Harry’s 15th Yahrzeit

Tonight is the 15th yahrzeit of my dad, Cantor Hirsh Zvi (Harry) Rabinowitz

With Jill in shul tonight

Maariv Service at CHABAD Noranda

Harry’s abridged ancestral family tree (extends to over 20 generations)

Harry was born in Volksrust, Transvaal,  South Africa on 28 September 1914.

Volksrust – Wikipedia

Volksrust is a town in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa near the KwaZulu-Natal provincial border, some 240 km southeast of Johannesburg, 53 km north of Newcastle and 80 km southeast of Standerton.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volksrust

Here is a collection of images to remember him on his yahrzeit.

With his parents and two older brothers Leib and Isaac, who were born in Jerusalem.

His two younger sisters Rachel and Sarah were born in Cape Town.


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Harry was a musician and cantor, a baritone who sang in many languages in concerts, recitals, operattas and on radio

Here is a small selection from his scrapbook:


On the radio

He was often accompanied by his sister Rachel Rabinowitz, a concert pianist.

Harry made a record of Popular Yiddish Melodies with Solly Aronowsky’s orchestra on His Masters Voice

Chazonim Oif Probe – an entertaining track from the LP

To hear more sound clips, go to the bottom of this page and click on the  image.

A review

With my mother, Rachel

With me, my mom, aunty Rachel and my bobba, Chana Chesha Miriam

With other world class chazonim in Johannesburg, including Moshe Stern and Johnny Gluck.

Singing with his choir

His matseva at West Park Cemetery, Johannesburg

To hear more sound clips of Harry (plus others) including Chief Rabbi Louis Rabinowitz, click on this image below:

NY in Images 2017

This is my best – meeting people and taking lots of photos of things I see.


The skyline and the people of LIC

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Long Island City

Long Island City – Wikipedia

Long Island City (LIC) is the westernmost residential and commercial neighborhood of the New York City borough of Queens. LIC is noted for its rapid and ongoing residential growth and gentrification, its waterfront parks, and its thriving arts community.[1] LIC has among the highest concentration of art galleries, art institutions, and studio space of any neighborhood in New York City.[2] It is bordered by Astoria to the north; the East River to the west; Hazen Street, 49th Street, and New Calvary Cemetery in Sunnyside to the east; and Newtown Creek—which separates Queens from Greenpoint, Brooklyn—to the south. It originally was the seat of government of the Town of Newtown, and remains the largest neighborhood in Queens. The area is part of Queens Community Board 1, located north of the Queensboro Bridge and Queens Plaza; it is also of Queens Community Board 2 to the south.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Island_City


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On August 6, I made a presentation on Avraham Shlomo Zalman Tzoref to six of his descendants at Dara Reid’s apartment. This was organised by Wilma Solomon.

With the Solomon family also descendants of Tzoref
The Solomon family, also descendants of Tzoref

Manhattan Scenes

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Fire destroyed this old synagogue

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Fire Damages New York Beth Hamedrash Hagodol Synagogue

Fire Damages New York’s Beth Hamedrash Hagodol Synagogue

The abandoned building on the Lower East Side, built in 1850, once housed the city ’s oldest Jewish Orthodox congregation. No injuries were reported in the blaze.

Source: www.nytimes.com/2017/05/14/nyregion/lower-east-side-fire-beth-hamedrash-hagodol-synagogue.html

New York Public Library

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New York Public Library – Wikipedia

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Public_Library

Russ & Daughters

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Russ & Daughters – Wikipedia

Russ & Daughters is an appetizing store[1] opened in 1914. It is located at 179 East Houston Street, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York City. A family-operated store, it has been at the same location since 1914.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russ_&_Daughters

Meeting My Cousin Mendel – With A Twist!

Meeting My Zeldin Family in Brooklyn NY

Our first meeting ever took place at the Washington Cemetery, Brooklyn New York on Sunday 6 August 2017 at 9:30am

After finding the whereabouts of my cousin Zara Smushkovich in September 2016 in Toronto, I sadly discovered that her brother Mendel had passed away less than two months before in Brooklyn NY.  Mendel, originally from Riga, Latvia, had only ever met one of his Zeldin first cousins, the late Phyllis Jowell in Riga in 1960.

Chassia & Isadore Zeldin, my maternal grandparents

Here are the children and grandchildren of Isocher and Chassia Zeldin

Isadore and Chassia with 11 of their 17 grandchildren c1953

The children and grandchildren of Mendel Zeldin. There are also a couple of great grandchildren not listed here.

Meeting My Cousin Zara Smushkovich

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…

Source: elirab.me/meeting-my-cousin-zara-smushkovich/

New York

The early August morning view from my room in my brother, Michael’s apartment in LIC, NY.

When I arrived in New York,  I called Mendel’s daughter Bella. She invited my brother Michael and me to meet her, her brother Alex and their families at the Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn on the Sunday morning.

Washington Cemetery, Brooklyn NY

Washington Cemetery is an old, historical, and predominantly Jewish burial ground located at 5400 Bay Parkway in Mapleton, Brooklyn, New York, United States.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Cemetery_(Brooklyn)


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Why did we meet at the cemetery?

It was our first cousin Mendel’s unveiling! Strange “meeting” my cousin for the first time at his unveiling.

With my brother Michael
With Bella. Lucy, Estee, Jonathan, Alex and Michael and Lucy’s daughters – all descendants of Isadore and Chassia Zeldin, my grand parents
With late Mendel’s carer, Estee, Bella and Innes

We then had lunch at a Russian Jewish restaurant in Flatbush. After many vodkas and a few speeches in honour of our departed cousin, it was off to Bella’s house for tea and more reminiscing! 

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Riva, Mendel’s wife

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With Michael, Estee and Jonathan
Saying goodbye – Estee, Jonathan & Alex

Childrens’ Memorial

Jewish Resistance Museum, Novogrudok

From Tamara Vershitskaya

A memorial sign to all the Jewish children from Novogrudok who perished during the Holocaust was unveiled at the Jewish Resistance Museum in Novogrudok on September 26, 2017. The monument was sponsored by Sergei Koval, a local Jew, who according to his own words ‘fulfilled the wish of the girl’.

Michle Sosnowski whose picture is in the exhibition of the Museum served as a prototype for the monument. The picture was provided by Jeannette Josse from London who visited Novogrudok in 2005 searching for her roots. Two years later Jeannette sent a book to the Museum in which she incorporated old pictures into the new ones made during her trip.

Michle happened to be in her family album because she was her mother’s friend. Together with Sheindel Sukharski they tried to escape from the labour camp in Novogrudok but were recognized in the street, denounced, arrested and taken to prison from which they never came out.

It’s a monument to the child whose greatest wish was to live. Dressed up for Purim she will dance forever next to the Tree of Life which incorporates the Star of David from the Novogrudok synagogue.

The ceremony was followed by a panel discussion on Remembrance and Commemoration dedicated to the blessed memory of Jack Kagan, a survivor from Novogrudok and a Bielski partisan, whose efforts to preserve the history of Novogrudok Jews and their unprecedented resistance to the Nazis were recognized by awarding him a title of the Honorary Citizen of Novogrudok in 2011.

Please, find the links below



Navahrudak Secondary School #8 – Jewish Partisans Video

The Jewish Partisans of Novogrudok

Click on link:

Source: youtu.be/A5qJVBhLPLk

The Jewish Partisans of Novogrudok

For more on Novogrudok, see the KehilaLink

Novogrudok, Belarus

Source: kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/navahrudak/Home.html

My visit – Grodno & Novogrudok – 14 May 2012

Grodno & Novogrudok – 14 May 2012

Tamara Vershitskaya, the Director of the History Museum in Novogrudok and I leave early at 7:30am for Grodno, a couple of hours by car from Novogrudok. This is the countryside. A well known glass f…

Source: elirab.me/grodno-novogrudok-14-may-2012/

Shtetl Love Song

Shtetl Love Song

A new book by Grigory Kanovich

Source: www.amazon.com/Shtetl-Love-Song-Grigory-Kanovich/dp/0995560021/ref=sr_1_1?s=books

Grigory Kanovich was born in Jonava, Lithuania

In 2016 I travelled with my friend, Laima Ardaviciene, the English teacher at Kedainiai High School, to Jonava


Quick facts
Jonava is the ninth largest city in Lithuania with a population of ca 30,000. It is located in Kaunas County in central Lithuania, 30 km north east of Kaunas, the second-largest city in Lithuania. It is served by Kaunas International Airport.Wikipedia
  • Municipality:
    • Jonava District Municipality
  • Area:
    • 13.67 km²


Jewish buildings, including the former synagogue.

Information posters on the buildings.


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The Jewish Cemetery

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The amphitheatre and holiday entertainment

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More about Grigory Kanovich’s book – Shtetl Love Song

From Amazon:

Winner the Liudo Dovydeno Prize awarded by the Lithuanian Writers’ Union In Shtetl Love Song Grigory Kanovich writes about his mother and in doing so peels back the surface of the rich community that lived in pre-war Lithuania. It is a requiem for the pre-war Jewish shtetl, for a people and a way of life that was destroyed. Shtetl Love Song won the Liudas Dovydenas Prize awarded by the Lithuanian Writers’ Union. About the author Grigory Kanovich is one of the most prominent Lithuanian writers and winner of the Lithuanian National Prize for Culture and Arts for 2014. Kanovich was born into a traditional Jewish family in the Lithuanian town of Jonava in 1929. Since 1993 the writer has lived in Israel. He is a member of the PEN club in both Israel and Russia. He is also a renowned playwright. About the translator Yisrael Elliot Cohen, B.A. Harvard College, Ph.D. Yale University, taught Russian literature and humanities at the University of Illinois. He settled in Israel in 1979, working as a professional translator from Russian into English and as an English-language editor. At Hebrew University he was co-editor of Jews in Russia and Eastern Europe' and worked on a bibliography project for the Centre for the Study of Anti-Semitism. Currently at Yad Vashem, he is working onTh e Untold Stories: Holocaust Murder Sites in the Soviet Union’. Dr. Cohen has translated several books. His non-academic interests are his grandchildren and attempting to apply the teachings of the Biblical prophets to the contemporary social and political situation. Praise for the novel Set in the rural Lithuanian landscape on the eve of World War II,Shtetl Love Song’ is full of tender affection, soft irony, and sharp observations. Guided by the memory of his beloved mother, the masterful narrator takes us into the very midst of his enchanted family world, recreating the past that is irrevocably destroyed and yet fully alive in his memory. Kanovich, himself a child of a Lithuanian shtetl who survived the Holocaust almost by a miracle, made it his mission to serve, against all odds, as a custodian of the collective memory of generations of Litvaks, Lithuanian Jews.’ – Mikhail Krutikov, Professor of Slavic and Judaic Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor



Update from David Sandler

From David:

As mentioned before I’m currently working on reprinting in English  

-SOUTH AFRICAN LANDMANSCHAFT (Sick and Benefit Societies) books where the societies in Johannesburg remember the towns in Lithuania where they came from:


I also share with you covers of the Keidan and Krakenowo, the booklets completed so far. Bella Golubchik has translated the Hebrew and Yiddish articles into English.


Keidaner Sick, Benefit and Benevolent Society 50th Anniversary Souvenir Programme that I completed a week ago. 

This book, Keidan, Our Town In Lithuania, commences with the Jewish history and life in Keidan and then focuses on the destruction of Jewish life in 1941 with the arrival of the Germans. It then focuses on the South African Keidaner Sick Benefit and Benevolent Society.


The book, is an adaptation of the 50th Anniversary Souvenir Programme of the South African Keidaner Sick Benefit and Benevolent Society. While it includes all the contents of the Souvenir Programme, the order has been rearranged. 


With the permission of Aryeh Shcherbakov and Andrew Cassel of the Israeli and Keidan Societies several articles, translations and photos from the Keidan Yizkor Book have been included for completeness.


A large proportion of the Souvenir Programme, was written in Yiddish and has now been translated into English thanks to Bella Golubchik, Aryeh Shcherbakov and Andrew Cassel. 



KRAKENOWO ~ A TOWN IN LITHUANIA ~ the story of a world that has passed completed some month a ago


I’ve obtained scans of the original Ponevez and the Malater booklets and PG we will translate the articles in Yiddish to English and eventually reprint the booklets all in English.





There are two Yizkor books connected to South Africa and PG will be published in English soon

The Yizkor Book of Rakishok and environs published in 1952 in SA in Yiddish

-The Keidan Yizkor Book. published in 1977 in Hebrew by the US Israeli and South African Keidan Associations.

Another Yizkor book originating in South Africa is Yizkor book on Chelm – originally published in 1954 in Yiddish in South Africa. The book has been partly translated by Jewish Gen. I offered to help them with the articles that have not been translated but they refused my help and I’m thinking how to proceed. 


If you know of any other book or booklets from Landmanschafts in South Africa please let me know!

THE OCHBERG ORPHANS – volume two has 82 chapters and 361 pages and is priced at US$50 (Rand 750). The first volume costs US$80 (Rand1200)  and the set (volumes one and two) are on sale for US$100 (Rand1500). To buy books email me your address and please make appropriate donation direct to Arcadia online using your credit card and paying in Rands and use Chev Acc no: 41997.      https://www.jhbchev.co.za/pages/OnceOffDonation.aspx




SOUTH AFRICA’S 800 – the Story of South African Volunteers in Israel’s War of Birth in 1948/9

At the request of Joe Woolf, the editor of the book, I have set the book up for very easy reprinting 

Shalom, best wishes and good health to you and your family 


David Solly Sandler sedsand@iinet.net.au



100 Years of Arc Memories published 2006 

The Arcadia Centenary book contains the memories of over 120 children of The South African Jewish Orphanage.

More Arc Memories published 2008

A follow-up of the Centenary book with the memories of more than 100 children. ( This book includes a section of 17 chapters on the Ochberg Orphans.)

The Ochberg Orphans and the Horrors From Whence They Came published 2011

The rescue in 1921 of 181 Ukrainian War and Pogrom Orphans by Isaac Ochberg, the representative of the South African Jewish Community, from the horrors of the Pale of Settlement.

The Pinsker Orphans published 2013

The Pinsker Orphans book – in part a follow up of  The Ochberg Orphans book – tells of the life and times of the children from the three Pinsk Jewish Orphanages in the 1920s and like The Ochberg Orphans book is but a small part of a much larger and forgotten part of Jewish History, the horrors suffered by the Jews in The Pale of Settlement between the two world wars. 

This Was a Man Reprinted 2014

This book is the life story of Isaac Ochberg as written by his daughter Bertha Epstein and first published in 1974.

Reprinted with the permission of the family of Isaac Ochberg z”l with an addendum added.

Memories of Oranjia, The Cape Jewish Orphanage (1911-2011) published 2014

The book is a collection of the memories of many generations of children (over 120) who were in the care of The Cape Jewish Orphanage which was established in 1911 in Cape Town South Africa.

The Memorial Section of the  Rakishok Memorial Book

This book was originally published in 1952 in Yiddish by the Rakishok Landmanschaft in Johannesburg. The book has been translated into English by Bella Golubchik and is for sale with all proceeds going to Arcadia Oranjia and the JDC. 

Our Litvak Inheritance published March 2016

This book tells of Jewish history, life and times in Lithuania and surrounds – the inheritance of most South African Jews and is the matching volume to Our South African Jewish Inheritance.

Our South African Jewish Inheritance published August 2016

This book tells of Jewish history, life and times in South Africa and is compiled from numerous articles, books and family histories.

South Africa’s 800 The Story of South African Volunteers (Machalnics) In Israel’s War of Birth  by Henry Katzew

Reprinted with the permission of Joe Woolf in August  2016

The Ochberg Orphans – volume two- published 2017 

A follow up from the first book that includes more of the stories of the Ukrainian Orphans, details of the Pinsk Orphanages and children going to South Africa and rescued by the Pinsker Orphan Relief Fund of London and modern ceremonies, books and documentaries to remember Isaac Ochberg. 

Krakenowo ~ a town in Lithuania ~ the story of a world that has passed – published 2017

The reprint of the booklet printed by the South African Krakenowo Sick Benefit and Benevolent Society in 1961 to celebrate its diamond Jubilee. All articles in Yiddish have now been translated into English.

Keidan – our town in Lithuania – published 2017

An adaptation of the 50th Anniversary Souvenir Programme of the South African Keidaner Sick Benefit and Benevolent Society. It commences with the Jewish history and life in Keidan then tells of the destruction of Jewish life in 1941. The book then focuses on the South African Keidaner Sick Benefit and Benevolent Society.


Please contact me to order your book – David Solly Sandler sedsand@iinet.net.au

All proceeds go to Arcadia Oranjia or the JDC


Stan The Good Shabbos Man

Stan TGSM – Home

Stan TGSM – Home

Source: stantgsm.com

With Lionel Slier

Taken at my talk at the Great Park Synagogue earlier this year.

Lionel Slier’s article


appeared in the Jerusalem Post and is on the Brest KehilaLink:


Brest, Belarus

L-R Zinky Agulnik, Kfar Saba (ex SA); Susan Jacobson, Cape Town; Jack Slier, Shanghai; Hayley Slier, London; Lionel Slier, Johannesburg; Paula Slier, Modi’in; Tanya Jacobson, Cape Town; Phillipa Jacobson, Baltimore; Leanne Jacobson, Amsterdam; Daniel Goldfine, Tel Aviv; Alicia Slier, Johannesburg

The Brest KehilaLink homepage:

Brest, Belarus

My Talks at the Great Park & Gardens Shuls