’s oldest son Yankel in 1897, but the second tells us that his father’s name was Hatskel. If you are interested in the process by which names became surnames, there is a really good article here.
Earlier this week I was contacted by someone who found me through the JewishGen Family Finder. This is a wonderful resource that allows you to list the names and places that you’re interested in, so other researchers can find you to share notes.
Her query was “I am searching for Nisman family from Parichi. I can go back to my 4 time G grandfather Haim Nisman.” I was pretty sure from this that we were related, and there is a Hayim Nisman in our tree. He was married to Haya Nisman who was the daughter of Ari’s 4x great-grandfather, David Nisman. My notes told me that Haya and Haim were cousins, but I didn’t know who Haim’s father was.
Further discussion and a sharing of names and stories helped me work out that Hayim’s father Iosif (or Yosel) Nisman is likely to have been the brother of David.
What we know about David is that he was the son of Girshev Nisman. He was born in Belarus in 1854, married Sarah Volfson in about 1873, and died some time before 1919. (This is based on the fact that his grandson David was born that year and would not have been named for him if he was still alive.)
In 1907 David was recorded in the Belarus Duma Voters List:
According to his daughter’s marriage certificate he worked as a wood merchant or general merchant. Both Nisman families lived in Parichi, Belarus. Many Jewish people there worked in the timber trade, taking advantage of the abundant forests and the river for transport.
After the two cousins Haya and Hayim married, they had six children – three boys and three girls.
As a result of the new information from my new third cousin once removed, I now know the names of many more relations from Parichi, and some of their stories. But some of the information is so terrible that it’s hard to find the right words.
What happened to the Nismans in Parichi on 18 October 1941 can be seen in the records of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Database:
These are all relations whose names come from a “List of Jews from Parichi who were murdered near Vysokii Polk, 18/10/1941”. For example, Riva was born in 1935 to Iosif’s son Godal and his wife Sosya. According to this evidence, she was shot at this murder site along with her family, aged just six. The list contains 18 pages and 840 names.
The entry for Parichi in the Encyclopedia of Jewish Life says that “In 1939, the Jewish population was 1881. The Germans occupied Parichi on 5 July 1941, murdering about 140 Jews in August. Subsequently a ghetto was established and on 18 Oct, 1700 were murdered at the nearby village of Vysokii Polk.” (p. 969)
An article by Wila Orbach called “The destruction of the Jews in the Nazi-occupied territories of the USSR” (East European Jewish Affairs, 6:2, 14-51, DOI:
10.1080/13501677608577241) gives some of the background:
“In many Ukrainian and Byelorussian urban centres Jews accounted for 25-80 per cent of the population. The outbreak of the war and the unexpectedly swift German advance caught the Jews as much unawares as the Soviet command. There was practically no escape for the Jews living in Byelorussia and the Ukraine west of the River Dnepr. Many Jewish families who had attempted to flee eastwards on their own, found themselves, even after having covered several score kilometres, overtaken by the Germans and returned home.” (p. 15)
“Many Jewish families, including for the most part women, children and old people, did not attempt to escape for fear of the hardships of the flight and the uncertainties of life in unfamiliar places. Some of the older people believed that the occupation would not differ greatly from that which they had experienced in World War I. Not even rumours of ghettoes in Poland perturbed them.” (p. 16)
“The Germans began to liquidate the ghettoes as early as the autumn of 1941. … By the end of that year the majority of the Jewish communities ceased to exist.” (p. 28)
It seems that Haya was evacuated to Tashkent (Uzbekistan) and lived there until her death in the 1970s. This is a photo of her with her children:
Isaac Katz was the father of Maurice Katz, and was Ari’s 4x great-grandfather. He was born in about 1842 in Ekaterinoslav, Ukraine (now Dnipropetrovs’k), and died in Hackney, London on 1 Jan 1912.
He married Hinda (later called Jane) in about 1863 while still in Ukraine, and they had five children there. I only know about Maurice, his older brother Nathan, and sister Rosalie, but the 1911 census shows that the total number of children born before then was five, and none had died.
(Nathan married Lea Agi on 22 May 1907 at the Great Synagogue in London, and died in Torquay on 2 Nov 1959. In 1906 Rosalie married Boris David Drusinsky in Paris. He was a dentist, who changed his name to Dee. Rosalie died in 1977 in London.)
I don’t know when Isaac came to England, but he was recorded in the 1901 census, living at 35 Fashion Street in Spitalfields (see http://wiki.casebook.org/index.php/Fashion_Street). He is 59 and a shirt manufacturer. Another two families were living in the same house: Samuel Cohen, a tailor from Russia, with his wife Rosa and three children; and David and Annie Davis, with their five-month-old baby Abraham.
In 1911, the year before he died, he was living with his son Nathan (an underclothing manufacturer) at 7B King Edward Rd in Hackney, and no occupation is given.
Isaac did not become a British citizen, so there are no naturalisation documents. There are no photos of him either. He died at home in Hackney at the age of sixty-nine. The cause of death was cancer of the stomach. His occupation is given as Draper (Master).
His will shows that he left estate to the value of £475.
He is buried at Willesden Cemetery. The open hands on the gravestone signify the priestly blessing, indicating that he was descended from the tribe of Cohen. The name of his father is partially eroded, but seems to be Yehuda Leib HaCohen. I don’t know the name of his mother.
Ari’s great-great grandfather Louis (pronounced in the French way rather than the English) was born Ludwig Feinshtein on 28 Oct 1900 in Libau (Liepaja) in Latvia, and died on 15 Sep 1972 in Johannesburg, South Africa. His birth is recorded in the Latvia Births Database on JewishGen:
The story told by his wife Rose was that Louis’ mother Hinda died in 1901 and the children (Louis and three older sisters – Bessie, Mary and Sara) were sent to stay with relatives (I don’t know who these relatives would have been). His father Charles (see Family stories: murdered for a wedding suit) and older brother Sam went to South Africa to join his brother (probably this was Charles’s brother Aron who had emigrated in 1889). In 1907 the uncle sent money for the children to come to South Africa.
So in 1908 Bessie, who was twelve, boarded a ship to London with Sarah, Mary and Louis. The journey took several days, and the passengers were told that the ship might capsize or take extra days to reach London. Bessie panicked and hid a couple of loaves of bread. She was caught and reprimanded, and asked where her parents were. She told them that she was in charge of the children and was forgiven. They then went by another ship from London to Cape Town (looking at a map, it is possible that they went by sea from Libau to Hamburg rather than overland, and then from Hamburg to Hull). It is very hard to imagine how they managed this journey on their own but presumably people helped them. The Jewish Heritage Trail in Hull includes this stop:
13. Anlaby Road – Emigrants’ Waiting Room
In 1871 the North Eastern Railway Company built a waiting room for transmigrants on Anlaby Road, close to Hull Paragon Station. This helped to reduce a possible threat to the health of local inhabitants and offered a shelter where passengers could make contact with reputable ticket agents. The building was enlarged in 1881 to provide separate rooms and washing facilities for men and women. Trains with as many as seventeen carriages set off from a long platform at the back of the waiting room, many of them on their way to Liverpool via Leeds. The number of migrants using the waiting room began to fall in 1907 when a dockside rail terminus was built, and the decline continued after the First World War as immigration quotas were imposed by the United States. It closed in 1999 but was reopened in 2003 as a club for Hull City supporters.
A plaque in Paragon Station commemorates the 2.2 million people who passed through the Emigration Platform, Hull on their way to America, Canada or South Africa. Among them were about half a million European Jews, hoping to find a better life elsewhere.
We went to look at it a couple of years ago but it was full of football supporters and I was too scared to go in 😦
The children stayed for a week at the Poor Jews’ Temporary Shelter in London, which records that they had come to Hull on the ship Omsk. I haven’t found these passenger lists.
I think that Louis attended the Jewish Government School in Doornfontein (see some lovely photos here) and then Jeppe High School. I have emailed them to ask if they have any records. (Update 16 Aug: A very prompt reply: “I have checked the admission registers and the school magazines which list the new pupils every year but could not find your grandfather, Louis Feinstein. I even checked the Jeppe Prep admission register to see if I could find him but no luck.”)
The next family story about Louis was that in 1917, at the age of 17, he tried to join the army. His father had him recalled and brought home. In 1918 he again joined up, hiding in a compartment on a train for Potchefstroom. There he had his military training and left by boat for Salisbury, England, with the South African Jewish forces. Armistice was declared in November of that year and Louis volunteered for service in Vladivostock, Russia. He fought for the British against White Russia. Eventually he was repatriated and returned to South Africa.
He looks so young in the photo above. Here are the military records I have for Louis.
These are quite hard to read, but they do show that he lied about his age! One gives his year of birth as 1899 and the other as 1897. They show that he served in the 2nd South African Infantry for 305 days, enlisting at Potchefstroom on 15 April 1918, then being discharged on 17 May 1919 after re-enlisting in the Machine Gun Corps, North Russian Relief Force at Whitehall on 19 May 1919.
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.
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.
(Update 15 November 2018)
Since I wrote this piece I have discovered that Eleazer was the author of this postcard, sent to his son Meyer in 1912:
Courtesy of ViewMate again, I know that it is addressed to ‘My dear son Menachm Nachum’.
The letter acknowledges receipt of 14 rubles and also a letter, and another letter notifying Meyer’s change of address. Then he asks Meyer to write at least once a month.
Later he writes about treatment he is receiving for a cough. He says that, on the doctor’s orders, he takes a daily walk to the forest to breathe fresh air. He mentions his daughter Rachel who is in Kasirtin (?) staying with Moshe Weinbaum and doing much better [This daughter was born in 1892, and later married Mordko Daniel Hirsz and emigrated to the US, with a daughter Dollie, born in 1921]. From Chisa and Nuta we expect … good this year, and Chisa is pregnant. From Susa we hear good, and on Passover she gave birth to a boy.
So we now know that Eleazer died some time after 1912, and before 1919, when Meyer’s third son was named after him.
Isaac Abram Feinstein was Ari’s 4x great-grandfather. He was born in about 1827 in Polangen (now Palanga), on the Baltic coast of Lithuania, and died on 23 March 1901 in Libau (now Liepaja), which is further north on the same coast, in Latvia.
We don’t know much about him, but some records are available on JewishGen, including one from the All Lithuania Revision List Database from 1845 (below):
and one in the Latvia Deaths Database:
Isaac (called Itsik) and his wife Sheva had six children that we know of. Three of these children (Charles, Jacob and Aron Feinstein) went to South Africa, but a daughter (Johanna or Jennie) went to Asbury Park, New Jersey, where she married a man called Louis Solomon, proprietor of an automobile shop.
Having been in touch with her descendants, it was nice that DNA testing told us that she really was from the same Feinstein family.