The Power Of Words

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Here are some updates for you:

  • A new study guide for the Partisan Poem  is available. Mervyn Danker, school principal and Jill Rabinowitz,  English teacher, have combined to bring you an updated English study guide for the Partisan Poem by Hirsh Glik. This poem is the legacy of the partisans and survivors. It is now up to us to embrace it for future generations.  No other poem inspires hope as much as Zog Nit Keynmol!


  • We are progressing with our plan to recite the poem globally on International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January 2018. Find your language here.


  • For more on how you can participate, watch the two inspiring videos on this page.


  • You can now follow all my posts in your own language. Simply click on “Translate” on the bottom right and select one of 104 flags to translate – even in Xhosa!


  •  Shana Tova & well over the Fast to all my Jewish friends.
    May you and your loved ones be inscribed in the Book of Life 
    for a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous New Year.
    Shana Tova and well over the Fast. 

    Ge’mar Chatima Tova. 
    Apples & Honey by Danielle Gild, Sydney



News From Vilnius

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It began in the Vilna Ghetto in 1943.
As we approach the 75th anniversary of the anthem of the Survivors, we have established a program to recite the Partisan Poem, Zog Nit Kaynmol, in 23 languages around the globe.
Here is an article by Geoff Vasil which appeared overnight in the Lithuanian Jewish Community News

Don’t Give Up Hope: The Partisan Poem and Song Project

Hear it as a poem

The Poem

The Poem

The Partisan Poem It  was written as a poem of hope  by Hirsh Glik,  aged 20, in the Vilna ghetto in 1943. In English Aaron Kremer’s English version recited by Freydl Mrocki of Shalom Aleiche…



Read Yuri Suhl’s 1953 essay 



Transferred by OCR from this book I sourced in the NYPL


Many songs came out of the ghettos and concentration camps of Europe during the last war. Most of these songs are of unknown authorship. They have about them the anonymity of the Pashaik-the striped prisoner’s garb-and the numbers tattooed on the victim’s arm. Singly, each depicts, both in concrete imagery and in general terms, either a particular phase of ghetto life, or the predominant mood of the ghetto dwellers at a given time. Together, they are the collective outcry of people subjected to an inhuman persecution. They form a record of martyrology and courage seldom met in human history.

These songs, though saturated with the pain and anguish that marked the life of the inhabitants of the ghetto, were nevertheless songs of hope and not of despair. The mood of resignation is absent from these songs. Their underlying theme is a deep yearning for a brighter day and an unswerving conviction that such a day will finally come and bring with it the destruction of Hitlerism and the liberation of Hitler’s victims.

With these songs on their lips the prisoners of the ghettos helped lighten the burden of their daily miseries, to face the gallows, firing squads and the torture chambers and the walk on the last path to the gas chambers. And with these songs on their lips, hushed by the rules of security, muted by the laws of secrecy, the underground met in dark bunkers to plot the strategy of the ghetto uprisings.

Some of these songs are still sung by ghetto survivors in various parts of the world; some form a part of artists’ repertories and are sung from the stage; others have become part of memories too painful to be stirred into consciousness. But one song, written in the ghetto of Vilna by a young poet named Hirsh Glik, has in the short space of a few years achieved a unique popularity. From being the official battle song of the Jewish partisans of the Vilna ghetto during the war, it has become, after the war, a hymn of Jewish people all over the world. Nachman Meisel, well-known Yiddish literary critic, writes in his booklet Hirsh Glik And His Song “Zog nisht kaynmol” [Never say]: “It is a significant and amazing phenomenon that without the sanction of any authoritative publication Zog nisht kaynmol was taken up spontaneously by all the sectors of the Jewish people as the highest and fullest expression of the sorrow and suffering, the protest and courage, that filled our hearts in the recent years of annihilation and rebirth.”

During my trip to Europe in 1948, I was able to observe at firsthand the extent of the popularity of this song and its power to move the Jews. My experience fully corroborates Mr. Meisel’s statement. I recall a spring morning in the town of Lignitz in Lower Silesia. As in every other town on my tour through Poland, several members of the local Jewish committee took me on a round of visits to Jewish institutions. We began our day with the Jewish children’s school, a large renovated building with spacious class rooms and modern facilities. The teachers had been informed beforehand of my scheduled visit. Upon my arrival, all classes were suspended and the students were assembled in a large auditorium. I greeted the several hundred pupils in behalf of the Jewish children of America and then read a story to them. In response they sang for me songs of the ghetto and of the new life in Poland. When the director announced that the visit with the American guest had come to a close, the children rose spontaneously to their feet and began to sing Zog nisht kaynmol.

I watched the expression on their faces, the look in their eyes. It was as though these young children had suddenly become mature and serious adults. They began singing slowly in a low but unfaltering tone. Gradually their voices rose, swelled to a high note and dropped again. It was not the music that controlled the volume of their voices, the even-measured cadence of their tones. It was the meaning of the words that determined their tonal emphasis. It was not just a song that they were singing. They were making a vow. They had sung this very song in the ghetto or had heard it from their fathers and mothers, who were no longer alive. Some remembered that it was with this song on their lips that partisan Jews had died fighting the nazis. For the children, the song was a firm resolve never again to be children of the ghetto. It was a song to honour the dead and to inspire courage in the living. Wherein lies the strength of this song? What single feature of its composition is the source of its popularity? Do its thoughts and sentiments express the essence of its vigour or does its form give this song its special quality? Is it the melody-strong, confident, hope giving and uplifting, yet permeated with an undertone of deep sorrow-that makes this song reach out to millions? Or do the circumstances out of which it was born endow the song with the touch of immortality?


Though each of these elements is worthy of separate treatment and serious consideration, it would be a grave error to ascribe the song’s vital message and overwhelming popularity to one single factor. Rather is it the aggregate of all these elements, combined to form one unified whole, that gives this song its quality. Any proper evaluation of it must begin with its origin and its author, Hirsh Glik.

Hirshke, as he was affectionately called, was born in Vilna in 1920. His father was a poor tradesman who eked out a precarious living. To supplement his father’s earnings, Hirshke was forced to seek a job at the age of 15. He worked as a clerk, first in a paper business and later in a hardware store. The sensitive youth was often seen going home from work late in the evening, his tired face showing the strain of long hours and hard work. The urge to write manifested itself early in Glik’s life, and his first literary products already revealed a vigour and freshness characteristic of a genuine poetic talent. He was a leading member of a young literary group of Vilna called “Yungvald,” which had published, under the editorship of the poet Leizer Wolf, several issues of a literary magazine bearing the name of the group. When the Germans occupied Vilna, and herded the Jews into a ghetto, Hirsh Glik, together with several hundred other Jews, was sent to Veisse Vake, a work camp 12 miles from Vilna. There they were set to digging peat. The working hours were long and living conditions in the camp extremely difficult. Although hard labor and inhuman treatment at the hands of the nazis robbed Glik of his physical energies, they failed to break his spirit. More than ever he was now possessed of a burning desire to record the miserable life of the work camp. Late at night, when his fellow prisoners lay exhausted on the floor of their hovels, Glik cried out both for them and himself the anguish of their souls in poetry. Many of these poems he had managed to transmit to the ghetto. He was twice awarded literary prizes for his poetry by the Jewish Writers and Artists Association of the Vilna ghetto. On several occasions he even managed to come to the ghetto himself. He would then spend most of his time in the Youth Club, reading his poetry to enthralled audiences.

In the early part of 1943, the Germans liquidated the work camp Veisse Vake and transferred all the Jews to the ghetto of Wilno. Those were not “ordinary” ghetto days. At dawn of April 5th, 4,000 Jews were put to death at Ponar. Those in the ghetto who had harboured the illusion that life in the ghetto had been “stabilised,” were suddenly shaken out of their complacency. A frantic search for weapons ensued. Then came a piece of news that electrified the ghetto. The underground radio operator picked up a brief bulletin: “The remainder of the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto have begun an armed uprising against the murderers of the Jewish people. The ghetto is in flames!”

Those flames, though geographically distant, set off sparks of revolt in other ghettos and filled the Jews with a deep sense of pride in their Warsaw brethren. They gave the call to arms. The search for weapons was more feverish than before. It was in those turbulent days under the direct impact of the uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto, that Hirsh Glik wrote his immortal Zog nisht kaynmol. And when the staff of the underground met to work out strategy and assign battle stations, the song was adopted as the official battle hymn of the partisans. But the people had preceded the underground staff in this choice. Long before the staff had accorded the song this singular honour, Zog nisht kaynmol was tremendously popular in the entire ghetto.

On the first of September 1943, when the Gestapo began the liquidation of the Wilno ghetto, the partisans barricaded themselves in various parts of the ghetto to battle the Germans. Hirsh Glik and his group were surrounded by the Gestapo before they could get to their weapons. They were taken prisoner and sent to the labor camp at Goldfield, in Estonia, where conditions were even worse than in previous camps. Even the privilege of possessing pencil and paper was denied to Glik. This, however, did not prevent him from continuing his creative work. He composed and recited by heart to his fellow prisoners.

One year later, in August 1944, the rapidly advancing Red Army forced the Germans out of their positions. The nazis began to liquidate the concentration camp in an effort to erase the traces of their fiendish work. Glik realised that liquidation of the labor camp spelled death for the Jews. Together with a group of fellow prisoners he escaped to the nearby woods. There he ran into a detachment of retreating Germans and was killed in the brief encounter. He died in the true spirit of his song, fighting the enemy of his people.

Zog nisht kaynmol has attributes of a folksong-simplicity of form, an easy, natural rhyme scheme, clarity of expression and unity of mood. Not a single word or line in it is incomprehensible to the least sophisticated person. It is unaffected to the point of artlessness. Yet it has a lyrical quality, and is permeated with a richness of imagery that places it in the category of a poem of high artistic caliber. It is indeed a rare combination of simplicity and art, blending harmoniously into a unified and heightened expression. But all these elements, however fine, would not suffice to give this poem the stature it has achieved. It is the mood of the song, so clearly and forcefully expressed, which is the core of this poem’s strength, vigour and durability. In this Zog nisht kaynmol Hirsh Glik has succeeded in articulating the prevailing mood and feelings of the Jews of the ghetto of Wilno and of resistance in all other ghettos and concentration camps. He had forged a fighting weapon.

The poet had adapted his words to an appropriate melody. The music was originally a Cossack Cavalry song composed by the Pokrass brothers, two Jewish Soviet composers, for a poem written by the Soviet poet A. Surkov.

Although words of the Cossack song are not related to the content of Glik’s poem, the music seems to blend harmoniously with the words of Zog nisht kaynmol. Without straining for symbolism, one cannot help but reflect on this association-a Soviet, Cavalry song wedded musically to a Jewish partisans’ battle poem. It is known that in areas liberated by the Red Army other Jewish partisans changed the fourth line of Glik’s song from “Svet a poyk tun undser trot; Mir zenen doh!” (Our marching steps will thunder: we are here) to: “Die Stalinshe chavayrim zenen doh!” (The comrades of Stalin are here).

Zog nisht kaynmol has been translated into many languages. We know about versions in Rumanian, Dutch, Polish (three versions), Spanish, Hebrew and English (five versions). Of the five English versions, that of the young Jewish American poet Aaron Kramer seems to me the most successful. “Niederland Film,” a Dutch film company, produced a documentary based on Glik’s song in 1947. And the famous Soviet Jewish poet, Peretz Markish, created an heroic character based on his conception of Hirsh Glik in his monumental Yiddish poetic work, War.

Thus a Yiddish song, inspired by the heroic uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto, written by a young Jewish partisan in the Wilno ghetto and adopted by the partisans of this ghetto as their offal battle hymn, has reached out to the far corners of the globe to become a battle song for peace for millions of people. For the message of this song, the warning it sounds, is as timely and vital for us today, when nazism is being restored in Western Germany became a battle song for peace for millions of people, as it was to the embattled Jews of the ghettos and the fighting Jews in the woods. In these days, when the architects of war pacts and the cold war use every device to sow gloom and despair in the hearts of the people, every expression of strength, courage and reaffirmation of faith in democracy is a rallying force. Hirsh Glik’s Zog nisht kaynmol is, in this sense, a weapon in the arsenal of democracy.


Please contact me for further details:





Don’t Give Up Hope!

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We have reached the next phase of our Partisan Song project: Don’t Give Up Hope.

In April 2018 we will commemorate 75 years of the Partisan Poem, Zog Nit Keynmol, written by Hirsh Glik, aged 20, in the Vilna Ghetto in 1943.
This anthem is sung around the world at Yom Hashoah ceremonies on Holocaust Remembrance and Heroes Day.
Glik’s poem of hope, heroes and resistance is the legacy of the Partisans and the Survivors. We must continue to honour it!
It is still mostly sung in the original Yiddish with the result that many, especially the younger generation, do not understand the meaning, inspiration and context of the poem.
We have found the solution for this!
While there is no need to change the language we traditionally sing it in, we have created a site where we can read and study the words in our own language and understand Glik’s inspiration, and its context.
The poem is now available in 23 languages:
Here is a message for educators and those who wish to embrace the legacy of the partisans and survivors :
Share the following with students and your contacts:
  • Study the poem with learners, recite it and ask them to do the same.
  • Help them to record and make a creative video of their rendition.  Students are excellent at this.
  • Post it on social media – YouTube, Facebook, WordPress, Dropbox, WhatsApp, Google Drive etc. Set a deadline before 27 January 2018, the International Holocaust Remembrance day (Auschwitz Liberation Day).
  • Email the address of the posting to  so that we can share the videos on that date.
  • Examples can be found here:
  • Organise students and friends into groups to make a second video, singing the song in a language or languages of your choice, in time for posting before Yom Hashoah on 11 April 2018.
  • Examples here:
The outcomes for both educators and learners participating in this free project include:
  • Understanding the meaning, inspiration and context of the Partisan poem;
  • Having a greater appreciation of poetry;
  • Learning some Yiddish;
  • Singing the anthem;
  • Being creative;
  • Connecting with other groups of teachers and learners;
  • Honouring the legacy of the partisans and survivors; and
  • Being inspired!
This is an updated video on the project so far:

For more details of our work since January, please visit the website:
Here is a message from Phillip Maisel, 95, survivor and friend of Hirsh Glik:


75th Anniversary of the Partisan Song

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We are planning a series of worldwide events leading  up to the 75th anniversary of the Partisan Song next April.

This 4 minute interview with Phillip Maisel below highlights the importance of the Partisan Song, and the role of our youth in keeping alive the legacy of Hirsh Glik’s poem of hope!

Phillip, 95, was a friend of  Hirsh Glik, and one of the first to hear this poem recited in the Vilna Gheto in 1943

I visited the Jewish Holocaust Centre in Melbourne:

and Mount Scopus Memorial College:

where I presented my Partisan Poem and Song Project to leading Jewish educationalists and oulines the plans leading up to Yom Hashoah.

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At the Jewish Holocaust Centre

With Sue Hampel, Ricki Mainzer, Anne Gawenda, Edwin Glasenberg, Phillip Maisel & Freydi Mrocki
With Sue Hampel, Ricki Mainzer, Anne Gawenda, Michael Cohen, Phillip Maisel & Freydi Mrocki

My presentation (slides):

JHC Slides – Google Drive

The videos are mostly here –

With Ely Segal

With Amanda Castelan-Starr, the Jewish Studies Curriculum Co-ordinator

This is the full 27 minute interview with Phillip:

Freydi Mrocki reciting the Partisan poem at the Jewish Holocaust Centre.

Video: Emmanuel T Santos.

New resources found in the NYPL

Reprinted from Radical Yiddish with permission of Joel Schechter.

Yuri Suhl Article from 1953 – a must read!

More details on the program to follow!



Alli Passes On

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Alli Bak Itzkowitz – The last of her generation

A month after I met Alli Bak Itzkowitz for the first time, she passed away.

Alli was my mother Raele (Ray) Zeldin Rabinowitz’s first cousin.

They never met!

When Alli and I met in North Dallas in July, we shared stories, laughed, held hands and exchanged Yiddish rhymes

Here are photos from my visit:

A family dinner held on 20 July 2017

IMG_1957 IMG_1959 IMG_1962 IMG_1965 IMG_1970 IMG_1975 IMG_1984 IMG_1993

Part of the Zeldin family tree that Marny printed.

Alli and her son Gene


From my previous post

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Meet Alli Bak Itzkowitz

A young Alli


Here is my relationship chart to Alli, my mother’s first cousin and the last of her ZELDIN generation. They never met.

Allis’ paternal Bak grandparents – Leib and Naomi


Alli’s dad, Avram Bak
Alli and her late husband Julius
Alli’s sister Luba & husband Jasha
Alli’s family. The mother Sonia in the front
Alli’s family in Memel, Lithuania
Alli, Morris Back and Harry Bock
My mum, Ray and my grandfather Socher Zeldin
Back of the photo
Gene & Vicki with their daughter, Marny and her husband Cody

Alli is a Holocaust Survivor and has  her  testimony recorded  at USHMM as well as the Spielberg Foundation.

The USHMM link is here:

Oral history interview with Alli Itzkowitz – Collections Search – United States Holocaust Memorial Museum



Meeting My Cousin Zara Smushkovich

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Toronto, Canada

30 July 2017

I meet my first cousin Zara Zeldin Smushkovich again after 42 years.
It is a delightful reunion at a restaurant and then at her condo.
The only other time we met was in Israel in 1975.
I also meet her vivacious daughters – Mira Gold and Alla Khelem and son in law Avram-Yakov Gold.
A very special afternoon!
How Geni posted the story on their blog:

First Cousins Reunited

We love hearing stories of families reunited through Geni. Recently, Eli Rabinowitz finally found his first cousin Zara Smushkovich after being separated for over 35 years! The discovery was made thanks to the help of a friendly person on Facebook who found the family tree on Geni.


My original post:
This is how my story unfolds, reaching a climax a week before Jewish New Year 5777
 Zara Zeldin Smushkovich
I met my first cousin Zara, known to us as Sofka, in late 1975 on Kibbutz Tzora in Israel.
As far as I can recall, this was our only meeting.
Zara had arrived with her family in 1973 from Riga, Latvia.
I took this photo of Meir, Zara, Ossie, Bessie, Uncle Isaac,
Aunty Luba, Alla, Aunty Esther, and my mother Rachel.
Zara’s father David Zeldin and my mother, Rachel were siblings.
 Aunty Esther, David Zeldin’s wife, her daughter Zara and grand daughter Alla.
 My grandparents Socher and Chasa Zeldin
and their six daughters  left Riga for South Africa between 1927 to 1937.
Five of the sisters Yetta, Annie, Rachel (my mother), Guta and Luba  (taken in the 1970s)
 Chana, the youngest sister
My grandparents, Isocher and Chasa, the married Zeldin sisters and their husbands.
11 of the 15 grandchildren all born in Cape Town
A typical family gathering in the 50s.
Two brothers, Moisey and David were left behind in Latvia.
Uncle Moisey, the eldest, died in the Holocaust, around 1941 while his younger brother David joined the Soviet Army and survived.
 David’s children, Mendel and Zara,  spent the war years with their mother Esther in a refugee camp near Tashkent in Uzbekistan.
 Documents from the Latvian archives showing their refugee status in Uzbekistan.
David Esther & Sophka Wedding
Uncle David, his wife Esther and their daughter Zara at her wedding in Riga in August 1957.
This photo: Aunty Luba, Alla, my mom Rachel, cousin Solly, Zara, Esther, Sorrel and her son Gil in late 70s in Israel.
Zara and her family left Israel for Canada in 1984.
In 2001, thanks to Saul Issroff, London based president of South African SIG, I made contact for the first time with Ferenc Koszeg, my Zeldin second cousin in Budapest, Hungary.
The article below describes the amazing way we connected!
Additionally, Ferenc, known as Feri, introduced me to additional Zeldin family, living in Istanbul:
My grandfather Socher Zeldin, had another sister, Masha who, with her Hungarian husband Sandor, moved to Turkey in the early 1920s. Although they were no longer alive, their daughter and their grandchildren (my second cousins) were in Istanbul.
There was also a second cousin in Washington DC and other Zeldin family, the Bock family, in Dallas. I started corresponding with them.
I made my first trip to the Baltics, Central and Eastern Europe in May 2011, starting in Riga, where I had commissioned research by Rita Bogdanova, archivist at the Latvian State Archives.
With Rita Bogdanova and Saul Issroff in Israel July 2015
Rita found pre WWll material on the Zeldin family in Riga and Dvinsk, known today as Daugavpils.
Rachel (Rael) Zeldin’s passport document.
Using this research as my foundation, I was able to visit family addresses with my guide, Elena Spungina.

Just after leaving Riga,  I received the 1960 diary of my late cousin Phyllis Jowell. In it she wrote about meeting our uncle David Zeldin, his wife Esther and children, Mendel and Zara.
The cover of Phyllis’s diary and photos she had pasted in it:
Rivka & Mendel Zeldin, my cousin, with their son Alex
In the diary he was referred to as Mishka, and his wife and son’s names weren’t given.
 Zara with daughter, Mira
 In the diary, she was referred to as Sofka and her daughter’s name wasn’t given.
After visiting Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in May 2011, I arrived in Budapest, Hungary and met my second cousin Feri Koszeg for first time, since connecting in 2001.
Other family members joined the party, including Feri’s family, Fanni and her husband David Waitz from New York; Sarah, her husband Peter Magyari, and her brother Aron; my son Neil from Oxford; my nephew Ronen Katz and his daughter Shachar from Israel. Visiting Budapest from Istanbul was our mutual second cousin Mehmet Imre and his wife Billur.
It was a most memorable evening with the three Zeldin second cousins, all grandchildren of three Zeldin siblings from Dvinsk, Latvia.
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With Feri and the photos that helped bring our families together. The three second cousins: Mehmet, Feri & Eli.
Feri with a famous photo of himself running from Soviet agents.
If you are interested in the background story of this famous photo, go to the 6 minute mark of this video filmed at the Library Of Congress Washington DC in 2014.

I continued my journey to Istanbul where I met Mehmet’s brother Ahmet Imre and his wife, Pinar.
In 2013, I returned to Istanbul, where I met two more of my second cousins, Haluk Atasoy and his wife Sena, and Cihad Atasoy and his wife Seda. These men are second cousins of mine and all have the same Jewish Hungarian grandfather and their grandmother Masha, was my grandfather Isocher Zeldin’s sister.
L-R Back: Haluk, Cihad, Ahmet, Mehmet & Eli.  Front: Sena, Seda, Pinar & Billur
In the past few years, having found this expanded family, the question of Zara (known to us as Sofka) came up, but no one really knew where to find her nor most importantly, did anyone remember her surname.
I had tried looking for Zeldins on Facebook, but had no luck.
Then in June this year I wrote  to the Latvian Archives again, but this time to the section of the archives that deals with post WWll and the Soviet era. My friend Rita had suggested I contact the Personnel Archives which has files of families living abroad.
The Archives replied that they had found such documents of the Zeldin family.
On 22 September 2016,  our postie delivered a registered letter from the Latvian Archives.
Included were  Zara’s and her daughter Alla Khelem’s 1973 joint Soviet passport.
I asked Avigdor Shligel, my Ukrainian friend, to translate Zara’s surname which was written in Russian / cyrillic script.
The answer and the key was:  SMUSHKOVICH
I posted the following on Facebook and JewishGen:

Within an hour a Facebook member, Elena Shapiro Wayne, sent me the Geni page of the late husband of Zara – Meir Smushkovich. I then looked up  the names on that Geni tree on Facebook, including Alon Gold, who, according to Geni, was Zara’s grandson. 
Gert Rogers, from Toronto, saw my post on JewishGen, sent me an email with Zara’s telephone number, which she had looked up in the telephone directory and then called to check that it was Zara.
I spoke to my first cousin Zara in Toronto that night. What an amazing experience to make this call!
We were both ecstatic to make this connection! Zara was so happy to be in contact again with her 13 surviving Zeldin first cousins after more than 35 years.
Zara told me that Alon called to tell her that he had been contacted by a “stranger” on Facebook with information about his Zeldin family. As I was unknown to him, he needed to clear it with her as it had come out of nowhere.
I called Alon Gold the following morning and we spoke for two hours. Like me, he is the go-to person in his family when it come to maintaining family records and ties.
Mendel Zeldin with his children Bella and Alex
Sadly, Zara’s brother Mendel, passed away less than two months ago on 28 July 2016 in Brooklyn, NY. He was 81.
We never met him. Only our late cousin, Phyllis Jowell, met him in 1960 in Riga.
 L-R: Bella, Mendels daughter; Alla. his niece; Mendel, Mira, his niece; Angela, his great niece.
Zara  with her daughters Alla and Mira.
Here are photos of our “new” family.
Lucy’s wedding in NY in 2010
Angela’s wedding in Toronto in 2015
Our new family’s tree!
Once I received that registered letter from the archives in Riga, I knew that things would develop quickly.
My thanks go out to my friend Rita Bogdanova at the Latvian State Archives, Avigdor Shligel, Elena Shapiro Wayne and Gert Rogers.
Thanks to and, it took less than an hour to find Alon Gold and his “baba Sofa”, Zara Smushkovich, my long lost cousin!
There is so much history still to share. We are so looking forward to it.
A rip roaring success story, if ever there was one!
Thanks to my daughter in law Tami for calling me  “tangential”. You are right! Just what my sons, the doctors, ordered!
Chag Sameach 5777.


As many of you know I have been extremely immersed in the Genealogy of my family and Gary’s. I have been active in the genealogy community on Facebook. I had the pleasure of stumbling on a request from a very nice man in Australia looking for family members. I was able to very quickly find a record for one of his ancestors which helped him reconnect after decades! Today on the Jewish NEW YEAR I received a note and this link. At the end of this very wonderful family history I was honored to be mentioned. What a wonderful gift on Rosh Hashana!  Eli Rabinowitz here is wishing many years of happiness with your newly found family. I am humbled to have been a small part of this wonderful Mitzvah.
L’Shana Tova.
Please check out this link to hear his story!

From Gert Rogers, Toronto
2 October 2016

Dear Eli

I am so glad that I could help you.  Your blog was amazing.  I wrote Bubble Segal  many years ago and she answered me so I know her by correspondence.  Again I am happy for you.

Wishing you and all your family a Healthy and Happy New Year.


Gert Rogers –  Toronto – Searching Goldman Woda Sziiakovich from Mordy, Losice, and Miedzyrzec Podlaski and Solnik Djtelbaum  from Staszow all in Poland


Success Story on JewishGen

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SAFRICA Digest for Saturday, 29 July 2017

Subject: JewishGen's Success! Stories
From: Phyllis Kramer
Date: Sat, 29 Jul 2017 19:51:06 -0400

We are proud to announce that our editor and webmaster are presenting
three outstanding stories in JewishGen's newly designed Success!
Stories webpage. You can access these accounts from the "About Us"
button on JewishGen's website or by following this link:

Jerry Touger solves three questions about his family history as the
result of one posting to JewishGen's Belarus SIG.

Eli Rabinowitz provides a sequel to his story about the tragic death
of his great-uncle by tracking down the details of the driver involved
in the fatal accident.

**Elizabeth Rynecki tells us of the search for the paintings of her
great-grandfather, who perished in the Holocaust.

JewishGen volunteers (Editor – Nancy Siegel and Webmaster – Colin
Mathias Justin) collect and post these stories. A special thank you
goes to Colin for the redesigned Success! Stories website. We hope you
will be inspired by these stories and we encourage you to submit your
own success stories to us at .

Isn't JewishGen wonderful !!
Phyllis Kramer, NYC & PBG, Florida
VP, Education & Special Projects, JewishGen, Inc.


Alli – The Last of her Generation

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Meet Alli Bak Itzkowitz

A young Alli

Only 3 hours 15 minutes from Perth to Sydney, but 15 and a half hours to Dallas!

I left Perth at 5:15 am and arrived in Dallas at 2pm the same day.  A 13 hour time change!

A nice and warm 38C –  100F  day in Dallas.

My first time here, and the first time I’m meeting my Texas family.

I was met  at the Dallas – Fort Worth Airport by Gene Itzkowitz, my second cousin on our mothers’ sides. Gene and his wife, Vicki are hosting me here in Dallas.

This must be Texas!

Alli and her younger son Gene

Here is my relationship chart to Alli, my mother’s first cousin and the last of her ZELDIN generation. They never met.

Allis’ paternal Bak grandparents – Leib and Naomi


Alli’s dad, Avram Bak
Alli and her late husband Julius
Alli’s sister Luba & husband Jasha
Alli’s family. The mother Sonia in the front
Alli’s family in Memel, Lithuania
Alli, Morris Back and Harry Bock
My mum, Ray and my grandfather Socher Zeldin
Back of the photo
Gene & Vicki with their daughter, Marny and her husband Cody

Alli is a Holocaust Survivor and has  her  testimony recorded  at USHMM as well as the Spielberg Foundation.

The USHMM link is here:

Oral history interview with Alli Itzkowitz – Collections Search – United States Holocaust Memorial Museum