Relatives in Izbica

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Pablo Edronkin

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Izbica is one town where there were many relatives belonging to the extended family, although establishing the connection proved to be a difficult job.

Years ago, sifting thorough picture galleries from pre-WWII era I came across an interesting collection submitted to Yad Vashem by Avern Rozenkranz. In this collection he portrayed the life of many people from the town of Izbica Lubelski, one in which, like most of Poland, the Nazis murdered later a lot of people.

Not only the kind of daily-life images were interesting per se, but the fact that several surnames known to belong to my extended family appeared mentioned in the Avner collection. People bearing names such as Blat, Alter, Weiss, Kamien, Ferszt (Fürst) and Lerner were not only depicted in those photos, but in many instances were depicted together in more than one picture.

This clearly meant that they knew each other in some way or another, and while it would be reasonable to expect that in a relatively small town this would happen more frequently than in big cities, some of those surnames, like Alter and Ferszt are of rabbinical origin and in Warsaw they are clearly related to my own family on the side of my mother.

Alter and Ferszt are uncommon names and are related to the Skowronek family in Warsaw. All people named Alter and Ferszt belong to the same families, with common origins - for example, Alter is a name variation of the Rotenberg family, since some of them were chased by Russian imperial authorities after an insurrection attempt in the XIX century, so they had to hide their identities.

Rotenberg is the surname of the mother of my great great grandmother, Dinah Schoenberg[1.16], daughter of Yekhel Michal Schoenberg[1.286] and Hena Rotenberg[1.17]. Rotenberg appears related to the Schoenberg surname in other occasions as well, and the Ferszt family has been reported as being cousins of the Schoenbergs and Skowroneks in Warsaw.

Thus, the Alters and Ferszts from Izbica should be relatives of those from Warsaw and hence, distant relatives of us.

Moreover, the surname Rozenkranz appears linked to our extended family a couple of times (see Yad Vashem Pages of Testimony) in Warsaw and Radom since at least the beginning of the XIX century.

Later I came across the pages of testimony written by Bela Shteinziger (see Yad Vashem Pages of Testimony) regarding murdered relatives from Izbica; she refers to most people as "acquaintances" but in some cases, wrote in her testimonies that certain persons were relatives. That is the case, for example, of Matl Blat. The rest of the Izbica Blats are listed as "acquaintances."

She also described as acquaintances from other families such as Fuks, Rozen, Waks, Weiss, Ehrlich, Berger, Margulis and Kamien, and one member of this latter family - Szajndla Kamien - as a relative. All these surnames are connected to the Skowronek, Blat and Schoenberg families in Warsaw and other cities, like a clan.

Thus, considering the cases of the Izbica Blats and how she described both of them as acquaintances and relatives, and taking into account that this was a small town, it becomes apparent that she described as acquaintances some people that were formally her relatives, but in practice had no close connections.

The important thing is that Fuks, Rozen, Kamien as well as some other surnames are known to be linked to the Skwronek family in Warsaw, and are seen connected to one another in Izbica by means of the Shteinziger and Rozenkranz testimonies, being the case that also Rozenkranz is a surname that appears married in Warsaw to the extended family as described.

While establishing the connection to the town, is important to consider also that the surnames Klepfisz and Englard, that correspond to member families of the Hassidic dynasty of Izbica - Radzimin; Khana Klepfisz[1.287] was the paternal grandmother of my maternal great grandfather Hersz Josek Blat (see Hersz Josek Blat), while Malka Englard, for example was married into the Fajnmesser family which, in turn, is related to Blat.

These are not the only links with the Englard and Klepfisz (Klepfish) families, indeed: Fraenkel is another surname common to both the Rebbes of Izbica and us: For example, Tauba Schoenberg[1.289], born in the later years of the XVIII century, married Lejb Fraenkel[1.290]; they had a daughter named Zlota Fraenkel[1.291], born in 1810, in Kutno. There are other surnames such as Shapiro, Goldschmidt, etc. which are also common to both and present in Warsaw as well as Izbica.

Auth: P. Edronkin.
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