In a previous post, Family Friday: Jose Shabetai Glicker, I discussed my great-uncle “Jose” Shabetai Glicker who lived in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This is a photo of Shabetai’s daughter, Aida Glicker Narovisky (also spelled Narosky, Naroviscky, and Narovischky).
I have written previously about Shabetai, the brother of my grandfather Sam Glicker, and about the last letter received from him about 1950. In the letter, Shabetai mentioned his daughter and the heartache he suffered because his daughter’s husband was a revolutionary.
I thought little more about Shabetai’s family until I started compiling a family tree a few years ago. My grandfather had died in 1969, having outlived his other siblings, but now I wondered what had become of Shabetai’s daughter after the 1950 letter? In 2012, I managed to contact Paulo Valadares, a historian in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Mr. Valaderes sent me information about Shabetai that I mentioned in my previous post, and the following message about Shabetai’s daughter:
His daughter was AIDA GLIKER (1911) married to CHAIM RUBIM NAROSKY (1904), “Polish nationality“. The couple were expelled from Brazil [for] “communist activities” on 12/01/1937. I [have] not found Gliker and Narosky currently living in Brazil.
After leaving his home in Yedinitz, Bessarabia, my grandfather Sam Glicker’s older brother Shabetai started his trans-Atlantic voyage in Rotterdam, Holland on July 26, 1913, on the steamship Rotterdam. Two days after sailing from port, the journey was interrupted by an event Shabetai was sure to remember. A crew member, Jan Dunke, jumped overboard. Luckily it was a clear day and the waters were calm. A life buoy and life boat were launched and for two hours Captain Stenger doggedly steered the ship in a circular route searching for Dunke.
When the life boat was first launched with the chief officer on board, Shabetai may have been one of the 2,192 steerage passengers who made their own leap–to the conclusion that the worst had happened and the ship was sinking. The panic had passengers screaming and crying until they could be reassured by the crew. If Shabetai was on deck at the time, he may have been one of the passengers searching for a glimpse of the man in the sea. Remarkably, a small dot was spotted and Dunke was sighted swimming toward the ship. He was plucked out of the sea, and returned on board. Two hours after Dunke jumped into the sea, he was in the ship’s hospital, the S.S. Rotterdam was back on course, and Shabetai was headed for America.
Here’s the ship manifest that recorded Shabetai’s departure from Rotterdam on July 26, 1913 and his arrival in New York City on Monday, August 4:
I never guessed anyone would consider a post titled “Tombstone Tuesday” morbid and yet I’ve heard that comment. Sharing headstone photos of relatives is a natural extension of research and writing about family history. A headstone can be a treasure trove of clues for a genealogist: a birthdate and date of death, whether a spouse, parent, grandparent or great-grandparent.
In the case of Jewish genealogy, a matzevah [Hebrew word: headstone] can be even more valuable. It often shows the Hebrew and/or Yiddish name of the relative as well as their father’s Hebrew or Yiddish name. This information can lead to or confirm other family relationships. In the case of my aunt Clara Firester, her headstone shows her Hebrew name was “Chaya”, in memory of her great-grandmother Chaya Tuba Itzkowitz. This confirmed the name that was listed on the death certificate of Clara’s grandfather (and my great-grandfather) Charles “Chaskel” Itzkowitz for his mother.
I’m very fortunate to have the skills to read the Hebrew and Yiddish names inscribed on headstones. Not everyone does. Almost daily I see a posting on the group page of “Tracing the Tribe – Jewish Genealogy on Facebook” asking for a translation of the Hebrew or Yiddish name on a matzevah. My skills are minimal, though, since I only acquired my knowledge of the Hebrew alphabet as a young adult. With a desire to read Hebrew, I started by checking out a “Berlitz Learn Hebrew” book from the library and studying it during feedings for my younger son. Little did I know at the time that one day this knowledge would help with my chosen hobby.
My knowledge of Hebrew tells me more about Clara. Clara’s name, Chaya, is the feminine derivative of the Hebrew word for “Life”. It is a sad irony that Chaya was the name for Aunt Clara since she died so early in childhood at the age of 3.
Posting headstone photos is valuable for one other reason. Not everyone can visit a cemetery. Those descended from Kohanim (Hebrew word: men who are descended from the Biblical tribe of Aaron), are often unable to visit a cemetery for religious reasons. They might have no opportunity to view a matzevah in person. Even, their parent’s matzevah!
With families scattered far and wide, if may be years or never that a cemetery visit is possible. A digitized photo may be the only opportunity to view a headstone for some.
So I’ll continue posting headstone photos. I might consider a new title, though. Instead of “Tombstone Tuesday”, perhaps “Tuesday Treasure”?
Benjamin Spiegel and Fannie “Feiga” Shechtman Spiegel lived in the area of Russia known as the Pale of Settlement (see also Spiegel Family Outline and Outline of Flo’s family). They lived in Kiev, Russia (now Ukraine)–most likely in the nearby shtetl Pavalitch since few Jews were allowed to reside in the city of Kiev at the time.
Contemporary map showing location of Pavolitch, Ukraine
Elias Firester was born on June 27, 1881 in Suceava in Bukovina, Austria (now Romania)–known also as Suczawa in Polish or by its Yiddish name, Shots.
Map showing Suceava, Bukovina and surrounding territories
Elias was the first-born child of Leiser Firester and Malka Braunstein Firester (see Firester Family Outline and Flo’s Family). By the time Elias was 14 years old, he had four younger siblings: brother Max (Marcus/Mordecai) and sisters Frieda (Frume Sure), Anna (Chane), and Lea. Elias spent his childhood in Suceava close to his maternal grandparents Marcus “Mordechai” and Frume Sara Braunstein and their extended family, including his aunt Mindel Braunstein Leib. Continue reading