The Tale of the Rabbi's Wife #general


David Frey <dfrey@...>
 

In the tale of the Trip to Beshincovichi, written by yours truly a
year or two ago, see the Belarus Sig, I humbly suggested that the
purpose of my trip was to find some evidence that the family tale of
Rabbi Avram Isroel Gildenson was in some sense true. Upon finding the
"lost" cemetery of the town it became apparent that at least certain
facts were true. There was such a town. Some of the gravestones
suggested that members of my current family were named after their
parents or grandparents. However since the gravestones contained only
references such as Rifka, daughter of Rev. Mendel and some dates,
actual verification would be difficult.

One of the central components of the story of the Rabbi was that he
was married twice and his second wife was married three times. All we
knew of this prolific woman was that her first husband had the last
name of Steinhart by whom she bore a daughter named Elka Leah, the
second husband's name has been lost to history and the third was
named Gildenson, The Rabbi of the town, and possibly a student of
Menachem Mendal of Vitebsk.

But even though I found the cemetery, I found not one shred of direct
evidence that the family tale was true. The story passed on by my
Grandmother, Beila, and told to me by my mother was that the woman at
the centre of this saga was named "Frumma Chana, and that she owned
and ran a grocery store.

Tonight, this very night I looked through:

"The Vsia Rossiia translation team for the 1911 Vitebsk data:
Roberta Solit supplied the paper copies of Vsia Rossiia used in the
translation. The data was translated by Tom Gartman, Vitaly Charney
edited the data and supplied the list of abbreviations."

And to my amazement I did a search on Gildensohn and came up with:

Surname - GILDENSOHN
Given Name - Khava
Patronymic - Mord.
Occupation - Grocery Goods
Year - 1911
Column # - 407
Town - Beshenkovichi
Uyezd - Lepel
Gubernia - Vitebsk

So here it was, the first actual proof that someone name Khava
Gildenson, grocery store owner, actually existed. >from Frumme Chana
to Khava, daughter of Mordichi, is not such a big leap. Perhaps the
Mordichi that my uncle Morris the Doctor was named after, and
probably the Mother of Elka Leah, named after the first wife of the
Rabbi.

And just make the story complete, my lately departed Mother's name
was Elka Leah. I was with her for five years as she slowly died of
Alzheimer's.

And so while the details of the story are not complete, as they never
are, the G-d of my people, the G-d who I prayed to, while standing in
front of that overgrown cemetery, G-d granted me a pearl to wear in
my heart, as long as it lasts, and to pass on to my sons when it
finally gives out.

Baruch Ha Shem

David Frey
dfrey@bigpond.net.au

MODERATOR NOTE: The search performed was >from the Vsia Rossiia - "All
Russia" Business Directory 1903 & 1911 Minsk Gubernia, 1911 Mogilev
Gubernia, 1911 Vitebsk Gubernia provided by the Belarus SIG and searchable
at <http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/vsiabelarus.htm>.

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