Shifrah Abramsky  ‎(I0004)‎
Name:
Shifrah Abramsky
Married Name: Shifrah Damovsky

Gender: FemaleFemale
      

Birth: about 1842 52 Dashkovtze
Death:   Est Pyesk or Peski

Personal Facts and Details
Notes

Note
Working on the presumption her parents were married about 1835, and her brother Zvi was born the following year, she was probably born about 184

She married Aryeh Leib Damovsky, son of Shlomo, and lived in a small town Piesk where she was known as a righteous and hospitable person.

This town could also be Pyesk/Piyesk. There is one Yizkor book in Yad Vashem in Jerusalem for Piesk, another for Piaski.

He spent his life studying Torah - he had many pupils but never earned much money. When he died, some of his pupils emigrated to the USA where they built a synagogue in his name which was later destroyed by rioters. His pupils still did not forget him and built another synagogue near Kiryat Chaim ‎(?Khayim between Kiryat Ata and the sea)‎ near Haifa in Israel where it still stands.

Shifrah and Aryeh Leib had some children who died as babies. Believing there was a curse on the family, when their daughter was born they called her Chayah ‎(meaning "LIFE" and, at the age of one day, "tied her luck" with another family by betrothing her to her 5-year old cousin Shlomo-Zalman, son of Leah, now Rubinstein. She was Chayah-Zisl.

Shifrah and Aryeh Leib Damovsky also had a son Raphael Zalman, and possibly more children.

1.CHAYAH-ZISL
When Chayah-Zisl was 13 about 1873, she and Shlomo Zalman Rubinstein were married. She was an unruly girl, full of fun, who liked to sing and dance, even daring to dance with a man who wasn't her husband!. She was considered a modern woman in those days.

Her husband, Shlomo Zalman, on the other hand, liked to learn, working for a living as an officer for the municipality.

Soon after the marriage, about 1874 when she was still only about 14 years old, their son Yitzchak was born. About 1875 their daughter Batya (Frumah-Basha)‎ was born ‎(and probably other children)‎ which kept Chayah-Zisl very busy. As a result Yitzchak was mainly brought up by his grandmothers Shifrah and Leah - although according to Bruriah it was Fruma Basha or Batya who did most. When Chayah was older and her financial situation improved she helped Yitchak who by then was married also to a Chayah.

After 7 or 8 years, Chayah and Shlomo Zalman were divorced . About 1885 she married Eliezer Zemach, who I was told was born in 1865. Shlomo Zalman married another Chaya. See under Shlomo Zalman for his second family. She and Eliezer had Hachum; Shimon; another son; Olya; Shifra; Arye Leib and Benjamin Z'vi.

Chaya Zisl and Eliezer moved to Rohoznetze ‎(or Rogoznetze)‎ near Volkovisk, a department of Grodno. There is/was a town Roknitsa 146 km west of Pinsk which at some stage had only 25 Jews. Benjamin told me they were one of only two Jewish families in their village.

In the next village, which I think must have been Krinky, lived Chaya Zisl's brother. Benjamin Zvi could not remember his name, but I believe this must have been Raphael Zalman Damovsky: his wife was called Peshe. He worked as a labourer at the leather factory run by a relative.

When Benjamin Zvi went to visit, he preferred not to stay with him because of the smell from the leather factory, but stayed with a friend of Nahum. After his father's death, the uncle "ran the holiday ‎(presumably Yom Tov)‎ celebrations" in his mother's house.

Eliezer also worked in the leather factory in Krinky, and in 1906 he was sent by the owner on an errand for the factory. Coming back by horse and waggon, he jumped down, stepped on a nail and for a week was lying down without medical attention. He was treated by a felcher ‎(Jewish communities who could not afford proper medical attention used these people men and women I think - who seemed to have used folk-lore to cure people on many occasions!)‎ who, according to Benjamin Zvi "didn't know his arse from his elbow". Blood poisoning set in and he died.

The night before, Chayah Zisl had a dream she frequently related to the children: she was walking along the road with a bunch of peasants when they reached a wall. The peasants hoisted themselves over, but she could not. She woke up and told the children something had happened to their father. When she got to him, she found him dying. Eliezer called Nahum to him and told the boy, now aged 19, that it was his obligation to take care of the family. And Nahum did just that "101% throughout his life", said Benjamin Zvi.

Nahum became a Hebrew teacher, going from house to house in Bialystock. They were one of only two Jewish families in their village. In the next village lived Chaya Zisl's brother. Benjamin Zvi could not remember his name, but I believe this must have been Raphael Zalman Damovsky: his wife was called Peshe . When Benjamin Zvi went to visit, he preferred not to stay with him because of the smell from the leather factory, but stayed with a friend of Nahum. After his father's death, the uncle "ran the holiday ‎(presumably Yom Tov)‎ celebrations" in his mother's house.

In 1906 there was a pogrom in Bialystock. Nahum walked by a Russian student who spoke against Tzarism. Benjamin Zvi implied this resulted in the pogrom. Simon Reuven, the second brother also moved to Bialystock and taught, although not Hebrew. At some stage he had to go into the army. Benjamin Zvi said all sorts of things were done to avoid army service, including men pulling their teeth out.

Nahum was "in charge of smaller and bigger matters". In about 1909, he arranged for the family to move to Bialystock, a fundamental change from a small village to an industrial city of between 80,000 and 100,000 people, which was predominantly Jewish ‎(the second city after Lodz)‎. The government would only allow 4% Jews into Government sponsored Russian schools. They lived in Nicholaevski Street.

Nahum put the children into the small Jewish school, where they studied Russian. About 1910, Benjamin Zvi , well prepared by his teachers, took the exams and passed. He told me the story of the rich man who offered Nahum a bribe to take over the place, to which Nahum replied "I don't sell my brother for money".

They lived in a rented apartment on Nicholaevski Street ‎("below the better part")‎. Benjamin Zvi remembers as a small child standing at the exit to the courtyard when a mass procession passed with flags and church pennants in honour of Tzar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra, whom he saw.

I had gathered Nahum was still a Yeshivah student in Bialystok when he went to Moscow, although I think this must have been after the Revolution. There in about 1919, he founded Habimah, the first professional Hebrew theatre of Israel.

He was very ill also in his 20's, being treated for typhus when in fact he had gall-stones. It was also probably psycho-somatic as he had just had his first flop in Vienna. They added the name Chaim to Nahum David, ‎(his mother went to see a Rabbi)‎ so he must have been very ill). At some stage Nahum organised the first masked ball in Hebrew in which Shiffra and Benjamin took part. I think Nahum and Shimon Reuven were trying to be agents for a book publishing company.

Nahum was in love with one of his pupils, a golden haired, apple-cheeked, blue eyed girl. He agreed with her father that when he was able to afford it, they would marry. Meanwhile, he created the theatre in Moscow and among the people who came to act was a tall, dark, dramatic and ambitious young woman who was crazy about the theatre. Nahum always greatly respected his mother, they were very close. She originally did not like the fair-haired one, but when she heard of the dark one, decided she preferred the former! There was a compromise which didn't work well - I have yet to discover what happened!

Nahum did not want to go to Palestine and in 1926 went to the USA where he died in 1939.

*******************************************************************************
Chanah -Ita writes in one of her her letters:"I was a young lady and I can remember my grandmother Zisel's special visits to Krinky in the cold winter of 1930. She arrived from Moscow to meet her family before going to Israel. I was studying in a Seminar for kindergarten teachers in Varsha ‎(?Warsaw)‎ and I got a letter from my parents telling me to come home and meet my grandmother who was coming from far away. I can remember the great honour we showed her, and in her presence we spoke in low voices. When we talked we listened carefully to every word which came out of her mouth.

Five years later ‎(?ie 1935)‎ I celebrated my wedding at my sister's house on the roof in Jerusalem. I looked at my grandmother Zisel and again I could see the same tall and erect and uncovered figure as had looked at me five ` `years before when she visited us in Krinky".

According to Bruriah, the reason for the rooftop wedding was that Chanah-Ita belonged to a Hashomer Haatzioni kibbutz who would not have approved of a religious wedding. To please her family, at least, she was married by a rabbi on the roof of Bruriah's parents' home.

When Chayah Zisel came to Israel in 1930, she lived with Frumah Basha ‎(Batya)‎, the daughter she had left in childhood.

Benjamin Zvi described his mother as a very strong character. When he was young, she threw her wig out of the window! She loved to sing and dance still and they used to say "without Chaya there would be no taste to weddings in their village".

Chayah Zisel died in Jerusalem in 1950.

Of her first husband, he had Yitzhak ‎(1876)‎ and Batya ‎(Fruma Basha)‎ ‎(1878)‎.

‎(i)‎Yitzhak. After Shlomo Zalman divorced Chayah Zisl, Yitzhak was 4 or 5 and Fruma Basha 2. Yitzhak married Chayah probably in Piesk and they then lived in a small town called Rosh and had 5 children:

1.Sarah Shiffrah ‎(she died 1970)‎ who married Yosef Zabin ‎(born 1902)‎ and they had
‎(i)‎Yair Zalman Rubinstein ‎(later Minister of Absorption)‎;
‎(ii)‎Bruriah q.v and
‎(iii)‎Amnon

It was only in February 1996 that I met Sarah's daughter Bruriah at her home in Jerusalem, introduced by means of Benjamin Zemach. We didn't have too long to talk so I only know that she is married to a geologist called Shiloni ‎(the name was originally Slonimsky)‎ whose father made furniture. She was called after someone called Briony.
I have since been told that she looked after Benjamin Zemach for many years.I think she is the one he referred to as "my beloved half-sister".

She told me she went to see Chayah Zisl when she was 6.

2.Leah married Shamai Yogev. They had
‎(i)‎Benjamin
‎(ii)‎Amitzur ‎(born in the same week as Amnon above)‎ and
‎(iii)‎Esther

3 ‎(Twin)‎Eliezer married Mina and had two daughters:
‎(i)‎ Batya, who died ‎(of her children, Aya is after Chaya and Tzach is after Yitzhak; and
(ii)‎Nili, one of her sons Avi was born just after her father died and he was therefore called after his grandfather ‎(Aleph, Beth, Yud)‎

4.‎(Twin)‎ Tzipporah who married Moshe Pnini and had Galilah, who was running in the primaries in Israel's last elections

5.Chanah-Ita who married Benjamin Ben Asher. She died in a car accident in 1980. They had David, Bat-ami and Shlomo. Bat-ami, who lives on Kibbutz Yotvata just north of Eilat, wrote the book about the family frequently quoted here.

6.Yehuda who died.

Yitzhak and his wife went to Israel in 1935, his sister Batya having preceded him in 1923.

‎(ii)‎Batya
She married Moshe Langer. In fact, it was she who took care of Yitzhak when Chayah Zisl remarried Zemach. Moshe worked as a forester but also in a factory, living in the courtyard which was bad for the children who therefore lived with the fumes. Possibly this was the same leather factory mentioned in Yitzhak's story.She also went to Palestine in 1923/4, her brother Yitzchak her brother following her. ‎(Although the dates may be wrong)‎.

Ironically when Chayah Zisl eventually moved to Israel, she lived with Frumah Basha, the daughter she left in childhood. She married and had three children:
Shifrah who married Z'ev Haklai and had
‎(i)‎Uri
‎(ii)‎Sarah and
‎(iii)‎Yossi

Arieh who married Rachel or Miriam and had
‎(i)‎Alexander and
‎(ii)‎another boy

Yona, a daughter not married
****************************************************************************************************************
From her second husband Eliezer Chaya Zisl had: Nachum; Shimon; another son; Olya; Shifra; Arye Leib and Benjamin Z'vi.

‎(i)‎Nachum: I was told that Nahum and his cousin Yeheskel ‎(who became Dayan Abramsky)‎ studied cheder together in Volkovysk. Nahum became a Hebrew teacher, going from house to house in Bialystock. He did well, not only making a living but sending them booklets ‎(blue and white)‎ and ensuring they had a teacher.

In 1906 there was a pogrom in Bialystock. Nahum walked by a Russian student who spoke against Tzarism. Benjamin Zvi implied this resulted in the pogrom. Simon Reuven, the second brother also moved to Bialystock and taught, although not Hebrew.

Nahum was "in charge of smaller and bigger matters". In about 1909, he arranged for the family to move to Bialystock, a fundamental change from a small village to an industrial city of between 80,000 and 100,000 people, which was predominantly Jewish ‎(the second city after Lodz)‎. The government would only allow 4% Jews into Government sponsored Russian schools.

Nahum put the children into the small Jewish school, where they studied Russian. About 1910, Benjamin Zvi , well prepared by his teachers, took the exams and passed. He told me the story of the rich man who offered Nahum a bribe to take over the place, to which Nahum replied "I don't sell my brother for money".

They lived in a rented apartment on Nicholaevski Street ‎("below the better part")‎.

I had gatherered Nahum was still a Yeshivah student in Bialystok when he went to Moscow, although I think this must have been after the Revolution. There in about 1919, he founded Habimah, the first professional Hebrew theatre of Israel.

He was very ill also in his 20's, being treated for typhus when in fact he had gall-stones. It was also probably psycho-somatic as he had just had his first flop in Vienna. They added the name Chaim to Nahum David, ‎(his mother went to see a Rabbi)‎ so he must have been very ill). At some stage Nahum organised the first masked ball in Hebrew in which Shiffra and Benjamin took part. I think Nahum and Shimon Reuven were trying to be agents for a book publishing company.

Nahum was in love with one of his pupils, a golden haired, apple-cheeked, blue eyed girl. He agreed with her father that when he was able to afford it, they would marry. Meanwhile, he created the theatre in Moscow and among the people who came to act was a tall, dark, dramatic and ambitious young woman who was crazy about the theatre. Nahum always greatly respected his mother, they were very close. She originally did not like the fair-haired one, but when she heard of the dark one, decided she preferred the former! There was a compromise which didn't work well - I have yet to discover what happened!

Nahum did not want to go to Palestine and in 1926 went to the USA where he died in 1939.


‎(ii)‎ Shimon or Simon Reuven, the second brother also moved to Bialystock and taught, although not Hebrew. At some stage he had to go into the army. Benjamin Zvi said all sorts of things were done to avoid army service, including men pulling their teeth out.

He married Henia who died before him. He lived to his 90's, dying of cancer in Moscow. They lost their only son in the second world war

‎(iv)‎ and ‎(v)‎Olya was very good looking, a "round, red-cheeked feminine beauty, Benjamin described her, while Shifra was dark, stormy and unexpected. Shifra was flighty and imaginative, he said. In fact the family was roughly divided between the artistic Nahum, Benjamin and Shifra and the others. She was at one time going out with a non-Jew. There was a show-down between her and Nahum who threatened to lock her up! She married a man called Baraks from Brest Litovsk.

According to Benjamin, Shifra was also in Habimah for several years, when they were doing on their first world tour in 1926, she was about to have her baby ‎(that daughter is still alive, lives in Chicago and is in education)‎.

She stayed with Habimah until their break up in 1927. Gregory Baraks was stage manager of the two remaining productions in New York. When they were in Berlin, Shifra had Miriam ‎(Maratchka)‎, there were also two brothers engineers who stayed in Berlin and died at the hands of the nazis, I think. Benjamin was not clear. Shifra died in New York many years ago.

The only thing I know about Olya I will put here for the time being, she and her husband had one daughter Tamara who lives with her husband and only son in Canada.

‎(vi)‎ Aryeh Leib was a specialist in public relations between Russia and other countries and working for Russian generals, according to Benjamin Zvi. He stayed in Russia until he moved to New York, where he died, possibly about 1991.

‎(vii)‎Benjamin Z'vi. I met Benjamin Z'vi who lived at Hatzionut Street 5 apt 2, Kiryat Yovel, Jerusalem. We had a fascinating conversation which I hoped to continue in due course. He was a dancer, choreographer, stage director and actor. He married Elizabeth Lyn who was born in Oklahoma. She already had a child, Margo, whom they adopted and later had their own daughter Amielle ‎(born about 1950 in New York)‎ who lives in Berkeley, California, where she studied at university, and has a son Yarden, born 1990. When I saw him again in July 1996, he had been quite ill and his memory was not so good. Once again, he gave Manda and me just one hour - so precious!

His daughter Amelie was due a couple of days later. She is married to Sirvano Emilio, a fund-raiser ‎(he was a magician!)‎. He told me proudly her first priority is to look after Yarden, but she had sent a book to a publisher - on what I do not know.

Margo Zemach was one of the three best children's book writers and designers, she three times received the highest award, representing the USA and her books are still available. She died about 1989.

Benjamin gave me the name of:

Mrs.Bruria Chiloni
Boden Heimer 6
Kiriat Hayovel whom I met and have incorporated some of what she told me into her own section under ?Rubinstein.

Benjamin also told me about someone called Natah Lynn, a distant relative, who works at the Weitzman Institute. She came from Moscow. Her telephone number, he remembered! is 088 - 596313

He also told me he was for 22 years director of the Theatre Arts department of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles. He gave in San Francisco, I think, a performance of his dance group at the community centre in front of Max Reinhardt ‎(?impressario)‎. Reinhardt had seen him first in Vienna performing Jacob's Dream when Benjamin had danced the part of Satan. As a result, Benjamin was invited to choreograph the production of Eternal Road at the Manhattan Opera House ‎(?)‎ He thought there might be and suggested I ask Miriam Rochlin, his assistant and executive for 15 years, I imagine at the Los Angeles office. Her husband's name is Sidney.

Benjamin died in 1997.





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Family with Parents
Father
Shimon Shmaryahu Abramsky ‎(I0001)‎
Birth about 1790 20 Bialystok
Death about 1887 ‎(Age 97)‎ Dashkovtze
Mother
‎(unknown)‎ Sarah ‎(I0002)‎
Birth   est.Lune
Death before 1878 Dashkovtze

Marriage: about 1840 -- Est Lune
-4 years
#1
Brother
Chaim Heshel ‎(Zvi)‎ Abramsky ‎(I0007)‎
Birth about 1836 46 Est Dashkovtze
Death before 1881 ‎(Age 45)‎ Russia
6 years
#2
Shifrah Abramsky ‎(I0004)‎
Birth about 1842 52 Dashkovtze
Death   Est Pyesk or Peski
2 years
#3
Brother
2 years
#4
Sister
Leah Abramsky ‎(I0005)‎
Birth about 1846 56
Death before 1879 ‎(Age 33)‎
4 years
#5
Brother
Mordechai Zalman Abramsky ‎(I0006)‎
Birth about 1850 60 Dashkovtze
Death 1936 ‎(Age 86)‎ Zaludok
#6
Brother
Moshe Aaron Abrahams ‎(I0008)‎
Birth after 1850 60 Dashkovtze or Bialystok
Death about 1885 ‎(Age 35)‎ Bialystok
Family with Aryeh Leib Damovsky
Husband
Aryeh Leib Damovsky ‎(I0009)‎
Birth   Unknown
Death   Est Pyesk or Peski
Shifrah Abramsky ‎(I0004)‎
Birth about 1842 52 Dashkovtze
Death   Est Pyesk or Peski

Marriage:   -- Est Dashkovtze
#1
Child
Babies died ‎(I0010)‎
Birth  
#2
Daughter
Chayah- Zisl Damovsky ‎(1)‎ ‎(I0011)‎
Birth about 1860 18 Pyesk or Piesk
Death 1950 ‎(Age 90)‎ Jerusalem
#3
Son
Raphael Zalman Damovsky ‎(I0012)‎
Birth after 1860 18