Jewish culture

The Killing of the Filreis Family

At Treblinka

From the Yad Vashem archives in Israel, here are names of some of the Filreis family who were killed by the Germans during World War II. Most of them were exterminated at Treblinka:

Filreiss, Benek
Koldra, Lea,  born 1881
Szejnfuks, Manja, born 1907
Akerman, Haya**
Filreis, Genia, born 1915
Filries, Szimon, born 1915
Filries, Max, born 1900
Filries Tauba, born 1895
Filries, Khaia

All were from Warsaw, Poland. I'm guessing that "Filreiss" is a real alternative spelling and that "Filries" is a mistake in transcription at some point (these are just guesses). The names were submitted by Mrs. Idia Kcefner (I don't know who she is) in 1957, by Mr. Moshe' Koldra (ditto) in 1956, and by Zalman Akerman** in 1999. For more about Zalman Akerman's story of survival, go here.

bound for Treblinka

This is the Handscher family in Warsaw, Poland. My father's mother, Jenny, was born Jenny Handscher. These people are her brothers and sisters - and her parents, my great-grandparents. In the bottom row, from left to right, we have Schloime (who survived and later came to the U.S.); Eliezer (father of Menachem/Mike and Meyer who also survived); the parents, Menachem and Tova; the youngest of the children, Bezalel.

Judeo-Spanish in Greece

Emma Morgenstern gave a lunchtime talk recently at the Writers House to present her research into the survival of Judeo-Spanish language and culture in GreecEmma Morgenstern gave a lunchtime talk recently at the Writers House to present her research into the survival of Judeo-Spanish language and culture in Greece. She travelled to Rhodes and Thessaloniki on a grant given her through our Heled Travel & Research Grant (made possible by my former student, Mali Heled Kinberg in memory of her mother). Audio and video recordings of the event are now available. Links to both are here.

Is "Filreis" Portuguese?

The Hazy Geneaology of a Sephardic Family

In 2003 I corresponded with the cultural director of a Portuguese foundation. He responded to the possibility that my family's name is indeed Portuguese. I'm not sure what the origin of this family assumption is--perhaps it's been passed down to my father's older brother through his father or his brother who passed through western Europe on the way to Brooklyn twice in the 1910s and '20s (once before WW1 and once again after). Western Europe--France, we assume--where one of these Filreises made contact with French or Spanish/French Filreises and learned of the ancestral connection to Iberian peninsula. We put that "news" together with the clear sense that the families were part of a Sephardic community in Warsaw and have assumed that they were part of the exilic migration away from Spain to northeast Europe in the late 15th-century and early 16th. It is very difficult to track this but since Jewish families typically bred very closely within the Jewish community, there is probably a way of following the lineage. I haven't figure out how yet. I suppose first would be to find out definitely where the members of the Warsaw family were killed during the Holocaust; I'm 99% sure it was at Treblinka, the killing camp that destroyed Warsaw's Jews in 1942 and '43.

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