The Story of Tevya Ruven Kress

My name is Rhonda Kress and I am an elementary school teacher living in a small northern suburb of Toronto, Ontario, Canada called Thornhill. For the past 10 months or so, I've been researching my family history. My father, Irvin/Israel Kress, passed away 17 years ago, so my information sources are limited. I have been relying on my mom's memory of the past and what my older brother Flemming remembers my dad telling him about our grandfather, Ruven Kress. My grandfather, Tevya Ruven Kress, was born in 1892 in Rokiskis, Lithuania. He was apparently from a fairly large religious Jewish family. He was a tailor by trade and married my grandmother, Shayna Krawitz/Kravitz when he was approximately 19 years old. In actuality, Shayna was Ruven's step-sister. When she was a very young girl, Shayna's parents were killed in an accident and since her parents were very close friends of my grandfather's parents, they decided to adopt her as their own. So, my grandfather was either committing a partially incestuous act when he married my grandmother or he may just simply be considered not much of a risk taker.

After their marriage (exact date unknown), they emigrated to Denmark around 1910 or 1911 where they decided to put down roots and raise a family. My dad was born in Copenhagen in 1916 and he had 2 brothers--an older brother Max/Mendel (who was born in 1914 and is now deceased) and a younger brother, Herman (who was born in 1920 and is now also deceased). Two of my grandfather's sisters also decided to make Denmark their home. Sonya/Sonja Kress arrived in Denmark 2 years prior to my grandfather along with her husband, Rudolph Lotkin. The other sister (name unknown) married a man named Scher. According to my mother and my brother, some of my grandfather's brothers (how many and names unknown) emigrated to the U.S. (either New York or Pittsburgh) where they worked in the sweatshops to make a living.

Apparently, at one point, my grandfather came to the U.S. to join his brothers in hopes of relocating in the U.S., but he found the American way of life difficult to adapt to, so he returned to Denmark in time for the birth of his first son, Mendel/Max. To make matters even more complicated, there is a family story that claims my grandfather's brothers changed t heir name to Rozenberg/Rosenberg when they settled in the U.S. My grandmother passed away in 1924 leaving my grandfather to fend for himself with 3 young and difficult sons. Out of complete desperation, my grandfather remarried a woman, Kaja, and had a daughter together with her (Lisa Kress--still living in Denmark). After the war, my grandfather chose not to emigrate to Canada along with my family. He remained in Copenhagen and died there in the winter of 1952, a year before I was born.

That brings me to the present and an itching desire to learn more about my grandfather and his family. So many questions have been left unanswered. For instance, why did Ruven's brothers change their surname to Rozenberg/Rosenberg? Could Rozenberg/Rosenberg be my true/original surname? Was Kress simply adopted as a means of camouflaging the Jewish factor in an anti-Semitic environment? Could Rozenberg/Rosenberg have been my grandfather's mother's maiden name? Research of documents on my part has left me completely frustrated. Although I have secured my grandfather's death certificate, there is absolutely NO reference to the Rozenberg/Rosenberg name. In addition, the file clerk who supposedly filed my grandfather's citizenship application in Denmark, either misfiled it or didn't file it at all (incompetence existed even back then--my mazel!). My only hope is that Lithuania still has birth/marriage records dating back to the 1890's. All I know is that out there somewhere, I have relatives I don't even know about (descendants of my grandfather's brothers). They could be Kresses or Rozenbergs/Rosenbergs or both. Who knows? I have been able to locate some Jewish Kresses across this universe, however, a direct connection to any of these families is not yet apparent. During my Kress research, I have made some very interesting discoveries. Each Jewish Kress family that I have found has "another surname" in their history. Maybe I need to focus on locating a Jewish Kress with a Rozenberg/Rosenberg base. Could life get more complicated than that? Perhaps, but I'm not going to give up until I've located that Jewish Kress/Rozenberg/Rosenberg in the haystack!


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