Families from Mlynov and Mervits


1 / 7
Yossel Malar and wife Ester (Gelberg) with children David and Gissie.
David survived the Holocaust and came to the US. Mlynov Memorial Book, p 502.
2 / 7
Pinchus Gelberg with wife Chaia Rive. They lived in Klevan. Mlynov Memorial Book, p.503.
3 / 7
Yankel Preziment and wife Chana Gitel (Gelberg). Mlynov Memorial Book, p. 473.
4 / 7
Moishe and brother Gershon / Joe Gelberg.
Courtesy of Harold Goldberg.
5 / 7
Sam Spector and wife Sarah (Gelberg) and baby Edith, with sister standing (left), and Sam and Sarah and baby Edith (right). Mlynov Memorial book, pp.501, 499.
6 / 7
Chaya (Goldberg) Gevantman with husband Benjamin (left) and brother Gershon (right) .
7 / 7
Sylvia (Barditch) Goldberg presents Mlynov Memorial Book to Goldberg Relatives. Courtesy of Edith (Spector) Geller.


The Evacuation of Mlynov

[Back in Mlynov], the Gelberg family, like other families that experienced WWI, had to be evacuated from the town as fighting intensified on the Eastern front and got quite close to Mlynov during two battles. One of the few firsthand accounts of that evacuation was described later in life by Helen Lederer, whom I only recently learned was a granddaughter of Labish and Eta Leah Gelberg.

Helen was born in 1903 in Mlynov, the oldest daughter of Moishe, who had already made his way to the States in 1911. Just think how frightening this evacuation must have been for Helen and her family with her father far away in the US. They must have wondered if they would ever see him again. Helen writes in this new translation which I commissioned:[1]

It was during the time of the first World War. A cold winter day, a burning frost, a deep snow. The Germans are getting closer to our town Mlyniv. All of us are taken out of our homes. The soldiers intrude into the synagogue sanctuary and pack us inside, like sardines. We are lying in great anxiety—not knowing what to expect. 2:00 a.m. An angry wind howls, like devils dancing. A banging is heard. Soldiers are standing with guns. They order everybody to go out into the street.

The soldiers have brought wagons, which are standing there: “Pack what you can on the wagons, and you—walk.” The horses can barely drag themselves in the deep snow. Women and children shlep after the wagons on the way to Varkevetsh. Everybody’s hands are busy grabbing provisions for the children to eat. My mother, Gitl-Pesye Khoylye’s, has four small, crying children shlepping along with her. Also my Aunt Soreke-Pesye Khoylye’s is going, carrying something in both hands, with her little girl Dvoyrele. After having walked a few versts, Soreke looked around – the child is not there!... She screamed; there was a commotion; Soreke ran back. The soldiers with their rifles drove on and said that the Austrians throw their searchlights on us; they will see her walking, and they will shoot. Soreke crept back and found Dvoyrele in the snow, passed out!

It is day. We get to Varkevetsh. We come to our relative Nakhman Leyb. There is not even room for a pin. There is my grandfather, Leybush Gershon’s, both his daughters Chana-Gitl and Khaye, and other refugees—there is no place for us. And there is no place to go to. Frozen, tired. . . at last we see a cover over the cellar-- the only empty spot. We put a feather bed on it, and we lay down, exhausted.

Family oral tradition recalls that Helen's grandfather, Labish Gelberg, whom Helen recalls present at the house of Nathan Leyb, died during this evacuation from Russian orders to shovel snow. Since there was no room among the refugess in Varkevetch, Helen and her family went back on the road; it may have been the last time she saw her grandfather. Helen and her family walked approximately a total of forty miles in a few days before they finally were helped in Rowno (Rivne) by a gentile who put them up for four months. She recalls the gratitude and relief she felt:
And this angel in a human image takes all of us under his protection. Namely, he took us to his home through an underground door—so that his antisemitic wife would not see us. Over there we stretched out our tired bones. Coming out into the street, we learned about the Joint Help Committee from America; they gave out packages of food to every refugee. So my mother stood in line and, thank God, we now had what to eat. Basye-Khaye Malke’s suffered labor pains, and after much anguish she gave birth to a child in the cellar. The coachman kept us four months and provided for us. His name will always be on my lips.
You can read Helen's full account of that experience here or right-click to download. After a number of months in Rovno, Helen's family returned to Mlynov, which by the end of the War became part of the newly recreated Poland, which the Allies hoped would provide a strategic buffer in Europe against further German aggression.

Helen, for her part, did not return to Mlynov right away. But by 1921 she was on a ship with her family headed to America. Looking back on this time from 1970, she writes:

In the summer the Austrians left, and most of us from Mlynov returned home. I remained with a cousin, Gitl Sotiver; I learned from the same teacher as her children. When my mother wanted to have me near her in Mlynov, I returned home. We went through much fright and suffering until we made it to America. Thank God that this all happened in my young years, and I was able to overcome it. May the future generations know of better times with peace spread over the entire world. Amen.


The Goldberg Migration Restarts

By 1921, Helen's family had managed to secure a visa to leave for the United States to join her father Moishe. They participated in what was the third wave of Mlynov immigrants to the US between 1920–1924 and which also included other Mlynov immigrant families, including the Dembs, Lerners and Marders, who were also rejoining husbands and fathers in Baltimore who had also been separated by the War.

They arrived in New York on April 2, 1921, traveling on the SS Rotterdam from the city of the same name. Moishe’s wife, Gitla (Gitel), age 42 at the time, was accompanied by Moishe’s youngest brother, “Gerszon,” age 21, who presumably assisted his sister-in-law with the children: “Chirleja,” age 16, (soon to be Helen Dishowitz and later Helen Lederer), Sura, age 13 (later to be Sarah Lewbel), Gerschon (later Jack), age 8, and Avrum, age 11, who later married his first cousin Frances, daughter of Morris’s sister, Sarah Spector. They were all headed to Moishe’s home at 24 Ludlow Street in NYC.

A few months after Moshe’s wife and children arrived in April 1921, another of Moishe’s sisters, Chaya (Ida Goldberg) Gevantman arrived with her husband Benjamin. They landed in New York on July 17, 1921, traveling from Danzig on the SS Gdansk. Ida was the fourth of the Labish and Eta’s children to arrive in the States. The Gevantmans listed “Trubitz” as their last permanent residence in Poland, likely Torhovytsia, Ukraine today, which is only 17 km from Mlynov and a 30 minute ride by car today.


Chaya (Ida Gevantman) was apparently pregnant on the passage to the US, and her son Hyman (Lewis) Gevantman was born a month and a half after they arrived on Sept. 12, 1921. He was named “Labish Chaim” after his grandfather, as I learned from his daughter, Sandra (Gevantman) Zylberman, whom I only recently tracked down and met by phone.

In any case, who could have anticipated that this particular grandson of Labish, who as an adult styled himself as “L. H. Gevantman,” would become a scientist and work on the atom bomb as part of the Manhattan Project. His daughter Sandra recently told me that as a young adult he had left Baltimore as soon as he could, both to escape the small knit Jewish community but also in quest of becoming a scientist, a project that required downplaying one’s Jewishness in a community that was still antisemitic. He had done his undergrad at Johns Hopkins University and then left Baltimore to do his PhD at Notre Dame. He would later be assigned as a US representative to the International Atomic Energy commission in Vienna in the early 1960’s, a period of time in the family’s life that Sandra remembers fondly as a young girl.

The Gevantmans did not remain in New York long after they arrived. By March 1924, they were drawn to Baltimore where a little Mlynov had developed and where Ben Gevantman signed his Petition for Naturalization. The family took up residence at 4804 Pimlico Road in the Northeast Baltimore where Baltimore Jews had been migrating as they left the poverty and crowdedness of East Baltimore.

The Goldberg Famly, 1925–1930

By 1925, four of the seven children of Labish and Eta (Schuchman) Goldberg had arrived in the US and settled down. Moishe, by now Morris, had been rejoined by his wife Gitel and his children in 1921 and they settled in Manhattan where it appears Morris had a grocery business. Their oldest daughter Helen Dishowitz had married and started a family of her own. Their second daughter Sarah would marry Herbert Lewbel in 1929.

Morris’s sister, Sara (Gelberg) Spector, who had arrived in 1912—1913 and married Samuel Spector by 1918, had four children during the 1920s including Edith who has been my interlocutor for this family story. By 1930, the family was living in Brooklyn. Ida (Gelberg) Gevantman and her husband Benjamin, as noted above, had migrated to Baltimore by 1927, where their second son Joseph was born. Moishe’s youngest brother, Gershon Joe (now George) Goldberg, who had arrived with Moishe’s wife in 1921, would marry Silka (Sylvia) Barditch, a transplant from Baltimore, in August 1927.

Sylvia’s family had settled in Baltimore, where her father and uncle had been living, but moved up to New York after a family tragedy made Baltimore no longer bearable. Photos of Sylvia Goldberg, as she was subsequently called, appear throughout the Mlynov-Muravica Memorial book and she became the only woman on the Book Committee that produced the Memorial edition. Sylvia also contributed an essay to the Memorial book about a wedding between a man from Lutsk and a woman from Mlynov. When I set out to learn about Sylvia, I was surprised to learn that she was not from Mlynov at all, but was from Lutsk, a town that is 36 km from Mlynov or 36 minutes driving today. Why had she become an editor of the Mlynov Memorial book? I leave the mystery of Sylvia’s involvement in the Mlynov project for a separate essay that recovers Sylvia’s own special connection to Mlynov and explains her abiding interest in the town and its history.

Additional Reading

You can read (or right click to download) about Sylvia Barditch Goldberg here or more about the Goldberg family from Mlynov.



[1] I commissioned this new translation from Hannah Berliner Fischthal July 2020.


Compiled by Howard I. Schwartz, PhD
Updated:July 2020
Copyright © 2019 Howard I. Schwartz

Webpage Design by Howard I. Schwartz
Want to search for more information: JewishGen Home Page
Want to look at other Town pages: KehilaLinks Home Page


This page is hosted at no cost to the public by JewishGen, Inc., a non-profit corporation. If it has been useful to you, or if you are moved by the effort to preserve the memory of our lost communities, your JewishGen-erosity would be deeply appreciated.