Inside the Hurva
Back to the Prima Kings
Inside the Hurva
Back to the Prima Kings
Leaving Vilnius at 6:10am
Arrival in Israel
With Eytan and Amie
The walk from the Prima Kings Hotel to the Kotel via Mamila
The Hurva Synagogue
Meet and Great – our seminar orientation at the Prima Kings Hotel
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by Mirah Langer
Ever wondered who your great, great, great- grandfather might have been? South African- born Eli Rabinowitz did and embarked on an intrepid genealogical journey to nd out. It culminated in the discovery of the astonishing life and legacy of Rabbi Avraham Shlomo Zalman Tzoref.
Tzoref, born in Keidan in Lithuania in 1786, was determined to begin an Ashkenazi return to Israel.
Rabinowitz spoke about his ancestor earlier this month while delivering a talk to members of the Jewish Genealogical Society of SA in Orchards, Johannesburg.
The first hurdle Tsoref had to overcome when arriving in Israel, in 1811, was a dead man’s unpaid debt. “Zalman went to the Old City and had to disguise himself as a Sephardic Jew.” This was because there was a story that 100 years before, an Ashkenazi Jew had come to Jerusalem and borrowed money from the Arabs, and then died. Thereafter, anyone who came from Lithuania was told: ‘We want the money.’”
Tzoref then embarked on various negotiations to lift the embargo on the debt. In doing so, he paved the way for Ashkenazi Jews to return to their homeland. And, said Rabinowitz, “in 1836, he got permission to establish a settlement.”
After making aliya, Tzoref and his family became signicant contributors to rebuilding the holy land. However, in 1851, he was murdered by those opposed to the work he was doing in re-establishing the Ashkenazi presence in Jerusalem.
“He was recognised as the first victim of terror,” explains Rabinowitz.
The impact made by Tzoref continues to be heralded, most recently with a huge celebration held in Jerusalem a few years ago that was attended by 15 000 of his descendants from all over the world.
“There are stories like mine everywhere,” muses Rabinowitz. “You just have to look for them.”
After discovering his Keidan roots, Rabinowitz returned to the area and made contact with a school in the area. He taught the non-Jewish students there about what, until then, had been a ghost culture of a long- forgotten past.
“ There is not one Jew in this town,” remarked Rabinowitz.
He noted how many South African families had contributed to putting up memorials in towns in Lithuania to mark the areas in which Jews were murdered. “We need to show the Lithuanians that we know what the history was.”
Referring to how transformative genealogical research can be, Rabinowitz explained how the students used a database from a genealogical website and created a tree artwork in their classroom, commemorating all the Jewish families who once lived in Keidan.
“This is what you can do with your information – you can make it powerful,” said Rabinowitz.
“And there is a bigger message. The message is: continuity for the Jewish people.”
The Keidaner Family tree on Laima’s classroom wall – an unique work of art! The complex of two synagogues and the tree featuring the names of Keidaners, including my 3rd great grandfat…
From: Elena Bazes
Monday, June 12th in Ra’anana, Israel
Join us for the next meeting of the Israel Genealogy Research
Eli Rabinowitz will be speaking on “In the Footsteps of Zalman Tzoref:
Tracing 200 Years of Litvak Family History and Legacy”.
This presentation follows Zalman Tzoref’s footsteps and goes beyond!
In 1811, Tzoref left Keidan, Lithuania for Jerusalem where his mission
was to rebuild the Ashkenazi community in the Old City. Eli will
discuss Tzoref’s life and achievements through his 20,000 descendants.
In 2011, Eli returned to the town, now called Kedainiai, and
re-established his family connections with Tzoref’s birthplace. He
will also speak on how he has become active in building bridges in
Eli Rabinowitz, born in Cape Town, has lived in Perth Australia since
1986. An economist by profession, Eli 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. Eli writes and manages 75 Kehilalinks
websites for JewishGen, and blogs on Jewish life, his extensive
heritage travel and photography. He also arranges customized Litvak
heritage tours and has published stories in various genealogical
Location: Bet Fisher, 5 Klausner Street, Ra’anana
Doors open at 19:00 Meeting begins at 19:30.
Cost: IGRA members-Free Admission Non-members-NIS 20
To join IGRA, go to http://genealogy.org.il/membership/
Elena Biegel Bazes
IGRA Publicity Chairperson
The Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA) is bringing new technology, new energy and new excitement to genealogy in Israel, and across the world. In order to receive increased access to the Israel Genealogy Research Association’s web site, and to stay informed on the society’s activities, be sure to register for this site. Registration is free. Press the big “Register Now” button to the right to register now!
LitvakSIG | About LitvakSIG
LitvakSIG is the primary internet resource for Lithuanian-Jewish (Litvak) genealogy research worldwide. SIG stands for Special Interest Group.