A Wedding in David-Horodok (circa 1905 or 1906)
by Steve Gershman
The information about this photograph was handed down to me verbally by my aunt, Mildred Eisenshtadt Schumann. Although she has been gone for twenty years, I never forgot the stories she told me about David-Horodok. I hope I never will. This photograph represents the family of Moishe Lifshitz, my great-grandfather, (center with arms folded), who was marrying off his granddaughter, who was orphaned. The bride is sitting in the same row as my great-grandfather, far right, seated, dressed in black and the groom (partially bald) is standing directly behind her. I do not know their first names, but their married name was Blazofsky (pronounced BLA-jof-sky). I had the opportunity of meeting their son, Asher Blazofsky in Israel in 1976, the year before he died. As he was born in 1907, I am estimating that this photograph was taken in either 1905 or 1906. When asked why the bride was dressed in black instead of white, my aunt told me that was the custom (although I find it hard to believe).
My great-grandfather Moishe Lifshitz, a widower who was known for his piety, owned the post office in David-Horodok. The famous Stoliner Rebbe would stay at his home when traveling from shtetl to shtetl. My aunt was always proud of the fact that she came from yechis (loosely defined as class, prestige). Yechis had nothing to do with material wealth.
My grandmother, Jennie (Gunia) Lifshitz Eisenshtadt is sitting to the right of her father Moishe. Her sister, Chaya Rochel (last name unknown) is sitting to his left. She is holding a child on her lap. Standing directly in back of Chaya Rochel and to her left are her brothers, Gershon and Shimon Leib Lifshitz (both with beards). My Aunt Mildred used to recount that both were handsome men who died young.
My grandfather, Israel Eisenshtadt, was not present at the wedding, as he was away on business. However, life was very difficult and my grandfather barely made a living.
My grandmother gave birth to eight (8) children:
1. Chaya Elke, the oldest, is standing in the last row, the third woman from the left. She later married Shimon Dobrushin. He was a successful businessman who owned a store of material goods. She gave birth to four children: Manya, Mayer, Chana, and Feivel. My aunt, uncle and family never emigrated to the U.S. as they were prosperous in David-Horodok, and did not need to escape the poverty that was so pervasive. All but Mayer and Chana perished in the Holocaust. Chana emigrated to Israel as a pioneer in 1935. Chana related an interesting story to me when we met for the first time in Israel in 1976. She had been recently married when she developed kidney trouble, necessitating the removal of one kidney. Her husband Mayer Milner, had suggested she return to David-Horodok to recuperate. This was just prior to the outbreak of the war. Had she returned, she would have perished with the rest of her family in the Holocaust. She lived in Kiryat Chaim, outside Haifa, and passed away in December, 1999. Chana was the last surviving member of my mother’s family born in Horodok. Mayer served in the Russian Army and became disabled while fighting. He emigrated to Israel following the war and died in 1975. I never had the chance to meet him.
2. Paiya (pronounced Pie-a) (standing, last row, fifth woman from the left) is the shortest woman in the row. She married Jacob Holtzman and died in 1970. Although she lived many years in the U.S., it was difficult for her to master English. She spoke to me only in Yiddish. Aunt Paiya was truly old school, but a lovable human being.
3. Phillip (Feivel) (standing by himself in the upper far right corner, to the left of the groom Blazofsky). As was common for the times, he was the first member of his family to emigrate to the U.S. to escape serving in the Czarist Russian army. He arrived in Boston in 1910 and then came to Detroit. Uncle Phillip married Anna Schecter (also from Horodok), and became a successful businessman as the owner of the Phillips Shoes Store chain. He died in 1972.
4. Baby boy Eisenshtadt, who died at the age of six months.
5. Izel, who was killed fighting in World War I.
6. Bessie (Bayla) (standing, second row, far left, wearing a white dress). My Uncle Phillip brought her over in 1912. I still have her original passport. She married Jacob Horowitz and died in 1974.
7. Mildred (Maryasia). Aunt Mildred does not appear in the picture. I am uncertain if she was born yet. She married Harry Schumann and died in 1978. How I remember all those stories. All her stories started with “Ich gedank” (I remember).
8. Minnie (Michla). My mother and the youngest in the family. She married my father, Morris Gershman, a Holocaust survivor, and died in 1972. My father died in 1996. My mother had not yet been born when the family photograph was taken.
My grandparents, Aunts Paiya and Mildred, and my mother came to Detroit in 1922. Aunt Mildred remembered that as the boat was leaving David-Horodok, my great-grandfather was standing on the shore and crying. When asked if he wanted to come to the U.S., he replied that his burial place was reserved for him in Horodok.
The only other person I can identify from the photograph is Sonia Sokolowsky (first row, sitting, far right, in a white dress.) She moved to Avignon, France, prior to the war. As France was under Nazi occupation, Sonia, her husband and children were forced to hide. Miraculously, they all survived the war.
The rest of the family members either died or were killed in the Holocaust. May their souls rest in peace and may their memories serve as a blessing.
I hope that you, the reader, appreciate the rich Jewish history that existed in Eastern Europe years before the Holocaust as much as I do. It is important that we pass on this history from generation to generation.
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