ומלכה לוין‎ פלטיאל‎ שמואל‎ Shmuel Paltiel and‎ Malka Levine

By Levi Clancy for לוי on

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שמואל לייזר פלטיאל Shmuel Lazar Paltiel was born c 1874 in איביה Iwie.

His name was pronounced שמואל Shem-well לייזר Laser פלטיאל Pal-teel. He was always called Lazar.

מלכה לוין Malka Levine was born in דיבנישוק Divenishok.
They were married c 1895.

In 1895 a marriage was arranged for שמואל לייזר פלטיאל Shmuel Lazar Paltiel (Sam Lazarus) and (Chae-) Malka Lewin. He moved to דיבנישוק Divenishok from Iwie. It seems that his father Ben-Zion Paltiel must have died about that time as שמואל Shmuel's first son was named for his grandfather as Benzion Paltiel (Ben Lazarus). Joe Lazarus describes Sam and Ann as "the most thoughtful parents anyone could wish for, May Their Souls Rest in Peace" (Family Book § 4 Joe Lazarus Recording).


When פלטיאל‎ שמואל לֵייזֶער Shmuel Lazar Paltiel entered England, he was asked his name and he responded Shmuel Lazar. The immigration official wrote down Samuel Lazarus and a new family name was born.

When the rest of the family arrived, Malka, Benzion and Yosel Paltiel became, respectively, Annie, Benjamin and Joseph Lazarus. They had four more Lazarus siblings born in Leeds, namely Millie "Mimi" in 1900, Myer (Meyer, Myron Herbert) "Mickie/Mickey" in 1902, Rebecca "Bee" in 1904 and Nellie in 1906. Six children in ten years made a family of eight to feed which must have been difficult in the Jewish ghetto of Leeds right around the turn of the century.

The family lived in a three room house, one room on each of the three floors including the basement. The three boys shared one huge feather bed. Yosel recounts of Leeds' frigidity, "Once I had chill-blains from the cold and my fingers and toes stuck together" (Family Book § 4). The children went to the Leeds Public Schools, and twice a day were required to go to Chader. Gentile teachers chastised the children if they did not attend -- for discipline, the students were beaten on heir hands with a three foot wooden stick like a yard stick.

We lived in the Jewish Ghetto of Leeds. The English, at that time, were very anti-Semitic.FB § 4

At the Synagogue in Leeds, men were separated from the women and boys wore Tallis too. Yom Kippur services were an all day affair, without any breaks. At the services, the men cried their eyes out. ... The gentiles would throw rocks at the silk hats of the Orthodox when they were walking to and from the Synagogue on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. The Jewish women cut their hair and wore wigs in the Orthodox tradition.

All the kids in our school, except for three gentiles, were Jewish but all the teachers were gentile. We played in "Sheene" Park, which is a derogatory name for the Jews. FB § 4 Joe Lazarus Recording

Malka and Shmuel were devoted to their children, though their household also sometimes included extended family.

My mother worked all night washing clothes and was a slave to her family of 8. She would bake one large Chala (loaf of bread) for the Sabbath and three little loaves for the three boys. When the boys misbehaved, she saved the spanking for my father, who had an awful time catching up with us, but we were all a happy family. My father made the clothes for the boys between customers. When he started a garment for my brother Ben, by the time it was finished, it would be a fit for me or my other brother Mickey.

Sometimes we had other relatives living with us in the house such as Brina and Rubin and their family and my Aunt Fanny who married Simon Forman. FB § 4 Joe Lazarus Recording

Our home was strictly kosher and we had two sets of dishes for everyday and another two sets for the High Holy Days. (FB § 4)

Some dishes were just to be used for meat dishes and the other set for dairy dishes. ... My mother (Malka) picked out her own chickens for our food. She picked out one that was about to lay an egg so we got a free egg out of the purchase. She would bring the chicken home and, after the egg was laid, I would take it to a special chicken killer who did it by kosher methods, namely he tied up the legs, plucked out a few neck feathers, hung up the bird, and cut its throat so it would bleed to death.

I then took the bird home and mother would light a fire to singe the feathers that remained after plucking. If a chicken looked suspicious to my mother, I would take it to a rabbi for inspection with instructions not to ask if it was "traif" (unkosher) but to ask if it was kosher. Usually, everything worked out alright. My mother worked very hard to make ends meet. She was also a very good baker. FB § 4 Joe Lazarus Recording

Our house had no external water shutoff valve. Uncle Morris assumed the role of family plumber. In those days right after the turn of the century, you couldn't just buy a package of washers if your faucet leaked, so Morris would take an old shoe and cut a washer out of the leather. The rest of us would stand around with buckets and lots of rags to catch and absorb the water splashing out of the faucet as he tried to change the washer. It was quite a wet experience. FB § 4 Joe Lazarus Recording


Rebecca, Shmuel, Millie, Nellie, Joe, Malka and Mickie in Feb 1917. Ben had already left for California. (Family Book § 4 Joe Lazarus Recording)

Shmuel and Ben emigrated from Leeds to pave the way in Toronto for the rest of the family to arrive.

I don't think they were destitute -- just somewhat poor, with perhaps enough to buy sewing machines, etc. ... Malka and the children left for Toronto in the Spring of 1912. Joe had gone ahead with Mary Levi in May of 1911. ... While in Toronto, the rest of the Lewin siblings leaving Leeds arrived in Toronto. These were the families of David and Mary Levi, Eli and Ada Singer, Brina and Rubin Levy and Fannie Levi who was single at the time. She married Simon Forman at the Lazarus shop in Toronto in 1916. (Family Book § 4-01 Ben Lazarus)

In Toronto, Sam bought a cleaning and dying establishment for cash. It was a big mistake as the seller owed creditors a lot of money and they were about to close down the business at 363 Dundad Street. Dad had to pay them so essentially bought the business twice. I helped in the store and it was very successful for a while. When business got slow, we sent for Brother Ben to revive it but it didn't work so we eventually all moved to California. Several of us went back and forth a few times between California and Toronto. In the meantime, Mickey had given up the violin and was playing wind instruments. The approximate pattern of events from Toronto to California was (1) Ben left, (2) Malka went on a visit to Fresno, (3) Joe left, (4) Malka went back to Toronto, and (5) Ben and Joe accumulated money in order to bring the whole Lazarus family to California in 1920. At that time, Joe and Ben remained in Fresno while the rest of the family continued on to live in Oakland. (Family Book § 4 Joe Lazarus Recording)

In Toronto, Samuel Lazarus got a job with a big clothing store called Foreman & Clark. Its nickname was Four Men & Clark. Dad worked as a "busheler" which meant that when a customer bought a suit, he would chaulk mark the changes needed on the garment and then alter it to fit. [This may be a confusion as there was a Foreman & Clark in downtown Los Angeles.] (Family Book § 4)


Sam had a tailor shop on Chestnut Street in Oakland. Mimi met her husband Jack there when he had a haberdashery. In the meantime, Bee met her husband, Ben Baylinson, and Joe employed him for a while in his second hand store. Later they moved to Petaluma where Ben had a produce business. Mickey stayed in music and eventually had a ballroom on Broadway in Oakland

Later years

Malka had surgery in c 1924-1925 for breast cancer, undergoing a single mastectomy and lymphadenectomy. She recovered without further problems. Nathan Lazarus and Lillian Baylinson were at her bedside on Oak Street in Napa when she passed away. Everyone else was in San Jose to attend Mickey Singer's wedding.


Lazarus, Hillel. 1989. Family Book § 4 Malka Lewin (transcription of a video tape of Yosel Paltiel recorded by Cindy Kirkland)