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The family was originally from the town of Atachi-Podolesk in the Ukraine, where Yona Hershtein (Gershtein in Russian) was born in approximately 1850. Yonah married Bracha Mezuman who gave birth to their firstborn son, Yaakov-Yosef. When Yonah was invited to become the chief shochet in the town of Yedinitz in Bessarabia, the family moved to Yedinitz and remained there for more than fifty years, raising their children Yaakov-Yosef, Zirel, Moshe-Aaron, Hannah, Pinchas, Miriam, and Chaya (Chayke), earning a livelihood from the father's work as a shochet (Yonah also taught his eldest son the Jewish laws and rituals pertaining to this profession). Bracha and Yonah died within a short time of one another in Yedinitz in 1939, having reached a ripe age.
Some information about their children: Zirel – married Avraham Winitzki. They moved to Eretz Israel, and five of their children also came to Eretz Israel before the War. Their son David however, who was a Zionist activist in Bessarabia, was exiled to Siberia by the Russians and only managed to reach Israel twenty years later. Moshe-Aaron moved to the Ukraine and lived in Kalusz (the village from which Moshe-Yehuda Elkis came to Novoselitz), where he was persecuted by the authorities for being a loyal Jew. Moshe-Aaron and his wife Sarah died during WWII. Their children came to Eretz Israel after the War. Hannah lived with her husband Israel Yulis in Atachi. Her daughter Itta came to Eretz Israel before WWII. The other members of the family were evacuated to Kazakhstan at the beginning of the war and returned to Kishinev after the war. Pinchas, Miriam and Chayke emigrated to Brazil, where Chayke and Miriam married but died childless. Some of Pinchas' descendants live in Brazil while others are in the US.
Yaakov-Yosef Gershtein, grandfather of the creators of this website, was born in 1871, and he married Miriam, daughter of Moshe and Chaya-Batya Shechter, at the age of 17. After his marriage, Yaakov-Yosef moved to live near his wife's family in Klishkowitz, a small village, where his father-in-law, Moshe Shechter, took him under his wing and taught him the laws of Jewish slaughter. As a dowry, Yaakov-Yosef received a one-third share of his father-in-law's slaughtering business in the surrounding communities. Yaakov-Yosef and Miriam had two children, Shmuel and Zirel, and after ten years of marriage Miriam passed away. A year later, Yaakov-Yosef married Miriam's sister, Rivka Mirrel, at which point he received another third of his father-in-law's business. Rivka Mirrel brought up her sister's children with loving care, and in addition bore Yaakov-Yosef two more daughters and five sons: Miriam, Leib-Avraham, Yeshayahu, Moshe, Zahava, Chanoch, Israel. Yaakov-Yosef was known as an excellent shochet, and also served as a cantor, mohel, and performed marriages for Jews in the vicinity. He was a God-fearing Jew, and devout follower of the Boyaner Rebbe, he was fluent in rabbinic Hebrew, even composing letters in Hebrew. His work as a shochet provided Yaakov-Yosef with a limited income, and his sons who as youngsters attended the heder, school, or studied privately, contributed to the family income until they married and emigrated to Eretz Israel. During WWI the family was exiled from Klishkowitz and moved to Yedinitz near the grandparents. However, after the war, they returned to Klishkowitz with the younger children, who had helped build a new home for their parents to replace the one that was destroyed during the war. Following the death of Yona Hershtein in 1939, Yaakov-Yosef moved back to Yedinitz and resumed his position as a shochet. Yaakov-Yosef and Rivka Mirrel perished during the exile to Transnistria in 1941 and their burial site is unknown. May God avenge them!
Brief summary of Yaakov-Yosef Gershtein's children
Shmuel, born in 1890, married Ada Lerner, and they had three children: Shoshana, Chanoch and Hanan. In Bessarabia Shmuel was a farmer and businessman. He migrated to Eretz Israel in 1936, settling in Moshav Beit Oved where he was a farmer until his death in 1950.
Zirel was born in 1895, she married Eliezer Harak and had two children, Moshe and Manya (Miriam). After Eliezer's death (1917), Zirel married Shlomo Geller and they had a son, Aaron. Shlomo Geller passed away in 1932. Moshe came to Eretz Israel together with his uncle Shmuel. Manya married her half-uncle Yeshayahu, and lived with him in Yedinitz. Together they were exiled to Transnistria where their daughter Lisa perished. Following their aliya, Yeshayahu and Manya divorced and she married Pinchas Aaronovich, giving birth to Avi and Amnon. Zirel and her son Aaron perished during the exile to Transnistria. May God avenge them!
Miriam was born in 1900. She married Reuben Segal and moved to Lipkany. Their children were Chaya, Zvi, Rachel, Chaim, Baruch-Yonah, and Levy. Their daughter Chaya died as a child. Miriam, Reuben and their children were exiled with the Jews of Bessarabia to Transnistria, and perished as a result of the hardships of the deportation. Their son Zvi was the only survivor of the family and he came to Eretz Israel where he married Sarah Maimon. They had two sons and two daughters.
Leib-Avraham was born in 1902. He married Beila Yosefson and moved to Yedinitz. They had a son, Shimshon. They perished during the exile to Transnistria. May God avenge them!
Yeshayahu was born in 1904. He married his half-niece Manya, and they lived in Yedinitz where their daughter Lisa was born. Despite their wish to move to Eretz Israel they remained in Yedinitz to help their parents and Zirel (Yeshayahu's half sister and her mother Manya). They were exiled to Transnistria. Their daughter perished en route, although they survived and moved to Eretz Israel after the Holocaust. After their arrival in Eretz Israel they divorced and Yeshayahu married Yudit (Bendit) who was also a survivor of Transnistria. They had no other children. Yeshayahu died in 1985.
Moshe was born in 1908. Moshe loved writing and he kept in contact with the parents and siblings who were scattered in different locations. In 1933 he came to Eretz Israel and went directly to Kvutzat Shachal in Rehovot where he married Malka and their son Shlomo was born. He was among the founders of Tirat Zvi where his two daughters, Batya and Hannah were born. Moshe loved learning Torah and dedicated himself to his work. In 1950 he organized a gathering of all the brothers who were in Israel, at Shmuel's house in Beit Oved, and during the celebrations for Shmuel's 60th birthday, they changed their name from Gershtein to Yorav – in memory of their parents, YOsef and RIVka, who had perished in the Holocaust. Moshe died in Tirat Zvi in 1969.
Zahava was born in 1911. She was one of two siblings who went to school as a youngster. She studied to be a kindergarten teacher in Czernowitz, and worked in her profession for two years. In 1932, under the guise of tourists attending the Maccabia games, Zahava and her brother Chanoch emigrated to Eretz Israel and went directly to Kvutzat Shachal in Rehovot. Five years later she accompanied her friends to establish Tirat Zvi, where she lived until her death. Zahava married later in life, a gentleman named Shalom Yakir who was also a survivor of Transnistria, but they divorced several years later. She had no children. She excelled in acts of kindness and looked after the kibbutz synagogue. Zahava died in Tirat Zvi in 1988.
Chanoch was born in 1912. As a child, Chanoch attended school for several years, followed by a period of yeshiva study. He was a book seller by trade, and despite the fact that he was one of the family's younger children he was a natural leader and activist. Chanoch was actually the first child, together with Zahava, to move to Eretz Israel to Hapoel Hamizrachi's Kvutzat Shachal in Rehovot. He served as secretary to the community and was a founder of Chever Hakvutzot Hadatiot the religious kibbutz group and precursor of Kibbutz Hadati. Together with his friends, he was a founder member of Tirat Zvi, where he married Ahuva Snitkovski, and their children Moshe and Chava were born. Chanoch was a builder and external secretary for the kibbutz. Later he left Tirat Zvi and moved to Kiryat Shmuel where he lived for many years, continuing his work. Chanoch died in the year 2000.
Israel (the youngest member of the family, and father of the website creators) was born in 1914. As a child he studied privately, later attending the Vishnitz Yeshiva, from which he moved on to the Agudat Israel hachsharah program. In 1934 he married Leah Elkis from Novoselitz and immediately after the wedding they emigrated to Eretz Israel where they joined their siblings at Kvutzat Shachal and where their eldest daughter Sarah was born. Israel worked in the orchards and paving roads while Leah worked, among other places, in the cowsheds. Together with their friends they established Tirat Zvi where their children Avishai, Amos, Rivka, Yossi and Moshe were born. Leah devoted most of her life to educating and caring for the kibbutz children. Israel was well known for attending prayers regularly and for his Torah study. For many years he worked in the vegetable garden and the chicken coop. He was a dedicated, pedantic worker wherever he was placed. Israel passed away in Tirat Zvi in 1999.
|Translated from the Hebrew by Michal Koor|
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