Tag Archives: generations

Amazing What Information Two Photos Can Provide

26 Jun

It is a wonder how two photos that I did not know were related could help find a branch of the family that I had no information about.

I have a family album that we found hidden in the bottom of a closet in the attic of what had been my grandparent’s and then my parent’s home in Kauneonga Lake, NY.  We found it when we cleaned the house out about four years ago.  Most of the photos are from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.  Many of the photos are unidentified.  But some have comments on the back written in one of many languages including, English, Yiddish, Hebrew, Polish and German. (See blog below.)

Every few months I open the book and focus on a few of the photos.  It is an emotional task, as I find that many of these photos lead me back to the Shoah.  And often the people in the photos perished in concentration camps or were murdered near their homes.  I find it a bit terrifying.

About a year ago I posted a photo of two young girls on the Tracing the Tribe website.  No one translated that one for me.  I am not sure why.  It probably got posted on a busy day. As usually these short messages are translated in a few hours.

Then about a month ago I posted two identical photos of a young man, but each had a slightly different note on the back, written in German.  I wondered why German, although I knew that my grandmother could read and write German along with three other languages.

I knew that one of the photos of the young man and the photo of the two girls were sent to my grandmother, Tova/Thelma.  And I that the other one of the young man was sent to her aunt, my great aunt Gussie.  This lead me to write about the young man Abraham Prentki/Prantki.  (See blog post below.)

I assumed he had to be the son of one my great grandfather’s three sisters , Esther, Sura or Leba, who we really had no information about.

By some serendipitous decision, I was looking for another post on the Tracing the Tribe Group when I stumbled upon this photo of the young girls who had never been identified.  So I reposted it on Tracing the Tribe and Jewish Ancestoy in Poland.   With in a few hours, I had a translation.  It was to my grandmother, their cousin.  There were names including the last name Granek. This postcard was also written in German.

My Tracing the Tribe friend, Amy, decided to search some more.  Thank you, Amy.  She found a Yad V’Shem testimony written by a Martha Granek Wynn, who wrote a page of testimony for her mother Cella Prentki Granek.   Cella’s parents were Esther Schenk and Pinkus Prentki and they lived in Breslau, Germany.  But originally came from Boleslaviec, Poland, where my grandmother grew up. Cella was murdered in Mauthausen.  The testimony is chilling.  In Place of death: it is written Mauthausen.  In circumstance of death, it is written: Oven.

The pieces were now coming together.  And although I cannot be one hundred percent certain.  This is what I know.  My great grandfather Shlomo Abraham had several sisters.  Gussie moved to the United States, where she married and had four children.  My grandmother moved in with Gussie and her family when she moved to the USA. (See two blogs below.). The postcards from the young man, Abraham Prentki were to his cousin Tova and his Aunt Gussie.  I assumed he had to be the son of Esther, Sura or Leba, my great grandfather’s sisters who we had no information on.  This leads me to believe that Abraham was the brother of Cella Prentki Granek who died at Mauthausen.  And that he was also the son of Esther Schenk Prentki.

Grandma Thelam, Carlsbad

My grandmother is sitting on the right.  Who are the other two women?

More information, we (my sister helps me with my research) know that my grandmother went back to Europe in 1931 with my mother and uncle. (see blog below.). We also know that she left the children behind with her father and then her in laws and went to Breslau to visit her family, her aunt, and go to the waters of Carlsbard/Karlsbard to heal.  The Prentki family lived in Breslau.

My sister says she agrees that this looks right. But we are not totally sure. On the page of testimony there is an address in Melbourne, Australia.  I found this address on line, in Australia.  I sent a letter to the woman who submitted the testimony about her mother, but not sure the family still lives there.  It was written in 1999, and Martha would be in her 90s now. She is probably one of the young girls in the photo.  I am hoping that some family members live there.

However, another connection.  After the war, my grandmother’s two brothers and their wives moved to Australia.  They were waiting for visas to get out of Europe and went when the first visa to Australia arrived.  They lived in Melbourne.  Coincidence?  Or did they move to be with other family who had escaped.  My mother’s first cousin is still alive. She was born in Melbourne in 1955 and now lives in Israel.  I have asked her if she knew this family. But she was a child when she left Australia.

We might never know the truth.  My sister is right,  we cannot be 100 percent sure.  But in my heart, I think these were the children of my great aunt Esther.  In my heart I believe that this was the family my grandmother visited in Breslau.  In my heart I think the mystery of these two photos is solved.  Still not sure about the photo from Karlsbard.

It is amazing what information two photos can lead to.  And that is why I keep going back to this album and searching.

https://zicharonot.com/2014/08/19/old-photographs-bring-memories-to-life/

https://zicharonot.com/2018/06/04/the-mystery-of-abraham-prantki/

https://zicharonot.com/2015/06/13/finding-katie/

https://zicharonot.com/2014/05/29/grandma-thelma-knows-what-she-knows/

https://zicharonot.com/2016/06/06/the-mysterious-kalsbad-photos-who-are-they/

My Familiar Ancestor, Who We Cannot Identify

19 Dec

My cousin posted photos yesterday in the hope I could help identify them. None of them had any identifying information.  Several we could figure out, they were mainly our great grandparents and one great uncle. Several are children I has never seen before, perhaps they were from her Mother’s side.  And then there was this photo. A young women who looks much as I did as a young woman. She could be me.

Mystery woman, a relative?

Joan Steiner and me graduation

My college graduation.

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A mystery couple; is it the same woman?

I see so many similarities: our hair, our eyebrows, our noses, our resting face, our lips.  My glasses hide my eyes, but believe me they are similar. When I first saw the photo, I was startled.  Under it my cousin had written: You resemble this woman.  And I do.

I am now haunted by her. Who is she? Is she a great aunt? A cousin?  I am relatively sure she is NOT a grandmother of some generation.  But if I was a time traveler, I think I would be her.

I also love her dress.  There is a bit of sparkle on the collar.  All who know me, know that I love sparkle. I could wear a dress like that.  Perhaps not the high collar.  I do not like turtle neck shirts or high collars of any sort.  The dress itself, is something I would wear.  I imagine that it is blue, my favorite color.

I think she is my doppelganger.  I cannot quite get her out of my mind now.  She also looks a bit like some of my cousin’s daughters.  The family genes are strong. I really want to know who she is? Where she ended up?

This photo was taken in the USA at a photo studio on Grand Street, NYC.  So I at least do not have to worry about her dying in the Shoah.  I think she might be one of my grandfather’s five or six sisters.  I only ever met one as a child.  There were four or five we never knew.

We have another photo taken at the same studio.  Is this her as well?  Or a sister?  I am similar to her as well.  I think it might be her a few years older, with her husband.  She has rings on her fingers now.  But she is still wearing a top with a little drama to it, with all that lace!

Then there is the location of Grand Street, in lower Manhattan.  It runs parallel and a bit to the south of Delancey Street.  My grandfather and great grandfather had a tailor shop on Delancey Street. Also the Bialystoker Synagogue is on Grand Street!  Well we are all Bialystokers!  The synagogue started life as a Methodist Episcopal Church, built in 1826.  In 1905 it was purchased to be a synagogue.  But more important it was started by the Chevra Anshei Chessed of Bialystok, and our great grandfather was extremely active in all Bialystoke communal organizations. The synagogue is an historic landmark. I think I need to go and see this synagogue!!!

I am sure she is related somehow.  There are so many connections. I just wish I knew how! I do not think I ever will unless another photo turns up with a name!

In my heart, I wish that my ancestors had put names on the back of all the photos.  The ones with names in Yiddish, or Hebrew, or Polish or German are so wonderful because we actually have a name.  But the many photos that remain forever nameless sit in albums and wait for a name that will probably never come. This lack of identification concerns me as we go on to web-based photo collections.  We need to keep some sort of identification for generations to come.

But for now, I will look at this photo of my familiar but unknown relative and truly wish I knew who this woman is, and how she might be related to me.

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/louis-of-the-blessed-heart/

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/12-delancey-street-and-my-family/

https://images.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=Bialystoker+Synagogue+on+Grand+Street+image

A Traditional Jewish Wedding Created A Family’s Magical Wedding Ring

16 Apr

In traditional Jewish weddings, the marriage ring has to be completely round, made of gold with no embellishments. No diamonds or stones; just a plain gold ring.

When my maternal grandparents were married in 1925, they used such a plain white gold ring to ensure a blissful life. Both from Europe, they had no parents to be with them when they married. But they followed the traditions. First they got permission from my great grandfather. Then they married. My grandfather said the traditional words, “With this ring, you are consecrated to me according to the law of Moses and Israel,” when he placed the ring on my grandmother’s forefinger.

The ring adorned my grandmother’s hand for the first 26 years they were married. But in 1951 my mother and father married. My Dad was in the army and was being sent to Korea. My grandparents were not exactly happy about my Mom getting married while Dad was on leave. They were worried. Would he survive? Would everything be okay?

My parents got married while my Dad was on a two-week leave. They did not have time to find and buy a ring. So my grandparents decided that my Mom would get married using their ring. My father paid my grandmother for the ring, as it cannot be borrowed. It must belong to the groom. Thus my parents were married using my grandmother’s wedding band. Once again the traditional marriage words were said, “With this ring, you are consecrated to me according to the law of Moses and Israel.” My parents were now bound together.

My grandparents were married for over 60 years. My parents were married 59 years before my Mom passed away.

Mom made sure that the tradition continued. She felt that since the ring had been a vital part of two wonderful weddings and marriages, then it would bring mazel to others as well. She decided that her daughters would also have to be married using this ring.

Notice the two gold rings by my engagement ring, several hours after my husband and I were married.

Notice the two gold rings by my engagement ring, several hours after my husband and I were married.

When I married in 1980, I also was married in this special ring. My husband paid my mother one dollar for it. And even though I had another plain gold ring to wear, during the service it was my grandmother’s and mother’s ring that was placed on my right forefinger, and later moved to my ring finger.

My husband recited the same words to me, “With this ring, you are consecrated to me according to the law of Moses and Israel.” And I, being a more modern bride, wanted to say something as I placed a ring on my husband’s finger. So I said, “My beloved is mine and I am my beloved. Ani le’dodi v’dodi li.” I wore the family ring, along with my gold ring, for several years until my sister was to be married. 

Selling the ring to my brother in law just before he married my sister.


And then, as my mother wished, my sister’s groom purchased the ring for one dollar from my husband and me. Once again the ring was placed on the forefinger of a family bride.

As grandchildren were born into the family, my mother asked that the ring be used for each granddaughter’s wedding. And of course we agreed. My sister and I also feel that the ring should be used for the grandsons’ weddings as well, if they want to use it.

Ring/Dollars

My grandmother’s ring and the dollar bills each groom paid for the ring: my Dad, my husband, my brother-in-law.

The ring is now in my sister’s safety deposit box waiting for the next family wedding. With the ring are the dollar bills that my Dad, my husband and my brother-in-law all used to pay for the ring. Each dollar bill has the name of the bride and groom and the date of the wedding written on it. They are part of the tradition of the ring.

Soon the ring will come out of its resting place. It will be time to adorn the finger of another bride. I am happy that it will be my daughter’s wedding. The oldest grandchild, my daughter and her boyfriend recently announced their engagement. They plan to wed next summer, in 2016.   I hope that her groom will want to buy this ring to use for their marriage ceremony.  So that for the fourth generation, 91 years after my grandparent’s wedding, this magical ring will be used again.

I cannot wait to see my daughter and her groom stand under the huppah together.  I hope that they will use my father’s tallit for this special day. I cannot wait to see my grandmother’s white gold wedding ring slide onto the forefinger of my daughter. I cannot wait to hear the traditional words spoken by the groom. I wonder if my daughter will respond as I did, or in the way more modern brides do repeating the same words that the groom says to his bride.

I only hope that the magic of the ring continues and that my daughter and her groom celebrate throughout their married life with the joy of marriage that went through the lives of all the brides who have worn it.