So my son and I shall be researching the geneology of my side of the family and he is now much more aware of his Russian ancestors and the origin of our name Levinsohn. He is in contact with Leah, a cousin his age, many times removed and Jennifer, who has two daughters a similar age to him. This is especially exciting to him as he has very little contact with any of his first cousins in the UK….I actually friended them myself on Facebook this week and was surprised that neither had been in touch with the other before now on Facebook. Maye it is always that way …the ones who are left behind continue on and live their lives without knowledge of the feelings of isolation that people in the far flung countries often feel. Although one does not have to be thousands of miles away to be ignored…my own brother and sister have had nothing to do with us for many, many years. Why is it that is is harder to accept rejection when it is one’s own child than when one is rejected oneself? Oh well that is enough of that….we are self sufficient and an extremely tight family unit…many would wish for that and it makes Christmas somewhat easier every year!
Okay back to Leah and Jennifer and their families…I heard today that Jennifer’s ancestor …her great grandfather was Joshua, Christopher’s great great grandfather’s brother. Jennifer’s relatives sound so interesting. They were intellectuals, writers and poets….so Chris got it from all sides of the family…..its in the genes!
Isaac Levinsohn, my son’s great great grandfather is a fascinating character, he converted to Christianity, becoming a well respected Baptist preacher working with Charles Spurgeon. His work involved converting the Jewish people, often on their deathbeds, to Christianity….as you can imagine this caused enormous pain for the Levinsohn family in Russia…especially since he converted his brother Joshua! This meant that the Levinsohn name which was passed on by the male family members obviously lived on. Interesting that in Judaism I think I am right in saying that the mother passes the line on? But it would still have been the last of the Jewish Levinsohns. There is a lot of fascinating material to be read through and archived….just my son’s cup of tea! Interestingly I found through my research that Spurgeon’s College is in South London near to where my sister and mother in law now live.
Isaac and his family came from Kovno, Russia….later Lithuania and my son and I were especially concerned about any remaining desendents of Isaac’s extended family as the Kovno Jews were almost wiped off the face of the earth by the Natzis in WW 2. Before the war there were 35,000 to 40,000 Jewish residents of Kovno the capitol city of Lithuania …by the time the Soviet army liberated Kovno on August 1, 1944 only 500 had survived in forests or in bunkers; the Germans evacuated an additional 2,500 to concentration camps in Germany.
Another thing that really inspired us to research was the story of David Suchet’s family on Who Do You Think You Are? David traced some of his Jewish ancestors back to the Pale Of Settlement, which now houses a cemetry filled with the decrepit graves of a long forgotten Jewish community…once a hugely overpopulated area….. courtesy of the anti semitism of the 1800’s and later still the Natzis. When David Suchet visited The Pale of Settlement there was not one Jew remaining amongst the scattered communities there.
As I write this I am reminded of my very close friendship with Bettina and her family…..her children are as my chidren and I feel we are more than friends …we are indeed family. Bettina and her family are Jewish and both her parents and her husband’s family came to Australia as migrants. Indeed almost all of my friends now are fellow migrants and I am drawn to them….it is a peculiar life but it is our life and it is a life that my son and Isaac’s descendent’s now have as it seems that they all got out of Kovno before World War Two…and I so thank God for that.