Dear Mr. Ratner:
I just saw this message this morning. I've been trying for years to learn about my great-great-grandparents, Reb Yossel and Zelda Weinstein. Reb Yossel was a rosh yeshiva in Vilna, and Zelda was a commission merchant for Polish nobles. They were both born in about 1806-10. Zelda lived to the age of 104-6. She met with the nobles and had agents working for her who purchased property, jewels, and Arabian horses for them, according to an account by my maternal grandmother, her granddaughter, who lived with her after her father died young from TB. They had 9 children, one, my g-grandfather, Moishe Aaron, who was an auditor of liquor sales. A daughter was said to have married a brother of the sculptor Mark Antokolsky. The family name was originally a form of Romm. I discovered an uncle, Yitzhak ben Moshe Rumsch. Was this the family name? He translated "Robinson Crusoe" from German into Hebrew, the definitive translation. Reb Yossel was "adopted" by a childless Weinstein relative to escape conscription. I can find no mention of such a prominent woman or her husband, probably because though I've tried all spellings I can think of for Weinstein, I can't find them. Do you have any information about how I should proceed. I do know other descendants, including a granddaughter, my grandmother's sister, Celia, who married "Itcha" Pollack, who owned a cotton plantation in Tashkent, which he was allowed to run for the Bolsheviks when they took the plantation over.. They were incredibly wealthy. The government assigned a new apartment Moscow to their son, a "first-class" engineer, with a room for his parents after the Revolution. Although this whole family were very rich, the children had Socialist leanings. Two of Zelda's sons, medical students, were arrested for revolutionary activity and died of TB in prison.
I am desperate to learn how my grandmother was able to become such a wealthy businesswoman in these times, while remaining an Orthodox Jew. I know nothing of her maiden name or background.
By the way, I see you're from Newton. One of Bubbe Zelda's grandsons was Hyman Morrison, a prominent doctor in Boston. He attended Harvard and Harvard Medical School on scholarship and was on the faculty of Tufts. He was an ardent Zionist and a personal friend of Chaim Weizmann.
I'd be grateful for any assistance you can provide. Do you think there is any information in Dr. Ambuleviciute's book?
Susan Kurtin Sorkenn