Re: KATZ, COHEN, BALABAN - Family name change to avoid the Czar's draft

Angie Elfassi

Hi Izzy et al,
My ggrandfather ne Mordechai KASSEMOFF, was, according to the Latvian archives, the son of Moshe Hirsch KASSEMOFF. When I looked at Mordechai's tombstone (buried in Leeds, UK) it said s/o Zeev/Wolf! This bothered me for a long time. I had contacted, years before, a person in Norway who told me that his family and mine were related. When I recontacted him, he told me that the surnames of several of the baby sons had been changed and that they were all the sons of Zeev! I believe that out of the three surnames, MOLVIDSON is the original name. The next son was GREENSTONE and finally ggrandfather Mordechai KASSEMOFF, all from Rezekne, Latvia.
Angie Elfassi

KATZ, COHEN, BALABAN - Family name change to avoid the Czar's draft
From: cohen.izzy@...
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2020 11:28:41 EST

There was a period of time when first-born sons were exempt from Russian army service. Families past child-bearing age who had no sons would officially claim a Jewish neighbor's draftable son as their own first-born. 

As a result, all Russian empire records for such "adopted" sons had the family name of the adopting family. I understand that this is how Shia Balaban z"l from Odessa, Ukraine acquired his family name. He was the brother of the aunt by marriage of my aunt by marriage. He died in BeerSheva during the 2nd week of the Yom Kippur War while I was at Etzion airbase (Bikat haYarai'akh) in Sinai. His widow Klara Balaban died several years later. They had no living children. 

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