Preface

When I was a young boy, during a much simpler time before the digital information age, I loved reading tales about the days of yore. Mystical kingdoms inhabited by noble kings, fair queens, and gallant lords and knights in armor captured my imagination. Their heraldic...

Chapter 1 – A Millennial Heritage

Jewish religious and cultural history dates back more than four thousand years and includes hundreds of different populations. Our family’s Jewish lineage and ancestry, as far as this author has been able to trace it, dates back over one thousand years to the great...

Chapter 2 – And So, It is Written

The study of lineage has been of importance to the Jewish people since biblical days, and lengthy genealogical lists are recorded throughout the Bible. The Talmud in the Tractate Kiddushin stresses the importance of yichus or family background:      Ten lineages...

Chapter 3 – Our Oral History

When I first embarked on my quest to discover our family’s lost heritage, I had no family tree and very few of what genealogists refer to as primary documents – vital records such as birth and death certificates, or marriage records. Along with the Ellis Island...

Chapter 4 – Two Tablets of Stone

The family story told in Bertha Paull Friedman’s memoir provided intriguing clues regarding how we in the Polonsky family are descended from two very important Chassidic rabbis.70 Further, it tells us that both of these rabbis were disciples of the Baal Shem Tov, one...

Chapter 8 – The Golden Land

Amidst the poverty and the persecution that defined Jewish life in the Russian Pale of Settlement, there was one potential way out of the misery – immigration to America, di goldeneh medina, the Golden Land. Between 1881 and 1920, approximately three million Ashkenazi...