Welcome To Ruzhany

This is the post excerpt.

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This blog is a meeting place where descendants of Moshe Reuven Wilensky of Ruzhany, Belarus can collaborate and share what little information we have about our Great Grandfather and his six offspring.

 

45 thoughts on “Welcome To Ruzhany”

  1. In the intro to Ruzhany, it should read Ruzhany, Belarus……not Poland. Although it appears Moshe and his family were born and raised in the Belarus area of Russia, Moshe had a feather-bed mattress manufacturing business near Warsaw in Poland.

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      1. Andy so we should give you information and you add that into this family history site….do I have that correct? If so can I suggest one way to organize this site is by first putting up the photo of the entire family minus Sarah as she is not in that photo and identifying those in the photo. Maybe isolate head shots of each family member as young adults chronologically including mom and dad. I am sure we have everyone. Then maybe write about each family member after their head shot with as much info as we have including dates and other photos we have of them throughout their life. We can all contribute to each family member the stories we know about them etc. What do you have in mind?

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      2. Yes, I agree with that structure. I’m suddenly tied up with a bunch of chores relating to upcoming memorial service for my former boss’s recently deceased wife – the boss who hired me in 1972. I could scan my copy of that portrait, but I think you and/or Helen already have scans that may well be better quality than what I can get from my parents’ copy of that picture – the one without Sarah.

        I didn’t envision the blog to do things that you do on Ancestry. Nor have I learned the ins and outs of structuring/organizing it – even uploading our recent correspondence. Blogs don’t necessarily need to have a strong organization – messy is ok. Without an editorial hand in charge (which I didn’t intend to take on myself), the blog is just a running chronological list of exchanges – a la email – among the 4 or more of us. Searchable, accessible, etc.

        You should be able to post right now. If your post is just a test, you should also be able to edit or remove your post at any time thereafter. Please go ahead and give it a try. I may need to drag in Mary to coach me. I just read an article which is making me fearful that the statins I take are making me stupid.

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      3. I am totally ignorant about blogs so forgive me if I am missing the point. So what happens to all the back and forth comments on the blog? Does it not get distilled into some form or other? This can all wait till your schedule permits and your statin issue is resolved. I heard statins have decreased the chance of heart related issues by 10-15%. Maybe a little dead gray cells here and there are worth a better cardio outlook

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    1. Thanks for reminding me. Tomorrow, Sunday, ought to be a good day for me to go over to the Summit (Jewish independent living facility) and try to find someone who might decipher it.

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      1. Hello Cousins

        I think that I informed Andy but not sure so forgive me if I am repeating myself. I received my DNA results from Ancestry DNA and it shows those people who already did their DNA testing that might be a possible relative to me. Those people are ranked by relation level (1st cousin, 2nd cousin etc) and within that by probability level. So I received the names of two 1st cousin possibilities with extremely high probability levels. I happened to know these 1st cousins so that was reassuring that Ancestry DNA works. I also received one 2nd cousin with high probability and that was Michael Kaplan, Helen’s brother. I wrote to him to confirm and he said that Sarah Wall was his grandmother. I asked if he wanted me to invite him to see the Ives Family Tree and mentioned we were all working to uncover more info on our family. He never responded back. I do think he already had access to the Ives tree being a member of Ancestry and maybe viewed it and that was that. I just thought he may have some memories of family stories he heard that he could share……..don’t know him enough to pursue beyond my initial contact.

        What I do have is zillions of 3rd and 4th cousins who are much more difficult to trace connections to. One has to go back to great great grandparents siblings and as with Rabbi Wilensky, we know nothing about his siblings and parents and uncles and aunts. Somehow I find it hard to believe that a man who was known in his community of Ruzhany, Belarus did not leave more clues to his past.

        So my ethnicity turns out to be 95% European Jewish: Poland, Belarus, Ukraine,Russia, Hungary and Israel. 2% North Africa: Morocco, Libya and Algeria, 1% Irish: Scotland, Wales Ireland 1%Middle East and 1% Finland/Northwest Russia. The only certainty is the 95%. The other 5% carry low confidence levels but still they showed them. Barry

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  2. Thanks for sharing that Barry. I used a different site as I previously mentioned. I can confirm that I also show less than 2% Finland/Northwest Russia so that may be a Wilensky piece.

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  3. No DNA for me yet. I’m still thinking about it. The DNA we’d like to have is from our ancestors – that’s a bit difficult.

    I’ve spoken with the activity director at the Summit who promises to put the word out for someone over there who might take a look at the Hebrew script and presume Yiddish words on verso of the Pashka picture. Is the original with one of you, or with Mary Rose? When printing out the scan to show prospective translators, I noticed a bit I hadn’t noticed before. It looks as if it was torn out of a scrapbook and still has a lot of the glued on page on which the Hebrew script is written. In one corner, it seems whiter as if we’re seeing the back of the actual photo print. And in that corner, I think I see another bit of handwriting – perhaps pencil – perhaps other than Hebrew – hard to tell. It makes me wonder if there is more handwriting hidden underneath. I’m pretty sure with today’s technology, it’s possible in theory to read the underneath (if any) without destroying the already visible part. I know several people (West Coast, NYC, even Rochester) who could advise us how or where to go to explore this further. Are you seeing what I’m talking about?

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    1. Andy…..eagle eye you are. I have the original and yes there is some pencil writing that looks like Wofelr? And yes it does look like it was glued down and then pulled off, and then written on in Yiddish with this little “tag” in one corner that is clearly written on the original back. The writing is at the very bottom and no other writing above it. The other family portrait with Peshka and husband and kids I have written on the back. Other than that faux-pas it has what looks like some faint lines as if this could have been a post card and running down the center 3/4 of the way up from the bottom is another faint line. Just at the bottom of that line is a round circle that acts like a moon face with drooping eyes, a teeny triangle nose and a grin with teeth. Below that is the letter P. What would you like me to do? Cous B

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      1. I used to know someone at SLAM. clare.vasquez@slam.org, but she may be long gone. They do have a perfectly respectable photography collection. Whether that includes conservation expertise specific to photography (as opposed to painting, etc), don’t know. But if you’d call and ask who is the curator responsible for photo collection, that would be a start. Museums these days often don’t have time to consult on this type of thing, but you never know. They may at least suggest the name of someone doing private conservation in the area. Don’t let it out of your hands. Don’t let anyone try to peel off the “backing”. We just want to see thru it which ought to be possible without jeopardizing anything. If they quote a price, we can chip in.

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      2. BINGO The translation on the back of Peshka’s photo….
        The translation is
        “I say thank you
        To my dear brother
        And to your sister’s family
        Pashka, Liza & Rivalee
        Feb 1938
        So who is the “dear brother” and the “your” and the “sister’s family”???

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  4. Well, I’m still figuring out how this works. I was trying to replace the silly picture and accidentally ended up starting a new “post”. So far, it looks as if we’re mostly adding comments to “Welcome to Ruzhany” which might serve our purposes just fine. I was trying to change where it says “Site Title” at the top. Ended up creating “Wilensky Cousins Project” instead. I’ll gradually figure this out — takes me forever to get the hang of it. Meanwhile, I still like this better than the email route. I think it will be easier to rearrange into something coherent eventually. If Cousin Helen is there, please chime in – expert coaching available if you don’t mind “advice” from 3 of us – no guarantee of consistency.

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  5. Oops, my previous comment thought I was talking to Linda. Bay area is even easier. Check out this website:
    http://gawainweaver.com/ Depending on how difficult it is to visit, either I can provide an introduction, or just go there. Gawain trained here in Rochester and I know him to be a good guy. Definitely tell him that I recommended him and spoke highly and all that. His email is gawain.weaver@gmail.com Tell him Andy’s covering the cost, but I want my professional discount.

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      1. Hi everyone, in response to the SLAM (St. Louis Art Museum) recommendation… I don’t have the original picture. I think Barry is confirming that he does, so for now I will wait to see what he finds out.

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      2. Yup, my bad. Sorry about the confusion. Still waiting here to be hooked up with someone at Jewish independent living who can read the Hebrew script.

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    1. Linda not sure which photo you are talking about but I have a small photo of Sarah and her brother Max with the words souvenir written across the lower portion of the photo see attachment..

      Andy, I have not emailed your friend as yet………I have sent the message on the back of Peshka’s photo to yet another Israeli relative who swears she can get it translated for me. That was yesterday. I’ll give this a few more days.

      I wish we knew more about life back in Ruzhany with the Wilenskys. Especially I would like to know if Moses had brothers and sisters. Helen, do you think Mary Rose may remember if her mother ever talked about that? I know it’s a long shot but she is our closest link to our past.

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    2. It’s Sarah and Max. Photo from Barry. I don’t have image of verso. I’m now curious (Barry) where this may have been taken. US, I assume. On back, does it have studio address. In my photographer database, I do list an obscure “Souvenir Gallery” on the basis of a single collection having examples (Arizona State U) and the info they provide is active 1890s (which fits), however place active is given as San Francisco (would Max and Sarah have ever been there (if so, news to me)? Now there could easily have been more than one studio named Souvenir. Souvenir could even have been franchized and operating more than one location. It’s interesting just as proof that the 2 sibs spent some time together – I can’t even imagine what life was like in the period Sarah was here, but not yet off to KY and life with Morris. Barry may have notion of Max’s early American adventures. What was his profession?

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      1. Sarah came to the US in 1909 when she was 18. Max came here in 1910 when he was 17. The photo in question was taken when they were both here judging by mostly Max’s photo. The other photo….the big family portrait was taken after Sarah left for the US but before Max left. Max in the family photo looks really young like 15/16. The one with Sarah a little more mature by a couple of years. I have another picture of Max with a friend. It has the words Cabinet Portrait at the bottom….this one is for Andy to sleuth out as to where it could hhave been taken.

        Back to the first Souvenir label. I did look on the back and my mother as a child had scrawled her name over most of the back. There is however a very very faint word stamped and I can barely make out even a few of the letters but here we go….on what looks like a banner I can make out the first letter M. next could be F. or A. the other few letters have been drawn over with crayon and are very fades. Underneath this banner on one side another short curving banner with decorative work between the two banners and the letters of a word that looks like P Y (something) R A something H and I may be all off on that. The letters are sooooooo faint and compromised by other Helen.

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      2. I thought I posted this earlier today on our site but obviously you all would have jumped on it already. I have a translation for Peshka’s photo:

        The translation is “I say thank you To my dear brother And to your sister’s family Pashka, Liza & Rivalee Feb 1938

        Now that I read it again I don’t quite know who the “I” is that is thanking his or her’s dear brother maybe Max, maybe Joe, maybe Hillel …for the dear brother’s sister’s family Peshka, Liza and Rivalee photo taken in Feb 1938?????????????

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      3. What can I say…………..that was the translation I received. I’ll go back to my cousin and ask how they arrived at those names just to double check. They don’t seem typical but??????

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      4. Just re read your posting and see that I did not answer fully. I don’t know what Max did in his youth but as a new parent with my infant mother Helen, Max and his wife Rose (nee Spelke) had a soda fountain/candy store in Stamford CT. They lived above the store. Max also was a traveling salesman at some point and was often away leaving the running of the store to Rose. When he was home Rose and he split store duties making any family time together rare. My mother often said life was not easy for them.

        Andy, do we want to identify the photos you have posted with names under them?

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  6. Ok thanks Barry for clearing that up! Sarah and Max don’t look quite like my grandpa Joe for obvious reasons so I do get confused.

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    1. Amazing translation work, thank you so much!!! Joe was here for sure by that date, Louise was born in 1928 amd Shirley I believe in the mid 1930’s. Not sure how he could have photographed Peschka in the old country…

      I am overjoyed to have those names. It is so important to do what we can do to honor those lost.

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      1. I agree. Giving them names makes them whole and somehow dignifies them even more. I guessed at which one was Liza and which one was Rivalee. I gave the darker more exotic sister the name Rivalee and the one with the big bow in her hair the hair Liza. Its up for a vote.

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  7. Lol…I did the very same thing with the twins names. There have been so many unexpected answers in this process for me, I bet we may one day know which is which. And just fyi I ordered a kit from Ancestry.com so you and I Barry can sort which relatives are Moshe Wilensky descendants.

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  8. While looking through ancestry.com I came upon Joseph Wall’s draft registration card. It indicates an address at the time in NY that was also the home of Sarah Wall! I don’t recall knowing they were together at one time in NY. Is that news to you guys also?

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    1. It makes sense since Sarah and Morris were the ones that brought most of the brothers and sisters over. Max I believe came on his own at 17 when Sarah already here was around 19 or 20….before she married Morris.

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      1. So the fact that she was still a Wall definitely caught my attention. Did she come here all by herself as a teen? Did she know anybody already here? It sounds like a tremendous act of courage to be female alone traveling by boat to America.

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      2. The story I was told and some of it Andy heard in part was………..Sarah was all set to go to med school in Europe but she got an eye infection and couldn’t take classes. Instead she and a friend took a ship to America. Andy said she traveled to the US as a regular passenger around 1909 according to her statement in the 1930 Census Report….not steerage as so many of our ancestors did. That would make her 19 years old. It also seems she had some $$ in her pocket. Don’t know what she did while still young but a yeas later or so, my grandfather Max came over around 1910 at age 17. Joe came over in 1913 at also around 17 and Hillel and Goldie I think came together in 1923. Yes it was brave of all of them but life back in Ruzhany probably wasn’t wonderful even in the best of times since it seems the Jews were always marginal citizens.

        I wish these wonderful people would have passed some stories on to their children….maybe they did but nothing seems to have reached our generation’s ears.

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    2. I’m falling behind here. Sorry. Very cool about Joe’s draft registration. What was the date on it? What was the address they shared in NYC (can make a pilgrimage there). What were the dates of Joe’s military service? I have a copy of Sarah and Morris’s marriage license – from Evansville, IN (across the Ohio river from Western KY). It’s dated July 19, 1918 (big anniversary coming up next year). So Sarah was obviously in KY by then. Interesting in that it gives Morris’ birthday as July 17, 1890. And Sarah Wall simply 1895. I’m pretty sure there’s some fudging going on there. I’ve long had the impression that Sarah was OLDER by a bit than Morris (scandalous!). Furthermore, on copies of their Naturalization certificates, Morris is listed as 35 years of age when issued 24 November 1925. That suggests his year of birth around 1890. So, that’s consistent. Sarah’s however lists her as age 39 on a certificate dated May 6, 1930. That suggests a yob of 1891 – still younger than Morris, but pretty close.
      So, when were Sarah and Joe supposedly at same NY address?

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      1. So the draft card is 2 pages or sides and this is what I can glean from it… it is in handwriting not typed. It was signed June 5 1918. The home address was 43 W 112th St NY NY (no zip, they may not have existed yet). It also states Joe’s place of employment was Kahn, Weiss & Feig 38 W 26th ST NY NY. I have no idea what kind of place that was, since he wasn’t even close to becoming an attorney at that point. He lists Ruzany Russia as his place of birth with that spelling. His age is stated as 21 which matches his birth year of 1897.

        It also says he had grey eyes and brown hair. I have blue gray eyes and light brown (now greying) hair.

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    1. Cool photo of the building. Maybe we should be building photos and histories of each of the Wilensky/Wall kids???? I still am not clear how we can use this site other than this continuous conversation which I like. It just seems that we can also build our family in photos and info so we can all refer to it over time and preserve their history. Not sure how we do that. Not sure how we download photos to this site. All this conversation about Sarah’s birth makes the above concern more pertinent. I have the following dates from documents about Sarah’s birth: 1920 Census states it at 1894 1930 Census states it at 1891 1940 Census states it at 1891 Death Certificate at 1891 Marriage Certificate Ohio at 1890 Soc Sec Death at 1890

      I vote for 1891. I also have and I think I sent a copy to Linda of Joe posing with his army buddies while in army uniform in their camp dated 1918 with their names written by each person …….plus a few more photos of him.

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      1. It was my expectation that we could all include photos and edit retrospectively as we used this blog. If I didn’t set it up right for this purpose, I’d like to try to fix. It’s not quite as straightforward as I thought it would be. If you can figure it out, I encourage that. I’m a bit overwhelmed at the moment, hoping to get some focus back soon.

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  9. So it appears Joe was in the clothing biz from an early age… did you read the part that said: they employed a staff of 57 (of which 53 were women)? Things could have been worse for a 21 year old guy! I was told he worked in Men’s clothing before attending night school to become an attorney. I was also told that he lived in both Midnight Mississippi and somewhere in Kentucky before settling here in St. Louis. He was definitely a bit older when he studied law. Thank you Andy for the link.

    I don’t have any pictures from the old days of Joseph in black and white. I just have a few pics from when I knew him in the 50’s – 70’s. So you young’ns are the curators of those, I leave the ideas to you both on how to best share them. But share them we must- they all worked so hard to save us- we will certainly save their memory 🙂

    Definitely no hurry here either. I waited for 60 years to even learn Barry Ives knew more about me than I knew about myself. The shock of a lifetime was learning some of them were half sibs! Well worth the wait 🙂

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    1. Linda I am sending you and Andy the photos I have already sent you plus a few little pieces of photos all with Joe in them. So if we do a page on Joe, Andy, you have some photos to start with. I believe you are the only one that can input that info. NO RUSH…………just add it to your fall projects. The last attachment Joe Wall with sister-in-law to the right….that is my grandmother Rose Wall the wife of Joe’s brother Max. Don’t know the woman in the middle. Also the one Joe Wall with Sarah behind, the woman behind Sarah at the top is the same woman we have in the portrait of Sarah sitting in the chair. This woman has a beautiful smile and welcoming face. Sure wish we knew who she was.

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    1. Hello Everyone

      I have decided to go through a folder I have kept with correspondence from various relatives plus all sorts of my hand written notes and other related material. I found an email from Marsha Kreitman Goldie’s daughter from 2002 giving us another source for Peshka’s fate . Here is her answer:

      “Shirley will be able to give you more info on Peshka and the trip to the concentration camp because she was the one that told me. about it. Her son lived in Israel and went to the Holocaust Memorial. He found their names and the statistics. If I am correct, grandmother Kuna was with her and died in route to the concentration camp. All I know is that Peshka had twin daughters. I don’t know names and ages.”………….So now we know the source of some of Peshka’s information. Marsha went on to refer to Peshka as Pauline.

      In another e-mail from Marsha dated 2012 we discussed the birthplace of the Wilensky family. I said to Marsha, “I also had Hillel write down the name of the city that he was born in. He put it as follows:Byelorussia/Ruzhany then Slonin-Uyezd.” Marsha replied “My mother always said she came from Grugabarren (sp. I am not sure spelled wrong). According to my mother, my grandfather was a rabbi. He taught Morris Eskind for his Bar Mitzvah, so aunt Sarah must have known Morris from the old country. I’m not sure what Peska’s husband’s name was. We don’t have his last name unless Mary Rose has more info, which I am sure she does, since they recorded Aunt Sarah’s life. I never saw or got the tape.”…………. I wish we could find and get a copy of that tape, whoever it was about. We would learn a lot from it.

      So I just wanted to get all this on “record”. I also looked up Slonim (not Slonin) and it too is a city like Ruzhany in Belarus so I am confused by Uncle Hillel’s birthplace and where the Wilensky family came from. I think Aunt Goldie was giving Marsha a district name…..something larger than a city and maybe when she told Marsha it was sort of lost in translation. Anyway more info to think about.

      Best to everyone Cousin barry

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