The Behr Tree by Arnold Levy. 1949.
The communal records, which up to 1939, existed in Krottingen, Lithuania, showed that Behr Drucker came to that town from Danzig in the year 1723.
There is not at the time of writing (1949) a single Jew or Jewess alive in Krottingen or in the neighbouring towns of Dorbyan, Salant, Skud, Pollangen, Plungyan or Gorzd. (The Nazis with the help of the Lithuanians massacred them all.)
In 1723 there were important Jewish communities in Krottingen and its neighbouring towns. Krottingen was important as a centre of trade and commerce since it was situated within three miles of the German border and was until 1914 the centre of the import-export trade for the whole region. This trade was carried on by the Jews and Germans, using the German language. Not until 1793 when the Lithuanians became subjects of Russia, did the Russian language infiltrate.
In early documents that existed in Krottingen until 1939, Behr is referred to as "Behr Drucker": later documents mentioned him as "der Mann Behr". In all documents, however, relating to Behr's son Shmere, the surname of Behrman was used.
Behr's first appearance in Krottingen was as "Moucher Sforim" ie bookseller. Upon his brother, Moushe's arrival, Behr transferred this business of books and silver articles required for religious purposes to him and concentrated on the more profitable business of exchange brokerage. Behr, it appears was the printer, publisher, man of business, whereas Moushe was a craftsman in religious silverware.
The early Krottingen records mention Moushe Drucker as "Der Danziger" (from Danzig). The two families, Behrmans and Danzigers, lived next door to each other for something like 216 years. Moushe continued to trade in jewellery and silver.
About the year 1820, Yude Danziger, probably a great, great grandson of Moushe married Reiche, daughter of Moushe Behrman, once again reuniting the Behrman and Danziger families.
The original house which Behr built, was, like the Danziger house next door, a single story structure of loam and brick whitewashed on the outside.
The house which we knew and in which generations of the family were born, including the author, was built in the early part of the nineteenth century by Gershon Behrman. It was built entirely of stone, fortress-like and was enclosed on the four sides and the rear by an eight foot stone wall with huge wooden gates such as one finds in ancient castles. In the centre of the cobbled yard, there was a deep water well and on the sides were outbuildings of stone. These were for stabling, a carriage house, an ice house (ice was cut from the lake in winter, stored between sawdust and lasted until the next winter), a store house for log fires and peat and a grain store.
The house itself was a two and a half storey building, having a large entrance hall and spacious rooms with high ceilings. The door on the right of the entrance hall led to the business offices, the rest of the house was devoted to living quarters. Only inside the house where one saw the window sills did one realise the thickness of the walls. Being close to the border the house was obviously intended to withstand siege.
During the 1914-18 war Krottingen was occupied at different times by both the Russians and the Germans aaand both used the house as their headquarters, it being the principal building in the district.
Behr's first business was that of currency and foreign exchange brokerage. The Germans paid for their purchases in the coin of their realm, whereas the Lithuanians wished to be paid in their own currency The "Exchange", therfore was doubtless a profitable business. Later Behr began acting as Agent for the export and import of the merchants from both sides of the border. Later still, he assumed the title of "Expeditor" (Forwarding Agent and Custom House Broker) advancing money also to clients for the payment of freight and custom duty. This profession was carried on from Behr's house by his descendants right up to 1939
2. Shmere , the son of Behr, succeeded to the house and the business. In communal records he was spoken of as a man of learning, piety, a leader of communal affairs and a respected and successful man of business. He was followed by his son Moushe.
3. Moushe succeeded his father. Apparently in Moushe's day the banking side of the business had become important. Money was advanced to the landowners and nobility of the district and an option on the succeeding year's flax and flaxseed crops was taken. He was well known as a man possessing great wealth and since cheques and bankers drafts were as yet unknown, he usually carried on his person what was then a vast amount of gold currency. He was often warned by friends not to ride without an escort but he was a powerfully built man aand made light of the warnings. On one of those rides he was murdered and robbed. In the communal records he was known as "Hakodesh", the holy one. We only possess a record of two of his sons, namely Gershon and Shmere. Gershon succeeded his father to the business. Moushe's daughter Reiche married Yude Danziger.
Gershon was an outstanding personality. He was a communal leader, learned and pious as well as a successful man of business and employed the most eminent men as teachers for the religious and secular education of his children. During his lifetime, Lithuania was annexed to Russia and the Krottingen Custom House became one of the very important ones in the Kovno Province. Gerson became a fully licenced "Expeditor"; only an expeditor's certificate enabled one to import and export.
Gershon built up a great clientele from far and wide. At the same time he established on his own account business relations with the North of England from where he imported millstones and agricultural implements, which were in great demand. Though very pious, Gershon' s household had become very cosmopolitan. Though Behr is the actual founder of the House of Behrman at Krottingen, it was Gershon who laid the real foundation. From him sprang branches of the family eminent in learning, piety and culture. Gershon was known as a man of wealth and eminent in charity and goodness. A grandfather clock made by Thomas of Kendal, Wesmorland, which Gershon imported, was still keeping good time in 1923. The library of his house was panelled in mahogany by Gershon. This likewise looked perfect in 1923. Gershon probably died in the middle of the 1840s. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Wolf Charles.
Gershon's family consisted of eight children, three sons and five daughters.
4.1 Wolf Charles (first wife Minnie, second wife Zipe)
4.3 Schmere (wife Reise)
4.4 Sore, married Rabbi Mordechai Ariya Samunov
4.5 Hinne, married Tevye Rabinowitz
4.6 Channa, married Reb Avremel Mark
4.7 Zipe married Berel Sussman
4.8 Feige married Mr Mandelstamm of Zager
Gershon left eight children of whom Wolf Charles, the oldest succeeded to his father's house and business. He was known locally, firstly as "Welfe Gershons" and after the death of his father as "Reb Welfe Gershons". Like his father before him, he educated his children privately. Upon the death of his father he assumed the local communal leadership. Soon after he was appointed by the Russian Government as the official representative of the Jewish community of the region, embracing Krottingen. Wolf Charles was married twice. Firstly to Minnie Naftalin, who bore him six children. His second wife was his sister's daughter, Zipe. She bore him three children. The older five of his children from his first marriage were all married when he died.
Wolf Charles devoted his fine abilities, strength, his energy and a good deal of his fortune to the cause of bettering the condition of his fellow Jews. In his time, the Jews of the Telz region in which Krottingen was situated, probably received better treatment from the authorities than the Jews of other regions in the Kovno government. This was no doubt due to the efforts of two men from Krottingen, Wolf Charles Behrman and his contemporary and great friend, the eminent Elijah Levenson (Reb Elye Krottinger), banker, statesman, scholar and man of great learning and piety.
Wolf Charles wore himself out in the service of the community and died in 1865 at the age of 57. He left nine children
5.1.1 Moushe Avrohom, married Hannah
5.1.2 Golde, married Moushe Aaron Aronson
5.1.3 Shmuel Gershon, married his cousin Rivke Samunov
5.1.4 Aaron Hirsh, married Simche Esther Caplan
5.1.5 Yankel , married Seine Masse Lapin
5.1.6 Dvore Hinde, married Isaac Jacobson
5.1.7 Minnie (who died in girlhood)
5.1.8 Lazar, married Rivke
>5.1.9 Esther Reiche, married Gershon Levy
Zipe, the second wife of Wolf Charles, was the daughter of Reb Avremel Mark and his wfe Channa. Her father was of Gaonic stock. At the early age of 18 she married a Rabbinic student of a well known Kovno family. At the age of 20 she was already a widow with a child. The child died in infancy. Shortly before that period, her uncle, Wolf Charles of Krottingen, the brother of her mother, lost his wife and was left with six children; the oldest Moushe, was in fact , two years older than his cousin Zipe. Her uncle journeyed to Kovno and proposed marriage and after persuasion, she acquiesced. At the time of her second marriage she was 21; her husband was at least 23 years her senior.
She was his loving wife for 12 years, when she was left a widow with three children. She died in the middle 1890s at Krottingen, a gentle soul beloved by all.
The first son of Wolf Charles. He married Hannah, a stately lady of Rabbinic family. Hannah bore him six children, three sons and three daughters. Moushe Avrohom was born about 1833. At his father's death which was about 1865, he succeeded to the communal leadership. He was a man of learning, piety and of good business sense. He probably died in the late 1880s. His wife Hannah, lived to a ripe old age.
22.214.171.124 Ore Hesse. He married and removed to Odessa, where he was engaged in the wheat and grain business. He died in the 1920s. Nothing has been heard from his two daughters, 126.96.36.199.1 Minnie and 188.8.131.52.2 Esther, since 1939
184.108.40.206 Dvore Hinde , like her aunt and namesake, was a noted beauty and woman of culture. She married Leibsig Gordon, a practising lawyer, who was very successful. They lived on a beautiful and comparatively large estate, "Katlovshizne". Their study was filled with books, among them the complete works of Bullwer Lytton and tapestries and Persian rugs. Their one daughter 220.127.116.11.1 Minnie was equally beautiful and brilliant. She was 17 when in 1890 at a high school at Kovno, she took ill and died.
18.104.22.168 Mendel Yitchak married a lady from Eshesock, who emanted form a Rabbinc family. Prior to his marriage he studied in the famous Talmudic Academies of Meer and Volzhin. He received his Rabbinic degree at the age of 21 from two famous Rabbis, the Nazeb and Raphael Shapiro. On his mother's side he was the grandson of Rabbi Zvi Hirsh of Yeidy near Kelem, Lithuania. In 1904 Rabbi Mendel came to England as Rabbi to Grimsby, shortly after which he received a call to Gateshead and in 1917 he was appointed Rabbi of Middlesborough. Some years before his death in Manchester, Rabbi Behrman joined the faculty of the Talmudic Academy of that city. He was a saintly soul, very learned and pious. He died in Manchester in 1929. He left five children, two sons and three daughters
22.214.171.124 Michael succeeded his father Moushe Avrohom, in the management of the business in Krottingen but after the death of his sister, Dvore Hinde, he gave up the business and took over his sister's estate, Katlovshizne, which was quite considerable. He died in the 1920s. Nothing has been heard of his wife and five children since the outbreak of war in 1939.
126.96.36.199 Seite married a Mr Posnack of Minsk in the 1890s. She died within a few years of marriage and left a son and daughter of whom nothing has been heard since 1939.
188.8.131.52 Esther Chianne married Rabbi Moushe Leib Rabinowitz and emigrated to Baltimore, USA. They had one daughter.
Shmuel was the second or third son of Wolf Charles and Minnie. He married his cousin Rivke, daughter of Aunt Sore and Chief Rabbi Mordecai Ariya Samunov, Rav of Windau, Latvia. Shmel Gershon died young and Rivke married for the second time a prominent amber manufacturer of Pollangen, Kurland. Shmuel Gershon and Rivke had four children, three daughters and one son:-
184.108.40.206 Minnie (Mrs Bernard) Edelstein who emigrated to New York State
220.127.116.11 Doris (Mrs Max) Weinberg, resided in Windau
18.104.22.168 Hinde (Mrs Abraham) Lebenhaft, resided in Antwerp
22.214.171.124 Aaron (wife Gitte Levitan) lived Johannesburg, South Africa and had eight children,5.1.2 Golde Aronson
Golde was a daughter of Wolf Charles Behrman and Minnie. She married the well known Chassidic Rabbi, Moushe Aaron Aronson and they lived in Poland. The Rabbi was known to possess the lingest beard in the family. Golde was tall, slightly round shouldered and had the best part of her forehead covered by a sheitel or heibele, also she took snuff. In 1907 one of her sons, Cecil, was engaged in the cigar business in New York; he had an accident and died in that year. In 1920, Golde's oldest son was a Chassidic Rabbi in Warsaw. His economic circumstances were very bad. He appealed for help to his Aunt Dvore Hinde in New York. She forwarded the appeal to the author, who arranged with the American Jewish Relief Association to give him immediate help.
Aaron Hirsh, known in the family as "Ore Hirshe" was the third son of Wolf Charles and Minnie. He was a handsome looking man of fine personality and strong features and possessed a good intellect. After the death of his father he took over the management of the business. The leadership of the community did not fall upon him until the death of his oldest brother, Moushe. Aaron Hirshe married Simche Esther from a nearby town. Aaron died in Memell while on a business trip. His son, Gershon, had died a few years previously unmarried, at the early age of 24. His daughter , Sophy (Zipe), married Hessel Levy, who succeeded to the house and business. They had two children, Aaron and Minnie. Nothing has been heard of them since the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.
Yankel was th fourth son of Wolf Charles and Minnie. In his early manhood he became intimately associated with the famed Reb Elijah Levenson (Reb Elye Krottinger) of Krottingen. He acted as Reb Elijah's secretary for many years. He married Seine Masse Lapin. She died in the home of her daughter Mrs Charles Behrman in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1946. Yankel was a tall, handsome man with a fine figure, black hair, blue eyes and a blonde beard. Yankel and Seine Masse had two children - Mendel, who died unmarried and Kreine, Mrs Charles Behrman of Johannesburg, South Africa. Kreine married her second cousin, Charles Behrman and had three children Jack, Horace and Dorothy.
There were in the family at Krottingen, at the same period in the 1850s, two Dvore Hindes, the aunt and the niece. The aunt was the daughter of Wolf Charles and Minnie and the subject of this chapter, whereas the niece was the daughter of Moushe Behrman, himself the son of Wolf Charles. Both Dvore Hindes were about the same age and great friends. They were tall, stately and of great beauty, intellect and intelligence. They were considered women of good education. Aunt Dvore Hinde was born in 1846. Her mother Minnie died when she was very young. She attended religious and secular lessons with the boys, went skating on the lake and was always ready for all sorts of tricks. She had grown into a vivacious, beautiful and worldly young woman before her father's sudden death in 1863.
At the age of 19 in 1865 she married Isaac Jacobson (Eisik Yankes) from Dorbyan. He was the heir apparent to the most successful trading firm in Dorbyan , exporting flax and flaxseed in a rather big way, as well as to a fine estate known as "Bachuska", situated within a mile of Dorbyan, where the Jacobsons resided. Within a matter of days of her arrival in Dorbyan, Dvore Hinde was dubbed "Die Krottinger Grafin", the Countess of Krottingen. All the "sheiteled" housewives were simply horrified, they had seen nothing like it! True Dvore Hinde also wore a "sheitel" but hers could hardly be distinguished from her own hair, it was made by a Memeler artist instead of by the local "Sheitelmacherke". Before very long she assumed the "leadership" and became, in fact, the "First Lady" in Dorbyan. She had eight children, six daughters and two sons.
Economic conditions in Lithuania in the latter part of the nineteenth century became very bad, the merchants and traders suffered great losses and Isaac Jacobson was no exception. He moved to Libau, Latvia, a fortified city on the Baltic and at that time the most important port in the province. Unfortunately before he had a chance to do very much Isaac Jacobson in 1885 took ill and died. Thus at the age of 39 and with eight children, Dvore Hinde was left a widow. She moved from Libau to Memel to make the best use of her business talents and engaged in the trade of silks, perfumes, jewellery and other luxuries with Lithuania. After a great struggle of seven years, she emigrated to Paterson, New Jersey in 1892. Eventually she moved to New York to be near her married daughters. Her sons abbreviated Jacobson to Jacobs; she however insisted on the original name and she died in 1927 at the age of 81
The following are the descendants of Dvore Hinde and Isaac Jacobson:-
126.96.36.199 Minnie married Yudel Jaffe while residing in Libau in 1886. In the early part of the century the family emigrated to New York. They had three children.
188.8.131.52 Olga married Dr Abraham Sacks, from Zager, Lithuania in New Jersey in 1896. They had three children.
184.108.40.206 Pauline married Ephraim Jacobson from Lithuania in New Jersey in 1898
220.127.116.11 Morris had been sent from Libau to his uncle Lazar Behrman in Sunderland England. He later joined the family in New Jersey and married Miss Kassel. They had six children.
18.104.22.168 Samuel was sent from Libau to Cheder in Dorbyan. He came to New Jersey and married Rose. They had two children, (22.214.171.124&2) Irving and Sarah
126.96.36.199 Fanny married Arnold Cohen from Dorbyan in New Jersey in 1900. They had three children.
188.8.131.52 Sophy married Edward Margolis, a native of Telz in New Jersey in 1903. They had three children.
184.108.40.206 Mary married Isidor Kumesh, a native of Kurland and nephew of Ephraim Jacobson (Pauline's husband) in 1908. They had three children,
Lazar was the fifth son or Wolf Charles and the only son of his second wife Zipe. As a result of an accident in infancy his left shoulder was permanently dislocated and caused a slight hump. He possessed a fine brain. Originally he was intended for law and was sent to Dorpat University; later, however, he decided not to pursue his studies and joined his nephew, Aaron Behrman (Gershon`s son) in Switzerland. Eventually both he and Aaron came to Sunderland, where they entered business. During his residence in Sunderland he married a Krottingen lady, Rivke. He went to South Africa and upon the outbreak of the Boer War returned to Switzerland. There he lived until the war's end when he returned to South Africa with his family. There were five children, two sons and three daughters, (220.127.116.11-5) Wolf Charles, Zodack, Sophy (Zipe), Ray and Dora. The sons passed away in early life. The daughters ( Sophy (Mrs Hotz), Ray (Mrs Green) and Dora Behrman reside in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Esther Reiche was the youngest child of Wolf Charles and Zipe Behrman. She was five years old when her father died in 1865. During the lifetime of her father the entire house was occupied by his immediate family. After his death, however, the house was divided between families. The son that succeeded to the business, Aaron Hirsh, retained the ground floors, whereas the widow and her three children, Minnie, Lazar and Esther Reiche, occupied the upper floors. At the same time the widow had now to depend on her stepson for her allowance as her share from the business..with the result that the widow had to tighten the purse strings.
During the lifetime of Wolf Charles, the education of the children, was by full time tutors in the home; this luxury could not now be indulged in. When Esther was old enough, therefore, she was sent to the home of friends in Deutsch Krottingen immediately across the German border, whose children were of Esther Reiche's age. These friends employed excellent tutors. Meanwhile her mother had established a soft goods business and when Esther Reiche left school she joined her in that, eventually taking complete charge.
The languages spoken in Krottingen were Lithuanian, German, Russian and Polish. Esther Reich spoke all of them with fluency; this helped to make the business a success.
Esther Reiche married Gershon Levy of Dorbyan. When Gershon married Esther Reiche it was intended that he should continue his studies; he did, in fact, enrol in a post-graduate Academy in Kovno after he was married but a destructive fire in Krottingen, where most of the Behrman fortune was lost, changed the whole situation.
The fire which took place in 1889, completely gutted the town which was built chiefly of wood. Though outwardly the Behrman house was not affected, as it was the only dwelling house built of stone, most of the contents, which had been collected for generations, were lost. When Gershon came to the Behrman house as the husband of Esther Reiche, there was still sufficient of a fortune to enable him to continue his post-graduate studies but these sudden reverses, due to insufficient insurance, almost brought ruin to the mother of Esther Reiche and to Gershon and his wife also, since the whole dowry was lost. Gershon therefore, had to abandon his studies and take to commerce.
Economic conditions were very bad in Lithuania. On the other hand, news came from South Africa of great prosperity there. Gershon, therefore, emigrated to South Africa, leaving his wife and three children in Krottingen. First in Cape Town, after that in Johannesburg, altogether Gershon Levy spent five years in South Africa. Shortly before the Boer War he left South Africa, returned to Krottingen, and after a short stay, wound up his affairs and brought his wife and children to Sunderland in the North of England. There he established himself in business. He was accepted as one of the leaders of the Jewish Community and was affectionately known as Reb Gershon. Gershon Levy died in Sunderland in 1935 at the age of 76. His wife Esther Reiche died in Sunderland in 1932 at the age of 72. They had three sons,
18.104.22.168 Arnold Levy married Lena Esther Jacobs
22.214.171.124 Leib Levy married Clara Cohen and had two sons.
126.96.36.199 Moss Hyman Levy married Leah Serevsky and had nine children.
Sore, daughter of Gershon Behrman, married Rabbi Mordecai Aria Samunov, Rav of Windau, Latvia. They had five children, three sons and two daughters.
5..4.1 Moushe Samunov resided in Orel, Russia, where he and his wife died. They had a son Mordecai or Max, who emigrated to England about 1893 and changed his name to Samuel. After 1914-18 war, Max resided at West Hartlepool.
5.4.2 Gershon Mendel Samunov married Channa Kahn and was engaged in business in Pilten, Latvia. He was a man of learning and culture. They had five sons and two daughters,
188.8.131.52.Rabbi Ephraem (wife Teme Berlin from Moscow and three sons and one daughter, Leib and three sons, who were victims of the Nazis, Yitzchak (wife Ida Vollshnock, residing in Jerusalem); Yakov (wife Dr Sarah Alishevsky, residing in Tel Aviv); Rivke (married to Eliezer Halevy, residing in Israel with one son, Ephraim);
184.108.40.206 Mordecai Aria, victim of the Nazis:
220.127.116.11 Tevye, residing in the USA;
18.104.22.168 Selig, died in Riga before 1939 (two sons survived the Nazis);
22.214.171.124 Leibe (married his cousin Frieda, daughter of Mere Leah. Both died in Russia. One son survived, residing in Sao Paulo, Brazil);
126.96.36.199 Chaie (married Mr Mesiwitzky of Libau, Latvia.. Victims of the Nazis);
188.8.131.52 Rochel (married Rabbiner. Her sons were victims of the Nazis. One daughter resides in Russia, another in Tel Aviv)
5.4.3 Rivke Samunov married her cousin Shmuel Gershon Behrman
5.4.4 Rabbi Elijah Aaron Mileikowsky-Samunov. He was firstly Rav of Grayeve and later of Kharkov, Russia. In the 1920s he moved to Israel and became Dayan of Tel Aviv.
5.4.5 Mere Leah married David Hirsh Klazov of Tukom, Latvia and had one son and six daughters,
184.108.40.206 Dvore (married Zvi Traub of Kadan, Latvia in 1892, moved to Tel Aviv in 1925. Two sons and two daughters, Israel Traub, Zalmen Traub, Chana Yaver, Hinde Motelev);
220.127.116.11 Frieda (married her cousin Leib Samunov);
18.104.22.168 Chava (married Mr Jacobson and resides in Riga, Latvia with two sons);
22.214.171.124 Minnie (married Mr Rashall and died in Riga childless);
126.96.36.199 Sarah (married Mr Drubkin and lived in Letland, where together with her father, one daughter and grand-daughter, she was killed by the Nazis, Another daughter married Dr Shenkman and have two children in the USA. Sarah`s son Yoel resides in Riga, Latvia);
188.8.131.52 Channe (married Mr Courting and has a son and daughter in San Francisco, USA);
184.108.40.206 Mordecai Klazov (married Emmy Hurshman of Libau, Latvia).
Channa, daughter of Gershon Behrman, married the noted Talmudist, Reb Avremel Mark. They lived and died in Krottingen. Reb Avremel was a descendant of Elijah, Gaon of Wilna, famed Talmudist, Cabbalist, grammarian and mathematician, 1720-1797. There were five children of the marriage:-
5.6.1 Beresh Mark studied at the Wilna Talmudic Academy. He married the daughter of a Chassid from Dvinsk and embraced Chassidism. He became a well known Chassidic Rabbi, affectionately known as 'Rebbe Behrzig'. He emigrated to Rochester in the state of New York in about 1900. His seven children reside in the USA,
220.127.116.11Gershon Mark (who had Harry, Sarah Meltzer, Molly Epstein, Martin, Aaron, Ida, and Adele Geltner);
18.104.22.168 Chia Glickman (who had Isidore, Max, Anne Erder, Jeanette Greyer, Evelyn Glickman and Sylvia London);
22.214.171.124 Rose Kurtin ( who had Morris, Harold, Ruth Whire, Sylvia Lewis and Adele);
126.96.36.199 Miriam Safren ( who had Mike, Louis, George, Sylvia Krine and Anne Klein);
188.8.131.52 Celia Rogoff (who had Edith Kurtin, Sylvia Slonim, Lilian Sara, Isidore and Aaron);
184.108.40.206 Bella Pearlman (who had Anne Glickman, Shirley Weiss, Mike, Abe and Sidney);
5.6.2 Hirsh Markhad four children,
220.127.116.11 Dora (Mrs Nathan Taylor and daughter Sarah Yudkin);
18.104.22.168 Abraham Mark (who had Beatrice Bloom);
22.214.171.124 Rasha (Mrs Gershon Sussman) and
126.96.36.199 Sarah (Mrs Mayer Zaitz).
5.6.3 Zipe married Wolf Charles Behrman (see Wolf Charles Behrman)
5.6.4 Leibe Eise - No details available
Zipe, daughter of Gershon Behrman, married Berrel Sussman of Krottingen. Berel's brother Moushe changed his name to Berelson. Moushe's son Yanke married Mary, daughter of Shmere Behrman. Zipe and Berrel had a number of children, the one that is still remembered by a few and whose children settled in England is
5.7.2 Feivel , commonly known in Krottingen as 'Feive Berrels'. Feivel was partially blind most of his life and almost totally blind towards his latter years. He carried on nevertheless. a most successful business, practically single handed. He was the largest cartage contractor in the neighbourhood and was the foremost government contractor. Though he had two sons, it was his daughters who acted as his guides and secretaries, each of the seven in turn until they married. Feivel was held in the highest esteem by all who knew him, especially so by the government officials, who, from time to time, entrusted him with the transfer of vast sums of money from one military post to another. His children were:-
188.8.131.52 Behr Sussman , died in Johannesburg, South Africa, unmarried;
184.108.40.206 Gershon Sussman, died in London;
220.127.116.11 Zipe Olswang, who had three children,
18.104.22.168 Channe (Mrs Samuel Behrman , Sunderland, who had two children.
22.214.171.124 Pesse (Mrs Philip Epstein, Birmingham, England, who had one son .
126.96.36.199 Olga Schumacher, died in Sunderland.
188.8.131.52 Minnie Schumacher, (who had three children, residing in New York, USA).
184.108.40.206 Tamar (Mrs David Simon, Cardiff, who had 6 children).
220.127.116.11 Fanny (Feige) Mrs Paul Palsitz, residing Sao Paulo, Brazil
5.7.3 ? Sussman, one of the daughters of Zipe and Berel married Yoel Krottinger, a well-to-do farmer and contractor. A son of Yoel,
18.104.22.168 Welfe Krottinger resided in Krottingen. A daughter of Yoel,
22.214.171.124 Zipe (married Shmuel Urdang, from Dorbyan and emigrated to Paterson, New Jersey in the latter part of the nineteenth century. They had three daughters and one son.
5.7.1 Sarah Sussman , one of the daughters of Zipe and Berel, married Lozer (Stalger) Span.
They had three sons,
126.96.36.199 Gershon and a daughter,
188.8.131.52 Zipe Epstein. All lived and died in Glasgow, Scotland, where they have many descendants.
Shmere was the youngest son of Gershon. He married Reise Braude, who bore him four children, two sons and two daughters. The last years of his life, Shmere spent at the home of his son, Samuel Behrman, who lived in Norfolk Street, Sunderland. He died in 1901 at the age of 84. His wife, 'the Mumme' Reise had died in Krottingen some twelve years previously. Their children were
5.3.2 Gershon (Shmere's) Behrman married Dobe Beile Rosaitzky of Neustadt, the daughter of a prominent merchant and man of learning. She bore her husband seven sons and one daughter. When Gershon died suddenly in his forties, his widow and children were left almost stranded.
184.108.40.206 David , the eldest son, went to South Africa. He married Frede Heller and had two sons.
220.127.116.11 Charles Samuel, the second son, who showed considerable brilliance as a student in Yeshivah, went to England to join his uncle, Samuel Behrman. He was later joined by his brothers, Ben and Charles. Eventually all three went to South Africa. Samuel married Minnie and had four children.
18.104.22.168 Ben married Lilly Lazarus and had one daughter,
22.214.171.124 Charles married Kreine Behrman and had three children,
126.96.36.199 Leah, the only daughter, married Solomon Krieger of Lygam and had three children,
188.8.131.52 Abe , the son of Gershon and Beile, came from Krottingen to Sunderland, England. Abe later went to join his brothers in South Africa but returned in 1919 and went with his wife and family to Glasgow. Married Ettie Naftalin.
184.108.40.206 Max married Rose Bloom and came from Kretinga to Sunderland England.
220.127.116.11 Julius Behrman Son of Gershon and Beile, came from Kretinga to Sunderland England. Married Rosie Richardson.
18.104.22.168 Julius married Rosie Richardson.
Beile lived to a ripe old age as the wife of Yankel Berlson and died in Libau.
5.3.3 Minnie, the younger daughter of Shmere Behrman, was married in Pickeln, Lithuania to Mr Hurwitz. She eventually died there. Her four children, two sons and two daughters, emigrated to Massachusetts, USA, where the father and oldest son, George, died. The oldest daughter married Barnett Cohen of Peterson, New Jersey.
5.3.4 Samuel (Shmere's) Behrman was the youngest son of Shmere and Reise. He married his second cousin, Channa, who bore him a son and daughter. Samuel and Channa were among the first of the family to emigrate to England where their children were born. Samuel died in Sunderland in 1918 and Channa died there in 1939. Their daughter
22.214.171.124 Rosie married David Cohen of London and they have one daughter, Pauline.
126.96.36.199 George married Dora and lives in Manchester
Hirsh the second son of Gershon Behrman, was a dairy farmer near Libau, Latvia. In order to escape military service, Hirsh changed his name to Bagendorf. His grandchildren who reside in South Africa, however, have resumed the name of Behrman. Hirsch had the following children:-
3.2 Shmere (Moushes) Behrman
Shmere was the younger brother of Gershon Behrman. He left Krottingen and lived first in the Baltic provinces, where he married and raised a family. Eventually he settled in St Petersburg where he became a prosperous merchant banker. Among other children he had two sons, David and Chaim. They were sent to Krottingen to the house of Wolf Charles to be tutored in religious and secular education in company with their second cousins. After graduating at Krottingen both boys returned home.
4.2.1 David entered his father's business and married. He and his family eventually moved to America, where he became known as David Byron. Several of David's sons were engaged in banking.
4.2.2 Chaim entered a higher school in preparation for University. He left home in about 1865 because he did not yet want to marry. He went to Basel, Switzerland, where he entered University and became known as Henry Byron. When he graduated, he married and with his wife sailed for New York. He became a teacher and then a headmaster. He had no children. On retirement he and his wife retired to Switzerland, where they both died some years after the war.
4.2.3 Gershon had a large family of sons and daughters. One daughter,
188.8.131.52 Hinde married Schloumo Wolpe and they had several daughters and a son. The son married a lady from Libau. One daughter married Mr Jaffe in Kovno and another was Ruba Bachrach. The Bachrachs were prominent bankers in St Petersburg.
If not for the accident of a former 'water boy' employed by the household of Wolf Charles Behrman in Krottingen, members of the Behrman family might not have come to Britian when they did in the nineteenth century. The water boy was Barnett Bernstein, a successful furniture manufacturer, who lived and died in Sunderland. Bernstein was born in Krottingen about 1835. He was the son of the local carpenter and glazier whose name was Meier and who was known as "Meier the Disler". At the age of 10 he was engaged as water boy, that is watering the horses and keeping the household supplied with water from the deep wells in the courtyard at the household of Wolf Charles Behrman. At the age of 14 he was 'shanghai'd to the army of Czar Nicholas of Russia, that meant slavery for at least 40 years. After 14 years of service, he was given six months leave to visit his parents. It was during this visit, about 1863, that friends from the household of Wolf Charles helped him to get across the border to Germany. In Memel, passage was secured for him on a timber-laden sailing ship, which was leaving for England.
The ship finally landed in the Hartlepools, where a kindly customs officer escorted him to the home of Mr and Mrs Abraham Cassell of West Hartlepool. Bernstein had a good understanding of glazing, consequently Mr Cassell provided him with a glazing crate, some tools and a little glass. Bernstein walked to Sunderland looking for work and remained there. With his glazing he also did furntiure repairs. He prospered finally blossoming into a fully fledged furniture manufacturer. When he died in 1910 he left a considerable fortune. From the very first, when he began to earn money, Bernstein sent a monthly sum to his parents in Krottingen. This good news spread quickly with the result that soon relatives began to arrive, notably the Jacobs, the Olswangs and many others, all of whom Bernstein befriended. The first of the Behrman family whom Bernstein welcomed to Sunderland was Samuel Behrman, who, shortly after, was joined by his wife Channa. In 1889 the town of Krottingen was practically destroyed by fire. By this time there were already in Sunderland a considerable number of people who emanated from Krottingen and they established among themselves a fund for the relief of those who suffered from the fire.
Mr Charles Cohen reached Sunderland from Krottingen in 1888. Charles Cohen, who was the author of "Yalkut Yechezkel" was reverently and affectionately known as "Reb Chatze". He was a man of learning and piety and was very hospitable. One does not remember seeing him other than in silk hat, frock coat and umbrella; he looked stately and aristocratic.
Rabbi Shmere Yitzchak Bloch was appointed as Rabbi of the newly formed Sunderland Beth Hamedrash. Rabbi Bloch was himself a scion of a Krottingen house of learning, being the grandson of "Reb Aharon the Shochet" of Krottingen.
The office of President of the Sunderland Hebrew Congregation was frequently held by native sons of Krottingen, notably Israel Jacobs and Simon Olswang.
It is a generally accepted fact that among provincial cities the Sunderland Jewish Community is above average in learning and orthodoxy. This undoubtedly is due to a large extent to the influence of the pioneers from Krottingen and the leadership of "Reb Chatze" Cohen and Reb Gershon Levy.
The Jewish Community of Krottingen had a population of less than 2000. The Houses of Prayer situated in "shull gass" were also the meeting places; these consisted of Beth Hamedrash, the Beth Haknesseth, known as "Shull", the Old Klauz and the small Klauz. The Beth Hamedrash was seldom closed, there the members of the "Chevra Gemora" had their headquarters. The "Shull" was open on Sabbath and Yomim Tovim. "Chevra Mishna" was housed in th Old Klauz and those whose limits were "Sogen Tillim" frequented the small Klauz, the members of which consisted chiefly of artisans. It was to the artisans that "The Rebelle" was host at his house on Saturday afternoons when he would provide them with tea.
At that period, Krottingen had neither gas or electricity, coal was scarce and very expensive and was imported only by Count Tishkewitz, the ground landlordof the town who had a small electricity generating station for use at his private park situated about two miles from town. Wood on the other hand was cheap. This, therefore, constituted the fuel for all purposes. The "Dutch" oven. brick built, then in use was so designed that after cooking and baking on Fridays and removing the burning embers, the oven retained its heat for almost 36 hours.
It was in the "Rher" or upper section of the oven where the Sabbath food, including large earthenware bottles, known as "Bomples" filled with hot water, was kept hot. The tea itself was likewise prepared on Friday. It was made in a very large pot with a plentiful supply of tea and after pouring boiling water over it, it was allowed to get cold. By the next day the tea had brewed itself into a strong essence or extract. a few drops of this essence with hot water from the "Bomples" made an excellent glass of tea, especially if served with a slice of lemon.
It is difficult , if not impossible, to convey an accurate picture of the Sabbath atmosphere prevalent in Krottingen at that period. Mention has been made of the transformation on Fridays, of the business premises of Gershon Mendel Samunov into a Sabbath atmosphere. That sort of transformation took place in practically the whole town of Krottingen. It was especially amazing to watch this transformation when the "Yerid" coincided with a Friday. The Yerid was the quarterly market-fair which was of tremendous economic importance to the whole community.
A word must be said about the mid-day Sabbath meal, which except for Yomim Tovim, was the most impressive of the week. The time for concluding the Sabbath morning services varied; the artisans who held services at the Klauzen began earlier and usually concluded about 11am. The Beth Hamedrash and Shull had more ceremonial by way of "Chazones" and concluded about 12 noon, except when there were Bar Mitzvahs or wedding parties, on which occaions the portion of the week was usually stretched foor the calling-up of the Machetonim and the service would be concluded about 1pm. Also on these occasions one was usually invited to the house of the Baal Simcha to partake in 'Brocha' in which case the mid-day meal did not begin until 2pm. The time taken over this meal was about two hours, half of this time being taken up with the chanting of Zemiroth and Bentshen.
The main dish of that meal was the 'Tscholent', consisting of meat, vegetables, fruits and spices. The tscholent required slow cooking at a fairly high temperature and in order to insure that there was no escape of heat, the door of the Rher of the oven was sealed with loam. The 'Shabbos Goy' knew that the seal was to be broken when the head of the family returned from Shull. The mos sought after dish by children, as well as by many grown-ups, was the 'Kugel'. This dish was a steamed pudding with a very good supply of raisins and syrup and was made in an earthenware vessel the shape of a flower pot. This like the tscholent was kept hot in the Rher and was served as the sweet at the Sabbath mid-day meal.
Rabbi Leibzig Lipkin, Rav of Krottingen was the nephew of Reb Yisroel Salanter Lipkin. Leibzig Lipkin showed signs of genius as a young boy, as a young man he was already recognised as a tzadik and ish kodoush and was thoroughly versed in the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud as well as in Kabbalistic writings. Shortly after his marriage to his cousin he accepted a call from Popelan where he was Rabbi for about a year, when he was called to Krottingen where he was Rav for 25 years. Reb Leibzig was the author of a number of books which dealt with Talmud, Kabbala, Higher Mathematics and Astronomy. Because of men of his type the very atmosphere and life of Krottingen was geared to a high moral and spiritual level. He passed away in 1902 at the age of 63.
In Krottingen 50 years ago, ( c 1900) Reb Aharon Yach was the Senior Shochet and so to speak, was third in succession. That is to say in the absence of the Rav or Dayan, Reb Aharon would be called upon to take charge. Being a Talmud Chochom he was naturally a pillar of the Chevra Gemore. He was treated with the greatest respect and veneration by the Balei Habatim and the community at large., as was his son Sholem, the Junior Shochet, who eventually succeeded him.