Discovering Stored Treasures

Discovering Genealogy, One Ancestor at a Time.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Gift for Dad

My grandfather Baruch Lavi (aka Zigmond Jampel)
proudly showing me off.
Imagine growing up without grandparents. Difficult isn't it? This day and age, people live longer and longer. Most of us are lucky enough to know most or all of our grandparents, and sometimes our great-grandparents. Myself, I was fortunate. I knew all five of my grandparents and one great-grandmother. Yes, five. My grandfather remarried and his wife was a wonderful, bonus, grandmother to all of us grandkids.

My grandfather in a similarly proud pose with my father
My father is a pretty cool grandfather himself. Saba, or grandfather in Hebrew, is what my kids call him. In fact, almost all the kids who have ever come across my dad take to calling him Saba.  He has embraced the role of grandfather and has "adopted" a bunch of grandkids along the way. Ironically, my dad never met his own grandparents. He never experienced the luxury of spending the evening at his grandparents home and being pampered by them. He could only imagine what it would be like to curl up with his grandfather and read a book. Sadly, like many Jews of his generation, he lost all his grandparents in the holocaust, before he was born.

Despite this tragic loss, dad had a happy childhood. He grew up barefoot, running around the fields of a young kibbutz.  The kibbutz provided a freedom rarely offered to children today. Kibbutz children spent their days outdoors, playing in the orange groves, working with the livestock or swimming in the water hole. Most of the founding members of the kibbutz lost families in the holocaust as well. They became each other's family and sheltered their children from their own sorrow by never discussing the loss. When my dad tried to learn about his grandparents, he was usually turned away. Eventually, he stopped trying.

My father on Kibbutz early 1950s
It's been five years since I first presented my dad a small clue about his grandparents—four Yad Vashem Testimony sheets for each of his grandparents. This elusive testimonies, filled out by my grandparents, contained more information than we ever knew about their parents. Their names, the date and place of birth, their occupations, their parents names and their last known address. Reading these documents brought tears to my father's eyes.

Five years of genealogy research may be a long time, but progress has been slow, particularly in Eastern Europe. Today, I probably could have found the same Yad Vashem documents in a couple of minutes. Their search engine has improved tremendously. Back then, the search engine did not recognize that the letter "J" in Polish would be spelled with a "Y" in English. This problem, lead to months of frustration at the time.

Though I remained hungry for more information about those we lost in the holocaust, I've mostly come up short. For the past few weeks I've reported of my first major breakthrough on this branch of the family. I've not only identified a marriage record of my father's great-grandparents, but I also connected with a potential cousin. When he heard about my discovery he was amazed. "How pleased your grandfather would have been to know of your work and dedication to this project" he told me.

Today, I'd like to award my father, gift! A new document, this time pertaining not to his great-grandparents, but to his grandmother. Cecylia Jampel born Cecylia Reiter and fondly known as Cyla.
Five years ago, no one in my family remembered Cecylia's name. When I entered her onto my tree, she had no first name, and only a married name, Jampel. Today, I share with all of my faithful readers and my dad, Cecylia's birth certificate and try to reconstruct a little bit of her story.

Souce: JRI Poland/JewishGen

Cecylia (Cyla) born on Oct 1st, 1891 in the city of Lwow, (pronounced Lvov) in the province of Galicia which was then part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. She was born in house #27 of Zotkiewska Street (See: Map of Lwow from 1890. Ul Zotkiewska can be found at MNO 4&5 ). Three days later, there was a naming ceremony for her at the same address. Cyla, like many Jews of her generations was officially born out of wedlock. She was therefore recorded as illegitimate. This most likely means that her parents were only had a Jewish wedding which was not valid in civil courts at the time. Her mother Rachel Reiter was listed as single, residing in Lwow and  cohabitating with the shoemaker Yakob Zelnik. Rachel is the reported daughter of Ciny Reiter from the town of Kulik√≥w. The two witnesses to the birth were Hezz Rochmes and Leiser Reich, both lime dealers from Lwow. Betty Frenkel was the midwife. Note Cyla was given her mother maiden name Reiter, which in turn is her mother's maiden name as well. Again this is because the parents were only married according to Jewish law.

Zotkiewska Street, surrounds a large park in the city which surrounds the Union of Lublin Mound (Kopiec Unii Lubelskiej). This monument sits at the top of a man made hill known as High Castle. Construction of this monument to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Union of Lublin was finished in 1890, only a year before Cyla was born. I was able to locate the area in google maps today. The park looks run down, and I'm not sure the street numbers are the same, but here is what building #27 looks like today.

View Larger Map

From additional family records, I learned that my great-grandmother Cyla was the second oldest of at least eight children, five boys and three girls: Nachman b. 1888, Karol (Chaskel) Leib (Leon) b. 1889, b. 1893, Maurycy Herman b.1895, Regina b.1898, Anna b.1890-d.1891 and Kazimierz b.1903. Her father, whose full name was Simon Jakob Zelnik was born in 1864. For now the fate of her parents and siblings is unknown to me.

Cyla married Leon Jampel, a tailor, around 1910. She was a seamstress. They had my grandfather in 1913 when she was twenty two years old. Leon would have been around twenty five years old when they had their first child. They had their second and last child Michael, eighteen years later, in 1931. They lived and worked at #18 Kosciuszko Street, right next to Ivan Franko National University and another large park of the same name. (see map: Map of Lwow from 1890. L 6, 7). I couldn't quite find the street on google map because it's in Ukrainian, but the University is still there. This was their last known address before being expelled to the ghetto. They most likely were forced to work at the Yanovska forced labor camp and died either at the ghetto or the camp by 1943. Cyla would have been about 52 years old.

This is it for now! I am hopeful that I will discover more bit of this story in the weeks and months to come!

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