Re: "His name was changed at Ellis Island #usa #general


Families often changed their names or at least the spellings. I found this on both sides of my mother's family.  Zlates became Slatas and Sanktin became Sancton.  The Zlates change came some time after 1925, given its use on my mother's birth certificate. I am not certain when Sancton was changed.
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC

Re: Searching KESSLER, Brooklyn, NY #usa

Erica Fox Zabusky

I know the Kessler family well. Stuart was my father's best friend growing up in Brooklyn in the '30s-40s; they attended Brooklyn Tech together. Sadly, Stuart died a year or two ago, but I am still in touch with his wife. I am happy to contact her to connect you. She may know about Stuart's family. They have 3 sons, but I'm not sure how involved they are with their relatives.

All the best,

Erica Fox Zabusky
ZABUSKI - Czestochowa, Sochaczew
FRYDMANN - Sochaczew
BRAUN, PANKOWSKI - Czestochowa
FIKSEL, RUDMAN - Izaslav, Slavuta, Odessa, Kharkov
POLISZUK, GOLDMAN - Izaslav, Slavuta

Re: Kopyl (Kapule)/ Arranged marriages #general

Fred Selss

Almost all the Orthodox Jewish marriages were arranged. Most times by a matchmaker. This is still being done in some Jewish communities. Most times the couple meet once or twice before they are married. Both the man and the woman have to agree to the marriage. It is not forced upon them but the initial “ introduction” was made by a matchmaker. The matchmaker might have been a friend, relative or a professional matchmaker. So it is very possible for the couple to be separated by geography and still wind up married.The Broadway show and movie Fiddler on the Roof shows a theatrical performance of this practice in a village in Russia. Hopefully, the couple will learn to love each other. My Great Grandparents were living about 30 miles apart in Hungary. They married and had 10 children. They came to NY with their children and told them the story of how they met via a matchmaker!

Fredrica SeLss

Re: "His name was changed at Ellis Island" #names

David Slater

All evidence shows names were not changed at Ellis Island. My great- grandparents named KRAUZE from Bialystok were told by their fellow Landsman at The Bialystoker Synagogue on the Lower East Side of NY that in America people would think you were “crazy person” with a name pronounced Krauze. What’s a good, Yankee, American name they asked? GOLDSTEIN they were told. So GOLDSTEIN it was from then on. Why were Eastern European Jews more likely, perhaps more than other immigrant groups, willing to accept changed surnames? In the Russian experience, remember, surnames were ordered by the Czar in The Edicts of 1804 & 1835 and the loyal attachment to these surnames is questionable. After all, didn’t you also hear stories of how your ancestors tried to avoid the Russian military by changing their identities. Names being misspelled at the port of departure, suggestions from Landsman in America, American teachers, etc. seem more credible than “my name was changed at Ellis Island”.
David Slater
Atlanta, GA
DROBIS - Anyksciai, Lithuania

Re: Seeking information on a village named Horodok, Vilna #lithuania


This is not David-Horodok - My town is just Horodok in another area.

Re: "His name was changed at Ellis Island" #names

Jane Foss

Sometimes a person bought someone elses ticket and travel great aunt Rose Lowenkron bought her sister s though she was much younger..she changed back to her legal mame on becoming a u.s citizen

Re: 1764/1765 Revision lists #lithuania


I'm unfamiliar with this website is there an ID and password that I can use or do I need to register?

"His name was changed at Ellis Island" #names


I am fascinated by the assumption in many of these responses that I haven't done my homework.  No-one, including in a flurry of personal contacts, has mentioned an item that I hadn't seen already in my study.  I read each of them and then back-checked it; how many of you who cite these items have done so?
Jules, have you ever actually bothered to look at the data or think about your claims?  Do you know anyone who can speak 40 languages?  Does any of them work for the amount paid the immigration inspectors?  Has it ever occurred to you that there might be errors in government documents?
I started my study looking for the reasoning behind the meme, not to reject it, but as one claim after another proved to be wrong, based on faulty logic, or on methodological errors, I started wondering how it came about.  Then I heard from the USCIS Historians' Office that they didn't know where the meme came from.  I'm still working on that.  

Unless there is an actual proof that involuntary name-changes weren't possible, you cannot reject the name-change narratives out of hand.  Given the number of potential cases, around 37 million, and what is known about the operation of the immigration stations (it's discussed in the Congressional Record), the notion that involuntary name-changes were impossible because the immigration process operated flawlessly is simply absurd.
--Yale Zussman 

Re: Seeking information on a village named Horodok, Vilna #lithuania


The story is that one of the Shepsenwol families (Solomon) moved to Voloshin because he was at the Yishiva..  He was born in Horodok

Re: "His name was changed at Ellis Island" #names

Barbara Ellman

I have to disagree with Eva Lawrence's characterization of the arriving immigrants as
"a ship full of excitable and exhausted immigrants, some suffering from cholera, perhaps, many of them filthy from the long voyage in a crowded steamship belching smoke and reliant only on sea-water for washing,  to realise that the situation at Ellis Island can't have been as orderly as some of you imagine it"

Immigrants that came to the US were fearful of being returned to Europe.  So they kept their best clothing for the arrival in the US lest they be judged as a public charge or as having disease.  If a family had a member that was ill, they would generally wait until the person was well to travel to avoid being returned to Europe. 

Also there were translators available to assist in communications with the arrivals.

Barbara Ellman
Secaucus NJ USA
ELLMAN, COIRA, MAIDMAN - Minkovtsy, Ukraine
KAGLE, FASS - Ulanow, Poland

Re: Name Changes on Passenger Lists #general

Joel Weintraub

Were surnames changed at Ellis Island, either voluntarily or involuntarily by Immigration Authorities, and then used in the U.S. after going through that Immigration Station?  The current consensus is it didn't happen.  But lots of Jewish (and Italian, etc.) families have surnames different from their "old country" roots.  So what gives? Marian Smith came close in my opinion to the explanation for the legend by stating over two decades ago that the Ellis Island name change belief was an allegory of the immigrants felt experience in America which included pressures to adapt to their new culture, and outright discrimination and prejudice.  It actually started with the immigration process that weeded out immigrants that could not fit into the U.S. and could be “Likely Public Charges”.   That idea is called the "Ellis Island Experience".  But then why didn't those immigrants and their ancestors just say, we changed our name to fit in, and it wasn't an easy decision?  I think the answer may lie in a 2018 book by historian Kirsten Fermaglich:   "A Rosenberg By Any Other Name: A History of Jewish Name Changing in America" where she documents a pushback of some Jews against the name changers.  In that climate it would be easier to blame the system including Ellis Island then to take responsibility for the surname change.   I'll address part of this controversy on the JewishGen Webinar series next month by looking at immigrant documents used during their transit from their European origins through Ellis Island.  And I'll end with this Fermaglich quote from my submitted 55 minute video for the August 2020 IAJGS Virtual Conference: "I hope this book will replace mythical images of Hollywood movie stars [with name changes] and hapless Ellis Island immigrants with more nuanced portraits of American-born Jewish families escaping antisemitism at midcentury." 

Joel Weintraub

Dana Point, CA

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Joel Weintraub
Dana Point, CA

Re: ViewMate translation request - Russian #translation


In Russian:


АНКЕТА        263


1. Фамилия, имя и отчество                        Браво Лев Беницианович

2. Год рождения                                           1922

3. Место рождения                                       Город Гомель, Областной

4. Каким РВК призван, когда,                       В 1940, Гомельским горвоенкоматом

в какую часть и когда отправлен                 и отправлен в Каспийское Высшее

                                                                        Военно-Морское училище

5. Военное звание                                         Главный Старшина

6. Занимаемая должность в Сов. Армии     Не известна

7. Когда прекратилась письменная связь   В ноябре 1941 года

8. Воинский адрес по последнему               Войсковая часть полевая почта письму или со слов товарищей                    09291

9. Где проживал до призыва                        Город Гомель

10. Дополнительные сведения о                 14 ноября 1941 года из училища

разыскиваемом: письма товарищей,           направлен в распоряжение Военного

сообщение войсковых частей,                     Совета Северо-Кавказкого

свидетельские покозания, другие                Военного Округа

(приложить к анкете) 

11. При наличии сведений о гибели             Не имеется

указать: где, месяц, число, где похоронен.

12. Кто разыскивает                                        Браво Геня Лазаревна

13. Родственное отношение                           Мать

14. Подробный адрес заявителя                    БССР, город Гомель, улица                                                                                          Сазонова, 30

15. Личное заключение военкома                  После проверки по учетным                                                                                  данным целесообразно учесть                                                                              пропавшим без вести.




 полковник                                                          подпись             (ХМИЛЕНКО) 



In English:




1. Surname, name and patronymic                                    Bravo Lev Benitsianovich

2. Year of birth                                                                  1922

3. Place of birth                                                                 City Gomel, Regional

4. What RVK is called up, when,                 in 1940, by the Gomel Military Commissariat

to which part and when sent                         the Caspian High military- Naval school

5. Military rank                                             Chief Petty Officer

6. Position held in Sov. Army                      Unknown

7. When did the written communication cease      In November 1941

8. Military address at the latest Military unit

 field mail letter or from the words of comrades    09291

9. Where did                                                           Gomel

 live before the call?

10. Additional information                                    on November 14, 1941 from the Wanted: letters from comrades                              school sent to the Military

communication of military units,                           Council of the North Caucasus

testimonies, other                                                   Military District

(attach to application form)

11. If there is evidence of death                             Not available

indicate: where, month, date where buried.

12. Who is looking for                                           Bravo Genya Lazarevna

13. Relationship                                                      Mother

14. Detailed address of the applicant                     BSSR, Gomel city, Sazonova street, 30

15. The personal conclusion of the military

 commissar                                                              After checking the credentials, it is

                                                                                advisable to take into account    

                                                                                to take into account the missing                                                                                                                                            




 Colonel signature (KHMILENKO)


Re: 1764/1765 Revision lists #lithuania

Joel Ratner

The images are online. The view below was translated using Google Translate. You'll have to search among the records for the town. These are in Polish. so it should be recognizable.

Joel Ratner

Whitier Inn-NYC 1930s. More info on Sarah and grandson Tom #general

Yonatan Ben-Ari

I am trying to confirm data appearing in someone's autobiography: Was
there a dance hall in NYC in the 1930s called Whitier Inn ?

To add to the data I wrote in my previous post regarding a Sara
ABRAMOWITZ and her grandson Tom: It seems that Tom's parents, Sarah's
daughter and her husband were divorced and Tom lived with his father
in Boston. Tom's mother and grandmother may have lived in the Sea Gate
area and Tom would visit his mother during the summers. Are Coney
Island and Sea Gate close to each other?


Yoni Ben-Ari, Jerusalem
p.s. If the general story sounds familiar to someone but have another
name rather than Tom I'd be happy to check it out.

JewishGen recruiting volunteer systems administrator #announcements

Karen Leon

JewishGen is looking to recruit a Systems Administrator volunteer, to be available up to three hours a week, working remotely.

- - Responsibilities include: managing the dozen Windows servers used by JewishGen, applying Windows Updates, updating and configuration of layered software including PHP and WordPress, some database operations for MySQL and SQL Server, research into problems such as undelivered email, failed URLs, and ultimately managing and planning Windows upgrades.

- - Recommended skills include 5 years experience with various windows Server editions, server and software troubleshooting, scripting in both batch and Powershell, and IIS administration. AWS experience a plus as JewishGen moves toward more cloud-centric services.

- - Potential volunteers, please email kleon@...

- - Thank you.


Re: "His name was changed at Ellis Island" #names

Bob Bloomberg

It would be naive to think that every ship manifest was clearly readable.  And it would be naive to think that every immigration officer, translator and immigrant spent enough time and cared enough to ensure that every name was written down exactly as it should have been.  There are endless examples of name variations throughout the records, from one census to the next, from one document to the next.  That said, I don't think any names were intentionally changed

Re: "His name was changed at Ellis Island" #names


Eva when the immigrants were called forward in turn they showed their landing card which contained their details including name, manifest page and number on page that had been copied from the original manifest on departure.   The entries were then looked up on the appropriate manifest page.  They had to confirm some details on the manifest and proceeded.  It has been estimated that each immigrant might spend just 30 seconds with the clerk.  See

It has been noted elsewhere that if you look at books about immigration published at that time or newspapers at that time (now searchable online) you will find no references to name changes.

So, we have many people repeating this story about name changes but several examples have been checked that show that those immigrants continued to use their original manifest names in subsequent census returns, marriage certificates etc and only later did they start using a different surname. I am not aware of any cases where there is documented proof that a name change took place at Ellis Island.  

Until somebody can show documented proof that this took place the evidence does not support it.  
Please supply proof if you have some. 

There are similar family tales of immigrants arriving in UK ports (Glasgow included) being told they had arrived in the USA and being duped by the crew to leave the ship.  Again there is no proof of these claims and some of the claims are simply not possible.

Michael Tobias
Glasgow, Scotland

Re: "His name was changed at Ellis Island" #names

Jules Levin

Notice that your story is not about a change wrought by an official; it
was merely personal advice, to be followed, or not, as the arriver
desired.  No one is disputing that such events might have taken place. 
Perhaps the immigration officer [by the way, half the immigration
officers at our southern border have Hispanic surnames] was himself a
landsman advising a new former countryman.

Jules Levin

On 6/26/2020 4:39 AM, David Shapiro wrote:
Perhaps there was a difference between a full name change to a
spelling modification. My cousin arrived in the US in the 1930's from
Germany. His name was SCHULMANN. He told me that the immigration
officer told him that if he wanted he could drop the second 'N', and
that to do so later would be complicated. He agreed, and from then on
his name was SCHULMAN.

David Shapiro

Re: What "notions" means? #general

Deanna Levinsky <DEANNASMAC@...>

Notions used to mean sewing supplies, craft supplies and other small items women used. At that time most clothing was made at home or by a local seamstress so trimmings for a dress or hat or yarn to knit a sweater were bought from a store that sold “notions”
Also there was a notions section in department stores
Deanna Mandel Levinsky 
Long Island New York 
Deanna Mandel Levinsky

Deanna M. Levinsky, Long Island, NY

Sara (ne ABRAMOWITZ) + grandson Tom b. about 1914 #usa

Yonatan Ben-Ari

Very flimsy data but will try:

Researching a European born (1880s?) New Yorker Sara (maiden name
ABRAMOWITZ who had a grandson Tom who lived and/or studied in a
university in the Boston area.

Some other data possibilities: Sara came with her widowed mother to
New Haven probably around 1880s. Sara may have been married to a Sam
Cohen. They vacationed or lived on Coney Island during the mid 1930s.

Tom was born about 1912-14. His father may not have been Jewish. He
may have lived in the Sea Gate neighborhood in New York during the mid
1930s. He was Sara's grandson through her daughter (name unknown to

There are no official records for the above data and would be very
hard to extract such data with the scant info I have.

Shabbat Shalom

Yoni Ben-Ari, Jerusalem

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