possible crack in brickwall? Jacob Joroff #belarus #ukraine

Lee Jaffe

I wish to appeal to the collective wisdom of list members to evaluate two recent findings to determine whether either or both belong to my mother’s maternal grandfather, Jacob Joroff / Yankl Zharov, and his family.  


The items in question were both the result of a JewishGen search for “surname: Joroff” and “given name: Henoch”  I searched for Henoch because that is the father’s name inscribed on Jacob Joroff’s gravestone.  


One set of records retrievedUkraine Revision Lists, Group 2 – features a family, headed by Genukh and Sheya Zhorov, with 6 children residing in Kudryavka, Sosnitskiy, Chernigovskaya in 1882.   The oldest son, Yankel, aligns in age with my great-grandfather Jacob.  There is another son, Girsha, whose age aligns with Harry Joroff, a person whose history hints he may be my ggf’s brother.  Chernigov is listed as Jacob’s place of birth on his naturalization petition and US passport.  My grandmother said she was born in Snovsk, a small railroad town in the Chernigov district, and some other family records identify Snovsk as their hometown. Snovsk is about 20 miles from Sosnitsia.


The second set of records (same search) – Belarus Census and Revision lists – features a household of 9 people headed by Ayzik Leyba and Khaya Zhorov residing in Mogilev, 28 May 1858.  One son is named Genakh and his age nearly aligns with that of Genakh in the earlier record.  I don’t have any information about Jacob’s father beyond the headstone inscription.  But I do have several contemporary records for Jacob connecting him to Mogilev.  For instance, his Russian army records indicate he was conscripted in Mohilev and my great-grandmother Dora’s Russian passport refers to her as the “wife of a citizen of Mohilev.”  


If these records do refer to my family, this will be the first time I’ve located any documentation of their lives before emigrating to the US.  This will also be the first clue I’ve found about Jacob’s wider family.  As much as I want this to be a valid lead, I need to balance the places the records align with known facts against those where they don’t align.  For one, Jacob gave his mother’s name as Nancy Lubinsky (and my mother was named Nancy in her honor) while Gernukh Zhorov’s wife’s name is recorded as  Sheya in the Ukraine revision list.  And where Genukh’s father’s name is Gaykin in the 1882 list, in the 1858 record it is Ayzik Leyba.


Does either set of records belong to my family?  Do the two records refer to the same family?  Those are the basic questions I hope list members can help answer or suggest strategies for resolving this question.

I've been looking for information about Jacob Joroff's origins for many years without any solid progress. This is despite having access to some unusual artifacts, such as his original Russian military passbook, and a robust record of his life after arriving in the United States.  You can see what I’ve managed to collect in my public family tree on Ancestry at https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/174064041/person/312255348352/facts  


I realize that for many people that might be a lot more information than they have managed to find.  I do feel lucky to have discovered as much as I have.  However, I haven't managed to learn anything about Jacob's family or locate him in contemporary records from the Pale.  


I've been particularly frustrated by hints about another Joroff family which keeps showing up in the vicinity.  For instance, just below my great-grandmother Dora's passenger record entry (SS Vaderland, arriving NYC 25 Jan 1905) are Feige Zarow and her children joining her husband H. Joroff.  Then in the 1910 US census, Harry and Fannie Joroff are living next door to Jacob and Dora in New Haven.  In 1918, when Dora's sister-in-law Becky Koshkin passed away, the burial record listed the family's address as "c/o Harry Joroff."  (You can see records I’ve collected for Harry and his family in my Ancestry tree at https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/174064041/person/312255348644/facts .)


I have identified several family trees which include Harry and Fannie and their descendants … but no entry or clue about Jacob or other siblings.  Some record Harry's father's name as Henry also, but his mother’s name is given as Rose Kaplan.  To cap off my frustration, some of Harry's descendants are close DNA matches on my mother’s side.  After many attempts over several years, none of the tree owners nor DNA matches has ever responded to my messages.


This has been, as I said earlier, the work of many years, with some success coming in small, unexpected leaps forward, punctuating longer fallow stretches.  I'm hoping the recent finds turn out to one of those rare leaps.   I would appreciate any help evaluating these records, or any pointers that will advance my search.  


Lee David Jaffe
Surnames / Towns:  Jaffe / Suchowola, Poland ; Stein (Sztejnsapir) / Bialystok and Rajgrod ; Roterozen / Rajgrod ; Joroff (Jaroff, Zarov) / Chernigov, Ukraine ; Schwartz (Schwarzstein) / Ternivka, Ukraine ;  Weinblatt / Brooklyn, Perth Amboy, NJ ; Koshkin / Snovsk, Ukraine ; Rappoport / ? ; Braun / Wizajny, Suwalki,  Ludwinowski / Wizajny, Suwalki




I humbly think that you are definitely on the right track. As you probably know, in general, there is no H sound in Russian.  The Russian X is the closest to H. but is much louder and rougher. H is commonly transliterated into G. So as in the rec ords you found, the Hebrew Name Henoch in Russian becomes all sorts of variations of Genoch or Genukh. Your GGG Uncle Girsha is Hirsch. Hersch or Hirsch means Deer in German or Yiddish. Hence it became the Yiddish Derivative of the Jewish/Hebrew name Tzvi which means deer or Gazelle. (Tzvi is mentioned in the Books of the Prophets, Yeshayahu, Yecheskel and Daniel). It was and still is very common for Jews to be referred to by their Yiddish derivatives of their Jewish-Hebrew names. It was also very common for Jewish immigrants to Americanize their Jewish names so many Zvi-Hirsch’s became Harry’s or Harolds, Herberts in the USA and England. Often the American names they chose for themselves or what the Irish American Immigration Inspectors thought they heard the immigrant say was totally unrelated to their Jewish or European sounding names. 

As far as is “Gaykin in the 1882 list, in the 1858 record it is Ayzik Leyba,” I don’t see a conflict. Gaykin is not a Jewish name, it is clearly a Russian or Lithuanian name.
Ayzik is the common derivative of Yitzchak, (Bereishis/ Genesis 21:3), and Leyba or Leib is the common Yiddish derivative
for males named Aryeh or Yehuda.
In the Torah (Bereishis/ Genesis, 49:9), when Yaakov (Jacob) blessed his 12 sons before he died, he blessed his fourth son, Yehuda, (Judah, ancestor of King David) with

גּ֤וּר אַרְיֵה֙ יְהוּדָ֔ה מִטֶּ֖רֶף בְּנִ֣י עָלִ֑יתָ כָּרַ֨ע רָבַ֧ץ כְּאַרְיֵ֛ה וּכְלָבִ֖יא מִ֥י יְקִימֶֽנּוּ

"A cub [and] a grown lion is Judah. From the prey, my son, you withdrew. He crouched, rested like a lion, and like a lion, who will rouse him?"

The first word for lion at the beginning of the verse is "Aryeh" & the 2nd word used for lion at the end of the verse is "Lavie." Both words are Hebrew words for lion used till today.

The name Leib is a common Yiddish derivative for males named Aryeh or Yehuda. i.e. There was a famous Hasidic Rebbe 200 years ago Rabbi Moishe Leib of Sassov. The last Rabbi of the city of Slonim, Poland killed by the Nazi's in 1941 was Rabbi Yehuda Leib Fein HY"D.  My neighbor named his son Yehuda Leib.  In my own family tree research, I have found relatives named Yehuda Leib and Aryeh Leib, whose civil names varied between Juda, Leopold, Lipot, and Leon.

Nancy is an Anglo name while Sheya sounds like the clerk accidently left out the letter of N or Russian equivalent, from the name Sheyna, which is Yiddish for nice or beautiful.
Often Sheyna was a second name added to a first name like Chaya Sheyna or Sarah Sheyna.

Shimon Sporn of Beit Shemesh, Israel
Researcher # 57380
Perl, Margolies, Itzkowitz, Lehrer families from Kisvarda, Fenyeslitke, Ustilug,
Leher- Rozenberg families of Hrubieszów Galicia Edmondton, London
Sporn families of Marosorozfalu, Rusii Munti, Saszreghin, Kajla, Besztercze-Naszod
Abraham & Stuhlman families from Pecsetszeg & Kozarvar