Monday, May 25, 2015

Alexander Beider's books

Through the years doing genealogy I have had great help from these two books by Alexander Beider:

A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland 

A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire

For this cemetery project, with so few family names on the gravestones,  a third book he has written, became very important:

In the Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names I found the more unusual names I encountered and could see the different spellings of names  in different languages. 

I now also  understand the difference between Shem Kodesh (Holy name, used in religious life) and Kinnui (Nicknames).

F.ex. Yitzchak can be Ajzik or Eisig.
         Zvi can be Hersch or Hersz.

A fourth book, that I do not own, would probably also be helpful.

Friday, May 22, 2015

ROW 1, GRAVE 16 : Jakob Josef KÖNIG


Photo: EF


Photo: Koenig Family


Given name
Jakob Josef

Date of death
on gravestone
Shevat 26th 5695
כ"ו שבט תרצ"ה
Date of death
Jan 29th 1935

Hebrew name
Yaakov Josef
יעקב יוסף
Father’s name
Shlomo Meshil
Salamon Meszel 
שלמה מעשיל ע"ה

Bookcase and crown
ארון ספרים וכתר
84 years old
Born ca 1851

Son of Salamon Meszel and
Czyza Sosia KÖNIG.

Married to Mala KÖNIG nee KÖNIG  ( ca 1850 - 1915), Row 19,Grave 50.

Father of Moses KÖNIGwho died 1940 and is buried  Row 1, Grave 17.

Group Two

Group Three : Identified  by Relatives

There is no family name on this gravestone, but if you read the  explanation under next grave, Grave 17, you will see why I have written KÖNIG .

Thanks to the help of one of the descendants, I could now add  these photos of Jakob Josef 
KÖNIG's grave. The relative wrote: " It was very moving for us all to read the inscription; it was everything we had heard about him--a learned Chosid, the mohel of the city, who lived to what was considered an old age in those years (86 years old). "

A MOHEL is the person who does the ritual circumcision, BRIT MILA.

Using Jewish Records Indexing -Poland  I discovered that Jakob Josef and Mala's daughter Czysia Sosia had married Elias Moses SCHLAGER, a merchant in Jaworow. She lived in Jaworow when she gave birth to her son Ozyasz SCHLAGER in 1910.

ROW 1, GRAVE 3 : Group Six


Half a stone, face down.

Group Six : Difficult or impossible to identify

ROW 1, GRAVE 2 : Mosze/ Moshe RETIG /RETTIG





January 2014

Photo: Bogdan Lisze


Given name

Date of death

on gravestone
 Elul 25th  5699
כ"ה אלול תרצ"ט 

Date of death
 Sept  9th 1939 

Hebrew name

 Moshe Yehuda

משה יהודה  

Father’s name
 Zeev Yitzchak z"l
 זאב יצחק ז"ל


 Crown and two lions
 כתר. אריות

Group One: Family name on gravestone

Group Five:  Died after Dec 26th 1938
נפטר בזמן הכיבוש הגרמני הראשון בספטמבר 1939  

From the Page of Testimony submitted to Yad Vashem by a nephew of Moshe RETTIG, we learn that Mosze RETIG ( the nephew’s spelling), son of Yitzchak Wolf and Chaja Sara Retig, was born 1885 in Lubaczow and married to Rywka. The couple had six children. Mosze worked as a painter/varnisher.

His nephew listed him as a Holocaust victim, and I see two possible explanations:

  •    Because he died just after the Second World War broke out in September 1939, the relative who in 1957 submitted this Page, may not have known the exact circumstances of his death.
  •     His death, just after the war broke out, may have been the result of some war action. 

In 1939 Mosze RETIG was around 54 years old. It is likely his children were all above the age of 18 as none are listed on the Pages of the parents. Perhaps most of them managed to emigrate in time?

On the Yizkor list for Lubaczow I once transcribed, the following persons with this family name are listed:
RETTIG Hersch, Abraham David, Naftali, Feige, Moshe, Abraham

Again, the friends and relatives who made the Yizkor list in Israel after the war, may not have known the exact date and the circumstances of of Moshe RETTIG’s death. But if they knew he died as a result of the German occupation, we understand they submitted a Page of Testimony.

On a business directory from 1929, there are two listings for RETTIG:

M. RETTIG   Lakiernicy           Varnisher or painter
R. RETTIG    Rozne towary    General store

The first listing must show Moshe RETTIG as a varnisher/painter. Was it his wife Rywka RETTIG who ran the general store?

The same nephew who submitted a Page for Mosze RETIG, also wrote one for Mosze’s older brother Abraham RETIG. He listed him as born in Przemysl in 1878, the son of Yitzchak Wolf and Chaia Sara RETIG. Abraham  was married to Rywka and the couple had six children. He lived in Przemysl and worked as a baker.

A possible relative was David RETTIG, a rabbi, married with two children who was the director of an orphanage in Warszawa. David was the son of Naftali RETTIG and Feige nee KENIG/KOENIG, according to a nephew of David RETTIG who submitted the Page in 1999.
This David RETTIG, a rabbi, was born on Oct 11th 1904 in Lubaczow and married to Bella RETTIG nee SCHABSELBEN. They are both listed on a transport list from Posen on Dec 13th 1939 according to this website

It is important to remember that names, both given names and family names can turn up with different spellings , like  Moshe and Mosze and RETTIG and RETIG .

 May 6th 2013

When I originally entered the data on this blog, I wondered if Moshe Rettig who died on Sept 9th 1939, had been a victim of war action. 

On the website made by the students in Lubaczow and their teacher, there is a testimony  by artist Marian Kopf (born 1923). 

Marian Kopf has donated a series of paintings to the local museum in Lubaczow, many depicting Jewish life and death during the Second World War.

The testimony he wrote about the first years of that war is in Polish, a language I have limited knowledge of. I decided to use the automatic translation button on my computer and in this way was able to get a general impression.

On Sept 6th 1939 a German plane passed over Lubaczow, but did not attack the town.

On Sept 7th 1939 around three o’clock in the afternoon, the siren again sounded and several German planes started to circle over Lubaczow. The first bomb was dropped near the railway station and the second one closer to the Rynek. This first attack lasted for 15 to 20 minutes and then the planes flew off to bomb Cieszanow and Oleszyce. The planes returned and attacked a second time.

Here is a detail from one of Marion Kopf's paintings, showing the bombing of September 7th 1939.

Among those killed were both locals and refugees who were trying to escape to the east.
The wounded were taken to the hospital to be treated.

Could it be that Mosze RETTIG had been wounded on Sept 7th and died on Sept 9th?

May 27th 2013 
On the top of the stone it says in Hebrew  Moshe and then the family name is written in Hebrew letters with Yiddish spelling RESH AYIN TET YOD GIMEL  Retig.

משה רעטיג 

In this cemetery the family name is usually on the bottom of the stone - this is an exception.

If you look closer on the name of the father, clearer if you are actually standing there, there seems to have been a correction in stone of the first given name. My guess is that it was originally written Wolf, but as this was the Kinnui, the family wanted the two sacred names Zeev Yitzchak.

The nephew who wrote the Page of Testimony for Moshe RETIG, wrote that his father was Yitzchak Wolf  RETIG. 

 Wolf        =         Zeev
 Kinnui : Wolf
 Shem Kodesh: Zeev

My first visit to the Jewish cemetery in Lubaczow in May 2002

As I entered the Jewish cemetery in Lubaczow for the first time back in May 2002, I at once understood I had a real problem.

My friend Erela Goldschmidt, originally Marysia HILFERDING, born 1942 in Lwow, had died in Israel in November 2001. To honor her memory as a child survivor of Holocaust, I had come to Lubaczow to locate the grave of her maternal grandmother - a Mrs. WEINRATH who had died some time before 1935.

The gravestones were written in Hebrew, but I could overcome that with my knowledge of modern Hebrew. Later I bought a book called "Otzar Roshei Tevoth" to understand some of the words that were new to me.


The dates of death were all noted according to the Hebrew calendar - months were no problem, but as the years went further and further back, I got lost. 

Later I therefore bought the book "Ad mea ve-esrim" giving me the corresponding dates for the years from 1900, according to the general calendar and according to the Hebrew calendar. Later I have used Stephen P. Morse's Deciphering Hebrew Tombstone Dates in One Step

The dates on the gravestones only referred to the date of death, not to the date of birth. Sometimes the words would mention the person died "in the prime of his life", "full of his days" - giving some hints to the age of the deceased.

Male given names were the names of men I knew in real life, coming from the Tanach, occasionally with an added nickname I had heard in Israel. Aizik for Yitzchak, f.ex.

Female given names were often the names I knew mostly from stories about life in the shtetl in Eastern Europe - Gitel, Scheindel, Beile.

The  two major problems I discovered on that first visit were these:

1. Family names were inscribed on just a few gravestones. Later I found out that only around 40 of more than 1600 have the family name inscribed on the stone.

2. Despite Bogdan Lisze's attempt to clean the cemetery before my first visit, part of the cemetery was a real jungle. The part that he had cleaned in 2002, was covered again with bushes when I came back in 2003.

How would I find Mrs. Weinrath's gravestone under such circumstances?
I did not know her given name.
I did not know the year she died.
Her family name would probably not be on the gravestone.

To find her grave, I would need to document the whole cemetery. Thus started my Lubaczow cemetery project.

Now, in 2015, I will share my present knowledge about this cemetery. My work is not perfect, but I hope that others who look for their family graves or those who want to learn about the Jews who once lived in Lubaczow, will find the material helpful and inspiring enough to improve the information.

In the end I managed to find the grave of Erela's grandmother! Her name was Reisel Rosalia WEINRATH nee GOTTLIEB. She was from Rawa Ruska and she died in 1924. 

Of all the photos I have taken in this cemetery, only her gravestone have this orange-purple light mark on it.

Monday, May 11, 2015

ROW 16, GRAVE 45: Group Six

ROW 16, GRAVE  45


Given name

Date of death
on gravestone
Iyyar 5681
אייר תרפ"א
Date of death
Around May 1921

Hebrew name

Father’s name



Woman’s grave
Group Six: Difficult to identify
קבר של אשה

According to the month of death, this is probably the grave of Malka HOFFMAN nee HELMAN, who died on May 19th 1921 at the age of 67.
She was the daughter of Majer HELMAN and married to Chaim HOFFMAN.

This is probably the same gravestone I  have also registered as ROW 17, GRAVE 21.

It is important to recheck the gravestone  confirm this.


ROW 16, GRAVE 44: Group Six

ROW 16, GRAVE 44

Deep in ground

ROW 16, GRAVE 43: Group Six

ROW 16, GRAVE 43

Difficult  to read

ROW 16, GRAVE 42: Group Six

ROW 16, GRAVE 42

Difficult to examine

ROW 16, GRAVE 41: Group Six

ROW 16, GRAVE 41


ROW 16, GRAVE 40: Group Six

ROW 16, GRAVE 40


ROW 16, GRAVE 39: Group Six

ROW 14, GRAVE 39

Fallen backwards. Moss

ROW 16, GRAVE 38: Group Six

ROW 14, GRAVE 38


ROW 16, GRAVE 37: Group Six

ROW 14, GRAVE 37


ROW 16, GRAVE 36: Group Six

ROW 16, GRAVE 36

Fallen backwards

ROW 16, GRAVE 35: Group Six ( Juta, daughter of Israel HaKohen)

ROW 16, GRAVE 35


Given name

Date of death
on gravestone
Av 2nd 5675 (?)
ב אב תרע"ה
Date of death
July 13th 1915 (?)

Hebrew name
Father’s name
Israel HaKohen
ישראל הכהן
The father was a Kohen
האב כהן
Candelabrum. Broken tree.
פמוט . עץ שבור
Group Six: Difficult to identify

Recheck date and names