Sunday, May 25, 2014

Leading into the month of Sivan

  • Wednesday we celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem, forty-seven years ago.

  • Thursday we say the Shelah's prayer for the spiritual and physical welfare of our children and grandchildren.

  • Friday we bring in the month of Sivan. I shall be in Hevron.

Something about each.

The reunification of Jerusalem - 28 Iyyar
During the lifetimes of many of us, we were blessed to see the reunification of Jerusalem. During the nineteen year occupation of the Old City, the Mount of Olives and other significant places of Jewish heritage, the Jordanian Arabs destroyed synagogues, other buildings and grave sites, in addition to preventing Jews from approaching these places. (My apologies for the quality of these photos, particularly the ink that bled through.)

And the Kotel Plaza was not the great open space we recognize from the last forty-five years.  There was work to be done.

The archealogy on the southern end of the Temple Mount didn't appear ex-nihilo either.

There were the places where residents of the Old City has been murdered and buried in mass graves - in what was then and is now "the Jewish Quarter." As though there can be any other quarter.

 I have been using the word "reunification," not "liberation," for as long as we cannot go up to the Temple Mount, neither it nor we are liberated.

Above the Kotel on the right, the Chief Rabbinate says that it is forbidden to tread on the holy ground, even in the areas that clearly should not be forbidden. (We are reminded from time to time why the Law of Unintended Consequences is sometimes a good thing.)

But back then, we could get close enough to take pictures through windows that open onto the Temple Mount itself.

Whenever I took people into the Old City back then, we would stop and see how it had looked before the Six Day War. We could not get a better view than this.

A word about united Jerusalem vs what they write in the papers. We waited Thursday night at a stoplight up near French Hill. On the island waiting for the light to change, there were two hareidi boys, maybe ten years old, with their backpacks, no doubt on the way home from school. On the same island were three Arab men, forty-ish, probably also on their way home. Sharing the same small traffic island. No one thought a thing of it.

I heard a long interview last week with Steven Pressfield on his new book The Lion's Gate, about the Six Day War, with a great deal about the reunification of Jerusalem. Some lucky family member is going to get a copy from me.

I have written here and here about two non-family members who were buried on the Mount of Olives and whose graves were desecrated during the Jordanian occupation.

We also have a family member buried there - but not from that period. My wife's second cousin Sheila (Sarah Fruma) Goldson Weiner, born in Cincinnati, made aliyah with her husband and four children, had a fifth here in Jerusalem and died on Yom Yerushalayim thirty-four years ago. She was forty-one. I have lost count of her grandchildren, but there have been over thirty for some time. (Her husband is from Memphis and is related to a third cousin of mine who, last I knew, lived in Tuscaloosa.)

We pray for our children - 29 Iyyar
Rabbi Yeshayahu HaLevi Horowitz, born 1558 in Prague, served as a rabbi in a number of communities in Europe, eventually returning to Prague. After his wife died in 1620, he made aliyah to Jerusalem, where he wrote his seminal work "Shnei Luhot HaBerit" and he became known as the Shelah, the acronym of his book. This particular work - which was meant as instructions to his children - was published by his son some years after his 1630 death. The Shelah left Jerusalem after he and other community leaders were jailed for ransom, and lived in Zefat befiore moving to Teverya, where he died. He is buried in the same compound as the Rambam.

His prayer, which he instructed should be said on 29 Iyyar, the day before the beginning of Sivan, the month we receive the Torah, can be found (with translation) here.

Rosh Hodesh Sivan
We have three Pikholz yahrzeits on the first of Sivan, all buried here in Israel. Two are in Holon - one from Skalat and one, a Pikholz spouse, from Rozdol and this one on the right who lived in Efrat and is buried in Kefar Etzion.

I discussed Hevron here a couple of years ago, including its capture in the Six Day War by the Chief IDF Chaplain, Rav Shlomo Goren.

For a few years, before we moved to Jerusalem, Devir and I used to go to Hevron for a sunrise minyan every time Rosh Hodesh would fall on a Friday. Then for awhile we went every Rosh Hodesh.

Devir has been after me to go, as we have not been there is quite awhile and we plan to do so this week.

It will give me an opportunity to update my Hevron Cemetery website..

Houskeeping notes
The panel discussion I am participating in at the Conference in Salt Lake City has been moved to Monday at 4:45 PM.

My own talk is at 9 AM Wednesday and I have just learned that I have been assigned a room with a seating capacity of 480. Methinks someone is being optimistic. My good friend Renee Steinig has agreed to introduce me, as she did three years ago in Washington DC.

The Conference website has a link for a live stream of "Over 50 of the best conference programs," but they haven't announce which those would be. I don't know if being assigned a room for 480 people qualifies as "of the best." We'll find out. Registration for this is $149.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Uncle Jachiel Had Three Children

My father did not know much about the family history, but he did pass on two tidbits that no one I
Unsigned undated note, written late 1973 or early 1974
spoke to later had ever heard. He told me that his grandfather Hersch Pickholtz, who died when my father was eight years old, had an uncle Selig Pikholz whom I discussed here about thirteen months ago.

And he told me that his grandfather Hersch Pickholtz had a brother Jachiel, who had three children and that his family "never left Europe."

I have no idea why my father knew of these uncles.

My great-grandfather Hersch Pickholz arrived in Baltimore in 1903 and travelled to Pittsburgh, where he added the "t" to his surname.  His older sister Leah Braun and her family had been in Pittsburgh since the mid-1880s. Another sister Bessie was married to David Lozel Frankel and they too lived in the US with the surname Franzos and later some became Francis. According to the 1910 census, Bessie and her husband arrived in 1890.

Based on my father's information, I recorded the brother Jachiel with a wife and three children, in addition to Hersch and the two sisters. I could only guess where Jachiel fit in age order.

It appeared that the four children were born in Podkamen, where we have no records, and Bessie was sent back to Skalat to be married. We knew that Hersch lived in Zalosce, near Podkamen, and when JRI-Poland received access to Zalosce records (births 1877-1890, deaths 1823-66, 1877-97) we saw that Jachiel lived there as well. We see no births for Leah's three children, so they may have lived in Podkamen.

We located a death record for eighteen year old Wolf Pickholz, who died 6 April 1892, identified as the son of Jachiel and Sime. So Wolf would have been born 1873-74. I assume that he is one of the three children of Jachiel whom my father had mentioned, though it is possible that because he died young, he was not included in this count.

I saw no other births or deaths for children of Jachiel, so I assumed that the other children were either born before 1877 or elsewhere - Podkamen, for instance.

JRI-Poland also had a death record for Sime, 6 December 1894, at age forty-six. If she was born in 1848, Jachiel was likely the eldest sibling.

I moved the record next to the headings for clarity. Columns 3 & 4 are missing in the archives' scan.

In column 5, you can see her name on the first two lines. The last four lines tell us that she is the daughter of Aron and Ester Schapira of Skalat. The third line begins with "Ehegat" which Vienna-born Henry Wellisch tells me is an abbreviation for Ehegattin which means "married wife" and that is followed by the name of her husband Jachiel Pickholz. If Jachiel had predeceased her, we would expect the record to say "wdowa" (widow in Polish) or the German equivalent.

On the other hand, there are three choices in column 8 - single, married and widowed - and it's the third box which is checked. So we have conflicting information on this record, but it is more likely that she was a widow.

Then about sixteen months ago, I received an email from Pamela Weisberger asking me this:
Do you know this Pickholz from Zalosce?  Card File of Landowners 1880 in
Lviv archive:  #168/1/2081
Zalosce Card#  29 House # 31 Pickholz Jachil heirs Residential Parcel #95
This card was discovered by Natalie Dunai. I do not have a copy of the card itself, just the transcription.

The card refers to house 31, which we see is where Sime died. Jachiel's son Wolf had also died in house 31. The property was owned in 1880 by Jachiel's heirs, so he must have been dead by then but perhaps not long as the owners were not named.

In any event, it seems clear that Jachiel died before 1880 and the fact that his sister Bessie had a son named Jachiel in 1878 probably means he was dead by then. So he seems to have been in his thirties.

There was nothing else in the Zalosce records telling us anything about Jachiel's other children.

But something else had turned up between finding Sime's death record and Natalie's discovery.

I moved the record next to the headings for convenience.

On 16 December 1899, Jechiel Jakob was born in Loszniow to Arja Meier Tunis and his wife Sara, the daughter of Jechiel and Syma Pikholz of Zalosce. Loszniow is near Trembowla.

Child number two, Sara.

Jechiel Jakob died in 1900 and a daughter Syma Ester who was born in January 1901 died a few months before her second birthday. Another son Moses was born in February 1907 and died later that month.

Two other sons lived to adulthood. Chaim Benzion was born 27 October 1902 and Layzor Izak was born 2 May 1904. My grandfather's first cousins.

The marriage of Arie Meier Tunis and Sara Pikholz was recorded in Trembowla 25 June 1918. It  gives Sara's date of birth as 15 July 1876.

I found Pages of Testimony at Yad Vashem for both sons. One set was submitted by Stanislav Domnovsky of Tel Aviv in 1957. He wrote that he was a "relative." Stanislav died in 1976 and is buried in Kiryat Shaul. I have not followed up who this might be, but he is on my cemetery list for next month.

Stanislav calls Layzor Izak "Leopold" and he was a lawyer, married to Ada Weinberg. Chaim Benzion he calls "Chaim Karol." He was a physician and was killed in Lwow. Stanislav says his wife is Anna Kahane and that they had a four year old son George.

I found this in early 2005. That matters.

At the same time, I found three Pages submitted by Anna Weinfeld of Rehovoth in 1999. One Page was for "Leopold (Layzor)," an attorney, married to Ada Weinber. They had two children, whose names are not mentioned. Children of my father's second cousin. She writes of Leopold "Shot in a group of professionals in Lwow." Her relationship - SISTER-IN-LAW.

Another Page was for "Chaim (Mondek)," a physician with one child. She writes that he served in the Polish army and was taken to the camp Pelashov, near Krakow and that he was "shot to death in the back by a Ukrainian policeman." Her relationship - WIFE!

The third Page was for six year old "Jerzy (Jurek)," born March 1937. This must be Stanislav's George. He was hidden as a Gentile.  She writes further, "He was placed with a Gentile woman and after neighbors told the authorities, he was taken to Skalat  and executed." Six years old. That was July 1943. Relationship - MOTHER!.

I have written before that timing is everything.  Here too. I found these Pages in May 2005. Anna Kahane Tunis Polsiak Weinfeld died in Rehovoth in November 2004.

I should really get to her grave as well.

I spoke with Anna's daughter (from a later marriage) who sent me to a woman named Marta (83 at the time) who knew Leopold and Mondek. She was able to tell me that Leopold had a son living in Wroclaw. I had someone in Poland check and we learned that my third cousin Stanislaw Tunis died in Wroclaw the previous year. I don't yet know if he had children, but I have someone on it.

Anna also submitted a Page of Testimony for Arie Meier Tunis. I assume that Sara died before the Holocaust.

Uncle Jachiel had three children - Wolf born 1873-4, Sara born July 1876. There is another one out there somewhere. Probably born in the early 1870s. My grandfather's first cousin.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dear Cousin Ethel, I've been working on what you wanted.

11th of Iyyar 5774             

Dear Cousin Ethel,

I am still waiting for confirmation, but I am pretty sure I have done at least some of what you asked. A bit later than I'd have hoped, considering that I have been saying kaddish for you for the last six months. But nonetheless.

This is what we knew until recently of our Rosenbloom family.

Here is a chart showing the five children of your grandparents (they are in red), the two children that your grandfather had with his second wife and, over on the far right, the two children that the second wife had with her first husband. (I learned the names Abraham and Bela Resnikov a few years ago. And of course, no one knows what became of Jack Bandis - just that your father had some contact with him early on in the US.)

Alta Kaplan and her four children
For convenience, I marked in green the ones who went to America. And on the left, I put the four children of the older sister Alta Kaplan. All we know about them is that Jakov and one other son each had a daughter before Stalin cut off communication.

There is one other person unaccounted for in that generation, which would be the half-sister Mera (your father always said "Mary")  who was a physician in Moscow. The half-brother Moshe Herschel was killed just after the end of WWI and your brother Maurice is named for him.

Those old Yiddish letters that you gave me years ago include one from Mera dated 13 October 1929, asking your father to send her one of those new devices with tubes you put in your ears, to help hear a person breathing. She wrote her mailing address in Cyrillic at the end of the letter, so we know where she was living in Moscow in 1929. She signed her name "M. D. Goldina." That is the only thing we have telling us her married name. By the time we spoke to your father, he did not remember the name "Goldin."

Top: Shayna Liba & Hymen
Bottom: Mera & Moshe Herschel
I made some unsuccessful attempts over the years to try to find Dr. Mera Goldina, but did not have anything to show for it. I figured that perhaps a medical association might have something, but nothing came of those efforts. I posted on discussion groups from time to time, but mostly moved on to other things.

My friend Logan Kleinwaks has a site where he posts all kinds of eastern European directories, searchable by OCR (that's optical character recognition, a way to search the printed page), and recently he's put up Moscow directories for the 1930s, so I decided to have a look. First I wanted to make sure I had the Cyrillic correct, so I posted the name and address on Schelly Talalai Dardashti's Tracing The Tribe discussion group on Facebook, asking for help from Russian speakers. One thing led to another and Luba Tabolova (a native Russian speaker living in the US) mentioned the "D." as a patronymic.

As you may know, Russians use the father's name as the basis for a middle name. I realized that she must have been using her father's second name David rather than Israel or Srul - perhaps because it sounded less obviously Jewish.

So, thinking that Mera might have remained in Moscow, Luba did a cemetery search for "Mera Davidovna Goldina" and she found a grave in the Malakhovskoye Cemetery in Moscow with precisely that name and the years 1903-1990. That means she died five years after your father. But is it the right person?

The same tombstone named Max Yankelovich Goldin 1905-1979, presumably her husband. We had never seen her husband's name before.

This discovery came to us the day after the yahrzeit of your grandmother and namesake, just a couple of days after your own birthday and the week before the yahrzeit of my grandmother, your Aunt Sarah.

I have no idea how long this photograph has been available online. Perhaps recently or perhaps from the time that you could have actually seen it.

We are still trying to figure out how to confirm that this is your father's half-sister. Luba is trying to get additional information from the cemetery.  She also found a phone number for a Felix Goldin whose father is Max who is about eighty years old. Problem is, the phone number is not valid. but we are working on it.

We'd like to see Felix confirm that
a) he is the son of the couple in the cemetery
b) the Mera Goldin in the cemetery is indeed "ours"
c) perhaps that he knows something about the Kaplans.
But we couldn't make contact. Then last week, I checked my new Family Finder DNA matches and found this:
David Goldin. A second-to-fourth cousin. David as in Israel David, Mera's father? If he is Mera's grandson, he would be my half-second cousin. Is this perfect or what? I emailed him.
Dear Sir,

I see that we have a close DNA match - second-fourth cousin.

My grandmother had a half-sister named Mera Goldin who was a physician
in Moscow. Our last conatct with her was in 1929.

Is it possible after all these years that this is your family? If so please tell me
where you are and how and when I can reach you by phone.

Israel David Pickholtz
A day later, I received a note from a man in Massachusetts, a nephew of David Goldin. David tested at his request but asked that he not have to deal with inquiries such as mine. He didn't say how old David is, but David's father (1910-1983) was born in Greenport NY and lived his whole life there. David's grandfather went to the US from Poland. So David is clearly neither a son of grandson of our Mera.

The nephew gave me David mother's and grandmothers' maiden names and they don't mean anything to me.

Still, the DNA says that David Goldin is a second-third cousin, so the nephew will give me some additional information on those lines.

No one on my mother's side has done DNA testing, so I cannot see if he matches that side.

Luba will continue trying to get information from the cemetery and to make contact with Felix, so I am still hoping we have Mera's grave, even if we don't have any descendants yet.

I'll let you know when we know more.

Israel P.                             

PS - Funny thing. I was speaking to Beverly on the phone and I told her that I thought I had found the missing sister, the doctor. Her first reaction was "Aunt Ethel would be really happy."

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Party on Chromosome 6

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from Dr. Steven Turner in the United States telling me that he had some DNA matches with a number of people in our DNA project. At first, he thought he matched eight Pikholz descendants.  I gave him my standard response about our project's being about how to connect our own families with one another, not so much about connecting with non-Pikholz from the pre-surname period two hundred-odd years ago. And I told him that if he matches more than half of our twenty-seven Pikholz testees, we could talk.
That twenty-seven is a new number. We just received results for my double second
cousin, Lee. Our grandfathers are brothers and our grandmothers are sisters. .I really wanted his mother to test, but it didn't work out. Lee ought to match the other Pikholz very much as I do, but that is not the case at all.

I have thirteen matches within the Pikholz group and Lee has eighteen. In additioon, we have a documented fifth cousin named Cyndi on our grandmothers' side, whom I match accordingly. But Lee matches her much closer - probably due to something on his father's side. I have not gone back to check how Lee matches with the non-Pikholz I have discussed here earlier, but for the newest ones, his place in the DNA analysis is prominent.

Yet another reason that we should test as many people as we can and not just say "Well, my third cousin already tested."
So Steve Turner had a closer look via the ancestral surname window on FTDNA and it turns out

he is a match for fifteen Pikholz descendants. That put him across my threshold of 50% and I had a closer look.

He also matches both my Kwoczka cousins, descendants of the brothers of my great-grandmother. In fact, one of those, Pinchas, is better than all of Steve's Pikholz matches but one.

He joined our surname project at FTDNA, making it easier for me to examine his data. He added his mother to the project as well. She matches fourteen Pikholz, and not all the same as Steve. So clearly he has matches with us both on his mother's side and on his father's side.  (Steve's father's family is from Rohatyn, which is between Rozdol and Skalat, so there is some geographic logic to that.)

So I ran Steve's results on a chromosome browser against all his Pikholz matches, as well as his matches within the non-Pikholz who match most of us. There were a number of very interesting matches, but the match on chromosome #6 was remarkable.

Look at his matches with our group on chromosome #6 between the two vertical red lines on the left. He matches nine Pikholz (the ones whose names are underlined in red) and twelve non-Pikholz. He also has four significant matches towards the center of the chromosome, between the blue vertical lines. Now I have to figure out how to do more with those twenty-one matches on the left.

Well, the one thing I know how to do is to look at those same twenty-one people against Steve's mother. Some of them do not match at all and I omitted them from the comparison below.

The whole group on the left has all but disappeared. Those twenty-one matches of Steve's do not come from his mother. But the large matches towards the center, with Terry and Herb, together with the smaller match with Vladimir, are still there, so those must be matches on Steve's mother's side. Plus a match with Pinchas in the same place, that Steve didn't have.

But aside from the DNA party on chromosome #6, there were a number of other interesting areas. I present here, in table form a number of areas in chromosome #10 and one in chromosome #15. The column headings are: name of the person who matches Steve, chromosome number, spot where the match begins, spot where the match ends, "length" of the match in centiMorgans and number of matching SNPs.

On chromosome #10 on the left, there are six areas with interesting matches, some of which are known close relatives (Marla and Hartley in the third and fourth segments are siblings as are Douglas and Pamela in the fifth), but in general, most are people whom we do not know to be related either to us or to each other. But obviously they are. Probably in the 1700s.

The experts tell us to ignore the small matches, the ones with fewer than four or five or eight centiMorgans (depends which expert you ask). The small segments are supposed Identical By State (IBS) which means they are just left over from some really ancient ancestor and not significant for us today. The larger more interesting matches are said to be Identical By Descent (IBD) which means they match because of some relatively recent, theoretically knowable, mutual ancestor.

But look at the matches on chromosome #15 in green, above. (Or below or wherever Blogger has decided to put them today.) These are all very small matches and nine of the eleven are perfect matches. None of the eleven are as close to one another as second cousins. So I take issue with the IBS/IBD distinction especially when a large group share that small match. I mean, it had to come from somewhere, no? And if it were ancient, would it really have preserved itself in so many distantly related descendants - known to be related by other parts of their DNA?

I really have to learn more about this analysis business. Eleven weeks until the course at GRIPitt.