Tuesday, August 16, 2022

The Sterns from Paks - The Impossible Dream

My third-great-grandfather Zelig Stern lived in Kalocsa, but in fact he was born in Paks. Those two towns are not far apart, but they are separated by the Danube so getting from one to the other is a longer drive.

His father is Izak Leib. We don't know his mother's name. Zelig named his eldest son Izak Leib (Ignacz), so we know that Izak Leib died before 1840.

I figured there may be Sterns among the ~500 marked graves in Paks, maybe even Izak Leib himself. We had planned to go Tuesday but Rona suggested we move it to Monday. Good decision.

This must be the place

Keep in mind that after the disappointment in Apostag, I had no illusions, but we arranged for the cemetery to be opened and off we went.

A brief history of the community is here. Paks is different from the other towns we visited - it is hilly, while the others were all flat.

It began with a good sign - an old plastic chair was just inside the entrance. We took it with us both for resting and to make note-taking easier.

The burial area is very large. I can only speculate on how much of that open area contains graves with no tombstones.














I had no illusions about finding my fourth-great-grandfather in a grave from before 1840, but I thought I might see him named as the father on one of his children's graves. So I was looking for Sterns and and for any reference to Izak Leib or one of its variations.

We were not inside for long before I saw this group of eleven stones set aside from the others. Not fenced, just separate. Most are Sterns and a few are Engels. I suspect the two families are related by marriage.

Front row: Sandor/Israel Engel, Rosalie Engel, Peretz/Moritz Stern, Meir/Marcus Stern, Keila Stern (Meir's wife), Mordecai/Miksa Stern.

Second row: Israel Stern, Hana Stern (Peretz' daughter), Esther Stern (Israel's mother), Shalom Stern (Israel's father), Henich/Heinrich Engel, Johanna Engel Behr.

I shall show the most significant ones below, some on both sides, some just one. I will not provide full translations, only the relevant genealogy information. (Esther's is fabulous!)

Shalom Stern died 28 Second Adar 5619 (1859). Mother is Esther. Father not named. No age given. Esther Stern, Shalom's wife, died 30 Sivan 5616 (1856). Mother is Chana. Epitaph is an acrostic. Israel Stern is their son and predeceased them both. He died at twenty-four on 14 Shevat 5611 (1851)

Peretz Stern, known as Moritz, died in 5623 (1863). Mother is Esther. Chana Stern is his daughter. She died 16 Av 5616, 16 August 1856. Her epitaph is in Yiddish. Meir Stern, known as Marcus, died 1 Tammuz 5630 (1870). Mother is Esther. Keila Stern, Meir's wife, died 27 Tishrei 5740 (1879) at age 61. Her mother is Slava.

Note that Shalom, Peretz and Meir seem to be contemporaries and their mothers are all Esther. It would be a small jump to say that they are brothers. It would be a bigger jump to say that their father is Izak Leib.

We saw maybe another dozen Sterns throughout the cemetery, but with no fathers' names it was impossible to pt them together into a whole. One is a kohen, so is not one of ours.

A large number of the graves are legible, some much older than what I was used to. This couple both died in 5595, 1835, which gave me some hope I might find my Izak Leib.

The weather was hot so after nearly four hours we quit and came back the next day.

We also took some pictures for people who were registered in the JewishGen Family Finder with Paks families.


There was a moment of excitement when I found a grave for this Izak Leib, with a nice acrostic as  his epitaph. But his surname was Blumenstock and he died in 5610 (1850), too late to be ours. 

 

 

 

After three and a half hours the second day, I had enough. Izak Leib Stern, my fourth-great-grandfather is undoubtedly in that cemetery, but even if he had a legible tombstone, I was not going to find him.

I headed back towards the exit and told Rona I would meet her there. Along the way, something pulled me towards a row I had not looked at and suddenly there was this.


Here lies buried


A man of faith, [unclear phrase]

Ate from the work of his hands.

Worked all his days.

Accepted by all his brethren,

all of his life.

The honored man Izak Leib, son of the honored man Meir.

Died and buried on the eve of the Holy Shabbat, 5 Shevat 5586.

May his soul be bound in life.

 

 

 

This stone is 196 years old. Like it was waiting for me.

Now there is no surname here, so all we have is the name Izak Leib and a date before his grandson was named for him in the late 1830s.

But this really felt right. This was the very end of my research trip and I wandered straight to him.

Paks was never a large community and even in 1869 there were fewer than 1200 Jews. Were there multiple Izak Leibs? Aside from Blumenstock?

I have a rule for myself. When I do not have enough proof yet I am quite sure of something, I want to have one more piece of supporting evidence.  The three putative brothers, all Sterns and sons of Esther,  from the group of eleven graves are Shalom, Peretz and Meir. This man's father is Meir.

I think I am going to claim this man as my fourth-great-grandfather. That puts a cap on the trip.

But I will nonetheless go through the Paks records at Family Search.

Rona on Apostag and Kalocsa

Apostag, another quaint town. Since we had already checked  out where it was, we got there fairly easily, Yisroel has to learn to not trust my sense of direction. But we can drive right up
next to the cemetery which is surrounded by a new looking white brick wall. The gentleman who opened the first cemetery for us in Kunszentmiklos said all the combinations are the same. 

 It has a little over 400 graves so a lot to go through. Many were in very poor condition. But we went through and I carefully washed off some of the stones that looked like they had potential.


We scheduled 2 days but were done in less than 2 hours. Kind of disappointing, and now to decide what to do for the rest of the day.


Yisroel’s perfectly happy to go back to the apartment and work on his blog and research. Me on the other hand, I want to see something. I don’t want to get back from 10 days in Hungary and say the only thing I did was visit graves and get lost walking around town on Shabbat!


Following my wanting to see the towns where people lived, I said ‘Lets go back to Kalosca!” It’s not too far, about a 30 minute drive, so we go, and I even convinced him to stop at the farm again, in case they had a program we could see. Of course, they only had 1 program that day, and again it had just finished, so we continued on to Kalosca.


Once there we went down the main street to the parking area where Yisroel said he would wait for me in the car.

Also note, as we were driving there Yisroel mentions that there is a second cemetery, but he doesn’t think any of his relatives are there.


Knowing how easy it is to get information from Yisroel sometimes-He apparently has been accused of talking like a ‘telegram’ ie very few words and you have to figure out what he is trying to say from there. I figured Linda is a horse person, of course she is up at 6am, so I send her an email, and get a
response within 5 minutes!


She tells me about Andras at the Club Hotel. Yisroel pointed out the hotel as we were driving down the street, so I go there. The doors are locked, so I ask at the bakery next door. The lady motions that I should ring the bell. I try the bells next to the various doors in front, still no answer. But that looks like a
restaurant.


So I try the door next to the outdoor seating area, and a lovely elderly gentleman comes out, and walks me around the back. Apparently the hotel entrance is in the back, while the restaurant/bar is from the front.


I wait while he checks people in, and I ask for Andras, is answers that yes he is Andras. I realize he speaks more English than my Hungarian, but he is still not understanding, so I put into Google Translate that my cousin was there 5 years ago, and he showed her the Jewish sites.


Well, his face lit up, “Yes” of course he remembers her!, and there was a man too? I show him my wedding band and his face lights up even more. But he still does not have any rooms for tonight. Back to Google Translate, that we don’t need a room, but are looking for the other Jewish cemetery.

He tries to show me on Google Maps, but then motions if I have a car, and that he will show us. I run back to the parking lot, Why didn’t I just wait there and tell Yisroel is come around???? We pick him up, and thankfully he is a very animated person, because he mixes up right and left. He shows us the cemetery where we had already been, then takes us to the new cemetery, which apparently is kept locked, and then to the old synagogue. I jump out to take pictures while Yisroel takes him back to his
hotel. There is a holocaust memorial next to the synagogue, but I don’t think there are any Jews in Kalosca.


Yisroel comes back, and is ready to head back to the apartment, I want to go to the cemetery, ‘But Andras said it was locked’. Maybe there is a way in. “Why would there be a connection between a Hungarian cemetery and a Jewish cemetery?” Maybe there is a break somewhere, the way there was in Slovakia. Besides, we’re here, and just to give Kavod (honor) to those buried there.


So we drive to the cemetery, looking through the entrance gates to the Hungarian cemetery. As we pass the second one, we see a gaping hole in the brick wall. Excitement rising, we find a place to park and go in.

As we get closer to the wall we see not only this gaping opening, but bricks piled, waiting to be put into place to fix the wall!

We walk in, and I immediately go to the one end to start looking, Yisroel on the other hand starts reading the graves in front of the hole!
Bingo, the exact relatives he is looking for!!!!

You’ll have to read Yisroel’s blog about how the different people we found all fit together, but all in all it turned out to be an exciting day!

Monday, August 15, 2022

Apostag and Kalocsa

 Apostag

I mentioned earlier in this series that at least that at least ten of the Bauers in Kunszentmiklos had been born in Apostag and there are quite a few Bauer records there. So I figured we should have a look at the ~400 graves there, just to see what shows up.

That became our Sunday project, partly because the cemetery in Apostag has a coded lock and there is no need to bother anyone about a key on a Sunday. We began Sunday a bit later than usual as the Steelers played Saturday night and I stayed up for that.

This was definitely a fishing expedition. We did not know which Bauers are buried there. We did not know the condition of the tombstones - certainly the older ones.

We let ourselves in and walked around for a couple of hours, seeing some families we recognized but no Bauers. A lot of stones in poor condition but many of which were easily legible. Just not of interest.

Gaspar Bauer
And as we had already discovered, many Hungarian tombstones do not reveal the father's name. So even if we were to find Bauer graves, they might not tell us anything useful. It made for a frustrating way to start the week.

In the end, we did find one Bauer - Gaspar/Tanhum, who died 9 August 1930 at age 69. Which tells us exactly nothing.



Apostag

Kalocsa

I was ready to go back to Dunaujvaros but Rona wanted to get more of a feel for the places my ancestors had lived, so we went back to Kalocsa, the home of my third-great-grandparents Zelig and Bluma Stern. When we were there last week, I mentioned it to Linda - remember she and I had been here five years ago - and she said I should send her regards to Andrej from the Club Hotel, where we had stayed.

So Rona went looking for Andrej and found him with some effort. He definitely remembered Linda. (Linda is like that - memorable.) Andrej got into the car with us and directed us to the larger, newer, locked cemetery not far away and then took us to the shul. I took him home while Rona walked around and I actually managed to find her afterwards.

Then we went to the new cemetery. It was indeed locked, but the neighboring Hungarian cemetery was open and there was a breech in the wall between them and we pretty much walked right in.

And once into the Jewish cemetery, who is the first person we see? Ignacz Stern, the older  brother of my second-great-grandmother Fani Stern! Called Izak Leib after his paternal grandfather. We knew of Ignacz and his approximate age from his 1871 Kalocsa marriage record to Betti Schneider and now we know that he died at age 68 on 20 March 1905. According to the stone, this was "Esther Taynis," the way my grandmother always said it.


But there was one important bit of information that surprised me, on the very last line. "And his mother's name is Rivka." Not Bluma. We know that Fani (who was born maybe three-four years later) was the daughter of Bluma because it says so on her grave in Kunszentmiklos. And Fani herself is named for Bluma's mother.

Now it could be that there are errors on one or more of the tombstones. And it could be that Fani's mother was Rivka but Bluma brought her up so she was considered to be her mother by the family. And it could be that Bluma and Rivka are sisters, so Fani would be the mother of them both. But I am going to go with Occam's Razor here and say that Ignacz was the son of Rivka and the others were from Bluma. All of them, of course, the children of Zelig Stern.

Not all the stones in the new Kalocsa cemetery were in such pristine condition, but I was not able to identify and other Sterns. Nor did I see either of Fani's two younger married sisters.

But the Kalocsa cemetery had not yet given up all of its surprises. As I discussed earlier, Bluma is a Grunwald from Perkata. That's about seventy kilometers away today. Not very far but not close either.

There are a number of Grunwalds buried in this Kalocsa cemetery I cannot help but wonder if this is Blima's family. None that I can connect to Bluma, but it would not surprise me to know that there is a close connection. This will take some serious work in the Kalocsa records.

Grunwalds in the newer Kalocsa cemetery


Rona Goes to Hungary

 Lot of time to cover. On Thursday we first, went back to Kunszentmiklos, because there
were some important graves that we couldn’t see on the pictures. I remembered the
hiking boots this time, And I brought extra water and the brush, so we did get that
finished up.


I realized after we left, here we are going to places, but not finding out if there are
records somewhere, or a library-OK, maybe I’m thinking like an American. But If this
is where his family is from, then what was their life like? what type of work did they
do? Why did they travel from one town to another? How did they meet each other?
 

Then we went to Kalosca-a quaint town with a small cemetery literally on the side of the road, next to a house. No fence around, and we were able to find some of his relatives there pretty quickly. On the way into town we saw what we have names “Hungarian Gothic” on the side of the road. I told Yisroel I wanted to get pictures on our way back, so he stopped. As I was snapping their pictures I saw a sign with an arrow pointing down a long road. It seemed to be for a tourist attraction, so we took a quick drive.

Apparently it’s a farm where they do a re-enactment of something, I haven’t figures out yet. But they have Lipizzaner horses, as well as horses for carriage rides, and some other stuff.


They had just finished one presentation, and the next was not for 4 hours. So I looked in the
barn, all the horses were eating, but I got pictures of their back sides (Hi Linda), and there
was a mom and foal in a field that I pet for a while.

They had a stand with all kinds of souvenirs, I bought a container of spicy Paprika .

It’s still fairly early, so we stopped at the cemetery in Apostag, just to know where it was for
Sunday. We took a quick look around and realized Yisroel was correct to allow 2 days to
look there. A lot of graves, very old, and worn.

Side note I tried doing a relief on one grave to see if that would help us read what is on the
grave stone. It was still really hard to figure out.

So back to the apartment, I found a small grocery store to get I got rice, and a few other
things as our luggage still had not arrived!


Yisroel is doing a lot of work, matching names, dates, people, trying to locate documements
that match what we are finding. And this is where all the emails to find our luggage fits in
the time line.

So Friday morning we went to Perkita, also a small cemetery in an open field, fairly well
cared for. We found a few people we were looking for, and hoped the connection would be
in Apostag.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Perkata - The Grunwalds

Kalosca - the Sterns

When my cousin Linda and I were here five years ago, we visited Kalocsa, about forty minutes south of Kunszentmiklos. That's where Fani Stern was born before marrying Simon Bauer in Kunszentmiklos and where we knew her father had died in 1862. The cemetery there is adjacent to the main highway, no fence and in quite good condition. Linda found Fani's father Salomon Stern (Yehoshua Zelig) fairly quickly and I found his wife Bluma (d. 1887) a couple of rows away.

Although they raised their family in Kalocsa, the records showed that both were born elsewhere. Zelig Stern, our third-great-grandfather had been born in Paks and Bluma in Perkata. From his tombstone we knew that Zelig's father was Izak Leib and Bluma's death record told us that her parents were Jakob Grunwald and Fani Hercz.

We planned Perkata for Friday and Paks for the following week, but in he meantime, we visited Zelig and Bluma's graves in Kalocsa.


Perkata

I do not know how big the Jewish community was in Perkata. It does not appear in JewishGen's Gazeteer or Town Locator. I had learned from the cemetery organization MAZSHISZ Ogyvezwtoi Titkarsag that the cemetery had twenty-six tombstones and it was unfenced, next to one of the town's streets. I assume that there had been more than twenty-six, but the area was small, so apparently the community was never very big.

Perkata is a twenty minute ride north of Dunaujvaros, where we are staying, and we found the cemetery on Ady Endre Street with no problem.

I had hopes of finding Jakob Grunwald's grave. None of Bluma's children or known grandchildren were named Jakob, so his stone might be relatively new. And legible. His wife Fani died before his granddaughter Fani was born (1842), so chances of finding a legible stone for her seemed lower.

The first two legible stones were Grunwald, in adjacent plots. Ferentz Grunwald (Ephraim Grinwald in Hebrew) died at age 76 on the fifth day of Hanukkah 1896, December 10. Both the Hungarian and the Hebrew are on the same side. His father was not named but his mother is Rachel Leah. (Rachel is spelled resh-yod-yod-tzadi-lamed, not the usual way.)

He could be our Bluma's half-brother from a different mother. Or a cousin.

She appears to be unmarried and her father is Yaakov Yuda. I think I am willing to declare her Bluma's sister, which adds a second name (Yehudah) to my fourth-great-grandfather. This is an easier decision because the community was very small. Bluma's stone does not name her father and having only one of the given names on her death record (Jakob) is not unusual.

I am less certain about Ephraim as a half-brother, but I still think it fairly likely, especially since he and Perel are in adjacent plots. In fact, considering the ages, it seems to me that Pepi is also a half-sister of Bluma, not a full sister.

Here is Perel, Hungarian on one side, Hebrew on the other.. Once again, I apologize for the quality of the photographs.

An additional Grunwald is also buried in Perkata. This is Katalin who is buried next to Lipot Mandl. I assume this is a married couple but there is no further information, though the stone seems to me to be newer.

Other legible tombstones included the families Schlesinger, Heisler, Schon, Klein, Brust and Neuman.



 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Upon our return to Dunaujvaros, our suitcases were delivered, ninety-two hours after our flight landed.



More on Slovakia from Rona

 So Yisroel’s idea of a nice place to stay, and mine are totally different!. Where he
thought Slovakia was not to his liking, I thought it was beautiful, quaint, quiet. It was
the first time I’ve seen stars in the sky in a long time, even with a bright half moon.
The moon was off on the right, and there was a super bright star out on my left.. It
wasn’t like the stars at the Grand Canyon, but definitely beautiful.

We pack up in the morning and we’re off. Yisroel almost didn’t want to stop at the
cemetery since neither of the people who were supposed to meet us could make it,
but I knew this was our last chance, and we had come so far! See the previous post
about my sneaking into the cemetery. I asked Yisroel to come to the gate to point
out where the graves he was interested in were, but he just wanted to get going.
Most of the stones were in really bad shape, so I didn’t feel I could start trying to get
down on the ground to read them. I took a few pictures. Then today, Thursday I
saw some pictures he took 5 years ago, and I was right next to that area!

So now we are on our way back to Hungary to the AirBNB, pleasant enough drive.

On our way into Slovakia we apparently drove through a town that had a sign for a
historic synagogue. I thought that would be nice, so we stopped there. It was
locked, I walked around but could not fine a way in. I got a few pictures, and looked
it up on the internet. I even asked a few people if they knew anything about it, but
they looked at me like they had never noticed it before.

Yisroel thought he found a cemetery in the town, but it was just an empty field. With
a high metal wall around it.

Continued on to Hungary, planning to stop at the Kosher grocery store. Pretty
uneventful the next 3-4 hours.

We got to the store, found parking nearby, which apparently is not very common.
Bought a few things to tide us over till our bags arrive with our food. Well here we
are almost 48 hours after getting a notice our bags made it to the airport, and still
waiting. I found phone numbers for the lost and found at the airport, but it kept
saying busy, please call back.

So I searched on line and found the baggage company’s website so I called the lost
and found dept, and they bounced me around, then just stopped answering my calls.
So I sent very polite mails, first to the lost and found dept. Then I looked further and
found the customer service dept., and sent emails 2 more people there. I got a return
email within 5 minutes, so I wrote her back saying we would be willing to come to the
airport to get our bags, but alas they were already on the delivery truck, which can
take 2-3 days since we are not in Budapest proper! Thursday night and we are still
waiting.

Later I got a response from the delivery company that they are being delivered as
soon as possible. I’m hoping since I contacted them it helps, and they don’t just
push our bags to the end of the list again.

Back up to yesterday, Wednesday-We went to Kunsentmiklos. I put out my hiking
boots to bring, my feet needed air, and of course left them in the apt. I’m sure you’ve
seen the pictures from Yisroel, so I’m walking around on these thorny brambles, in
sandals. Don’t worry, I’m tough!!! We got a lot of pictures, but we didn’t bring
enough towels and water to really clean stones, so they could be read.

This is a video as we were leaving the Inn we stayed at in Slovakia. Imagine driving
through here in pitch dark!


Friday, August 12, 2022

The Bauers of Kunszentmiklos - Part Two

Continuing the story of our visit to the cemetery in Kunszentmiklos. 

As I said previously, I had four goals in mind for this visit.

1. Visiting and photographing the graves of my known relatives.

2. Clarifying the source for my father's name.

3. Clarifying the name of my second-great-grandfather's mother.

4. Gathering whatever information I could about the many members of my great -grandmother's Bauer family.

I addressed goal number 1 here

 

My Father's Name

My father's name is Eliezer Yitzhak. My grandmother said many times over the years that he was named for her mother's brother Lajos Bauer, who was a government official under Emporer Franz Josef. Being a trusting sort, I took her at her word and assumed that Lajos was Eliezer Yitzhak.

But over the years, I began to wonder. Lajos' paternal grandfather was Lazar Bauer. Perhaps my father's first name was for him and the Yitzhak was for someone else. But who? And my grandmother was no longer here to ask.

There are two obvious possibilities. One is her own other grandfather Isaak Leib whom I wrote about a few days ago, at the start of this series. He - like Lajos - had died in 1917, six years before my father was born. But then why did my grandmother never say that he was named for her maternal uncle and her paternal grandfather?

The other possibility was an older brother of my grandfather. Isak Fischel Pikholz died at nineteen months in 1885. The name Isak Fischel came from my grandfather's grandfather and as such was an important family name. I thought this was less likely for naming, but more likely because she never told me since it was from my grandfather's side.

And of course there was the possibility that both names came from Lajos.

So now I have visited Lajos' grave and he is only Eliezer, plus Simon's grave says his father is just plain Eliezer. So although I will still probably never solve the Yitzhak identity, at least I have eliminated one possibility.

 

Simon Bauer's mother's name


Simon Bauer, Regina's father was the son of Lazar (Eliezer) Bauer. We know that from his tombstone. I have a large number of Bauer records from Kunszentmiklos and have seen only one other reference to a Lazar. That would be a Lazar Bauer who died in Kunszentmiklos in 1867, age 76. He had been born in Apostag where many of the Bauers were born before Jews were permitted to live in Kunszentmiklos. (Apostag is about 25 km from Kunszentmiklos.)

This Lazar was married to a Rosa Lowinger (~1796-1879) and they had a daughter Katalin. Katalin was married to Jakob Speizer and died in 1921 in Kunszentmiklos. I did not see a grave for her there, not for Lazar and Roza. There are conflicting documents for Katalin's birth year, but she could be a sister of our Simon.

So on one hand, I have been listing Lowinger as one of my ancestral names. But on the other hand, I have not recorded Lazar and Roza as Simon's parents. There could, after all be two Lazars.

What I was hoping was that Simon's grave would name his mother. That happened a lot in Hungary. In fact, Simon's epitaph ends with "His mother's name is Rachel." Not the Hebrew name Rachel, but spelled as non-Hebrew name - resh-yod-yod-tzadi-yod-lamed. Could that be Roza? Very possibly. Would I call that additional evidence to enable me to assign Simon to Lazar and Roza. No way.

I was hoping to find a grave for Simon's father Lazar/Eliezer in Kunszentmiklos. But if he died in 1867, his grave (and his wife's?) would be closer to the front of the cemetery where there are no stones. It is also possible that since he was born in Apostag, he might have wanted to be buried there. We had a brief look at the cemetery there - it has some 400 stones and many are in good condition. We'll spend one day there next week.

Now one other thing. My grandmother told me a family of cousins that her mother Regina had, two of whom lived in Pittsburgh. Those cousins were born in Szécsény in northern Hungarian to Josef Heidenfeld and Lina Lowy (or Lowi or similar). There are instances of Lowinger becoming Lowy. So there's that.

 

The Other Bauers

Some years ago, I made an outline chart of Bauers from Kunszentmiklos, based mostly on birth and death records. Just as in Galicia, the birth records do not include the parents of the father, which makes it hard to identify family members. I had hoped that the cemetery would help by adding the fathers' names. That outline chart is here. Note that ten people were born in Apostag, maybe a few more.

As far as the cemetery goes, I can only beg excuses. Photography is not one of my talents. The sun did not help. The black stones gave very poor contrast. Hungarian on one side and Hebrew on the other. The sun was more of a problem on the Hebrew sides. This will take a lot of work and I am not sure what its value is.

The situation was not conducive for note-taking, nor was my patience. My clipboard was in the missing suitcase. There was no place to sit and write. Or to sit and rest.

I saw some graves which I recognized from the records with information that I knew to be useful. I may do something with this... eventually.

Here are some of the better examples.

























Slovakia - Rona's Perspective

 Trip Blog-Day 1 and 2 all mixed up


Around 4:40 am Yisroel wakes me up. My first thought is to take the dogs out, but
they are at a vacation of their own. But as I am making my coffee it dawns on me I
never gave the taxi driver my address. I see on Whatsapp he did send a 3 second
voice message which said “Mah Ketovet”? Of course I immediately go into high
stress mode, with my stomach dropping to my toes, and my heart sinking.
I give him till about 5:20 to respond, then I try calling. No answer. Maybe he is in
the shower, I try again at 5:30 and 5:35. At this point I confess to Yisroel. I try a few
more times, then at 5:50 Yisroel says, lets take the car. I say, I’ll put it on my
personal card since I messed up, okay I used a more colorful word, but here I have
control.


I send him a message that we are driving ourselves. I never did hear back. Though
shortly after that I see that he did finally see the messages.
We get to the airport a little before 7 for a 10:55 flight, we find parking in long term
near the pick up stop. Get to the terminal, tell them where we are going, and which
airline. They direct us to Israeli passport line. About an hour later we are through,
and when we ask where WIZZ air check in is at, they say Terminal 1!. Which means
we have to go out of Terminal 3 and wait for the bus which goes to Terminal 1.
Once we finally get there, a little before 9, I explain we already did security at
Terminal 3, thankfully we don’t need to do it again, and go into the old main hall,
which is packed with passengers for WIZZ and IsraAir.


Even with 10+ counters just for WIZZ, apparently there are also 10 different flights
within a 2 hour window. I find someone who says get in line, and listen and watch
for them to c all people, they announce for people to come to the front about an hour
before the scheduled time. So I periodically check, and excitedly come to tell Yisroel
we can go to the front, they are calling Bucharest. Apparently that is also one of the
worst mistakes one can make in Hungary, confusing Budapest and Bucharest.
Yisroel had a good needed laugh, and I know myself well enough that I confuse
things like this, so we go back to waiting in line. Little bits of schmoozing with other
people, I inform a lot of people to watch and listen, that about an hour before their
flight they too will get to jump the line! In the meantime I realize the snacks I
prepared to eat while we waited, because we would be getting there early leaked all
over the bag I was carrying them in, it was a mess, so I threw it out. Boy was that a
dumb move!!!!! I check back a few more times, till finally when it’s an hour before the
guy asks me what flight, and he says excitedly You need to get in line!”


I go back to Yisroel, and we start heading over. On the way I say out loud any one
for Budapest can go to the front now. A group of Chassidim start also pushing to the
front, but I tell them they have to be behind us. When one of them questions me, I
tell him. I did the work to get this information, I being nice to tell them so they don’t
miss their flight, therefore please do not try to go ahead of us. I didn’t see them on
our flight, I don’t know what happened to them. When one of the workers heard me
telling other people for Budapest on WIZZ to come forward, he yelled at me, I don’t
know if it’s easier for people to miss flights maybe???

That went well. I really thought our bags were over weight with all the food. The
regular suitcases were only 14KG, allowed 20, and our carry ons were only 8kg,
allowed 10. Plus, they offered to check through our carryon’s! Two less things to
worry about.


We get upstairs, and wait, and wait, and wait. Okay, time to go to the BR, airplane
toilets are super small. Then around 12:20 we get an email from the airline that our
flight is delayed and will take off at 11:30 am. Gee, that was 50 minutes ago, and we
are still in the waiting area.


I take a moment to finish davening, and while doing so notice 2 boys facing me, also
davening. OK, one of us is facing the wrong direction, but that is where the idea that
really it all goes UP to G-d comes in. I double check my compass, and it says I was
facing East, which Yisroel confirms, he has a pretty good sense of direction.


Then as I finish davening there are some kids playing with a plastic kick-ball. All of a
sudden it rolls away, and as one of the kids tries to chase it they set off a security
alarm for going into the area for the steps going to the tarmac-Remember I said “old
terminal”. One of the older kids crawls under the gate and retrieves the ball from the
step landing. As I am watching this I mouth to the older one in Hebrew “Glad it’s not
my kid this time!” He looks puzzled, so I explain, That is something my kids would
have done, so this time it’s not my kid, and gave him a thumbs up for having fun
while waiting.


Finally get on the plane, and it’s starting to dawn on me, it’s only a 3 ½ hour flight, on
a low budget airline, of course there won’t be a meal! And all the food is in the
luggage. Okay only a few more hours. I find some dried banana chips, and a few
pieces of licorice (I love licorice), and we eat that.


When we travelled to the states we kept ending up at the end of the line, till we got
off, and got places, so I told Yisroel I would go ahead, and he would join me, so we
are further up in line. Passport control actually was going fairly quickly, so I didn’t
want to use that one for “pushing ahead”, besides when I got out the luggage had
not even started to come out yet.


At least 30 minutes later it starts, and our 2 carry on bags come around fairly quickly,
but then we wait, and wait, and wait, and there are fewer and fewer people, then the
carousel stops, and the feed gate closes. We ask, and they check, then tell us to
report to the lost and found.


That’s done, I ask do they have any idea where they might be, everything is scanned
these days. Apparently they never left Israel!


So off to the rental car, we don’t see a counter, I ask at a few of the counters for
other companies, if anyone knows where it might be. I show them the reservation
papers, and finally find someone who tells us it’s not at the airport, we need to call.
One person points to the number, but it doesn’t seem to work. I ask at the exchange
counter, he reads through, and on PAGE 3 finds the number. I call, and thankfully
super nice, and comes to get us. As we are waiting for him outside to pick us up I
realize I don’t have my passport-Did I tell you my passport story from when we were
in the states!


Yisroel informs me I won’t be able to get back in from the exit, but someone doing
construction apparently left a door open, and I got in through there, and sitting on a
counter is my passport!!!


Grab that, run outside, but in the meantime the guy arrived, and left, saying to call
back. I quickly call back, and he arrives 5 minutes later. We get to the rental office,
NOT one attempt to sell us extra insurance, or waivers, or deductibles, nope-ALL
included!!!


And we are off, with less than ¼ tank of gas, I go to plug the kosher grocery store
into WAZE, and thankfully look to see what time they are open till, because it is
already 5:15 pm. Well they closed at 5!


So then we settle to just get to Slovakia. WAZE says 5 ½ hours, but Google Maps
says 4 ½. Well it’s getting late already, so we go for the 4 ½ hour route. Well
apparently you can take the long boring route via the highway, or take a short cut-
through the woods/forests/over the mountains!


When I tell you, no towns or civilizations, 2 lane winding roads, and when you look
on Google map you just see a page of green, with a path cutting through. The last
picture is a birds eye view of the route.


We finally get to Slovakia, and it is the cutest house/building, great inn keeper, cute
room, no windows except a sky light, but we’ll only be there for the night. Apparently
the area is known for cyclists, plus a lot of hiking the mountains and stuff. The inn
used to be a school house, built in 1926, it was equidistant from several of the
surrounding villages, I didn’t think to ask him how he acquired it, or who owns it, but
the view was breath-taking, and the first time I have seen stars in a long time.


Time to go to sleep, it’s past midnight, I’m tired, Yisroel has been driving the whole
way,

Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Bauers of Kunszentmiklos

Regina Bauer Rosenzweig

Five years ago, my cousin Linda and I visited the cemetery in Kunszentmiklos Hungary. Our great-grandmother, Regina (Rivka) Bauer was born there. Her father too.

I remember my great-grandmother, who died when I was nearly three. She lived with our grandparents and used to give me M&Ms. She and her husband are buried at the Poale Zedeck cemetery in the Sheraden neighborhood of Pittsburgh. My grandparents and other family members are buried there as well.

There are dozens of Bauers buried in Kunszentmiklos including the parents of my great-grandmother and her brother, who is my father's namesake. But when Linda and I were there five years ago, it was badly overgrown and we could not see anything of use, although many of the stones themselves were in very good condition. I wrote about that visit as part of an eight blog series describing that trip.

So here we were, Wednesday morning headed from our Airbnb in Dunaujvaros to Kunszentmiklos thirty-six km away, to meet Imre, the keeper of the key to the cemetery. They truly did an excellent job cleaning up the cemetery and making the existing 189 tombstones accessible to visitors, though it is not easy walking around. 

By the way, all the Bauers are written בויער in Hebrew, pronounced Boyer.

The state of the cemetery - five years ago (above) and now (below).










The whole foreground area and to both sides has signs of graves, but there are no tombstones.

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I had come with four goals in mind for this visit.

1. Visiting and photographing the graves of my known relatives.

2. Clarifying the source for my father's name.

3. Clarifying the name of my second-great-grandfather's mother.

4. Gathering whatever information I could about the many members of my great -grandmother's Bauer family.

 

My known relatives

I knew from cemetery records that my great-grandmother's parents and brother were buried in Kunszentmiklos. This would be Simon (Shemaya) Bauer (died 1902), Fani (Feige) Stern Bauer (died 1911) and Lajos (Eliezer) Bauer (died 1917).

I expected that my great-grandmother's older sister Ilona (Dobrisch) Bauer Wiesel (died 1893 at age 30) was also there because I have seen her death record. This even though I have not seen her in cemetery records.

Simon and Fanny are side-by-side, with Hungarian on one side and Hebrew on the other. The Hebrew sides did not photograph well, because of both the quality of the work and the direction of the sun. But I bring it all here.

 

 
I find it interesting that Simon is called Shemayahu on his stone and his wife's, but the simpler Shemaya everywhere else, including my father's cousin Simon who is named for him. 

And Fani is called Feigele rather than the more formal Feige on all the stones.
 
Their son Lajos is right behind them in the next row. (You can see his stone between theirs.) He is called a young man (bachur) at age 42 because he never married. My grandmother always said that my father was named for him. Lajos' epitaph is all on one side, with both Hebrew and Hungarian.



A bit later, as we were looking at some of the older, more difficult stones, I saw this, which Rona enhanced with a bit of water.
 

Wiesel Lipotne (Mrs. Lipot Wiesel)

Bauer Ilona

Age 30

Died 20 August 1893


The other side is in Hebrew. Here is a partial photograph.


The educated woman, crown of her husband

Pride of her family and beloved of her acquaintances

Plucked away in her youth, age 30

Mrs. Dobrisch 

Dear to her husband Lipman Wiesel

From the Bauer family

Died 5 Elul 5653

Her mother's name is Feigele.


This is the eldest of Simon and Fani's children and Regina named her daughter Helen after her in 1896.

I shall address more of my Kunszentmiklos goals probably tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Rosenzweigs

My paternal grandmother's paternal grandfather is Isaak Leib (Ignacz) Rosenzweig, Yitzhak Yehudah in Hebrew. He was born in Pucho in Trencin County Slovakia, about 1821 and according to my grandmother lived to age ninety-six. His wife, Mali (Miriam) Zelinka, died in 1905 at age eighty, in Vag Besztercze which is known today as Povazska Bystrica. Her death record notes that she was buried there.







I do not have a date or document for Isaak Leib, but I have certainly assumed that he too was buried in Vag Besztercze, possibly next to his wife.

Five years ago, I visited Povazska Bystrica with my cousin Linda and our fifth cousin on the Zelinka side, Cyndi Norwitz, and described that visit in a blog post, one of eight from that trip. The conditions on the ground were difficult and many of the tombstones were broken, scattered or illegible.

But we found the stone for Nathan (Nahum) Zelinka, Mali's brother. Broken off but completely legible. He was an important member of the community in Zilina. Next to Nathan were two stones that had fallen face down in the mud. There was enough of a pedestal left for one, to tell us that it is for a ninety-two year old man.

I got it into my head that these two must be my second-great-grandparents, with Mali buried between her brother and her husband, despite the small discrepancy in the man's age.

For the last few years, I have been trying to get the local Jewish community to turn those stones over so we can see if they are ours. I am not so much interested in setting the stones back in place - I do not expect that anyone in the family will ever come to visit again. I just wanted to confirm that these are my second-great-grandparents and to see exactly what is written on the stones.

A few months ago, things began to fall into place both for his couple and for several cemeteries I wanted to visit on my great-grandmother's family, in Hungary.


My wife and I bought tickets for Budapest for last Monday intending  to go to Povaszka Bystrica the first day, then to Hungary for the subsequent days. Sunday, the folks in Slovakia told me that they had turned over one of the tombstones.

Joachim Grun. Not my Rosenzweig. But the name Grun is familiar from my Rosenzweig research. My Isaak Leib's father Simon was married twice - once to Isaak Leib's mother whose name is unknown. Then to a woman named Sali Grun, whose father is Jakob. Ancestry's ThruLines keeps telling my that Isaak Leib's mother is Sali Grun when we know he isn't and the several people doing Grun research insist on leaving that as is. I have no idea who Joachim is.

So they wrote me as follows. "We turn around first grave stone, second one is bigger is larger so I want to ask if it important for you."



Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The Annual Skalat Memorial - Back On Track

The annual memorial meeting in memory of the Jews of Skalat was held Monday, the seventh of Sivan, seventy-nine years after the murder of the last Jews in town. Because of the pandemic regime, we missed last year and most of us truly missed it.

Skalat is about forty minutes by car SE of the provincial capital of Tarnopol, near the old Russian border


We met, as usual, at the monument along the eastern fence of the Holon Cemetery. There were close to thirty of us, mostly second and third generation survivors. There were two women who actually had lived through the war in and around Skalat. Last time there were three but we lost Yocheved Sarid last month. All four of Yocheved's children were there and her son Zvika ran the service as he has done for the last dozen years.

The first person I spoke to was Tova "Giza" Zehavi, one of the two survivors. She gave me a small book she had recently published about her three years as a refugee between Skalat and Israel.



Over twenty years ago, we (I was not yet part of the group) sponsored two memorials in Skalat itself, one at the edge of the old cemetery (now a soccer field) and one outside town where much of the killing occurred. There is an older man in Skalat who looks after them and he had asked for more money, so that took a few minutes of our time.

 Zvika spoke about his mother then asked the other survivor, Bronia, to speak about her personal experience.


David Braunstein spoke about his father Chaim, who had been the driving force behind the annual meetings, the memorials and the two trips that some of the group had taken. He also wrote the Hebrew-language memorial book about Skalat.

Zvika led us in Psalm 130 and kaddish and said a memorial prayer.

He asked me to prepare something to say about my family research for next year.