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:
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
Lena Itzkowitz Firester was born on April 18, 1886 in Iasi, Romania. Lena was known in Iasi by her Yiddish name Leah Feiga, named for her maternal grandmother. Her parents were Charles (Chaskel) Itzkowitz and Gussie (Gittel) Schwartz Itzkowitz (see Itzkowitz Family Outline and Flo’s Family). Lena was their first-born child.
Iasi, where Lena spent her childhood, was a source of cultural innovation in the Jewish world. The first professional Yiddish theatre group was founded by Abraham Goldfaden in Iasi in 1876. Goldfaden’s Yiddish theatre spread from Iasi to Bucharest, Roumania, and became popular entertainment and a thriving industry in both Russia and New York City. Iasi is known for another cultural first: HaTikvah–the poem that has been sung as Israel’s national anthem since Israel’s independence day in 1948–was first written by Naftali Herz Imber while he was visiting Iasi in 1878. Continue reading
Abraham “Abe” Wolf was born in Tureczki, a small village near the town of Turka in Galicia in Austria-Hungary (now Ukraine).
Map showing Tureczki-Wyzne
His parents were Hersch Wolf and Golda Ruchel Katz Wolf (see Wolf Family Outline and Harold’s Family). Abraham’s date of birth is an open question. His birth date was recorded on documents as occurring on a variety of different dates from 1903 to 1909.* Dates of birth are often imprecise for immigrants, so it’s not so surprising. Continue reading
Bella Wolf was born on February 1, 1914. Her records list her official birth date as February 1, but Bella celebrated her birthday on January 1. Her Uncle Harry Tillem insisted January 1 was the correct date and her mother was ill at the time and confused. Bella was given the Yiddish name Chaya Bayla. Her parents were Israel Jacob (Yiddish name: Yankel) Rubinstein and Rose (YIddish name: Ruchel Leah) Tillem Rubinstein (See Rubinstein Family History and Harold’s Family). Continue reading
Yetta was born on August 12, 1895, in Russia. She was known by her Yiddish name Etel. Her parents were Benjamin Spiegel and Fannie “Feiga” Shechtman Spiegel (see Spiegel Family Outline). Records list Kiev as her birthplace. She most likely lived in the nearby shtetl Pavalitch since few Jews were allowed to reside in the city of Kiev at the time. In 1906, when Yetta was 11 years old, events in Russia resulted in pogroms throughout the area known as the Pale of Settlement. According to a family story, Cossacks attacked the shtetl. Yetta and her family fled for their lives.