Archives · Current Stories
Welcome to Success!Stories
Current stories
About us
Do you have a success story to tell? Please let us know and we may feature your connection here
Switch to the JewishGen main page

From Our Mailbox...

January 2011

Lisa Cortez discovers the family of an uncle thought to have perished in the Holocaust.

A listing in the JewishGen Family Finder—and good timing—results in Jamie Levine Weber connecting with her mother’s cousin.

Zeev Walter Weil of Israel and Olaf Wolfgang Weil of Germany find their connection through the Family Finder and arrange to meet in Israel.

And after more than ten years of research, Beverly Bienstock Margolies makes three different family connections within six weeks through the Family Finder.

The texts of these emails have been gently edited for publication.

JGFF Unites Levkovitch Cousins Across the Globe

My father, Icek Levkovitch, survived the Holocaust because he moved from Poland to the US and UK in the 1920s. After the war, he learned that his son Dany from his first marriage had survived by being hidden in a boarding school in Saumur, France. He wasn’t as fortunate, however, regarding his family from Skierniewice, Poland; my father contacted the Red Cross but was told that none of them had survived—his parents and siblings had perished. He stopped searching and went on to marry again and have children; we moved to Australia in the late 1960s. My father died in 1986 never knowing that one of his younger brothers and a niece had survived the Holocaust and moved to Israel.

I posted the Levkovitch surname on the JewishGen Family Finder about five years ago. In June 2007, Zvika Levkovitz of Israel contacted me through JewishGen, as he was also researching the family name (with a slightly different spelling). At first we were both skeptical of being related, but then I sent a photo of one of my father's sisters and Zvika had an exact copy of the photo! He has a sister, Yaffa, who lives in the US—Zvika and Yaffa are the children of my father’s younger brother, my uncle Fishel. We’re first cousins! In addition, one of dad's sisters had a daughter, Mania, who escaped on the way to Auschwitz at age 8, was hidden, and then brought to Israel, where she was reunited with her uncle Fishel.

Uncle Fishel survived the Holocaust by escaping to the Ural Mountains, where he was interned in a Soviet labour camp; after the war he emigrated to Israel. Fishel died in 2004. While I never had the opportunity to meet him, I did travel to Tel Aviv in 2008 where I met Zvika and other family members—and Yaffa travelled to Australia in 2009 to visit with me and my sisters.

I know Dad would have been extremely happy that we have been reunited, as he became very sentimental in his old age and often reminisced about his family. The success for me is that I have found a connection with my Jewish roots and have been to Israel—it was a huge experience. Thank you, JewishGen!

Lisa Cortez
Adelaide, Australia

Perfect Timing Makes the Pincus Family Connection

In July 2010, in response to my listing on the JewishGen Family Finder, I received an email from a researcher named Stephen Weinstein—he was researching a Pincus family who had lived in Philadelphia. One branch of my family has this surname and was from Philadelphia, so I sent back a few details on my Pincus relatives, and voila! It was the same family! Within a few days of exchanging more emails, I was on the phone with my newfound relative, Cynthia—Stephen’s aunt—and we have plans to meet.

The remarkable thing about this connection is the timing. Since beginning my genealogy research three years ago, I’ve mostly looked for information about other branches of my family. Also, I’d assumed that the US city of residence was always Brooklyn, NY (just like so many of the rest of my relatives on all sides). Only in recent months had I done more serious looking into the Pincus branch and amassed some information about the generation of the Pincus family that Stephen Weinstein was researching—including some first names and that they lived in Philadelphia.

Let this be an inspiration to all who start their genealogy research and despair that no one is “finding” them. If Stephen had contacted me, say, a year ago, I might not have been able to give an authoritative answer to his inquiry. Furthermore, it’s very likely I would have mistakenly assumed that this Pincus was not my relative! But Stephen just “happened to” contact me this summer, shortly after I’d successfully found out the first names and city of this generation of the Pincus branch of my family. In Hebrew, this phenomenon is called hashgocha pratit, divine personal providence.

Maybe it “helped” that I made a contribution to JewishGen last winter? While I’m only joking here, we all know that many wonderful things have happened in the merit of the mitzvah of tzedakah! Another big, big thank you to JewishGen!

Jamie Levine Weber
Brooklyn, New York, USA

JGFF Listing Leads to Weil Cousins' Reunion in Israel

In response to my listing in the JewishGen Family Finder, I received a message from Olaf Weil, who told me his forefathers also came from the little village of Ittlingen, Germany, and he asked if we might be relatives. We exchanged family trees. One of my forefathers, Marum Wolf (born 1710), had three sons, Salomon (born 1745), Moses (born 1753), and Lazarus (date of birth unknown). I had only researched one son, Salomon, who was my direct ancestor. It turned out that Olaf’s family was descended from one of the other sons, Moses. We discovered that Olaf’s great-great-grandfather Moses and my great-great-grandfather Salomon were brothers! Following this discovery, Olaf and his wife came from Germany to visit me here in Israel. Thank you, JewishGen.

A postscript from Olaf Wolfgang Weil of Beilstein, Germany: I would like to add a sentence to say “Thank You” to Zeev Walter Weil. His overwhelming hospitality gave us the opportunity to meet such a wonderful person. He showed us a marvelous part of Israel and gave us the chance to spend time with his/our incredibly friendly and hospitable family.

Zeev Walter Weil
Maayan Zvi, Israel

Old Photos Confirm Three Different Family Links

OMG!!! Thanks to JewishGen Family Finder and my parents’ old family photos, three separate connections have been confirmed within six weeks!!! This is BIG, a Triple Header—after 10+ years of researching on JewishGen!!! There must be divine intervention!

May 3, 2010: I discovered that JewishGen researchers Marc from Virginia, Lorraine from the UK, and I share a common ancestor, Henri Abramowitz. He was in my dad's 1928 family photo from Paris, France. When I received the Abramowitz family photo from Marc I knew it was the same man in my dad's photo (just 10 years younger). I thought that his family had perished in the Shoah, but they all survived.

May 30, 2010: Yael, a researcher from Israel, contacted me about my Bienstock-Bedzin connection. When she sent me a photo I was floored. It was a photo of my brother's Bar Mitzvah (he's now 65!). I had the identical photo in my album. We discovered that we were cousins. The next day was Memorial Day and my family was coming to celebrate my son's college graduation. I set up a Skype call and introduced Yael to my parents, children, siblings, and niece. It was an incredible experience! I had been seeking my Bienstock cousins for more than 10 years and found nothing. I thought that my dad's extended family perished. But Yael is proof that some survived. It was only Yael's second week on JewishGen.

June 10, 2010: I have been helping my mom search for her surviving Gelkop cousins. She did not have any first names or dates—all she had were places and photos. Through another JewishGenner, I connected with Marc, who was also researching the Gelkopf name (slightly different spelling). He seemed skeptical when I contacted him, but as soon as he said his grandfather came from Wuppertal to Belgium, I knew it was a match! I sent him the photos, including one with my grandparents side-by-side with his grandparents on the beach in Belgium in 1947!!! Now Marc is a believer. I can't wait to meet him in person; though he lives in Israel and I'm in New Jersey—maybe someday.

Thanks again, JewishGen!

Beverly Bienstock Margolies
New Jersey, USA

Archives · Current Stories

We frequently receive emails containing short testimonials and expressions of gratitude from researchers who have successfully used the resources of JewishGen. If you'd like to submit a brief story of your own, you can do so here.

The JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF) is a database of surnames and towns currently being researched by over 85,000 Jewish genealogists worldwide. The JGFF and all the other resources of JewishGen are free to all researchers; you only need to register to have access to them. There is no charge to submit entries to the JGFF or to search for entries.

However, voluntary donations ensure our continued ability to serve the ever-growing worldwide JewishGen community. If you contribute a minimum of $100 annually to the JewishGen General Fund, you are eligible for an assortment of JewishGen value-added services, including the JGFF Alert System – you’ll get an automatic email notification whenever any JGFF entry is made that matches any of your current JGFF entries, so you don't have to periodically check for new entries because JewishGen does it for you.

Copyright 2003, 2009, 2010, 2011 JewishGen, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
JewishGen® is a registered trademark of JewishGen, Inc.
Updated by MH on Wednesday, February 2, 2011.

Switch to the JewishGen main page