THE MAN FROM MINSK
On April 18, 2006 while sorting my usual voluminous and irrelevant e-mails I came upon one which greeted me with “Good afternoon, dear Arthur Eisenberg”. It was sent and signed by Alexander Rukletsov. Two lines of Russian Cyrillic text preceded the English words-
“your great grandfather- Lejzer-Ber Ajsenberg”, and “The real name of Your Grandfather according to archive’s documents is Lejzer-Ber Mordukhov-Izkov Ejsenberg”. This was not startling new information for me. However, it is always important to confirm what you believe to be true. But who was Alexander Rukletsov? What was the source of his information? And why is he telling me this? These questions were partly answered in the next English sentence, “My great grandmother SIRKA Eisenberg & ELKA Eisenberg (my great grandmother) – SISTERS.”
“I wish you all the best, yours faithfully, 18.04.2006”
Alexander Rukletsov 220007, Belarus, Minsk, street addresses and telephone number followed.
WOW! Alexander obviously had discovered our family web site (www.ajzenberg.com) as did Marcos Ajzenberg of Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2002. (See The Ajzenbergs of Telechan, heading Brazil). Thus began an e-mail correspondence between Alexander and myself. He has proven to be a serious researcher and genealogist. In our first few exchanges, (with the assistance of my grandson Daniel’s Russian speaking colleague who translated some of the text), Alexander Rukletsov provided new historical information about my paternal family, some of it dramatic.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
I know my great grandfather as DOV BEREL. Alexander says his name was LEJZER-BER. The manifest of the ship that brought him to the USA lists him as BERKO. A 1912 voter register in Telechan lists him as BERKO MORDUKHOVICH (Ber, son of Mordechai). Despite these variations, I am confident that they all refer to the same person.
My grandfathers’ name, Lejzer-Ber Mordukhov-Izkov Ejsenberg, as presented by Alexander is new to me. I’ve only known him as AZRIEL (with whom I share my Hebrew name). I need to explore this further.
The most dramatic and vital information that Alexander provided concerned my Aunt Bracha (Broha) Ajzenberg, first wife of my Uncle Laibel Ajzenberg. I knew that she and her two children were murdered in Telechan by the Germans in August 1941. I knew the name of only one of their children, Reyzl. Identifying my murdered first cousins by name and age was/is/& remains a primary focus of my research and for compiling the book, The Ajzenbergs of Telechan which is dedicated to… “my lost family, six of the six million…” Until I received this e-mail from Alexander I believed that my two aunts, Bracha Ajzenberg and Ziporah (Ajzenberg) Bernstein, each had 2 children and that all were murdered on the same day in August 1941. Alexander informed me that Aunt Bracha had not 2 but 3 (three) children and he provided their names and birth years. This is startling new information. Another Holocaust victim has been discovered and two more have been identified. Their identities and souls have been redeemed. Alexander presented the following information: the oldest child was REYZL (name was translated as Rosa), born 1935; next was a son, GIRSH, born 1937; and youngest daughter, HAYA (Chaya?), born 1941. All died together in August of 1941. REYZL was 6 years old, GIRSH was 4 and the baby HAYA was not yet 1 year old. Knowing this saddens me beyond words. Yet I am immensely gratified to have discovered this information and am eternally thankful to him for this information for “My goal is to retrieve the names and any evidence of existence of my cousins. Not to know who they were would be a tragedy.” (Dedication of the Ajzenbergs of Telechan) With Alexander’s help we now know the names of 3 of 5 children. Or are there still other unaccounted children?
COMMON (SHARED) GREAT GREAT GRANDPARENTS
Next Alexander informed me that his great-grandmother SIRKA and my great grandmother ELKA were ‘blood’ SISTERS and that Eisenberg was their family name. I had been told that Elka was also an Eisenberg. Alexander’s information is the first confirmation of this fact. Sirka’s marriage name was Klejngeviks (he provided multiple spellings of the name).
Additionally, I had no information about Elka’s siblings. I surmised that there must have been others but had no details. Now I know that Elka and Sirka had another sister, Dvejra and 3 brothers; (no given names provided) and that they all lived in Telechan. Alexander also said Elka & Sirkas parents’ names were Iosel Leibal & Yudes Eisenberg.
Just three to four short sentences contained so much important information. Some of it confirmed ‘facts’ that I had been told but was unable to verify. Other information is completely new to me. Both provide major contributions to our family tree.
FROM WHENCE WE CAME
Then Alexander confirmed another major line of inquiry. He said that the family was from “the Svyatovolsky community that belonged to Telechany (village).” This information coupled with previous references to Svyataya Volva leaves me with no doubt that prior to living in Telechan our family lived in Svyataya Volva, a small village about 7-8 miles from Telechan.
OTHER NEW INFORMATION.
Uncle Laibel and his family lived at #19 May First Street in Telechan.
Until 1940 Laibel worked as a firefighter. This information was subsequently confirmed by Ziporah Argaman, Uncle Laibel’s daughter.
Alexander Rukletsov closed his correspondence of April 21, 2006 with “I know that you have been to Telechany. If you or a member of your family would like to visit Telechany or Belarus again, I would be happy to help you.”
In 2 brief e-mails Alexander provided much important information about our family. I felt that I now had a significant contact and opportunity for a growing relationship that would provide much more information about out families.
On May 9 I e-mailed Alexander expressing great thanks and peppering him with more questions as well as responses to his questions about both our families. After one month I had not received a reply so I e-mailed him again. It is now 7 months later and there has been no further communication. Sadly this seems to be the end of a brief but very exciting relationship. I hope I’m wrong.
December 5, 2006