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Flyleaf Inscription

1896 Rose Isaac Inscription on flyleaf of the Book of Proverbs

Linda has a photo, shown above, of an inscription on the flyleaf of a Book of Proverbs.  She believes this came from Rabbi Moshe Rose zt”l of Jerusalem.  The stamp suggests that at one time the book was in the library of of Rabbi Abraham Rose zt”l who was appointed Headmaster of the Swansea Hebrew Classes in South Wales until called to the Ealing Jewish Community of London in 1924.  The address on the stamp. 39 Mansel St, Swansea, is suggested on a map, see below, but the neighborhood has certainly changed.  See photo below from Google Earth.

The inscription, in legible part, carries the name of David son of Isaac Jacob Rozenof of Ratz.  David was Robert’s grandfather.  The file name suggests that this may have been given to David in 1896, when he was 13, perhaps for his Bar Mitzvah.  If so, this would have been in Raczk, Poland.  There is no evidence that he took it with him when he left.  


איך אוּן דוּ

,טראַנסמיסיעס גײען פֿוּן דײן האַרץ צו מיינעם

.פֿאַרטוישן, פֿאַרמישן מײן לײדן מיט דײנעםֿ

?בּין איך נישט –– דוּ? בּוסטוּ נישט –– איך

Zena’s Visit to Raczki August 2014

All text and pictures © Zena Cook 2014

By way of background, I had met Birute (a Lithuanian psychotherapist) on the Camino in Spain and had traveled to Lithuania to research my ancestral family on my father’s side. She had been a great help. (I have written about that trip but not yet finalized it). I had reciprocated by inviting her to Israel the following winter for which she had brought with her new friend Stephan. Stephan is German, a physician by background, but currently working as a psychoanalyst. They had invited me to join them on part of their summer vacation. Birute had indicated that she wanted to help me with exploring more family history in an area of Poland that was quite beautiful with primordial forests and fresh lakes and would be interesting as a vacation spot.

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It was a scorching hot day when we drove from our lakeside accommodation in the Wigry National Park, to Raczki, the home of my mother's ancestral family in the late 19th century.  We chose to take a more ancient route, rather than a more modern one. Going south along the Suwalki, Augustov road, we discovered a turn off to Raczki. After that there were no signs. We took a right fork that became a dirt track road that wandered through fields and forests with occasional signs of habitation.  Eventually, we forded a small stream (a tributary of the Rospuda river) and came out to an ancient track. This tract had religious relics and historic land marks alongside it. 

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Finally we came out to the main road at the village of Dowspuda. We stopped to look at the ruins of a 19th century palace, called Pac’s palace (Pac was an Aristocrat who distinguished himself during the Napoleonic wars). Lines of lime trees framed the road to the castle and there were Soviet built small housing blocks on one side and a government building on the other.

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Raczki was another mile and though it was hot, I wanted to walk into the town and get the feel of it. 

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There was eventually a pedestrian path alongside the tree-lined road that led me to imagine a more a beautiful entrance to the town in older times.  I imagined the town in former days when the town was more prosperous or when public spaces were taken more care of. Today the paths are no longer well kept and development seemed modern and uncoordinated, houses facing different directions. I noticed that there was not much landscaping.

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Housing became older and more traditionally faced the street as I walked further into town. 

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Several side roads ran perpendicular. Side roads to the right went towards the river. Side roads to the left went to another nearby village. 

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Finally I reached the center of town, the town square, where my friends had parked the car. 

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Birute asked a passerby for a tourist information office which I had previously identified on our map, but it turned out to be outside the town. No one knew where it was. We also asked about the cemetery, but no-one seemed to know about that either. Everyone we saw and asked were fairly young. We found no one speaking English, German or Russian, only Polish.  They knew little about the past. They seemed quite shy and not used to visitors. We saw no old people as such. We went into a couple of shops and chatted to people as best we could.

We left the town square on foot and walked north towards the church whose bells were ringing indicating midday. (Birute’s partner, Stephan, thought there might be someone at the church we could talk to.) As we walked, a tune rang out from the Town Hall, also signifying midday. Buildings petered out a bit and a large church lay on the right inside a wrought iron fence. We entered into the courtyard. The church was only partially open and nobody was around. 

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Outside, in the shade, I reread the description of the town my sister had put together. (The heat was difficult to deal with by this time.) There was a detailed description of the location of the cemetery. 

Opposite the church, and slightly on a diagonal from it, stood a row of neatly ordered old wooden houses. From the construction I suspected that at least one of them was there during my great grandfather's time. It demonstrated a very old kind of carpentry. The others were newer but still quite old.  One had wooden siding on it and could have been renovated at some point. They seemed inhabited.  The road opposite the church ran diagonal to the present main road and, I speculated, could have been a more important road in former times, since there was little evidence of development along the present main road. Indeed the modern village seemed to peter out as the main road turned left away from the river. 

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We backtracked through the village asking for information as went. We noticed three men with bicycles hanging out in the shade in the town square. One of them appeared to speak a little English. He had spent some time in New York City, not unusual in Poland we found. He struggled to speak to us because he had forgotten much of it.  Another spoke some Russian but was inebriated. Birute was able to communicate with him and he was able to describe where the cemetery was, with the help of the others. The three men were friendly and willing to help. 

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We drove south then turned west towards outside the Raczki city boundary.

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Looking north was a small wood, with some remaining stumps of what might have been a fence, on one side. 

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We examined the wood first, but became quickly entangled in stinging nettles and bushes. Stephan was convinced that a bear had recently been there because of tracks. 

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We couldn’t go any further. After much discussion we agreed we were not the right place and decided to try further down the road. As we walked back to the car however, I tried to focus my thoughts on where it might be. It occurred to me that a cemetery would more likely be on the side of the wood, rather than in the center of it. It also occurred to me that the stumps I saw could be the remains of the fence "with two wires" written about in Linda's description. 

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I noticed a trampled down but uninviting path through a wheat field to the broken down fence. By this time Birute and Stephan had returned to the car. I persuaded myself to pursue the path in spite of the discomfort of heat, insects and uneven ground. I walked in a straight line past the stumps and through tangled grasses. The ground was even more uneven and difficult to walk on. Then to the left I saw what looked like an old stone almost disappearing under the tangled grasses. It had no writing on it but was definitely not there by chance. It was to be one of only two stones still visible. The other one had Hebrew writing on it and confirmed that I was in the right place! I could feel other stones under my feet, but they lay buried under earth and grass and could not be identified easily.

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I waived to Stephan and Birute and they made their way to where I was. 

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The cemetery was in some kind of protected status legally, but completely neglected. Clearly it was returning to its natural state and soon there would be nothing to observe. The pleasure of finding the cemetery was tinged with sadness at its neglect. I considered the likelihood of ancestors in the cemetery with all its implications. We observed what appeared to be its perimeter and then left walking back through the wheat field.

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We left Raczki along a different route, east along the main road towards Suwalki and then south to Wigri. 

Later that week we went to Sejne, where we were told, there was an old 19th century Jewish Synagogue (the White Synagogue). Adjacent was the old Yeshiva, now turned into a film institute, focusing on multicultural issues. Sejne had had a relatively large Jewish population. 

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That night a local band played Klezmer music in the synagogue. Notice the talented female drummer on the right! 

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Zena Cook

Museum of the History of Polish Jews

You will want to check this out; there is a new Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, and its website is jewishmuseum.org.pl  It looks like it will be an invaluable.

RR

A Visit to Raczki 2014

We have something really special for you!  This is a report from Zena Cook regarding her recent trip to Raczki, Poland:

It was a hot day when we drove from our accommodation in the Wigry National Park to Raczki, the home of my mother's family in the late 19th century.  Going south along the Augustov road, we found a turn off to Raczki. It soon became a dirt track road which wandered through fields and forests.  It crossed a small stream and led to an ancient track with religious and other relics alongside it. Finally we came out at the village of Dowspuda. We stopped to look at the ruins of the old Pac Palace. Lines of lime trees marked the road to the palace and there were Soviet built small housing blocks on one side. 

Raczki was another mile and though it was hot, I wanted to walk. There was a pedestrian path alongside the tree-lined road which made for a somewhat auspicious entrance to the town.  I imagined the town in former days when the town was more prosperous or when public spaces were taken more care of. The paths were no longer well kept and development seemed a bit uncoordinated, houses facing different directions. Seemingly new dwellings had replaced former ones in the outskirts. Housing became more dense and more faced the street as I walked further into town. Several side roads ran perpendicular. Side roads to the right went towards the river. Side roads to the left went to another nearby village. Finally I reached the center of town, the town square, where my friends had parked the car.  My friend, Birute, asked a passerby for a tourist information office which I had previously identified on our map, but it turned out to be outside the town. Anyway, no one knew of its existence. We also asked about the cemetery but no-one seemed to know about that either. Everyone we saw and asked were young. We found no one speaking English, German or Russian, only Polish.  They knew little about the past. They seemed quite shy and not used to visitors. We saw no old people as such. We went into a couple of shops and chatted to people as best we could.

We left the town square on foot and walked north towards the church whose bells were ringing indicating midday. (Birute’s partner, Stephan, thought there might be someone at the church we could talk to.) As we walked, a tune rang out from the Town Hall, also signifying midday. Buildings petered out a bit and a large church lay on the right inside a wrought iron fence. We entered into the courtyard. The church was only partially open and nobody was around. Outside, in the shade, I reread the description of the town my sister had put together. (The heat was difficult to deal with by this time.) There was a detailed description of the location of the cemetery. 

Opposite the church, and slightly on a diagonal from it, stood a row of neatly ordered old wooden houses. From the construction I suspected that at least one of them was there during my great grandfather's time. It demonstrated a very old kind of carpentry. The others were newer but still quite old.  One had wooden siding on it and could have been renovated at some point. They seemed inhabited.  The road opposite the church ran diagonal to the present main road and, I speculated, could have been a more important road in former times, since there was little evidence of development along the present main road. Indeed the modern village seemed to peter out as the main road turned left away from the river. 

We backtracked through the village asking for information as went. We noticed three men with bicycles hanging out in the shade in the town square. One of them appeared to speak a little English. He had spent some time in New York City, not unusual in Poland we found. He struggled to speak to us because he had forgotten much of it.  Another spoke some Russian but was inebriated. Birute was able to communicate with him and he was able to describe where the cemetery was with the help of the others. The three men were friendly and willing to help. 

We drove south then turned west towards another village where, outside the city boundary, was a small wood and some remaining stumps of what could have been a fence. We examined the wood, but became quickly entangled in stinging nettles and bushes. Stephan was convinced that a bear had recently been there because of tracks. This was clearly not the place and we decided to try elsewhere. As we walked back to the car however, it seemed to me that a cemetery would more likely be on the side of the wood rather than in it. It also occurred to me that the stumps could be the remains of the fence "with two wires" written about in Linda's description. I noticed a trampled down but uninviting path through a wheat field to the broken down fence. By this time Birute and Stephan had returned to the car. I persuaded myself to pursue the path in spite of the discomfort of heat, insects and uneven ground. I walked in a straight line past the stumps and through tangled grasses. The ground was even more uneven and difficult to walk on. Then to the left I saw what looked like an old stone almost disappearing under the tangled grasses. It had no writing on it but was definitely not there by chance. It was to be one of only two stones still visible. The other one had Hebrew writing on it and confirmed that I was in the right place! I could feel other stones under my feet, but they lay buried under earth and grass and could not be identified easily.

I waived to Stephan and Birute and they made their way to where I was. The cemetery was in some kind of protected status legally, but completely neglected. Clearly it was returning to its natural state and soon there would be nothing to observe. The pleasure of finding the cemetery was tinged with sadness at its neglect. We observed what appeared to be its perimeter and then left walking back through the wheat field.

We left Raczki along a different route, towards Sulwalki, and then south to Wigry National Park

Zena Cook

The Rose Family in Israel

Of Leah and Isaac Rose’s ten children, the youngest three (Rabbi Abraham, Phoebe and Moishe) retired to Israel. 

Of their forty-four grandchildren, eleven immigrated to Israel, while five resided for a time or retired to Israel.  These include Hadassah’s son Shalom Lev, Morris’s son, Samuel Rose (compiler of the Rose family tree), Jenny’s three daughters, Freda Rothman, Sarah Cook and Minnie Klein, Dora’s son and daughter, Doctor Gerald Jacobs and Edna Tillinger, Shimon’s son and daughter, Rabbi Moshe Rose and Beryl Levkovitch, Jack’s two sons, Basil and Lionel Rose, three of Rabbi Abraham’s sons, Reuben, Chaim and David Rose, and lastly Phoebe’s daughter, Renee Pink, and more recently her son, Dr. Isidore Crown. 

At the time of writing this blog entry (September 15, 2014), to my knowledge seven of the above (Sarah Cook, Gerald Jacobs, Basil Rose, Chaim and David Rose, Renee Pink and Isidore Crown) are still alive, evidence of the longevity of the Rose family.

As for Leah and Isaac Rose’s eighty-five great grandchildren, twenty-five live or have resided in Israel. They are scattered throughout the country, some in Israeli cities or towns, others in kibbutzim. Some are secular Jews, most are Orthodox Jews. Unfortunately there is not that much contact between the two. In fact when I started researching the Rose family history no-one was more surprised than me to find that we had so many relatives living in Israel.

Having re-established contact with many of them, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity provided by my daughter’s 2003 wedding, to organise a reunion between my mother and her Rose first cousins. Some photographs taken at that wedding are here, here, and here.

In the same way my sister, Zena, took advantage of our niece’s 2014 wedding in California, to invite our cousins from the American branch of the Rose family. Photographs of this event are posted on Bob’s page at Flickr.

LL

British Registries

The British Births, Deaths, and Marriage registries have been digitized (click here).  Linda writes:

"I spent days if not weeks trawling through the original printed census books (together with half of the UK’s senior citizen population) to find them.  This entailed travelling into central London, waiting in a queue in order to be among the first to enter, and spending the whole day taking down from the shelves the very heavy registers and turning the pages as rapidly as possible in order not to waste time. Then at the end of the day purchasing the original certificates that looked promising (but sometimes were not).  

"The original certificates still cost money of course since this is not only how they fund the digitization process and the website but is also a very lucrative business!  I suppose it was only a matter of time before they were digitized. This is a much more cost-effective way to search both for the office of the population census and for the public."

 A sample of what you can find online is shown.  Note in the left hand column the record of Morris Rose’s June 1909 wedding in Birmingham.


Steerage and Aliens

Glance at the ship manifests and you will see that our parents and grandparents came across the Atlantic in steerage, marked as “Aliens.”  We can’t possibly know the deprivation they incurred, but I found this description of steerage conditions:

"steerage passengers . . .  are positively packed like cattle, making a walk on deck when the weather is good, absolutely impossible, while to breathe clean air below in rough weather, when the hatches are down is an equal impossibility. The stenches become unbearable, and many of the emigrants have to be driven down; for they prefer the bitterness and danger of the storm to the pestilential air below. The division between the sexes is not carefully looked after, and the young women who are quartered among the married passengers have neither the privacy to which they are entitled nor are they much more protected than if they were living promiscuously.

"The food, which is miserable, is dealt out of huge kettles into the dinner pails provided by the steamship company. When it is distributed, the stronger push and crowd, so that meals are anything but orderly procedures. On the whole, the steerage of the modern ship ought to be condemned as unfit for the transportation of human beings . . . in the steerage from 200 to 400 sleep in one compartment on bunks, one above the other, with little light and no comforts. . . . in the steerage the unsavory rations are not served, but doled out, with less courtesy than one would find in a charity soup kitchen."

Wikipedia

Ellis Island Records 1

There is a tremendous amount of material at the Ellis Island website.  ellisisland.org  Linda and I have been searching through that data for years, and I am posting some pictures of the original ship manifests for those in the family that came to America through that port.  You can purchase full size copies from that website, suitable for framing, and we encourage you to do so and support this tremendous resource.

The manifests are each two pages.  We have the manifest (here and here) for David Rose, who arrived on the RMS Baltic on January 8, 1910, and for Annie Rose, Bessie Rose, and Sydney Rose (here and here) all of whom arrived on the RMS Campania on September 18, 1910. 

BR

Menasha (Morris) and Martha Get Married

Here we have an abstract in English of the ketubah for the wedding of Menasha (Morris, Isaac Jacob’s son) and Martha Berkowitz.  It is noteworthy because Morris’s bother David was a witness and the photos of Isaac Jacob and Leah and of David, his wife Annie, Bessie and Sydney were taken at that wedding.  BR



© Robert Rose 2014