Reopening the Spektor file

Back in 2008, I wrote extensively on this blog about the family history of the famous Kovno Rav, Rabbi Yitzhak Elchanan Spektor. In the course of that work, another Spektor researcher named Morris Spector sent me a copy of a fax he had received 12 years earlier, in 1996, from Shmuel Elchanon, a descendant of the rabbi born in Kovno in 1930 and still living today in Rehovot, Israel.

By coincidence, my brother Walter in the course of his journalistic work had also met Shmuel, and thus I had the chance to participate in a conference call with him to learn more about his amazing family history. I won't review it here now (search the site for Shmuel and Spektor to find the old posts), except to remind you that his family descends from Spektor's fourth son Benjamin Rabinowitz (all the Spektor children took the Rabinowitz surname). 

The fax I received from Morris was four pages in Hebrew print with this cover note of handwritten Hebrew. I planned to have the pages translated at that time but I never got around to it. The untranslated fax languished for years in an unopened file of papers. 

Last week, another Jewish genealogist I had encountered several times before, Shirley Portnoy, contacted me about some of the Spektor information I had posted on Geni, the genealogy website, in 2008. Shirley is active on Geni and she wanted to clean up some of the inconsistent information about the Spektor family that had been posted through the years. It seems that back then I had been as guilty as others of posting speculative information (I'm more careful now). After reviewing the history, I agreed with her that two of the profiles I "managed" at Geni should be removed.

Then Shirley asked me about the fax from Shmuel that I had blogged about. I was able to find the pages in my files and scanned them to make a digital file. Since the source was a photocopy of an original fax, the image quality was not good. I sent the scans to Shirley with a question, "How's your Hebrew?"

The answer to that turned out to be "tov meod" (very good). Within a few hours she translated the cover page and provided a summary of the contents. Overnight, her full translation of the crucial Page 4 of the fax arrived in my mailbox. She cautions that some words are fuzzy and others cut off on the right margin, so the translation is her best approximation. I'd say it is fantasic.

The image and translation follow in the next post. Todah rabah, Shirley.

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