Ziezmariai & Switched At Birth

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The synagogue

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and surrounds

Read about the restoration here.



Here is an amazing story connected with Ziezmariai


Sam & Ida Benson, neé Zlate Kot

In January I posted a request on LitvakSIG and JewishGen for stories or photos for the new Ziezmariai KehilaLink.

This is one of the replies I received:


do have links in Zhezhmir (Ziezmariai!  My grandmother, Ida Benson, neé Zlate Kot, immigrated from Zhezhmir to New York in 1907.  Her parents were Kopel Kot and Frieda Rubinovitch, from the same town.  In addition to Ida, she had a sister, Channa (Annie) and Mosche (Max) who followed her.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that until a year ago we didn’t know who our grandparents were.  Our father, James Patrick Collins, was somehow or another was mistaken for an Irish baby born on the same day in the same New York City teaching hospital.  The other child was raised by my biological grandparents.  Dad wasn’t so lucky.  His Irish mother, Katie Kennedy, died when Dad was 9 months old and his Irish father, John Collins, put the three children in a Catholic orphanage when none of the sisters would agree to raise the children.  We only discovered the mistake 99 years after Dad’s birth and solved the mystery almost exactly a year ago. I’ll include the relevant links to the story.

Since making contact with the Bensons, we’ve had many long discussions about our common grandparents and where they came from in Lithuania.  Unfortunately, my first cousins said our grandparents (who they knew quite well), never talked about the old country or their early lives.  I am so excited to see that someone is researching their Shtetl and may possibly provide some understanding of their lives.  I went to Lithuania 3 years ago and it pains me that I was so close to Ziezmariai, but didn’t know I should visit.


Alice Piebuch

Please read the full and amazing story on these two links:

<Switched-at-birth >





Cousins Alice Piebuch and Phyllis Pullman

My reply:

29 January 2016


Three years ago I met a CHABAD Rabbi in Tallin, Estonia and asked him where his family were from. He told me Ziezmariai in Lithuania.

His name is Shmuel KOT.

When I was in Riga the next day, I attended the morning service at the Peitav shul. The young CHABAD Rabbi told me that he was the brother of Rabbi Shmuel in Tallinn.



With Rabbi Shmuel KOT in Tallinn


With Rabbis Glasman & Shneur Zalmen KOT in Riga

We are now trying to find links between these two KOT families from Ziezmariai.

The Ziezmariai KehilaLink can be found here


One Reply to “Ziezmariai & Switched At Birth”

  1. This point about some new immigrants not talking about the old country is interesting – certainly the case in my family as far as we can tell.

    Not sure what factors involved in this. Certainly I think the heavy hand of Russian hegemony after 1815 seems to have been pretty disastrous stuff.

    I try to add up all the info we have, and then imagine the situation, the thinking, and its quite instructive. For many of these guys to have not talked at all about it, to be so put off… Wow.

    Does it also reflect a cultural disconnect which they maintained – a self-sufficiency thru jewish communal life?

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