PART I -- TRAVELS IN LITHUANIA AND LATVIA WITH FEIGMANIS #lithuania
Carol Lieberman <cmenetwork@...>
For a number of years I have been searching for the origins of
my BERNHARDTS,only knowing a few facts: my grandmother said she
came >from Courland (near an island, on an island, near Estonia).
That didn't work very well, as Estonia was nowhere near Courland.
I engaged a search of the Latvian archives, but found no member
of my family. I knew that the Bernhardts originally came >from
Germany -- but where? My grandmother said they were related to
Sarah Bernhardt -- but how? My ggf, ( Bernard or Benis or Behr,
born in Germany 1854 to Zundel, died in Chicago, 1901)had buried
two wives in Courland ( #1 possibly Rose or Rosa),(#2, my ggm
Ethel) and then emigrated to Chicago. I had his life was a total
mystery as was that of my ggm.
Finally, last fall I engaged Aleksandr Feigmanis to do research
for me in Latvia. He spent several months finding a great number
of Bernhardts, none probably mine, but we developed a plan to
visit certain coastal cities of Courland that historically had
Jewish centers of learning to see what we could find. We did know
that ggBernhardt was a rabbi, or someone affiliated with a
synagogue as he later was a rabbi in Indiana. We knew that his
wife had been a yeshiva teacher, and that her name was something
that would translate in English to Ethel.
I purchased a ticket to Riga, planning on spending July 21-26
touring Latvia with Aleksandr and his driver. I made reservations
at the Metropole in Riga, choosing it >from a large number of
adequate hotels in the area paying about $109 per night. I worried
about not being able to understand a word of what I would hear if
Aleksandr were not around, but initially I chose to ignore that.
He told me that I would be better off without traveler's checks
and credit cards (it was true) and to bring new money (that was
true also, as the older and more dirty the money, the less the
exchange rate). I worried about carrying cash and I worried
about what Aleksandr would be like. That turned out to be not
a worry -- a pleasure!
Three weeks before my trip -- a two week vacation in Italy
with my husband and afterwards my sojourn alone >from Italy
to Latvia -- I received a present >from a cousin I had just
found. He was the ggrandson of Behr Bernhardt as well, >from
the first wife. I received a picture of the first marriage
of ggfBernhardt, and on the back was small Russian writing
that indicated the name of the photographer and a city! A
cursory review of the words found RY for Russia, and before
that the Russian words for KOVNO. So -- we were going to
Lithuania!!! A Russian in Long Island where I live took the
letters of the city name for me and tried to relate them to
Lithuanian cities both old and new. I confess that even with
the ability to translate, I could not figure out where it was.
We finally came up with Gargzdai but this spelling used the old
names of the mid-1800s. So the trip changed totally! I wrote
Aleksandr as king him if he would go to Lithuania with me. When
he suggested we take a 9 hour bus trip >from Riga to Klaipeda,
because he didn't drive, I knew I would have to take this in
hand! I changed hotel reservations to include two nights in
Klaipeda and a rental car for three days. I found the only
named hotel in my hotel book for Klaipeda that looked like it
was something I could deal with, and that was that! Off to
MORE --READ PART II TOMORROW!
Carol Lieberman searching BERNHARDT(BENIS, BEHR or BERNARD);
ETTA, CHANNAH, JENNY, ROSE. (Konigsberg, Garzdai, Klaipeda,
Libau and coastal towns of Latvia)
MISTACHKIN, MISTECHKIN, MESTECHKIN -- KIEV, JURBARKAS, TAURAGE
SHERBACOV -- KIEV, MINSK, JURBARKAS, TAURAGE