02 February 2016

Tombstone Tuesday: Louis and Rebecca Reitman, Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY

Louis Reitman, son of Morris Reitman and Dora Kanchek Reitman and brother of Julius Reitman, was also born in Lubin (Labun, Russian Empire). His father's naturalization petition records Louis' birth date as 3 December 1907.[1] Louis entered the United States in 1921 at the age of 15 as Nojach Chajtman and took the name Louis N. Reitman.[2] 

Here lies
Noach son of Moshe
Died 27 Elul 5714
May his soul be bound in the bonds of the living
DIED SEPT. 25, 1954

His father had left for the United States in 1913, before World War I shut down immigration between Europe and the United States, so Louis, his mother and his siblings lived for many years without their father present. Once in the United States, like so many former Lubin residents, Louis became a glazier in New York City.

On 9 February 1936 Louis married Rebecca Greenberg, daughter of Abraham Greenberg and Ida Goldfarb.[3] They married at the Avenue U Educational Centre at 2066 E. 9th Street in Brooklyn. Cantor Seymour Lerner officiated at this congregation that included many former Lubin residents. In fact, my great uncle, Max Garber, was one of the witnesses to the marriage. The other witness was Louis Sacks, who married Louis Reitman's sister, Fannie, about a year later.[4] 

Here lies
An important and beloved woman
Mrs. Rivka Reisel
daughter of Avraham Shmuel, rest in peace
Died 19 Elul 5709 by the Jewish calendar
May her soul be bound in the bonds of the living
SEPT. 12, 1949

In the 1940 U.S. census enumeration, Louis and Rebecca lived in Manhattan at 155 Ridge Street with their two year old son Avram.[5] Avram Morris Reitman was born 27 October 1937 and died in San Bernardino County, California on 15 February 1992.[6]

Louis and Rebecca Reitman are both buried in one of the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plots in Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY: block 89, gate 156N. Louis is buried in line 9R, grave 4 and Rebecca is buried in line 7R, grave 4.

1. Morris Reitman petition for naturalization (1925), naturalization file 69471, Southern District of New York; Record Group 21: Records of the District Court of the United States; National Archives - Northeast Region, New York City.
2. Manifest, S.S. Kroonland, 9 August 1921, stamped p. 119, line 10, Nojach Chajtman, age 15; images, "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 December 2010). 
3. Kings County, New York, marriage certificate no. 2324 (9 February 1936), Louis Reitman and Rebecca Greenberg; Municipal Archives, New York City.
4. New York County, New York, marriage certificate no. 2061 (31 January 1937), Louis Sacks and Fannie Reitman; Municipal Archives, New York City.
5. 1940 U.S. Census, New York County, New York, population schedule, Manhattan, enumeration district 31-314, sheet 2B, household 43, Louis and Rebecca Reitman family; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 February 2016); NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 2631. 
6. Avram Morris Reitman, entry in "California, Death Index, 1940-1997," index, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 February 2016). 
Avram Morris Reitman, entry in "U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007," index, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 February 2016).  

28 January 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday: Photo of FLPBA members, 40th anniversary publication

For the last months I have been posting portions of the 25th and 40th anniversary publications of the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association. This landsmanshaft (community association) was founded in 1911 New York City for people associated with the community called Lubin (in Yiddish) and known as Labun in the Russian Empire. Among their other charitable activities, the group purchased three burial plots: two in Montefiore Cemetery, Queens and one in Beth Moses Cemetery, Pinelawn, NY.

The following photo is the last page that I have acquired and shows leadership of the FLPBA during the time of their 40th anniversary. Some of these people have been discussed in previous posts. Some I did not find in other portions of the anniversary publications, and will discuss here. I am still working my way through the burials in the cemetery plots and will, eventually, write more in-depth posts about those I have not yet discussed.


Nathan Garber (ca. 1884-1963), my great uncle. Nathan, arrived in the USA in 1910. His wife, Yetta and children followed him in 1912. He was in the butter and egg business and is sometimes listed in records as an egg candler. He and Yetta (who died in 1950) are  buried in Montefiore Cemetery plot block 89, gate 156N.

Sidney Levy (1910/12-2002), glazier. Arrived in the USA with one of his brothers (Paul) and his grandmother, Sarah in 1922. He married Helen (1914-1987). They are both buried in Montefiore Cemetery, block 5, gate 567W.

Harry Myers (1893-1952), my great great uncle (brother of my great grandmother Sarah Myers Morris), a glazier. He married Mollie (ca. 1894-1986). They are not buried in the FLPBA plot, but are interred in Beth David Cemetery, Elmont, NY.

Joe Kraslow (1894-1981), retail merchant, arrived in the USA in 1913. He married Rose (ca. 1896-177). They are buried in Montefiore Cemetery, block 5, gate 567W.

Jack Alperin [aka Jacob Alperin] (ca. 1885-1960), glazier, immigrated in about 1905. He married Dora Waxenberg Myers (ca. 1887-1967). Jacob and Dora are buried in Montefiore Cemtery, block 89, gate 156N, line 6L, graves 4 and 5.

Dave Cohen (ca. 1895-1972). Thus far I have not been successful in locating records for Dave and his wife Rose (ca. 1896-1982). They are in the Beth Moses Cemetery plot. He is likely the son of Israel and Zissel Cohen.

Frank Kraslow (1894-1983), dry goods peddler, arrived in the USA in 1921. He married Goldie (ca. 1895-1978). They are not buried in any of the FLPBA plots.


Jack Lerner (1905-1995), glazier, emigrated from Labun about 1921. He married Edna (1909-1997). Jack and Edna are buried in Beth Moses Cemetery.

Rose Blumfield (ca. 1877-1956). President of the Ladies Auxiliary, Rose is buried in Montefiore Cemetery, block 89, gate 156N. Her name on the tombstone is Blumenfield.

Abraham Krakowsky (ca. 1888-1985), president of the FLPBA, owned a restaurant. He earlier worked as a presser in the ladies dress industry. He and his wife, Rose (ca. 1888-1960), are buried in the FLPBA Beth Moses Cemetery plot.

Julius Reitman (1900-1994), discussed previously here and here, was a carpenter and glazier. He and his wife Sarah Sherman (ca. 1901-1997) ran a glass shop in Jackson Heights, Queens. They moved to Sharon, Massachusetts and are buried in Agudath Cemetery in West Roxbury.

Benjamin Levy (1908-1994), glazier, was likely called Benson Levy. He was married to Ida Sarah (1910-1972). They are buried at Montefiore Cemetery, block 5, gate 567W, line 1L, graves 7 and 8.

Dave Lerman (1898-1977), glazier, married Esther Lerner (1898-1989). They are buried at Beth Moses Cemetery.

26 January 2016

Tombstone Tuesday: Morris and Dora Reitman, Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY

I have featured Julius Reitman in a couple of blogs (here and here) about the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association. Today's post features his parents: Morris and Dora.[1]

Morris Reitman was born in Lubin (aka Labun), Russian Empire and emigrated in 1913, leaving his wife and children behind.[2]

Unfortunately, World War I and the Russian Revolution got in the way and Morris' family was not able to join him in the United States until 1921.[3] The original family name, as written on their manifests, was Chaitman (or Chajtman).  

An Eternal Remembrance

Here lies
Our beloved father
An honest and honored man
who occupied himself with the needs of the community
Mosche son of Levi Yitzchak
Died 3 Shevat 5795
May his soul be bound in the bonds of the living.
DIED JAN. 7, 1935

As indicated on her tombstone, Dora's Yiddish name was Dovtsi and the letters of her name were used as the starting letters for the rhymed epitaph on her stone.
Here lies
Her ways were upright
She pursued truth and righteousness with love
She conducted her life in the ways of Torah
She conducted herself modestly in public
Her hands were open to the poor and destitute
Dovtzi daughter of Baruch
Died the first day of the intermediate days of Passover 5702,
May her soul be bound in the bond of life
DIED APRIL 4, 1942

On Dora's tombstone the date (1st of the intermediate days of Passover) means 17 Nisan 5702. Passover always starts on 15 Nisan and the intermediate days start after the first two (seder) days.

Both Morris' and Dora's epitaphs speak to community service and helping those who cannot help themselves. This seems in-keeping with the essays penned by Julius and discussed in the two previous blog posts. Surely charitable work was an important part of their family life.

Dora's maiden name, gleaned from her manifest (where she indicated her relative left in the old country was her brother M. Kanczyk), and bolstered by her children's marriage records, indicate that her maiden name had been something pronounced like Kanchek.

Morris Reitman, like so many Lubiners in New York City was a glazier. The 1925 New York State census records Morris and all his sons, four years after the sons immigrated, as glaziers working for the family business.[4]

Morris and Dora had six children: Julius (b. 1 April 1900), Lillie (1 December 1901), Sam (15 October 1904), Louis (3 December 1907), Anna (15 January 1912) and Fannie (15 January 1914).[5]

In doing this research on the Reitman's I have found that they were likely shirt-tail relatives of mine. On his manifest of arrival in 1913, Morris indicated he was going to see brother-in-law N. Garber of 60 E. 3rd Street in New York City. When the family arrived in 1921, they indicated they were going to Dora's husband Moische (the children's father) at 242 Madison Street. My great uncle (my paternal grandfather's brother) was Nathan Garber a butter-and-eggs man whose long-time business was located at 242 Madison Street. 

Additionally, Morris' tombstone indicates that his father's name had been Levi Yitzchak. Nathan Garber's wife Yetta's tombstone shows her father as Levi Yitzchak. Since she and Nathan married in Labun and since there are no extant vital records for that town, the best we can say at this point is that it is likely that Yetta and Morris Reitman (Chaitman) were siblings. Where I am a tad confused by this, is that Yetta listed her last name as Shapiro on her daughter Sarah's death certificate. Guess the next step is to a copy of Yetta's 1950 death certificate.

Dora and Morris Reitman are buried in the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plot at Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY, block 89, gate 156N, line 11L, graves 5 & 6. 

1. Special thanks to Robin Meltzer, who not only is an outstanding translator but also hugely knowledgeable of the intricacies of Hebrew tombstone inscriptions. Shoshanna Goldstein Sanders and Aaron Schwartz also came to my rescue helping to make these epitaphs understandable. They all responded to posts I placed on Tracing the Tribe FaceBook page. Thank you all!
2. Manifest, S.S. Prinz Freidrich Wilhelm, 31 March 1913, stamped p. 79, line 15, Moische Chajtman, age 42; images, "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 December 2010).
3. Manifest, S.S. Kroonland, 9 August 1921, stamped p. 119, lines 6-12, Baba Chajtman, age 50; images, "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 December 2010).
4. 1925 New York State Census, New York County, enumeration of inhabitants, Manhattan, assembly district 6, election district 15, p. 8. entries 3-8, Morris and Dora Reitman family; image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 January 2016); New York State Archives, Albany.
5. Morris Reitman petition for naturalization (1925), naturalization file 69471, Southern District of New York; Record Group 21: Records of the District Court of the United States; National Archives - Northeast Region, New York City.

19 January 2016

Telling the Shocking Stories: Yad Vashem's "Untold Stories"

If you already know about Yad Vashem's "The Untold Stories: The Murder Sites of the Jews in the Occupied Territories of the Former USSR" project, you're way ahead of me. I just recently discovered it. 

And I'm shocked - shocked!

I am shocked not only because the stories of what happened during the Shoah in my family's communities is horrifying and heart-breaking; 

I am shocked not only because I pride myself on knowing about the resources of my craft: Jewish genealogy - and somehow missed this one; but also, 

I am shocked because locating this important information on the Yad Vashem website is difficult - very difficult.

Two clicks to the "Shoah Names Database"
Now I use the Yad Vashem webpage with some frequency, but my usual go-to location is the "Shoah Names Database," easily found via the Digital Collections tab.[1] Two clicks and I'm there. Easy.

On another website, I'd found a URL link to the "Untold Stories" part of the the Yad Vashem website and was enthralled. This is the kind of information that Father Patrick DuBois has been collecting in his Yahad in Unum (Holocaust By Bullets) project. [Unfortunately, he has a huge workload ahead of him and the towns of interest to me have not yet been visited.] I tried to locate the "Untold Stories" page on Yad Vashem by navigating via the tabs on the website. This was quite the challenge. Ultimately I located it by clicking on:
  • the Research tab
  • Projects 
  • Killing Sites
At that point, one has the choice of:
If one clicks on "The Untold Stories..." link, one heads to a welcome page for the "Untold Stories" project. Click enter and then use the Communities or Countries drop down menus to navigate to one's community of interest. In my case, I was interested in the community once called Labun, today located within Ukraine. One may find it either by scrolling down to the letter L in the Communities drop down list or by using the Countries list, navigating to Ukraine, and then scrolling down to Labun in the alphabetical list of communities.

The main Labun main page provides a good summary of information about Labun during the Nazi occupation and  photos taken in the community.

I already have acquired permission to use the image of the Labun bath house from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee's Archives website on my Labun/Yurovshchina community website. But I had not before seen the fuzzy image, attributed to the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation Archives, of other town buildings.[2] The photograph shows a church that is not extant in Labun today. I will have to do some additional study of the photos I took when in Labun/Yurovshchina in June 2013, but I think this church must have stood in the grassy expanse of the former market area.

There are links to more information about the mass murder sites [red arrows, above] and monuments erected in memory of the victims [blue arrow, above]. 

When one clicks on one of the murder sites, one also gains access to links to video and written testimony about the atrocities.

In the case of Labun, Yad Vashem only has a photo of one of the memorial monuments - and a poor one, at that. I took photographs here and here of both memorials and will see if Yad Vashem would like copies of those images.

By selecting a region in the Online Guide of Murder Sites of Jews in the Former USSR portion of the project, one will find a table of murder sites in that area, the sites' geographical coordinates and description. For Labun, I selected Kamenets Podolsk (Labun's region at the time). 

For some reason Labun is not listed in this table. However, I was able to locate sites in other nearby communities: Polonnoye, Gritsev, and Baranovka. In other regions, such as Wolyn, I found information about Annopol, near Slavuta. 

Check this out for your ancestral community. This is a wonderful resource. I just wish it were not so hidden on the Yad Vashem website!

1. For those, who are not as familiar with the Yad Vashem website as they should be, the "Shoah Names Database" holds an ever-expanding index of records (and, in some case, digitized original documents) of those who were victims of the Holocaust. It includes "Pages of Testimony" submitted since about 1956 by people reporting information about family and friends who died in the Shoah, as well as documentation Yad Vashem has collected from other sources.
2. I have requested permission to use this photo on my Labun/Yurovshchina community website, but have yet to hear back from the Shoah Foundation

31 December 2015

Treasure Chest Thursday: Julius Reitman's English essay, FLPBA 40th anniversary publication

This wonderful essay penned by Julius Reitman summarizes some of the accomplishments of the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association during its first 40 years. While genealogists tend to think of landsmanshaft organizations as responsive to the welfare and needs of their members - including acquisition of burial plots - Julius hardly mentions those activities. For him, the crowning FLPBA achievements are those directed at the welfare of those left behind in the old country - in the home community of Lubin and in surrounding communities. Impressive accomplishments, indeed! And completely in line with the Jewish concept of tsedaka: the obligation to do what is right and just.

[I have transcribed and annotated the essay, below.]  

     I regret that I cannot in detail speak of every action of the First Lubiner through all the years of our existence.[1] However, there should and indeed must be mentioned the glorious relief chapter of the first world war in which we played our full part.

     I am sure everyone will recall how eagerly our organization participated in the relief work that American Jewry undertook then under the leadership of the Joint Distribution Committee as well as the People's Relief Committee.[2] Every one of us not only donated individually, but also worked tediously in order to enable others to do their bit for our brothers and sisters overseas who depended so greatly on the outcome of our work.[3] And our help at that time was not given to Lubiner Landsleit alone, but to Landsleit of the entire Lubiner surroundings.

     It is also perhaps worthwhile to speak of that little but very important chapter, of our efforts to bring over here the rabbi of Lubin and to support him until he was in a position to earn his livelihood.[4] Permit me to say to those who might think this too little to be mentioned here, that our entire life is only a continuous flow of little things, and if we overlook these little things, we overlook the very life of people. For that reason our sages and elders of past generations taught us that anyone who helps to save one life has in fact helped to save the whole world, for every human life is a world in itself. 

     Also I believe it worthwhile to pay a little attention to the activities of the First Lubiner of today as well as of the last few years.

     Our organization, as you know, is helping and participating in the relief work through substantial donations to the United Jewish Appeal, to HIAS,  to Histadruth and to many other large and small organizations. At the same time, while we are doing our duty to the national organizations, we never forget and never overlook our responsibilities to bring relief and succor directly to our sister and brothers of Lubin and vicinity. These very few survivors of our people there, need so desperately our attention and out help in order to enable them to start their shattered lives once again.

     I am sure that you are aware of the many relief packages that we sent to our brothers and sisters in the concentration camps as well as to those who survive in many towns and cities of the Soviet Union.

     In conclusion, let me state that by mentioning all these activities I had no intention of patting myself or the members of the First Lubiner on the shoulder for what we did. Rather by mentioning our past activities I wanted to help all of us to remember that such relief work was and still is the moral justification for our existence as a Jewish Landsmannshaft. 

     In the activities of rebuilding the lives of our brethren in all lands as well as in Israel, the land where so many of them found a home, is justification as well as strength and courage for us to continue the work that is so imperative in our times. It is in the name of these activities that I would like to express our hope that we, all of us, will live to celebrate our 50th anniversary 10 years hence, at a time which, we hope, will be the time of real peace and security for our people and the entire world.

1. The First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association began in 1911 in Manhattan. Julius Reitman immigrated to the United States in 1921. Manifest, S.S. Kroonland, arrived 9 August 1921, stamped p. 119, line 11, Zyna Chajtman, age 23; images, "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 December 2010).
2. For further discussion of the work that the FLPBA funded via the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee see my blog post here. For discussion of the relationship between the Joint and the People's Relief Committee, a Socialist organization, see this link. Records of the People's Relief Committee are archived at the Center for Jewish History in NYC.
3. It appears that there was an arm of the FLPBA, called Lubin Relief, that oversaw the landsmanshaft's fiscal participation in relief activities. I have located a letter in the online JDC archive to my great great uncle, Myer Myers, regarding Lubin relief work. The letter may be found on this page at: "Letter from I.M. Naishtut to Mr. M. Myers," item ID 356440. 
4. This was Rabbi Yoer Lerner, his wife Rebecca and his son Szyza (who became Sam Lerner in the USA). They arrived in New York on the S.S. Cedric on 11 March 1924. Manifest, S.S. Cedric, arrived 11 March 1924, Fre Lerner and Rebeka Lerner (stamped list 7, lines 2 & 3) and Szyza Lerner (stamped list 5, line 5); images, "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 September 2014).