A Latvian Chanukah Present - Day 8 #latvia

Nancy Siegel


The Oldest Latvian Jew on Record

by Ann Rabinowitz 

In memory of my great uncle Max Hillman, who was born in Bauska, Latvia, and who started me on my genealogical research, which is so long ago now, I am posting a piece about Latvia every day throughout Chanukah. The posts will be about people, events, and daily life. These posts can also be viewed on the JewishGen Blog at: https://www.jewishgen.org/Blog/

There is often discussion of the life-spans of our ancestors.  Many times, it was short due to illness, lack of appropriate medical care, natural disasters, wars, and other such things.  However, I am delighted to announce that I may have found the oldest recorded Jew in Latvia due to my research into the Historical Jewish Press database.

In The Sentinel, Friday, July 11, 1913, Pg. 11, I found a tidbit noting the death of Chaim Moshkin in Daugavpils, Latvia, at the age of 127! Yes, that is correct, 127 years of age.  This would have made his birthdate in 1786.  Apparently, longevity ran in his family, as his mother left this earth at the age of 118.  Due to his long life, Chaim left 116 living descendants.

He said that he saw Napoleon at Minsk in 1812.  It makes one wonder what he was doing there then.  Had he been conscripted?  Was he there on business?

The information on Chaim’s age at the time of his death was confirmed in the Necrology section of The American Jewish Year Book, copyrighted in 1913, Page 343.  I was not able to find any further existing data that would corroborate the specifics of his life.  Perhaps the Latvian Archives has records which would be able to help in that regard.  

Unfortunately, I don’t have a photograph of this wonder of old age, but perhaps there are descendants who are still living, who can add to Chaim’s life story.  What did he do for a living?  How many wives and children did he have?  What did he die from other than the obvious one of old age?  

In addition, it would be interesting to learn if his tombstone still exists as it would provide the name of his father.


Nancy Siegel
Director of Communications
(San Francisco, California)

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