By Levi Clancy for לוי on
- Hillel Lazarus: Lewin-Paltiel Family Book
ELIEZER LEWIN AND DESCENDANTS
Most of the information in this narrative and on the fmaily tree chart was provided by Avi Ashman who interviewed family members in Israel, particularly noted historian Meir-Joseph Itzkowitz, Avi's uncle. Many of the details were collected at the funeral of another uncle, Eliyo Itzkowitz (Nataneli) who died in February 1989 at age 83. More information is forthcoming.
Once upon a time, in the little Lithuanian-Russian-Polish town of Dziewieniszki (Devenichok in Yiddish), there were many people with the last name of Lewin, which is pronounced as Levin, with the accent on the last syllable. Many were related to one another but others were not. In this book, the primary concentration has been on the descendants of Mattis Lewin and his son, Meyer Lewin. One Eliezer Lewin also lived in Dziewieniszki at the same time as Mattis and Meyer and was their relative, according to noted historian Meir-Joseph Itzkowitz who lived in Dziewieniszki until the 1940's.
Your editor's best guess is that Eliezer Lewin must have been born around 1860, give or take a decade. That would make him contemporary with Meyer Lewin, the father of the nine Lewin children of the immigrant generation. We simply do not know the exact connection of Eliezer and Meyer Lewin. They could have been brothers, cousins, or uncle and nephew.
Eliezer Lewin, and his wife, Miriam, gave issue to one daughter and three sons that we know of. We think they were all born in Dziewieniszki, old Russia.
Their daughter, Cheyena Lewin, must have been born around 1885. She married Nosum "Nathan" Itzkowitz in 1904 and they had five known children. Cheyena and Nathan and two of their sons, namely Eliezer and Yecheskel Itzkowitz, died in the Holocaust [inconsistent capitalization]. Their son, Eliyo and their daughter, Bella, immigrated into Palestine before the war. The remaining son, Mier=Joseph [inconsistent spelling of Mier/Meir] Itzkowitz, fought with the partisans, lived through the Holocaust and the war, made it to Italy and eventually to Israel where he and his sister, Bella (Itzkowitz) Ashman still reside, and where their brother, Eliyo, lived until his death in 1989.
Many children and grandchildren were produced, in Israel, by Bella, Eliyo and Mier-Joseph, and these can be studied on the family tree chart.
The three sons of Eliezer and Miriam Lewin were Joseph, Mier and Harry. Current information has them immigrating into the United States well before World War I. In turn, they produced children and grandchildren and we can assume that many still live in the United States. At the time of this writing in March of 1989, attempts are being made to contact this long-lost branch of the Lewin family. Initial contact has been made with Nathan and Orna Itzkowitz who now live in New Jersey. They are cousins of Avi Ashman and Nathan is the son of historian Meir-Joseph Itzkowitz.
The following letters from Avi Ashman will give the reader some idea of the recent arrival of the information mentioned above. The research continues. What we already known has been charted on the family tree. As we gain further information, it will be distributed as addenda to this book and the family tree chart.
CHART OF NAMES, BIRTHDATES AND DEATHDATES FOR THE DESCENDANTS OF ELIEZER LEWIN
ELIEZER LEWIN WAS PROBABLY BORN AROUND 1860, GIVE OR TAKE A DECADE, IN THE LITTLE RUSSIAN TOWN OF DZIEWIENISZKI. HE MARRIED A LADY NAMED MIRIAM BUT WE DO NOT KNOW HER LAST NAME. SHE DIED IN 1908 AND IT SEEMS HE WAS DEAD BY 1910. AROUND THE 1880'S, THEY HAD FIVE CHILDREN, TWO GIRLS AND THREE BOYS. THEIR DAUGHTER, CHEYENA LEWIN, MARRIED NOSUM "NATHAN" ITZKOWITZ AND, TOGETHER, THEY PRODUCED A LARGE FAMILY BASED PRIMARILY IN ISRAEL TODAY. WE HAVE CONSIDERABLE VITAL STATISTICS FOR THAT GROUP IN THE CHART BELOW. THE THREE SONS, JOSEPH, MEYER AND HARRY LEVEY (ORIGINALLY LEWIN) ARE THOUGHT TO HAVE ENTERED THE UNITED STATES SOMETIME AROUND 1906, THUS REACHING AMERICA BEFORE THE DESCENDANTS OF MATTIS AND MEYER LEWIN OF RUSSIA. AS THIS BOOK IS BEING PUBLISHED IN MAY 1989, WE HAVE ALMOST NONE OF THE VITAL STATISTICS OF THE U.S.A. GROUP AND PROBABLY DO NOT HAVE A GOOD PART OF THE NAMES. FOR THESE REASONS, WE ARE CHARTING THEM INTO THE ISRAELI GROUP AND THE U.S.A. GROUP FOR NOW.
ELIEZER LEWIN, THE COMMON PROGENITOR OF THIS GROUP, IN THE OPINION OF YOUR EDITOR, MUST HAVE BEEN A BROTHER OR COUSIN OF MEYER LEWIN, COMMON PROGENITOR OF ALL OTHER LEWIN DESCENDANTS IN THIS BOOK EXCEPT FOR THIS IN THIS "ELIEZER LEWIN" SECTION.
FOR RELATIONSHIPS, PELASE SEE THE FAMILY TREE.
|NAME AT BIRTH/ALTERNATE NAME(S)||BIRTHDATE||DEATHDATE|
|THE ISRAELI BASED GROUP|
|ELIYO ITZKOWITZ/NATANELI||MAY 1905||FEB 89|
|BELLA ITZKOWITZ/ASHMAN||2 JUL 12|
|JOSEPH ASHMAN||30 MAY 38|
|AVI SHALOM ASHMAN||6 JUL 44|
|TAMAR ITZKOWITZ||SEP 44|
|NATHAN ITZKOWITZ/ITSKOVITCH (NEW JERSEY)||1953|
|SHARON ASHMAN||17 SEP 65|
|NATALIE ASHMAN||25 NOV 67|
|SHIRA ASHMAN||4 JUL 71|
|ORI ASHMAN||25 JUN 72|
|AYELET ASHMAN||12 SEP 74|
*PERISHED IN HOLOCAUST AND WERE PROBABLY NEVER IN PALESTINE/ISRAEL
|NAME AT BIRTH/ALTERNATE NAME(S)||BIRTHDATE||DEATHDATE|
|THE U.S.A. BASED GROUP|
|ROBERT "BOBBY" GREENES|
|WILLIAM "WILLY" LEVEY|
|DAUGHTER OF LEON LEVEY|
|DAUGHTER OF LEON LEVEY|
|JACOB "JACK" LEVEY|
|OSCAR RICHARD "DICK" LEVEY||1 APR 20|
|RHYS ANN LEVEY|
|ROBERT PRECHT (MARTIN'S STEPSON)|
|CURTIS ALAN LEVEY|
|DOUGLAS IRA LEVEY|
OUR MAIN CONTACT WITH THE U.S.A. BASED GROUP IS "DICK" LEVEY IN NEW YORK STATE. HE HAS STATED THAT HIS FAMILY, DESCENDED FROM HARRY LEVEY, HAS LONG LOST CONTACT WITH THE DESCENDANTS OF JOSEPH LEVEY, LAST KNOWN SOMEWHERE AROUND THE NEW YORK AREA. IT IS HOPED THAT HE WILL BE ABLE TO FILL IN MORE OF THE VITAL STATISTICS FOR THE ELIZER LEWIN GROUP AS AN ADDITION TO THE FAMILY BOOK AND TREE AT A LATER DATE.
LATE UPDATE FROM MEIR-JOSEPH ITZKOWITZ, MAY 1, 1989
ELIZER AND MIRIAM LEWIN HAD ANOTHER DAUGHTER, CHAYA-SARA LEWIN. SHE MARRIED ONE MORDECHAI SALEDOUCHE AND TOGETHER, THEY HAD TWO DAUGHTERS. THEY WERE LIBKE AND MIRKE "MIRIAM" SALEDOUCHE. AS OF THIS DATE, MEIR-JOSEPH HAS NOT INFORMED US OF THE STATUS OF THIS FAMILY GROUP. DID THEY SURVIVE THE HOLOCAUST?
LETTER FROM AVI ASHMAN
FEB 18, 1989
Unfortunately the most updated news, regarding the information you are dealing with, the "family tree", is the death of my uncle, Eliyo, who passed away two weeks ago, aged 83. Eliyo, who have changed his surname from ITZKOWITZ to the Hebrew ame - Nataneli, was the oldest son of Nathan & Cheyena who, motivated by his deep Zionism, left his home and "made" Aliyo on the early Zoth [sp?] to ERETZ-ISRAEL
I am sure you know about the Jewish custom of Shiva, the seven days after the burial ceremony. These days gave the family the opportunity to sit together and gave me the best chance to talk to everybody about the work you are doing in more details than before.
One fact was approved - my grandmother, Cheyena, was related (cousin?) to the Levins you (the "Californian") relat [sic] to. My uncle Meir-Joseph, the youngest son of Nathan & Cheyena, approved it and for us, the family in Israel, Meir-Joseph is the source of all history. This uncle, who stayed and fought in Europe, who saw, felt and experienced the W.W.2 like very few people so a "treasure" of Jewish history. He carries out many lectures to soldiers of I.D.F. about the Jews during W.W.2 and to my generation's children he is the man to whom they approach. Meir-Joseph. Would he know English - I would have sent him to your reunion - I can assure you tho whoever will attend the reunion - would have carried a memory to all his life.
I am sending you back the form which I received yesterday. I do hope that the communication between us will be kept in future.
4, MAR 89
So here I am again. I spent htis morning with part of the family and my uncle, Meir Joseph, was in one of his better days an as his (very sad, yet wonderful) stories about the Holocaust flow the subject of our great work was mentioned again. Discussing it I got more information, which I consider might be valuable.
I never knew but my uncle told us about another branch of our family - my grandmother's family. So my grandmother, Cheyna (maiden name - Levine or Levy) had three brothres who left Europe long before W.W.II. After W.W.II when my uncle Meir Joseph was in Italy, working for the Joint [unclear] and making preparations to make Aliya to Israel, he was approached by an American who served in Europe as a journalist for the U.S. Army. This American told him he his his [sic] cousin. Before this cousin left US to Europe he was instructed by his father to look all over Europe for the only (so they thought) survivor of Itzkowitz. And so they met.
Here is the chart we know:
[Diagram of Cheyena and her three children, Joseph, Meir and Harry.]
Here is more information my uncle gave me;
The three brothers left to the US long before W.W.II.
Joseph (most probably the oldest) became anti-Zionist but have worked a bit to comemorate the name of Dziewieniszki, took part in the committee of ex-Dziewieniszki in N.Y.C. Also my uncle knows for sure that a big Stone was built there after all the victims.
The cousin who met my uncle in Rome was Martin (Harry's son). And here is useful info:
Martin's telephone numbers:
Business; [New York telephone number]
Home; [New York telephone number]
Home Address; [Flushing, NY address]
The above information was valid three years ago and I hope it's still.
One more item; my cousin Nathan (and his wife Orna) live in N.J. and there [sic] telephone number; [201 area code telephone number].
Hillel, I hope I helped in something. As all the above information is about my grandmother's family - it may be that they are related to the Lewin's who are already mentioned in your study!
Remember I wrote, once, that my uncle Meir is a treasure of history? Well this time he proved it (again). By the way he is going to be interviewed for our Armed Forces Radio station and the military's museum to tell his story about the holocaust!!
Mind you; The aerial picture of the Town you sent us was useful and Meir told us a lot about who lived where and what happened where.
MAR 7th 1989
Just yesterday I sent you a letter with some information and here comes another one to answer your questions brought in your letter dated 27 FEB, recieved [sic] today.
A) My parents date of birth;
For sure my father was born July, 2, 1912.
My mother was born on 1912. The exact date is unknown. Her official date was changed (by her parents) several times with her brothers dates in order to postpone their army service. So it was decided that we celebrate both parents' birthdates on July, 2.
B) My grandparents and two uncles were killed on Sep 1943 (forty three) in Ghetto Lida. It's true that Jews were taken away from Devenichok on May 1942. They were led to Worenow where selection was held and the Itzkowitzs from Devenichok were chosen to be sent to the Ghetto and not to be executed. At that point of time my uncle Meir Joseph was present, furthermore as a Partisan he "visited" his parents & two brothers in the Ghetto two times to try to convince them to run away - but they stayed ... and killed. Part of my grandfather's family were living in Worenow (my uncle can't recall names) and they were all killed on May 1942 when "failed" to pass the selection.
C) My uncle didn't know his grandfather (Eliezer Lewin) so he can not contribute to find relations to Mattis or Meyer Lewin
D) Sorry - my uncle can not come to the reunion. I underlined the sorry because the heritage he carries with him and his outstanding skill of telling the stories. He wrote quite a lot part of which is with his son Nathan whose telephone number I wrote in my previous letter.
One more word about Meir - he is the only one, as far
we know, here in Israel, to visit Devenichok after the war.
E) Dori Sadovnik is a boy.
F) Meir Joseph and not Joseph Meir.
G) I read your letter to my uncle - he was very touched with your request for his visit and/or recording. I do know that as much importance he finds in leaving the stories to next generations - it's difficult to him to re-live them. I do hope he will find the time and courage to prepare something for your reunion.
BELLA, JOSEPH, AVI AND SHLOMO ASHMAN, TEL AVIV, MARCH 25, 1957
[Clip art of a ranchero eating.]
AVI AND LEA ASHMAN WITH CAROL GOLDBERG IN HAWAII
Dear Hillel Don Lazarus:
I am happy and proud to witness the verification of the old saying, "The identity of Israel is eternal". This, of course, has to do with your recent desire and initiative to research the sources and roots of my mother's side of the family. The family of Cheyna Maidle Lewin. A project like this has the potential of creating new bonds between family members and particularly the children for many generations to come.
When I got the preliminary information you had sent to Avi Ashman, I was very excited and, in the spur of the enthusiasm, felt like flying immediately to meet you. However, as in this case, desire and ability do not always go along.
I would like to get actively involved with your project as I am the only one from my mother's family who actually survived all the horrors our nation had to go through in Europe in the times of Stalin and Hitler.
Here are some brief details of my life during the second world war:
1939 - Germany invaded Poland. I served in the Polish army and participated in the defense of Warsaw. I was taken captive by the Germans and returned during a prisoner of war exchange between Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. I managed to get back to Denishok (Dziewieniszki), which was udner Soviet rule, but could not find peace and happiness there.
1940 - I separated from my family and fled Devenishok and went to Lithuania which was still independent and democratic. At the border, I was captured by Russian guards and had to stand trial. At the trial, I claimed that "I actually came from Lithuania and my intentions were to get to Russia". I managed to convince them since, when I was caught, I was accidentally facing Russia. The verdict was to return me to Lithuania where a special committee would decide if I could go "back" to Russia.
1940 - 1941 - I was a war refugee in Lithuania and I got a permit to work as a teacher in a Hebrew school in a village near Vilna called Olkniky. At that time, two girls came from Devenishok. They were Sara-Taiba Lewin and Pearl Lewin who were the wives of Nochum and Moshe Lewin (Nathan and Morris Levi). They managed to get "Affidavits" to emigrate and left for the United States.
1941 - Germany attacked it's [sic] ally, Russia. Since I already predicted what we could expect from the Germans, a few friends and I planned an escape from Lithuania towards Russia. Not far away from the village, we were attacked by native villagers and they ripped us off, totally. I got to Devenishok only in my underwear. My father did not allow me to continue towards Russia. He said, "thank God we got rid of the Soviet - Communists --- we will survive the Germans to".
July 1941 - The Germans came to Devenishok. They took the Torahs out of our Schules (Synagogues) and ran over them with their tnaks. They denied the Jews citizenship rights.
May 11, 1942 - The mass murdering of Jews from Devenishok (Dziewieniszki), Kolelishok, Bienkoni, Voronova (Waranowa) Bastoon and other neighboring villages was executed by the Nazis. It was a nice sunny day. The flowers bloomed, birds sang, and all living things enjoyed the beautiful nature as masses of Jews were led to their graves. on that day, about 8000 Jews were shot and their bodies were thrown into a big hole dug in the ground. Some of them fell in still alive but terribly wounded.
On the following day, I walked along the death-road and, on ym way, I found items that belonged to people I knew. I found pieces of a picture of Pesach Lewin, the father of Nachum and Moshe (Nathan and Morris). After this mass-murder, the ones that were left (supposedly those with some profession) were transferred to the Ghetto in Lida (now a city in Soviet Byelorussia). I managed again to flee from the Ghetto and joined the Partisans. After a short time, and [sic] friend and I returned to the Ghetto and smuggled out 29 more Jews to join the Partisans, amongthem my wife-to-be, Esther Mikulitski. As a Partisan, I fought and took revenge against their helpers until the whole region was freed by the Soviet army.
Sumer 1944 - Esther and I went back to her home town, Lida. It was a horror town. Most of the houses were destroyed and, the few that were left, were empty. NO JEWS WERE AROUND. Late at night, Esther and I crossed the border into Poland and, from there, went through Checkoslovakia, Romania, Austria and went into Italy. Only in Italy did we finally find peace and quiet and began to live again as human beings.
What you have just read are only a very few detailsof what I had to go through. If I could only participate in the upcoming reunion, then maybe I could complete the picture and share with you all the information about our family that lived in conquered Europe. The family that so many of it's members were lost and do not exist any more.
I send my blessings for a successful reunion and many kisses to you all.
Too bad there is no way to help me make the trip, since I am the only "well" from which you can still getinformation and this "well" is also not eternal.
I only hope that maybe the next reunion can take place on ours and our forefather's land in Israel.
Yours with lots of love,
[Signature, appears to be in Russian perhaps.]
Meir Yosef Itkowitz
[Address in Israel.]