Rabinowitz Family in New York

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November 12, 2013 - 18:58

In late August, after having exchanged emails with me, Warren Safter ran a Google search on Mark Zimkin and found a new bit of information buried in the records of Las Vegas real estate transactions. RS Capital, a limited liability corporation with a Mark Zimkin listed as a member and registered agent, purchased the property in December 2010. When Warren sent me the link for that, I was able to also find a Clark County property parcel record showing it was a unit in the Village Green Condos in East Las Vegas. It was current as of May 2013 and still showed Mark Zimkin as one of two owners.

Rosh Hashanah was coming up in a few days, so Warren decided to use the occasion to send Mark a greeting to the Village Green address. He told me he had done so, but it was not top of my mind a week or two later. One... more

October 18, 2013 - 11:20
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Cousin bait is a term used by genealogists to describe the tendency of public postings to attract family members to come out of the woodwork. In the Rabinowitz-Zimkin matter, we have seen that first Harriet Berkowitz and then Rebe Eisenstein came forward with very valuable Rabinowitz information that would otherwise have been lost to history. In January of this year, another relative of Mark Zimkin, a Warren Safter from Jasper, Ga., left a comment on the blog offering more information about Mark.

Unfortunately, I didn't see the comment for a few months and when I did send Warren email after that he overlooked my message for several months more. But by August we were finally in sync. It turned out that Warren was Mark's first cousin on Mark's mother's side, the Safters. Warren's father Jack Safter... more

October 17, 2013 - 16:56

Mark Zimkin has turned up alive and reasonably well in Las Vegas. Readers will recall that I had been looking for our second cousin since learning of him from another cousin Harriet Berkowitz five years ago. Like Harriet, Mark was a previously unknown to us descendant of Joseph and Lena Rabinowitz. Harriet told us that he was the son of Arthur Zimkin, who was the son of Sadie Rabinowitz and David Zimkin. (For review, Harriet is the daughter of Seymour Rabinowitz, brother of Sadie. We are grandchildren of Walter Ruby Rabinowitz, brother of Seymour and Sadie.)

My search for him had turned up Mark's 1965 marriage in Montreal to Phyllis Schwartz and a 1977 death record for his mother Frieda Zimkin noting her last known residence in Canada. After that the trail went cold until I was contacted in 2010 by a... more

September 15, 2010 - 16:17


Readers of this blog know that we've been trying to track down all the lines of the Joseph and Lena Rabinowitz family to find any living relatives and learn what became of our various cousins. A big step ahead came when Harriett Berkowitz, the daughter of Seymour Rabinowitz, came forward. She provided fantastic new information, including her memories of her cousin Arthur Zimkin, who... more

September 13, 2009 - 17:11

Here are photos of the gravestones of Joseph and Lena Rabinowitz at Mt. Zion Cemetery in Queens. Note that Joseph is identified in both Hebrew and English as "Yehuda Noah" and not Yosef, which raises the question as to why he has come down to us as Joseph. He is also identifed as the son of Abrhaham Yoel and Leah as the daughter of Abraham Yaakov.
I am still... more

August 29, 2009 - 16:09

Ancestry has a host of records for David Zimkin, husband of our great aunt Sadie. We see census records for 1900 and 1910 as well as the 1920 and 1930 we already knew about; draft registration cards for both World War I and II; and his Social Security death index. He died in New York at age 80 in 1966. (Note that he was born in Riga and that there is lots of information available about Zimkins in Latvia, but I don't have time for that now.)

Here is his WWII draft registration. Notice that he lists his only son Arthur J. Zimkin as the "person who will always know your address." Why is this significant? Because it is the first confirmation of... more

August 17, 2009 - 16:25

Unlike some other names that turn up huge numbers of search results, there are not a lot of Arthur Zimkins. The one we are interested in is the son of Sadie Rabinowitz Zimkin and her husband David. Speaking with Harriet Berkowitz over the weekend, she mentioned that Arthur was married to Frieda and that they may have had a child.

I had searched on Arthur before but when I did it again yesterday, this very interesting citation came up. It is the November 5, 1965 edition of The Canadian Jewish Review, in the section on births, deaths, marriages and engagements. Under the heading of Montreal Engagements we see this very interesting announcement:

Mr. and Mrs. Mac Schwartz, 1357 Van Horne Avenue, announce the engagement-of their daughter, Miss Phyllis Penny Schwartz, to Mark Raymond Zimkin... more

August 17, 2009 - 08:29

Bravo to Dan for all of his amazing research since we got the death records for Joseph Rabinowitz and Lena Lincoff Rabinowitz. I also very much would like Bertha Yesersky to be the sister-in-law of Rabbi Spektor, as it would tie things up nicely with a pink ribbon, but as the culprit who led us down the garden path with my Alex Haley moment in the Yeshiva University archives three years ago, just assuming that the Joseph Rabinowitz mentioned in the Shimoff book and Toldos Yitzhak as having been trained in the Tamlud and Jewish Codes by Isaac Elchanan Spektor, MUST by our Joseph, the grandson of the great rabbi, I will now play the role of skeptic who warns about making such conceptual leaps. In short, I've been burned once before and its a powerful lesson.

Still, as you say, there is the name Bertha... more

August 13, 2009 - 12:35


Commentary to come. Click to enlarge.

August 1, 2009 - 13:29

We've always known that Julius Rabinowitz and his wife Annie had two children—Abner, born in 1907, and much younger Judith, born in 1919. But look at these census records for the Julius Rabinowitz family in 1920 and 1930. On both forms, look at the top rows, which show only some family members (the others are on bottom of the previous pages, which I also have).

Anyway, you will see Abner and Judith on both forms, but also a Seymour, apparently born in 1903. That's weird (1) because we haven't heard of him and (2) he would have a living uncle named Seymour. But see for yourself (click to enlarge).

What do we make of this?

Small update: I can't locate a census record for Julius and family in 1910. He is not listed with the Joseph Rabinowitz household in that... more

July 31, 2009 - 18:51

Update: FUBAR on this item. There was only one address where the family lived together in the Bronx: 965 Tiffany. I misread the 1920 census form to get a different address for that year. I've begun reading E.L. Doctorow's World's Fair to get a feel for life in the neighborhood in the 1930s.

I looked up the location of the two addresses where our family members lived in The Bronx during the 1920s, relocating there as their long-time previous neighborhood in Jewish Harlem underwent a demographic shift. The first address was right on the water in Hunt's Point in what later in the century became the blighted South Bronx. Two years later, they moved about a mile to the north into the... more

July 31, 2009 - 17:45

Catching up with more of the materials sent by Harriet Berkowitz, I'll begin with photos of Harriet herself, along with family members past and present. (Click photos to enlarge.)

These first two photos are from just two weeks ago, when Harriet and her husband Stanley were visiting their daughter's family in Southern California. First, here are Harriet, Stanley and their daughter Hillary Cohen. Now we know who got the good Rabinowitz hair.

... more

July 30, 2009 - 10:37

Fueled with new information from Harriet Berkowitz, and by Walter's plan to visit Mt. Hebron cemetery this weekend, I took another dive last night into the New York Times historical database and other sources. The results were outstanding.

I got going because I was musing about what Harriet has told us about Henry Rabinowitz, who ran a restaurant in Edgewater Park in the Bronx. Searching on the name and the town, I got this entry from the July 19, 1937 edition of the New York Times:

July 30, 2009 - 09:48

Update: Walter has translations for the Hebrew names above the "Dear Mother" and "Dear Father" inscriptions. The information sheds doubt on the Rabbi Spektor theory of Joseph's genealogy, though multiple questions remain to be answered. On Joseph's side, the Hebrew reads "Dear Father, Reb Yehuda, son of Abraham .... On Lena's side, it reads "Dear Mother, Rachel Leah, daughter of Abraham.... This is the first we have seen the names Yehuda and Rachel. Abraham does not match with the theory that Joseph was the grandchild of Rabbi Spektor. In that scenario, the father should have been Chaim or possibly Aryeh.

Somehow on my first several perusals of Harriet's trove of Rabinowitz materials I missed the most important page. Two of the pages were stuck together in my... more

July 29, 2009 - 11:16

Harriet Berkowitz followed through on her promise and yesterday I received her package containing about 20 photocopies of her family photographs. In many cases, these are the first photos we have seen of Rabinowitz family members. There are also new photos of our father and his parents that are new to us, plus the promised invitation to Stanley Ruby's bar mitzvah. Together they begin to paint a fuller picture of the Rabinowitz family.

It is going to take me a few days to get the images all scanned and processed. Here is a start. Click on the images to enlarge.

... more

July 11, 2009 - 23:04

Our hope for living Rabinowitz relatives paid off when I got a call Thursday night on my cell phone. It took me a moment to understand that the caller had just discovered this blog and disclosed herself as a previously unknown to us member of the Rabinowitz family.

She is Harriet Berkowitz, a 73-year-old retired schoolteacher from Miami Beach who was calling from her daughter's home in Westlake Village CA. She said that she was the daughter of Seymour Rabinowitz, Walter Ruby's older brother, who was mainly known to us as "the truant officer." Seymour was in his late forties when Harriet was born in 1936.

In our call and in a subsequent talk with Walter, Harriet provided quite a bit of interesting new information. She knew Blossom and Meta, and had met Thad a short time before his death. She had... more

September 19, 2008 - 13:39

Phooey! The death certificate that I ordered for the Joseph Rabinowitz buried Sept. 2, 1920 at Mount Hebron arrived yesterday. He was age 46 and had been in the U.S. for 14 years—originally from Russia. Son of Elias Rabinowitz and Ella Tarman (?). Resided at 587 Beck Street in the Bronx before his 10-month convalescent stay at Montefiore Home & Hospital. Diagnosis of his last illness was chronic endocarditis.

So that's not our guy. Beautiful embossed-seal reproduction of the original, though. The search goes on.

September 4, 2008 - 02:09

Walt, I started looking at the Mount Hebron cemetery records again, and am feeling hopeful that the Joseph Rabinowitz who died August 31, 1920 and is buried in the Isaac Elchonon Independent Society plot may be our guy after all. You might recall that I had chalked it up to a near miss when I blogged about it on August 1. The problem is that Italiangen shows a Joseph Rabinowitz who died that day at age 46. Our Joseph would have been 66.

Now I am considering the possibility that Italiangen has an error. We've seen other cases of transcription errors. It wouldn't be hard to believe that 46 was entered by mistake instead of 66.

Besides the name of the burial society (that society buried about 100 people at Mount Hebron between the years 1913 and 1987--no other names that I recognize), the other... more

August 1, 2008 - 09:44

Events are moving faster than my ability to write them up, especially since I have another job. Here are capsules of items from yesterday, July 31. I expect to expand on these over the weekend.

• Most important was our conference call with Shmuel Elhanan, in which we learned many new details of his story between the liquidation of the Kovno ghetto and the reunification of his family in Palestine. One highlight is the account of how Shulamit's letter was delivered to the brothers, leading to their action to change their names in honor of their father.

I have a recording of the 33-minute call, and I am going to want to take the time to transcribe some of it. Unfortunately, I probably won't be able to post actual audio of the call. I used a new iPhone app to do the recording, assuming I would be... more

July 27, 2008 - 18:47

When sending me his cemetery photos today, Walter also passed along images he snapped last week on a visit to the Pleasant Ave. block in East Harlem where the Rabinowitz family lived in 1900. The actual building is long since torn down to make room for a large new high school that was erected in 1940.

Here is that building today, no longer Benjamin Franklin High School as it was when constructed in 1940 but since 1983 the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics.

... more

July 27, 2008 - 17:17

Walt, Sorry you had to take time for a mission that came up empty. I guess that comes with the genealogy territory. You have to be careful not to jump to conclusions. In this case we had a Joseph and Lena Rabinowitch buried together in a Queens cemetery, with no additional data other than their burial dates. Now of course there were many, many Joseph Rabinowitzes in New York in the relevant years, and there were quite a few Lena Rabinowitzes as well. Where I went wrong was in assuming that a married Joseph and Lena would automatically be our family. The odds say there wouldn't be a lot of Joseph and Lena Rabinowitz couples, but now we know there were at least two.

So I don't think the trip could have been avoided. There was nothing online to suggest that they weren't our Joseph and Lena. Sometimes... more

July 27, 2008 - 16:42

I finally made it today to the Old Mt. Carmel cemetery in Queens to see the grave of Joseph and Lena Rabinowitz, our great-grandparents, which Dan had discovered online. I found the grave but I am pretty sure this was the wrong couple--at least I hope so, because if these are really our great-grandparents, it would spoil the whole narrative in terms of Joseph having been trained in Talmud and Jewish codes by his grandfather Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Spektor, the Gaon of Kovno, who also found him a wife and then presumably the two of them emigrated together in 19875. The problem is that the Joseff Rabinowitch (note the wierd spelling) buried in the Queens cemetery was 73 at the time of his death on February 11, 1940, which means he would have been all of 7 in 1874 when Joseph's father Chaim Rabinovich (or Rabinowitz... more

July 27, 2008 - 01:45

Jan. 3, 1942

July 27, 2008 - 01:19

Engagement: Dec. 6, 1936

Marriage: Feb. 18, 1937
... more

July 27, 2008 - 00:51

I found a November 4, 1948, obituary notice for Blossom Goldman nee Rabinowitz. She was married to Benjamin E. Goldman, a business owner. The eight different paid death notices for her indicate that she was very active in Jewish community and family life. Siblings Meta, Henry, Arthur and Seymour are noted as surviving her. (Who the hell is Arthur?) There is no mention of any children.

July 26, 2008 - 22:16

Among the Spektor descendants who have not gotten much coverage here, at least so far, is Bluma Salomonson, the daughter of YES son Benyamin Rabinowitz, who was one of the first members of the Spektor family to go to Palestine.

Here she turns up in the academic paper in Tradition. The author cites a chapter about YES written by Samuel K. Mirsky in the 1958 book Guardians of Our Heritage (New York: Bloch Publishing Company, 1958), which evidently contains excerpts from a memoir by Bluma in which she recalls going to a summer resort with her grandfather, the great rabbi.

The reference to the Bluma material in the Tradition article is shown below. Besides its depiction of the kindly rabbi feeding a cat, and Bluma's comment that "his love for nature was limitless" (both characterizations that... more

July 6, 2008 - 03:12


These images... more

June 17, 2008 - 11:45

In an earlier post I wondered about Harrison Cannold birth date and decided to take a new look at the 1930 census record I had previously found for our great aunt Meta Cannold nee Rabinowitz.

First, it was hard to locate the record on Ancestry.com because they have the name listed as Connold, not Cannold. But I persisted and found the right census document. On the age question, it shows that Harrison was 14 and Thaddeus 13 in April 1930. So on the earlier question, if living, Harrison would be 92 plus or minus.

There are some other interesting facts from the census record, which I will list here:

The family consisted of Meta (head of household) and her two sons. They lived in an apartment building at 236 Renner Ave. in Newark NJ. At the time 43 years old, Meta is indicated as having been... more

June 10, 2008 - 09:05

An email update about Washington DC death records from the Tracing the Tribe blog this morning got me looking at the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry for the first time. I couldn't find Harrison Cannold, my first search, but then I tried Rabinowitz in New York, and hit a small mother lode.

Below are the burial records for Joseph and Lena Rabinowitch (note the spelling), their son Julius and his wife Annie (nee Cohen), and their son Abner Robbins and his wife Judith.

The Joseph record does not include any information on his parentage, but I am confident that a visit to his gravesite in Plot 10R 5 at Mt. Carmel Cemetery Queens, NY, will confirm that he was the... more

June 10, 2008 - 08:48

Searching NY vital records for Rabinowitz events at http://www.italiangen.org/ ...

Meta Rabinowitz married Lester Cannold June 29, 1913 in Queens NY.

Cannold was my best guess of Meta's married name based on the 1930 census handwriting, so this is a definite match. Lester was the unhappy schools superintendent. Meta was Walter Ruby's sister.

Then I did an Ancestry.com search on Meta's son's Thaddeus and Harrison Cannold (Stan's first cousins) and found both their U.S. Army enlistment records. The data follows. Check out their occupations.

Name: Harrison S Cannold
Birth Year: 1915
Race: White, citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country: New Jersey
State: District of Columbia
County or City: District of Columbia... more

January 31, 2007 - 19:16

Back in mid-August, I left the following posting on RFHP:
Wow--the 1900 census has Joseph born in about 1855 and Lena in 1857, which is really getting back there. Lena is 36 when she has Walter, her last of 8 children (one deceased). They reside at 288 Pleasant Ave. in Manhattan, wherever that is. A deluge of info--but I have to stop now because must get up and finish writing a story tomorrow.

so I finally did a Mapquest and, yes, Virginia, there IS a Pleasant Ave. in Manhattan, in East Harlem, exactly where Stan said they lived. It is the easternmost street in that part of Manhattan, running N-S between 114 and 120th streets. 288 is between 115 and 116. Will definitely go and see it--if it is still standing--the next time I cross the Triborough.... more

July 31, 2006 - 20:02

It seems like the Ratner boys werent the only ones marrying out of the faith back in the day.

Etta Rabinowitz 1896-1979 (died in the Bronx) was the daughter of Barnet Rabinowitz and Rebecca Kurser. Her spouse was named Fran cesco James Pastorino.

July 30, 2006 - 23:34


This is exciting because it shows Joseph Rabinowitz gaining his citizenship in 1892 and it also provides an exact date of arrival, Nov. 23, 1875. Something may not jibe exactly, since I believe one of the census documents had it in 1874. And wasn't Julius born in 1874?

Walter, I noticed on the Castle Garden site, they had an advanced search capability that involves human researchers. It costs $45. I put in a... more

July 30, 2006 - 21:13

Wow! The1900 census has Joseph born in about 1855 and Lena in 1857, which is really getting back there. Lena is 36 when she has Walter, her last of 8 children (one deceased). They reside at 288 Pleasant Ave. in Manhattan, wherever that is. A deluge of info--but I have to stop now because must get up and finish writing a story tomorrow.

July 30, 2006 - 16:44

Here are excerpts from Kennedy about the 1917-18 military drafts. There will be more from him on other subjects, such as the gassing of American troops in France, at a later time.

Wilson might have accepted a comporomise that permitted at least an interim trial to the volunteer system, had not his arch-rival Theodore Roosevelt been busily establishing himself, with strong Republican backing, as the coountry's most visibly eligible volunteer....

Wilson determined to nullify the possibility that Roosevelt might lead a volunteer division to France by largely foreclosing all forms of volunteering....

The first order of business was to compile a national roster of eligible men in the designated age group between 21 and 30. The government quickly decided that the only expedient way... more

July 30, 2006 - 13:53

I noticed on Seymour Rabinowitz's draft registration that he gives his real birth date but changes the year to make himself 28 instead of 30. Was that intentional to get into the war? However, the card also notes that he is blind in one eye. Was that to get out of the war? This is our future truant officer, now an unemployed bookkeeper.

It would be worth reading up on the draft of 1917-18 to get a sense of how popular the war was. Were men of all ages required to register? It's interesting that Julius registered at age 41.

July 29, 2006 - 21:40

Tracking Blossom and Meta is harder since we don't have married names for them, but the Rabinowitz boys should be trackable. I checked Julius and found a 1920 census listing Anna as spouse, and three children Seymour, Abner and Judith. Walter's history mentions that Julius had a daughter Judith who was friendly with Stan's sister Joan, and who was about Joan's age. Sure enough, Judith Rabinowitz is one year old in 1920.

Walter's history also has Julius working for the New York City school board as a truant officer, but the census records show his occupation as bookkeeper (1910) and clerk-dry goods (1920). Perhaps it was one of the other brothers, Henry, Seymour or Abe, who worked in the schools. Like his younger brother Walter, Julius registered for the draft in 1918 even though he was then 41 years... more

July 29, 2006 - 20:47

My most recent find are census records for the Rabinowitz family in 1900 and 1910. In our family tree that I have been assembling, we had Joseph and Lena Rabinowitz with five children--Julius, Meta, Abe, and Blossom in addition to little Walter, the youngest.

The 1900 census gives us a number of other names. In order, the children with their birth years, are Julius (1874), Henry (1879), Sadie (1881), Abraham (1883), Mammie (1886), Seymour (1887), Blossom (1891), and Walter (1893). Also living in the household was a boarder, Barnard Linkoff, presumably Lena's brother. All of the children were born in New York, so Joseph and Lena must have emigrated no later than 1875.

Oh, here it is right here. The year of immigration to the United States for Joseph and Lena is 1874. Barnard arrived in the same... more