Sunday, January 26, 2014


The Kling Family
A few weeks ago, we were in Nahariyya for Shabbat and made a few cemetery stops on the way home, including this one in the Kiryat Yam section of the Afek Cemetery, at the edge of Kiryat Bialik. It had been on my list for years, almost since the beginning of my Pikholz research.
Yaakov and Zisl Kling and their adult son Yehudah Inbal. Zisl's stone (right) says "bat Mordecai and Sarah Pickholz."

I first came across this family fourteen or fifteen years ago in the International Tracing Service microfilms at Yad Vashem. These films were a small portion of the ITS index and had been held by Yad Vashem since the 1950s. (Only in 2008 was the whole set made available.)

Zisl Sofia Kling, formerly Willner, originally Pikholz, daughter of Markus and Sara, born 23 March 1920 in Lwow, followed by a list of places she had been from 1941  - the Lwow Ghetto and various camps - until her arrival in Israel in 1948.

I had no idea who she was. I had no couple named Markus (probably Mordecai) and Sara Pickholz (and even today I still don't have such a couple) and a family living in Lwow could have come from any of the east Galician towns where Pikholz families were known to have lived.

I found an address and phone number in Kiryat Yam (near Haifa) for Yaakov and Zisl Kling but had no success in contacting them. I even went there once, but no one answered and none of the neighbors were helpful.

Eventually, I tried the burial society, where I found that Yaakov had died in 1987. I thought that perhaps Zisl was in a retirement home or living with a son or daughter, but had no success in locating her. I set it aside. There was so much else to do and many, more promising leads to follow.

Once the full index of ITS records became available in 2008, the folks at ITS became more cooperative and I acquired copies of the substantial files for both Yaakov and Zisl. There were several mentions there of a son Leon who was born in 1947. I eventually found him buried next to his father, identified as Yehudah Inbal. He had died in 1983. By then, Zisl had died (in 2005) and was buried on the other side of her husband.

I also learned that the "Willner" on the first card was Zisl's first husband, Arthur Willner. No mention of children there..

In the meantime, I learned that the Klings had a second son, Motie (=Mordecai), born 1959, with an address in Eilat. After not succeeding in contacting him, I went to the apartment building but did not see him name on any of the boxes. I happened to see the mailman and he had never heard of Motie Kling.

I set this aside until I had the opportunity to visit the grave, but that opportunity never seemed to come up.

The Invitation
Eventually I did visit the graves and the fact that someone took the trouble to name Zisl's parents as Mordecai and Sarah Pickholz was encouraging. I figured that when I'd find someone, they'd know something. Perhaps some identification of Mordecai and Sarah. Perhaps Zisl had brothers and sisters. Perhaps birth places and ages for Mordecai and Sarah.

Then I saw the paper. Right there on Yaakov's grave, held down by two stones.

Deciding to literally leave no stone unturned, I picked up the paper and to my surprise, I found an invitation. Barely legible.

I neglected to photograph the invitation when I was there...
I could make out the date, 30 January 2013. It had been out in the elements for nearly a full year.

I could also make out the name of the wedding hall, in Haifa.

But no names of any sort. Well with any luck, that hall had only one affair that day and with a bit more luck, they'd put me in touch with the family.

... so I thank Dana Michaelovici for going to do it for me.
Than I turned the card over and learned that this was a wedding. Gal and Maor. No surnames, but a picture.

One of them must be a Kling grandchild - either from Yehudah or from Motie. I learned later in the week that there is in fact a custom among some Hassidic groups for the grandchildren to go to the cemetery to invite the grandparents and learned further that some actually leave invitations.

I get home, phone the hall, they won't give me any surnames, but they give me a cell phone number. I call but the person who answers knows no couple named Gal and Maor. I call the hall again and they refuse to give me anything else, invoking the usual claims of privacy.  They also refuse my request to forward a letter to the couple or the families.

Next I tried the Haifa Religious Council where - if one of them lived in Haifa - they might have registered the marriage. The Council might have provided the rabbi as well, if the couple had no preference of their own. The folks there were very cooperative. It was a simple search since I had the precise date. But they had no such couple. I tried Kiryat Yam.. Nothing there either. Next would be Kiryat Motzkin and Kiryat Bialik. I had had some issues with K. Motzkin regarding the cemetery there, so I started with K. Bialik.

The clerk there, a woman named Kochava, looked for all the men named Maor and found nothing. Then she checked the women named Gal and found nothing there either. Next she tried the date and there they were. Gal was the groom and Maor was the bride!

Since you have to document that you are Jewish for the Rabbinate, they had a record that Gal's mother was Sarah Kling, and HER mother was a Pickholz. Sarah was apparently named for Zisl's mother. So there is a daughter, Sarah, in addition to the two sons, Yehudah and Motie.

Kochava won't give me a phone number without permission, so after we hang up, she calls Gal, get's Sarah's phone number, calls her and comes back to me. Sarah lives in Kiryat Bialik and is very interested, but I should phone in the evening.

Perhaps she'll be interested in the seventy-odd pages that I had from the ITS.

Meantime, I recorded Sarah, Gal and Maor in my database.

Calling Sarah
In the meantime, I make a list of questions.
  • What does Sarah know about her grandparents? Ages? Where were they born? Who are THEIR parents?
  • Did Zisl have brothers and sisters? 
  • Does Sarah have siblings besides Yehudah and Motie? 
  • What other grandchildren are there besides Gal? 
  • Why does Zisl's grave have Freida in parentheses, but the ITS card has the additional name Sofia? 
  • What family members were killed in the Holocaust?
  • Were there any children from Zisl's first marriage to Arthur Willner, who I assume was killed in the Shoah. (Note to self: Perhaps Sarah has never heard of Arthur Willner or a first marriage - I must be careful with this.)
  • Does she mind if I tell the story on my blog, with names.?
So I spoke with her. She goes by Sarit. As usual, it's a bit of a project to explain who I am and what I want, especially when I have no clue who she is either. Sarit doesn't know much. She has just the two brothers, who are both dead, but they left children. She is widowed and has just the one son. She knows that her mother had a sister, but she doesn't recall if her name was ever mentioned.

She knows about her mother's first husband and even has a photograph of him. She was really surprised that I knew of him.

But she has pictures and papers, including some documents with her mother's story, which were prepared as part of her claim for reparations. That kind of thing is likely to be very helpful. Sarit will have to get that organized and scanned for me and already wants to when I am coming to Kiryat Bialik.

She explained the Sofia/Freida thing. Sofia was a name she never used here and Freida was a name she decided she liked, so she'd use it from time to time.

In the meantime, I emailed her a few of the cards like the ones that appear here above and will Dropbox her material from the ITS files. I also prepared a little chart with what I know of the family and indicating what specific information I hoped she could give me.

I am hoping that this brick wall will actually come down in the next few weeks. Perhaps we can even find her some living family, even if it's distant.

Housekeeping notes
1, I am posting this Sunday, 25 Shevat. If you don't know the significance of this date, please see my post from two years ago.

2. Last Monday, I was just interviewed by Marian Pierre-Louis for her weekly Genealogy Professional podcast series. I air on 10 Feb. Afterwards she said she enjoyed listening to me speak because my accent reminds her of her uncle who grew up in Pittsburgh. Marian has already written about the interview - and my Pittsburgh accent - on her personal blog.

Reminds me that when I was in Chicago last summer and I asked my thirteen year old grandson to bring my spare glasses from the box in my suitcase.  He goes into the kitchen and I hear my daughter-in-law say "He means BAHX."

3. Follow up from last week.  I heard from the burial society. arrangements were made by her brother-in-law. Both he and his wife (Freida's sister Rachel Rozner) are long deceased.

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