Meeting My Cousin Zara Smushkovich

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.
dsc_9633a dsc_9664_2a
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

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

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



(Inspired by Irene Lilienheim Angelic’s letter to Leonard Cohen)

18 July 2017

Hirsh Glik

Dear Hirsh

“Zog Nit Keynmol” is Yiddish for “Never say…. that you have reached the end of the road”. These are the opening words to the poem that you wrote in the Vilna Ghetto during the horrendous times for Jews in 1943.

Yet your poem contains words of hope, heroism and inspiration for the partisans and the inmates of your ghetto. When you read “Zog Nit Keynmol” on the street corner to your friend Rachel Margolis, she matched it to the music of the 1938 Russian march by the Dmitri and Daniel Pokrass.

The song was soon sung in the ghettos and camps of Europe. It has been sung as a stirring anthem or hymn every year for 73 years since, by Survivors and others at Yom Hashoah ceremonies throughout the world. It has been translated into many languages.

The song is so well known but not necessarily well understood. Perhaps it is because it has been mostly sung in Yiddish, a language which is no longer spoken as it was in your time!
I established the Partisan Poem & Song project in February this year after I was asked by King David High Schools in Johannesburg, South Africa to address their 1000 high school students about the meaning, inspiration and context of the Partisan Song.

Our goal is to increase the understanding of the song’s powerful and positive message and, at the same time, create a bridge between your generation which originally sang it and future generations – creating continuity while there are still Holocaust Survivors among us.
To achieve this, school choirs are invited to learn the song in a language/s of their choice, to record their performance and post it on our dedicated website, to create a video tapestry of remembrance.
Within a few weeks of the project’s launch in February this year, World ORT, the world’s largest Jewish education and vocational training non-governmental organisation, operational in 37 countries, adopted the project. In their pilot, ten ORT schools in the Former Soviet Union submitted videos. These were compiled into a single video, sung in different languages, in time for Yom Hashoah.

We are now building resources to help students analyse and understand the song as you originally wrote it, namely as a poem. We have found 17 different language versions, making this a truly international program from its outset.
Yad Vashem has a resource for Teaching The Holocaust Through Poetry, using the poem “Refugee Blues” by famous British poet W H Auden. It was written in 1939, six months before war broke out, about Jewish refugees and not specifically about ghettos or camps.
Your Poem sits perfectly alongside Refugee Blues as the most important resource of a poem written in the ghetto during the Holocaust.

Mervyn Danker, a retired school principal based in San Francisco, has set up an outline of a study guide for teachers to use when teaching your poem or the song.

World renowned authorities such as Shirl Gilbert, are interested in the progress of this project, and educational NGOs in Poland, Lithuania, Austria and Poland are keen to participate.

Phillip Maisel, 93, a volunteer at the Holocaust Centre in Melbourne, Australia, is our direct link to you as he was your good friend, and was one of the first to hear your poem!

To watch the video and to read more, please visit our home page:

Zog Nit Keynmol

Menu Please watch this short video and join an inspiring project: From World ORT: Quote    World ORT With each Yom HaShoah the number of Survivors dwindles making the challenge of engaging new gene…



I will keep you posted as to how the project is growing.


Eli Rabinowitz
Perth, Australia

The direct link to the YouTube video is here:


Geraldine & Sarah
Arrival in London at Stanstead Airport

A visit to Google, DeepMind & Neil

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”uk2″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175311128,175311136,175311130,175311131,175311151,175311129,175311135,175311134,175311132,175311133″]

St Pancras Station

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”uk3″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ” ids=”175311137,175311138,175311139,175311141,175311155″]

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”uk1″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175311140,175311142,175311127,175311159″]

St Pancras railway station – Wikipedia

St Pancras railway station (/seɪnt ˈpæŋkrəs/ or /sənt ˈpæŋkrəs/), also known as London St Pancras and since 2007 as St Pancras International, is a central London railway terminus located on Euston Road in the London Borough of Camden.


The British Library

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”uk4″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175311144,175311149,175311150,175311152,175311157″]

British Library – Wikipedia

Coordinates: 51°31′46″N 0°07′37″W / 51.52944°N 0.12694°W / 51.52944; -0.12694


On the Tube and the Trains
Hammersmith Station

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”uk5″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175311213,175311162,175311163,175311169,175311170,175311173,175311174,175311175,175311228,175311181,175311203,175311215,175311214,175311218,175311219,175311224,175311225″]

Memorial in Baker Street Tube

Meeting people

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”uk6″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175311165,175311164,175311166,175311167,175311168,175311176,175311177,175311178,175311179,175311180,175311216,175311217,175311220,175311221,175311226,175311227,175311275″]

The Wiener Library

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”uk7″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175311184,175311183″]

Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide – Wikipedia

The Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide (German pronunciation: [ˈviːnɐ ]); is the world’s oldest institution devoted to the study of the Holocaust, its causes and legacies. Founded in 1933 as an information bureau that informed Jewish communities and governments worldwide about the persecution of the Jews under the Nazis, it was transformed into a research institute and public access library after the end of World War II and is now situated in Russell Square, London.[2]


The West End

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”uk8″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175311185,175311186,175311187,175311197,175311199,175311200,175311201,175311202″]

West End of London – Wikipedia

The West End of London (commonly referred to as the West End) is an area of Central and West London in which many of the city’s major tourist attractions, shops, businesses, government buildings and entertainment venues, including West End theatres, are concentrated.



[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”uk9″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175311188,175311189,175311190,175311191,175311192,175311193,175311194,175311195,175311196,175311198″]

Selfridges, Oxford Street – Wikipedia

Selfridges is a Grade II listed retail premises on Oxford Street in London. It was designed by Daniel Burnham for Harry Gordon Selfridge, and opened in 1909.[1] Still the headquarters of Selfridge & Co. department stores, with 540,000 square feet (50,000 m2) of selling space,[2] the store is the second largest retail premises in the UK,[1] half as big as the biggest department store in Europe, Harrods.[2] It was named the world’s best department store in 2010,[3] and again in 2012.[4]


Natalie Rabinowitz

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”uk10″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175311206,175311207,175311208,175311209,175311211,175311212″]


[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”uk11″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175311222,175311223″]

St Albans

First Bunnings in the UK. Bunnings was started in Perth, Australia. Ten minute walk from Neil

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”uk12″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175311282,175311281,175311280,175311279,175311278,175311277,175311276,175311236,175311237″]

Around the Nunnery

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”uk13″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175311263,175311238,175311239,175311240,175311264,175311265,175311266,175311267,175311269,175311270″]

The Town

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”uk14″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175311241,175311242,175311243,175311244,175311245,175311246,175311247,175311248,175311249,175311250,175311251,175311252,175311253,175311254,175311255,175311256,175311284,175311257,175311258,175311259,175311260,175311261,175311262,175311268,175311274″]

Reading Material

Read the character names on these pages – amazing coincidence – Roly Poly Bird saves Jill! Roly Poly is what the grandkids call me!

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”uk15″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175311271,175311272,175311273″]

St Albans – Wikipedia

St Albans /sənt ˈɔːlbənz/, /seɪn … / is a city in Hertfordshire, England, and the major urban area in the City and District of St Albans. It lies east of Hemel Hempstead and west of Hatfield, about 19 miles (31 km) north-northwest of London, 8 miles (13 km) southwest of Welwyn Garden City and 11 miles (18 km) south-southeast of Luton. St Albans was the first major town on the old Roman road of Watling Street for travellers heading north, and it became the Roman city of Verulamium. It is a historic market town and is now a dormitory town within the London commuter belt and the Greater London Built-up Area.


Back to Australia – Dubai

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”uk16″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175311229,175311233″]

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”uk17″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175311232,175311231″]


Merchav Am

To us in Western Australia, Allison Speiser is the face and voice of Merchav Am. It was great to be able to visit her on her territory! She kindly met me at Yad Vashem and drove me the two hours down to the yishuv in the Negev.

Merhav Am – Wikipedia

Merhav Am (Hebrew: מֶרְחַב עַם‎, lit. Nation’s Expanse) is a religious community settlement in southern Israel. Located in the Negev desert between Yeruham and the kibbutz of Sde Boker, it falls under the jurisdiction of Ramat HaNegev Regional Council. In 2015 it had a population of 333.[1]


[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”usm1″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310678,175310679,175310680,175310681,175310682,175310683,175310684,175310685″]

Reaching our destination

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”usm2″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310686,175310687,175310688,175310689,175310690,175310691,175310692,175310693,175310694,175310695,175310725,175310697,175310714,175310715,175310720″]

The playground,  kindergarten and shul

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”usm3″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310698,175310699,175310700,175310701,175310702,175310717,175310718,175310721,175310722,175310723,175310724″]

The Community Centre

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”usm4″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310713,175310703,175310704,175310705,175310706,175310707,175310708,175310709,175310710,175310711,175310712,175310719″]

On the way back to Beersheva

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”usm5″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310726,175310727,175310728,175310729,175310730,175310732″]

Merchav Am

It’s been three years since JNF WA began its partnership with Merchav Am. From a dusty desert yishuv with no green spaces, to the signature JNF WA Playground and landscaping and garden areas for the Community and Early Learning Centres, the first phase of our long-term partnership is fully funded and almost complete. This community, deep


Jerusalem 17

The inside of the Hurva

On the bus at the entrance to Jerusalem

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”ooo1″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310335,175310336,175310337,175310355″]

Family & Friends

Shopping in Jerusalem

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”ooo2″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310338,175310339,175310340,175310341,175310342,175310359,175310361,175310362″]

Mahane Yehuda Market – Wikipedia

Mahane Yehuda Market (Hebrew: שוק מחנה יהודה‎, Shuk Mahane Yehuda), often referred to as “The Shuk”,[1] is a marketplace (originally open-air, but now at least partially covered) in Jerusalem, Israel. Popular with locals and tourists alike, the market’s more than 250 vendors[2] sell fresh fruits and vegetables; baked goods; fish, meat and cheeses; nuts, seeds, and spices; wines and liquors; clothing and shoes; and housewares, textiles, and Judaica.[3][4]


Newly discovered old family photos

From Orla, Poland to Volksrust, Transvaal, South Africa

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”ooo3″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310345,175310347,175310349,175310350,175310353″]

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”ooo4″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310343,175310344,175310346,175310348,175310351,175310353″]

Personal Journeys: From One Photograph to Journeys of Research and Discovery – Avotaynu Online

All I ever knew was that I am named after my great-uncle Moshe. Moshe died in a motor accident, six weeks before his planned wedding. The date of his death is unknown, but it was sometime between the late 1920s …


On our way to Machane Yehuda


Richard & Nachi
Richard & Cheryl

Early morning walk from Talpiot to the Old City

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”ooo5″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310364,175310365,175310366,175310367,175310368,175310369,175310370,175310371,175310372,175310373,175310374″]

The Hurva represents the community that my 3rd great grandfather, Avraham Shlomo Zalman Tzoref (Salomon) established in 1811.

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”ooo6″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310375,175310376,175310377,175310386,175310387,175310388,175310392,175310393,175310394,175310395,175310397,175310399,175310400″]

The Hurva

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”ooo7″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310378,175310379,175310380,175310381,175310382,175310383,175310384,175310385,175310389,175310390,175310391,175310396,175310398″]

Hurva Synagogue – Wikipedia

The Hurva Synagogue, (Hebrew: בית הכנסת החורבה‎‎, translit: Beit ha-Knesset ha-Hurva, lit. “The Ruin Synagogue”), also known as Hurvat Rabbi Yehudah he-Hasid (“Ruin of Rabbi Judah the Pious”), is a historic synagogue located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.


The Kotel

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”ooo8″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310401,175310402,175310403,175310404,175310405,175310406,175310407″]

Western Wall – Wikipedia

The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel (Hebrew:  הַכֹּתֶל הַמַּעֲרָבִי‎ (help·info), translit.: HaKotel HaMa’aravi; Ashkenazic pronunciation: HaKosel HaMa’arovi; Arabic: حائط البراق‎‎, translit.: Ḥā’iṭ al-Burāq, translat.: the Buraq Wall, or Arabic: المبكى‎‎ al-Mabkā: the Place of Weeping) is an ancient limestone wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is a relatively small segment of a far longer ancient retaining wall, known also in its entirety as the “Western Wall”. The wall was originally erected as part of the expansion of the Second Jewish Temple begun by Herod the Great, which resulted in the encasement of the natural, steep hill known to Jews and Christians as the Temple Mount, in a large rectangular structure topped by a huge flat platform, thus creating more space for the Temple itself and its auxiliary buildings.


Back to Yeshurun Synagogue via Mamilla

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”ooo9″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310408,175310409,175310410,175310411,175310412,175310413,175310414,175310415″]

Tony Sachs

On the way to Yad Vashem

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”ooo10″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310419,175310417,175310418,175310420″]

Yad Vashem International School For Holocaust Studies

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”ooo11″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310623,175310625,175310626,175310627,175310628,175310631,175310632″]

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”ooo12″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310622,175310624,175310630,175310629″]


[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”ooo13″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310633,175310634,175310635,175310636,175310637,175310638,175310639,175310640″]

The Partisan Memorial area

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”ooo14″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310641,175310642,175310643,175310646,175310648,175310651,175310652,175310653,175310655,175310656″]

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”ooo15″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310644,175310645,175310647,175310648,175310649,175310650″]

Tehilla, Jane & Allison

Yad Vashem – Wikipedia

Yad Vashem (Hebrew: יָד וַשֵׁם‎) is Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. It is dedicated to preserving the memory of the dead; honouring Jews who fought against their Nazi oppressors and Gentiles who selflessly aided Jews in need; and researching the phenomenon of the Holocaust in particular and genocide in general, with the aim of avoiding such events in the future.


Israel 2017

Flying in from Krakow, Poland.

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”nnn1″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″

With mainly Litvak friends

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”nnn2″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310109,175310015,175310307,175310068,175310069,175310070,175310073,175310023,175310025,175310318,175310316,175310315,175310312″]


[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”nnn3″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310324,175310310,175310309,175310313,175310308″]

The beachfront at Ramat Aviv

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”nnn4″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310096,175310097,175310098,175310099,175310100,175310101″]

Ramat Aviv – Wikipedia

Ramat Aviv (Hebrew: רָמַת אָבִיב‎, lit. Spring Heights) is a neighborhood in Tel Aviv, Israel. Ramat Aviv has expanded over the years and now consists of four quarters: Neve Avivim (Ramat Aviv Bet), Ramat Aviv Aleph, Ramat Aviv Gimmel, and Ramat Aviv HaHadasha.


Ra’anana (fontein)

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”nnn5″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310093,175310094,175310107,175310102,175310108,175310072″]

Litvak talk at IGRA
[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”nnn15″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310103,175310104,175310105,175309780,175309781,175310422,175310423,175310424,175310425,175309826″]

Ra’anana – Wikipedia

Ra’anana (Hebrew: רַעֲנָנָּה‎, lit. “Fresh”) is a city in the heart of the southern Sharon Plain of the Central District of Israel. Bordered by Kfar Saba on the east and Herzliya on the southwest, it had a population of 70,782 in 2015.[1] While the majority of its residents are native-born Israelis, a large part of the population are immigrants from the Americas and Europe.


Down to Ashkelon by train

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”nnn6″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310110,175310111,175310112,175310114,175310115,175310116,175310117,175310118,175310119″]

Ashkelon – Wikipedia

Ashkelon (/æʃkɛloʊn/ also spelled Ashqelon and Ascalon; Hebrew:  אַשְׁקְלוֹן‎ [aʃkelon]; Arabic: عسقلان‎‎ ʿAsqalān) is a coastal city in the Southern District of Israel on the Mediterranean coast, 50 kilometres (31 mi) south of Tel Aviv, and 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) north of the border with the Gaza Strip. The ancient seaport of Ashkelon dates back to the Neolithic Age. In the course of its history, it has been ruled by the Ancient Egyptians, the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Hasmoneans, the Romans, the Persians, the Arabs and the Crusaders, until it was destroyed by the Mamluks in 1270.


With Jack Shmueli in Moshav Ohad

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”nnn7″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310017,175310018,175310019,175310020,175310021,175310023,175310024″]

Ohad, Israel – Wikipedia

Ohad (Hebrew: אֹהַד‎ or אוהד‎) is a moshav in southern Israel. Located in the Hevel Eshkol area of the north-western Negev desert near the Gaza Strip border, it falls under the jurisdiction of Eshkol Regional Council. In 2015 it had a population of 404.[1]


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”nnn8″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310032,175310033″]

Carmel Market – Wikipedia

Carmel Market (Hebrew: שוק הכרמל‎‎, Shuk HaCarmel) is a marketplace in Tel Aviv, Israel.[1]


Tel Aviv Beach

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”nnn9″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310037,175310038,175310039,175310040,175310041,175310042,175310043,175310044,175310045,175310046,175310048,175310050,175310051,175310052,175310053,175310054,175310055,175310056,175310057,175310058,175310059,175310060,175310061,175310062,175310063,175310064,175310065,175310066″]

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”nnn10″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310047,175310049,175310067″]

Tel Aviv Promenade – Wikipedia

Tel Aviv Promenade (Hebrew: רצועת חוף תל אביב-יפו‎‎, commonly referred to in Hebrew simply as the Tayelet, Hebrew: הטיילת‎‎) runs along the Mediterranean seashore in Tel Aviv, Israel.


Leaving Israel

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”nnn11″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310074,175310075,175310076,175310077,175310078,175310079,175310080,175310081,175310082,175310083″]

Turkish Transit

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”nnn12″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175310084,175310085,175310086,175310087″]

Special security flying into UK from Turkey!

A Day in Krakow

The Train Station

Kraków Główny railway station – Wikipedia

Kraków Główny Osobowy (commonly called Dworzec Główny, Polish for Main station) is the largest and the most centrally located railway station in Kraków. The building, constructed between 1844 and 1847 (architect: P.Rosenbaum), lies parallel to the tracks. The design was chosen to allow for future line expansion. The station was initially a terminus of the Kraków – Upper Silesia Railway (Kolej Krakowsko-Górnośląska, German: Obeschlesische-Krakauer Eisenbahn). Trains entered the trainshed via a brick archway at the northern end of the station which was almost doubled in size in 1871.[1]



[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”mmm1″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175309518,175309510,175309508,175309583″]

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”mmm2″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175309514,175309512,175309513,175309511,175309509,175309515,175309516,175309517,175309519,175309535,175309587,175309588,175309589,175309591,175309633″]

The Remu Synagogue and Cemetery

My relationship to Yisrael Isserles, whose matseva is behind me

At the matsevot of my ancestors

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”mmm3″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175309520,175309521,175309522,175309524,175309525,175309526,175309527,175309528,175309529,175309530,175309531,175309532,175309536,175309533,175309534″]

Kupa Synagogue

First time in this shul – restored since I was last in Krakow.

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”mmm4″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175309548,175309549,175309550,175309551,175309552,175309553,175309556,175309557,175309559,175309560,175309561,175309562,175309563,175309564,175309573,175309574,175309575″]

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”mmm5″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″  ids=”175309547,175309554,175309558″]

The Jewish Cemetery

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Izaak Synagogue

Maariv with Rabbi Eliezer Gurary

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”mmm7″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175309577,175309581,175309576,175309578,175309579,175309580,175309582,175309652″]

With Rabbi Eliezer Gurary


With Leopold Koslowski, King of Klezmer

Meeting Leopold Koslowski, still going strong!

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”mmm8″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175309539,175309540,175309541,175309542,175309543,175309544,175309630,175309546,175309628,175309629″]

JCC Krakow

With Anna Gulinska

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”mmm9″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175309566,175309567,175309568,175309569,175309570,175309572″]

Posters & Books

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”mmm10″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175309639,175309640,175309641,175309644,175309645,175309648,175309647″]

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”mmm11″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175309586,175309642,175309643,175309646,175309649,175309584″]

Kazimierz – Wikipedia

Kazimierz (Polish pronunciation: [kaˈʑimʲɛʂ]; Latin: Casimiria; Yiddish: קוזמיר‎ Kuzimyr) is a historical district of Kraków and Kraków Old Town, Poland. Since its inception in the fourteenth century to the early nineteenth century, Kazimierz was an independent city, a royal city of the Crown of the Polish Kingdom, located south of Kraków Old Town and separated by a branch of the Vistula river. For many centuries, Kazimierz was a place of coexistence and interpenetration of ethnic Polish and Jewish cultures, its north-eastern part of the district was historic Jewish, whose Jewish inhabitants were forcibly relocated in 1941 by the German occupying forces into the Krakow ghetto just across the river in Podgórze. Today Kazimierz is one of the major tourist attractions of Krakow and an important center of cultural life of the city.


The Ghetto

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”mmm12″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175309610,175309611,175309612,175309614,175309615,175309616,175309617,175309618,175309619,175309600″]

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”mmm13″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175309609,175309613″]

Kraków Ghetto – Wikipedia

The Kraków Ghetto was one of five major, metropolitan Jewish ghettos created by Nazi Germany in the new General Government territory during the German occupation of Poland in World War II. It was established for the purpose of exploitation, terror, and persecution of local Polish Jews, as well as the staging area for separating the “able workers” from those who would later be deemed unworthy of life.[1] The Ghetto was liquidated between June 1942 and March 1943, with most of its inhabitants sent to their deaths at Bełżec extermination camp as well as Płaszów slave-labor camp,[2] and Auschwitz concentration camp, 60 kilometres (37 mi) rail distance.[3]


The River Vistula

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”mmm14″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175309601,175309602,175309603,175309604,175309605,175309606,175309608,175309620,175309621″]

Vistula – Wikipedia

The Vistula (/ˈvɪstjʊlə/; Polish: Wisła [ˈvʲiswa], German: Weichsel [ˈvaɪksl̩], Low German: Wießel, Yiddish: ווייסל‎ Yiddish pronunciation: [vajsl̩]) is the longest and largest river in Poland, at 1,047 kilometres (651 miles) in length. The drainage basin area of the Vistula is 194,424 km2 (75,068 sq mi), of which 168,699 km2 (65,135 sq mi) lies within Poland (splitting the country in half). The remainder is in Belarus, Ukraine and Slovakia.


The Old Town

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”mmm15″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175309594,175309595,175309596,175309597,175309598,175309599″]

Kraków Old Town – Wikipedia

Kraków Old Town is the historic central district of Kraków, Poland.[2] It is one of the most famous old districts in Poland today and was the center of Poland’s political life from 1038 until King Sigismund III Vasa relocated his court to Warsaw in 1596.


Kazimierz by night

With Magda Brudzinska, klezmer singer

I bumped Magda in the square in the Kazimierz. I remembered her from her concert I attended at the Klezmerhois in 2011.  See video below

Magda also features in Judy Menczel’s movie – Pockets of Hope with Fay Sussman

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”mmm16″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175309622,175309623,175309625,175309626,175309627,175309628,175309631″]


From Keidan to Ra’anana to Orlando

 Kedainiai June 2017

[gss type=”slideshow” size=”full” options=”timeout=4000″ name=”w2″ carousel=”fx=carousel” gss=”1″ ids=”175309470,175309471,175309473,175309475,175309476,175309477,175309469″]

Original article in Lithuanian

Google Translated

with a little help from me!

Gimnazistai – kėdainietiškų Jewish Roots Lecture

Akvilė KUPČINSKAITĖ – 19:00 June 13th. 2017

“Atžalyno Gymnasium was visited by a Jewish guest from Australia, who has  kėdainietiškų roots. Eli Rabinowitz met with the academic staff at the high school, attended project activities and visited the Kėdainiai Regional Museum. 


The guest to Kėdainiai was invited by Atžalyno High School English teacher Laima Ardavičienė. Since 2012, Laima has been working on a project in which high school students learn in more detail about the history of the Jewish community in our country. Every year, the high school is visited by Eli Rabinowitz and they share their experiences and insights. The project is carried out in English, so that students not only broaden their minds, but also enhance their English language skills.

This year the theme was Jewish holidays. When we celebrate Christmas, Jews celebrate the Chanukah festival. Eli Rabinowitz arranged a virtual conference and introduced the festival. Guests who come to Lithuania continue the story of the other traditional Jewish holidays.

The Modern generation does not have time to read long stories. Eli Rabinowitz

Not for the first time

Eli Rabinowitz has visited Kėdainiai each year since 2012. The first time was to to search for his ancestors. In his opinion, Jews should actively search their roots. According to Eli, 95 percent of South African Jews came from Lithuania. Eli has travelled extensively throughout Central and Eastern Europe and has recorded traces of Jewish culture here, taking many pictures and videos. Since 2011, he has taken 18000 photos, using these images in slideshows, which is a good format to convey his experience to the younger generation.

“Young people do not have time to read or hear long stories.  Students all over the world prefer stories in short video clips, and other multimedia material “, – said Eli Rabinowitz.

Partisan Song – Vilna ghetto

Earlier this year Eli Rabinowitz was invited to present his project to a large South African high school. There, the students sang the Partisan Song in Yiddish, but did not understand the meaning of this song and the inspiration behind it.

“The song was written in 1943 in the Vilna ghetto by a 20-year-old Jew, Hirsh Glik, who was later killed. It has since then become the anthem of the Holocaust Survivors and is sung regularly. I want this song to spread to young people, so that they recite, sing and understand the meaning”- says Eli Rabinowitz.

The song has also been translated into Lithuanian. A student at Atzalyno  recites it as a poem, with a viola playing in the background and images of old Kedainiai.

“To know one’s history is important for us all, because if you do not know where you come from, you do not know where you are headed”, – says Eli  Rabinowitz wisely.



12 June 2017

Litvak Roots Lecture in Ra’anana

On June 12th, Eli Rabinowitz spoke in Ra’anana on “In the Footsteps of Zalman Tzoref: Tracing 200 Years of Litvak Family History and Legacy”. The presentation followed Zalman Tzoref’s life. He left Keidan, Lithuania and traveled to Jerusalem where his mission was to rebuild the Ashkenazi community in the Old City. In 2012, Eli returned to the town and re-established his family connections with Tzoref’s birthplace.

Eli Rabinowitz is involved in a wide range of Jewish community activities, including filming events, research, education, arranging exhibitions and lecturing on Jewish cultural heritage and family history.

Orlando Florida 26 July 2017  5pm – 6:15pm

In the Footsteps of Zalman Tzoref: Tracing 200 Years of Litvak Family History and Legacy
Venue: Walt Disney World Swan Resort
Room: Swan 2
At the last two IAJGS conferences a movie about Tzoref was shown. This presentation follows in the movie’s and Tzoref’s footsteps and goes beyond! In 1811, Avraham Shlomo Zalman Tzoref, inspired by the Vilna Gaon, left Keidan, Lithuania for Jerusalem where his mission was to rebuild the Ashkenazi community in the Old City. Tzoref was murdered in 1851, but the story certainly does not end there. We reflect on Tzoref’s life and achievements through his 20,000 strong Salomon descendants, who for 200 years have made their mark as part of his enduring legacy. In 2011, exactly 200 years after Tzoref left Keidan, I return to the town, now called Kedainiai, and re-establish my family connections with his birthplace. Within a few years, I have become active in building bridges in this town in a most unusual way!