A Quest Completed! Thanks to My Cousin!

19 Aug

In my quest to discover more about my ancestors and my family’s immigration to the USA, I have enlisted the help of my family.  My sister, an attorney, was given the job of research. When I could not find something, I often sent her an email and said ‘try to find this’.  And she did. Sometimes we argued about whether we really found who we thought we found. But in the end, we would determine the truth.  She is named for my paternal great grandmother, Raisha.

My cousin’s son, when he graduated college, and before he got a job, became interested in family as well, and created a marvelous family tree of my paternal side. I still send him updates when I get more information. He keeps it current as cousins marry and babies are born. Other cousins have sent me photos as they search through their parent’s albums. We have had great discoveries through these albums, including the only known photo of my other paternal great grandmother. (See blog below.)

For years I have wanted to find the graves of my paternal great grandparents.  I knew they were buried in New York somewhere. I actually remember my great grandmother.  Before COVID, I found what I thought was my great grandfather’s grave, and sent it out to my cousins, asking what they thought.  It was not the grave. Two of my cousins remember going to visit the grave with my grandmother, to see her parents.

My Great Grandfather Louis and Great Grandmother Rae in 1894 around the time of their wedding.
My Great Grandparent’s grave!

They said, it is in Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn.  OY, I really wanted to have pictures of the graves.  But I live in Kansas. I just needed this photo, to complete a desire in my quest to answer questions. Where were they?  Were they with other family?  No one wanted to make the journey out to the cemetery. They were all busy.

But, I have a fantastic cousin.  I call him the king of the cemeteries.  He does not like that title. But I give it to him out of love.  He is the one who makes sure the family plot where all my grandparents, my parents, his parents, my uncle and others rest, is always cared for by the cemetery.   When we have gone and seen something not right, we have emailed him. And he makes sure it is fixed. He is named after this great grandfather.  And they are both Baruch Lev, blessed hearts.

This week, when I got a call from him, I was worried.  He doesn’t call me that often.  And with me in Kansas, and most of my family in New Jersey and New York, I wondered did anything happen.  “Do you have Facetime?” he asked.  The next thing I know he was calling me back, and I was walking with him in Washington Cemetery seeing the graves of my great grandparents.  I have tears in my eyes now, but at that moment, I was elated.  “Take pictures.”    Of course, he was taking pictures.  He said, with nothing to do right now, he thought he would take a ride out and find the graves.

He could not find the grave of their child who died as an infant.  He did not see the graves of any of our great grandparents’ siblings.  And although my cousins thought that my grandparents were not buried together, the memory was wrong. They share a grave site.  

My cousin took pictures of the grave and the entrance to the section where they are buried, in the Bialystoker area.

Above the gate it says: Bialystoker. And under it UNT VEREIN SOMACH NOFLIM.  My grandfather was the president of the Bialystoker Free Loan Society, the Somach Noflim. This is the area where he was buried.  He was also a vice president of the once famed Bialystoker Home for the Aged, which he helped establish.  The blog below explains the goodness of my great grandfather

Above the Gate: Bialystoker Unt Verein Somach Noflim

Baruch Lev ben Yaacov Zev, died July 24, 1941, just a few months before my father’s bar mitzvah. He was 71 years old. And Rushka, or Raisha or Rae, or Rachel, she has all those names: Rushka the daughter of Avigdor, who died on November 29, 1956, on my brother’s third birthday. I was not quite two. I actually have a memory of her.

I once told my Dad, that my memory was Grandma Ray sitting in a chair in my grandparents’ Bronx apartment. She was not moving very much and she had lace on her head.  Later I told Dad it must have been a doily on her head.  And my Dad laughed. He said she had very little hair, and her scalp showed through, making it look like lace.

I consider myself so fortunate to have a family who appreciates my desire to have the history of our family written down for the next generations.   I appreciate my sister who does research; my cousins who send me photos, especially the ones with inscriptions on the back; my cousin’s son who does the family tree; and my cousin, Baruch Lev,  who took a day to go to the cemetery for me and give me this gift of our great grandparents’ graves.



9 Responses to “A Quest Completed! Thanks to My Cousin!”

  1. Paula Spinner Schwartz August 19, 2020 at 11:28 am #

    I love your persistence. It is wonderful that there are relatives that remember small details. Alas I’m the youngest Female in my father’s family and those cousins still alive have few specific memories. What they have is still precious. How I wished I had talked to my dad. My grandmother on my mother’s side was Chaya Schecter and I knew some of her nieces but no one remembers the siblings of my grandmother. Very sad.

    • zicharon August 19, 2020 at 11:40 am #

      I was the child who asked questions. And when I was in high school, I sat with each of my grandparents and wrote down their stories. I have been working on this for decades!
      Don’t give up. Sometimes you can still find the informaiton.

  2. Sharon August 19, 2020 at 1:44 pm #

    I was tearing up also reading your post with your virtual walk through the cemetery. I too have family there and it touched my heart to know you got to do this. The picture is wonderful. I really enjoyed your posting 🙂

    • zicharon August 19, 2020 at 9:53 pm #

      Thank you. I was so touched that he did this for me. We still have to find the other graves, but was a wonderful feeling to walk the space with him through zoom. He sent me a video as well! I cried too. I hope you get to visit and find your family!

      • Sharon August 20, 2020 at 10:18 am #

        Thank you – I still have some unfound grave sites 😦 but have found quite a few of of them. I have been lucky ordering photos from the cemeteries over the years (NY grave sites and Im in WA)

      • zicharon August 20, 2020 at 3:44 pm #

        My problem was there were several people with the same name who died about the same time. It made finding the grave difficult. But it all worked out. I still have another great grandparent buried in New York, but not sure where he is buried either.

  3. Amy August 21, 2020 at 6:36 pm #

    What a mitzvah your cousin did! I am so glad you were able to find their graves.

    • zicharon August 21, 2020 at 6:50 pm #

      Me too! It made my week!


  1. Another Quest Completed! | zicharonot - May 29, 2022

    […] A Quest Completed! Thanks to My Cousin! […]

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