Story Portfolio


Your family story collection
Mel Brenner

Mel accomplished many things in life, but his life’s greatest moments happened during the Battle…

The Rubys in Israel—1961 sabbatical

Our family’s amazing year of discovery and connection

Dan's 2018 research trip to Berlin and Gdansk

Dan supplemented his attendance at a Warsaw genealogy conference with a tour of family locations…

Split decision on restored German citizenship

Both Dan and Joanne applied for reclaimed citizenship under Article 116 of the German…

Bob Felenstein's last fight

Bob struggled in his last year, supported by his loving Jane. A crew of his cousins rallied to…

The early history of the Wohlgemuth family

In 1812 in Preußisch Stargardt, an elderly Jew Moses and his sons Salomon and Herz took the…

Young man on the make in the Roaring Twenties

Walter Ruby hustled his way as a traveling silver salesman, with some career side trips into…

Ringel vs. Ruby in World War I

Herman Ringel and Walter Ruby wore opposing uniforms in the Great War

The Rabinowitz girls

Meta, Blossom and Sadie

Escape from Berlin—last good chance to get out

Our reconstructed timeline: How Elly and Helga Ringel were smuggled with SS escort out of…

Turning over rocks to find long-lost relatives

During the course of my genealogy work, I have discovered and connected with cousins from all my…

Ratner family in Albany

Rearing eight children in Albany’s Third Ward

Walter's first draft of family history

Cherry picking the best content from our founding document written in 2006: "The Ruby…

Long Beach—taking in the Klein family

During the Depression, families helped each other out. The Kleins moved in with the Rubys in…

The physics experiment that went wrong

How and why did Stan Ruby's important post-graduate research go wrong, and what impact did…

Two Ringel sisters manage on their own

The Ringel sisters, Betty Twiasschor and Rosa Schattner, lived with their children in adjacent…

Seymour Rabinowitz and Harriet Berkowitz

Seymour, also called Samuel, was partly estranged from the family. He worked as a truant officer…

Ghosts of Weißensee—the cemetery played on

How did Betty Katz meet her end in February 1942?

The family secret behind grandfather's desk calendar

A surprising artifact discovered after a parent's death leads to a series of discoveries…

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Final days in Kovno

The amazing story of the unrelated Rabinowitz family in the days before the liquidation of Kovno…

The Ringels in Berlin—time of prosperity

From 1880s to the 1930s, the Ringel family prospered in the garment trade in the German capital…

Lest we forget—family Holocaust testimony

Remembering our Ringel and Wohlgemuth/Paechter family members who perished in the Shoah.

Ze'ev and Penina Sharon of Kibbutz Afeq

A pioneer to Palestine in 1936, Ze’ev married Penina and they did their part to build the state…

Our family during the Nazi years in Berlin

During the first five years of Hitler's reign of terror, Jewish families of Berlin faced…

Memories of young Stan

Stan was smart and fresh, with something to say about almost anything

Liberal values in the 1960s

From civil rights to war resistance to arms control, Ruby family members embraced liberal social…

Our Ruby name—sullied in Dallas

Lee Harvey Oswald's killer Jack Ruby was not related to our family. He tarnished our family…

The North American Ringel branch

When his siblings went to Berlin in the 1880s, Jakob Schia Ringel went to Hamburg, then Glasgow…

Arson! The Paechter family store is targeted

In 1898, Paechter’s Kaufhaus in Tiegenhof came under repeated anti-Semitic arson attacks.  

Mössbauer man—Stan makes his mark in physics

Stan's innovations in Mossbauer spectroscopy.

Our Brenner cousins

Janis, Leslie and Amy grew up—each a star in her own way.

The Paechters in Berlin

Most of the family from Tiegenhof found their way to Berlin by the early years of the twentieth…

The Rabinowitz family in Jewish Harlem

Joseph and Lena Rabinowitz were Russian immigrants who ran a corner grocery in Jewish Harlem.…

The peculiar case of Pinkas Twiasschor

The estranged husband of Betty Ringel was one of the 1000 war evacuees who found safe haven in…

Yichus and our relation to the famous rabbi

Walter thought he had proved the family legend of descent from the celebrated Kovno Rav, Rabbi…

1968 Democratic convention

It was a signature moment of the turbulent 1960s. Walter, 18, and Dan, 15, were there in…

Paechter diaspora

Paechter descendants ended up on every continent after World War II. 

Wild goose chase—an accident in Jersey City

A newspaper clipping placed Walter Ruby on the scene of an automobile wreck in Hudson County, N.…

The Paechters in West Pomerania

The family formed and thrived in the Jewish community of Märkisch Friedland before another…

Sidney Kessler and American Spirits

Walter Ruby's boss in the liquor business became an influential figure in Puerto Rico and…

Sandy Klein

A precocious Ratner girl takes on life in midcentury America.

Family History Machine is reborn in 2020

Machinist Dan Ruby and his team members envision a new future for Family History Machine

The corkscrew on eBay—sourcing family artifacts

Out of the files of the U.S. Patent Office and into the peculiar subculture of corkscrew…

Grammy — everyone’s favorite grandmother

She made each of her six grandchildren feel special

The Zimkin line—David, Arthur and Mark

Following the descendants of the eldest Rabinowitz daughter, without a happy ending.

Lisbon to New York—with a detour to Havana

The Ringel family crossed from Lisbon on the SS Guine—but their entry to the U.S. was…

Just so—how the Rubys got their name

When and why did Walter Rabinowitz take on our abbreviated last name? He may have gotten the…

Jews in jazz—the big band era

Stan's musical idol was Benny Goodman, the King of Swing.

The Scheunenviertal in the 1880s

Schija Ringel came from Poland to seek his fortune in Berlin’s old Jewish district.

Hilda's fabulous lifestyle with Joe Liebman

After the war, Joe Liebman came back to Paris with a glamorous new wife. Oh, what a life they…

Janis Brenner—a Ratner in motion

An innovator in modern dance and choreography since breaking in with the Murray Lewis Dance…

The Yeserskys of Volkovysk

Joseph Rabinowitz’s mother was Bertha Yesersky. Was she related to Sora Yesersky, the wife of…

Stan at Brant Lake

Stan summered at a Jewish summer camp in the Adirondacks.

From Rezitsa to Rostov

Sholom and Sophie Tulbowitz left their ancestral town in the 1870s to settle for 20 years in…

In the Signal Corps in New Guinea

Stan strung transmission wires in the South Pacific during World War II.

The problem with anti-ballistic missiles

Stanley Ruby entered the public debate over nuclear missile technology in 1968-69.

Hermann Ringel's German citizenship

When Hermann turned 21 in 1906, he presented documentation to secure legal German citizenship.…

Abe Ratner in the seltzer business

The Ratner family became established in the Fifth Ward of Albany, N.Y. Abe bottled soda water…

Twiasschor family in Berlin

The Twiasschors settled in Berlin in several waves from Kolomiya, Ukraine

The Ringel family roots in old Rzeszów

Moses Ringel and Rose Lea Reichman raised a large family in Rzeszów in the Galizianer tradition…

Ratner family passage to America

Abe Blokh became Abe Ratner to avoid conscription and get out of Russia. With his young wife and…

Ratner family reunion

In 2016. we organized a reunion weekend with Brenners, Rubys and Felensteins in East Quogue,…

The Wohlgemuths in Danzig

Before moving his family to Berlin in 1912, Isaak Wohlgemuth prospered as a mover in Danzig. His…

Margot Dränger's survival story

Helga's second cousin suffered unimaginable traumas in and around Krakow from 1939 to 1945. She…

Twyla's childhood

Outlooks of a pre-millennial

Action at a distance

Stan's Mathematica notebooks document his later work and speculations

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Elly’s European travels

Elly lived out her senior years in a studio apartment on the Upper West Side. But she lived for…

Walter Ruby and the Carioca Cooler

The U.S. liquor industry took off after the repeal of Prohibition. Walter Ruby was the marketing…

Betty Wohlgemuth's last years

Following Isaak's death in 1929, Betty lived comfortably in the cosmopolitan Bavarian Quarter—…

Stan finds love outside of a 20-block radius

Home from the war, Stan Ruby was a graduate student in physics at Columbia University. Helga…

Our Israeli cousins

Ze’evs progency: a new generation of vibrant, contemporary Israelis.

The Wohlgemuths on the Woelckpromenade

In 1912, Isaak and Betty Wohlgemuth moved to the German capital and settled in Weißensee, where…

Arnaud Clerc

Joe Liebman’s son made his own name in the Parisian jewelry trade—and carried on the Rue de…

Motives for mercy—the consuls of Toulouse

In July 1940, consular officials from three nations conspired to open an escape route for Jews…

The Clerc jewelry aryanization files

The Clerc jewelry assets were seized and resold to an Aryan buyer. The Nazis kept perfect…

Helga at the Theodor Herzl School

Amid the chaos of the Nazi period, the Zionist school in Charlottenburg taught skills and values…

A milliner's daughter in Long Beach

Elly worked hard to earn a living as a hat maker while Helga adapted easily at Julia Richmond…

The Klein family in the 1940s

Leon Klein continued to work for American Spirits as its upstate New York sales representative…

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On Hill Avenue

The Ruby family comes of age in a bedroom suburb west of Chicago

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Sputnik in the backyard

Watching Sputnik at night from our back yard in a suburb of Pittsburgh is one of my earliest…

Bilingual blogging—my French collaborator

Historical blogging makes strange bedfellows. A French jewelry critic and I were both interested…

Musical appreciation in the Ruby household

From Mozart to swing to the Grateful Dead.

Joan and Ruby

Joan’s second marriage to Rueben Meyers brought her great happiness.

Shtetl life in Russian Rezhitsa

Today it is Rezekne in Latvia. In the 19th century, it was the village in Vitebsk Province where…

Rabbi Spektor's true genealogy

Most of what we discovered about Rabbi Spektor's genealogy was entirely true. All but the myth…

Helga in the League of Women Voters

Helga expressed a commitment to liberal values in her lifelong work for the League of Women…

If walls could talk—75 years in a Parisian villa

Insider dealings in the French jewelry trade. Swank cocktail parties for the Nazi elite. A rough…

Green Valley Drive—our exurban childhood

Our years in Pittsburgh were spent in a tract house in a natural wonderland—backed up against a…

Grad-student life in a packet of letters

Stan maintained correspondence with his closest high school and Army buddies, several of whom…

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Rose Ratner's scar—the 1881 pogrom in Rostov

The Tulbowitz tavern in Novocherkassk was overrun by Cossacks during the Rostov pogrom of 1881…

A surprising double marriage in London

Rosa Ringel married Pinkas Twiasschor in a borough of London in January 1911, at the same time…

The Kauflers of Krakow

Our best documented family line is Feige Kaufler's ancestry among the Jewish families of…

Louis Katz of Kolberg

Betty’s father was a prosperous merchant who came to Pomerania from East Prussia.

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An afternoon at Lake Merrit

In July 2003, Stan and Helga came to the East Bay for a golden summer outing.

Rabinowitz family in the Bronx

Before and after Joseph Rabinowitz’s death in 1917, family members resettled in the Bronx

Meeting Harriet Berkowitz

Harriet Berkowitz was doubly distanced from her Rabinowitz roots, first by her father’s partial…

Tulbowitz in the USSR—an alternative history

If Sholom Tulbowitz had gone to Dvinsk instead of Rostov, as his cousin did, his Ratner…

Fourth Generation Rubys

Just a bit about Twyla, Gene, Zach and Lani.

The Felensteins of Long Island

Joan Ruby married Milton Felenstein. Their life and family in Rockville Centre.

Paechter roots in West Prussia

Our Paechter family prospered in the Vistula delta town of Tiegenhof. But their roots probably…

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Adventures in Israel—Walter and Joanne

Two of the Ruby offspring went back to Israel for significant periods.

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Abraham Blokh came from Minsk

Before he became Abe Ratner, he was Abraham Blokh from Minsk.

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Third Generation Rubys

First came Walter, then Danny and Joanne. They would carry on the Ruby-Ringel genes.

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