In his 1976 letter to the author, 84-year old Sam Fisher, who once lived in Ozeran, wrote about some of his landsman:
"Now I will tell you about other nice people one of them is Godel Kanfer he was one of our charter member [Newark Ozeraner Society]
he was much older then us his son is now Supreme Justis [sic] of N.J. his name is Milton B. Conford he is a member of the Ozeraner Society.
Another one is Shmuel Berenstein he is dead now but his son is the greatest sympoheny cundarter [sic] in the world his name is Leonerd [sic] Bernstein
and two of the greatest comentators [sic] you see every week on T.V. is Marvin Kalb and Bernard Kalb and there [sic] father was born in Ozeran.
(Sam Fisher, letter to Roy Gerber, October 3, 1976.)
Milton B. Conford served as judge of the New Jersey Superior Court and as an acting justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court. His obituary in the New York Times follows:
Regarding Sam Fisher’s comment about the Kalb family, both Marvin and Bernard Kalb had 30-year careers as diplomatic correspondents with NBC and CBS
national news. Marvin currently teaches at Harvard and Bernard hosted a television news show on CNN for many years.
According to an e-mail message received by the author from Marvin Kalb, Kalb’s mother was from Kiev and his father was from a small town west of Warsaw.
If Mr. Kalb is correct, it appears we cannot claim the award winning political analysts and authors as landsman. (Marvin Kalb, e-mail correspondence to Roy Gerber, October 14, 1998.)
It is unclear where Sam Fisher may have received his information about the Kalb brothers.
Sam Fisher’s story about Leonard Bernstein, however, appears to have a different ending. Leonard Bernstein, the world famous symphony conductor and composer
was born in 1918 in Lawrence, Massachusetts and died in 1990. According to an article written by his brother, Burton Bernstein,
their father Shmuel Yosef Bernstein immigrated from a shtetl in Volhynia, Russia called Beresdov [Beresdiv in Yiddish, the village is approximately 47 miles from Ozeran]. (Burton Bernstein, "Personal History: Family Matters," The New Yorker, March 22, 1982, 58-66.)
In his article and subsequent book, Burton Bernstein reported that his grandfather [Shmuel Bernstein’s father] was named Yudel. Burton Bernstein also mentioned an Uncle Herschel
who apparently left Russia first and settled in Hartford, Connecticut. Throughout his article and subsequent book, Mr. Bernstein repeatedly mentions the village
of Beresdov as the place of origin of his father, while no mention is made of Ozeran. (Burton Bernstein, Family Matters: Sam, Jennie, and the Kids [New York: Summit Books, 1982],3.)
While doing a computer database search of immigrants from Ozeran [and variant spellings], the author came across a 1909 passenger list which included a “Srul” Bernstein.
This man was listed as born in “Oziron” and his father was listed as “Yudel Bernstein,” also from “Oziran.” According to the passenger list,
this “Srul” Bernstein indicated that his final destination was Hartford, Connecticut and was going to join his “Uncle Hersh Levy.”
(S.S. Umbria- List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States Immigration Officer at Port of Arrival, December 25, 1909, microfilm T715,
microfilm roll T715-1397, page 42, line 1. From Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1957; [National Archives Microfilm Publication T715, 8892 rolls]; Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Ancestry.com., [database on-line], Provo, Utah.)
This information from the passenger list was consistent with the facts in Mr. Bernstein’s article and book, and the “Srul” Bernstein listed was obviously
Shmuel or Samuel Bernstein, the father of Burton and Leonard Bernstein. In addition, I also located the record of Shmuel [by then Samuel] Bernstein’s 1917
World War I draft registration. Samuel Bernstein again listed his place of birth as “Oziran.” (World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.
From United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and
Records Administration. Registration Location: Suffolk County, Massachusetts; Roll 685169; Draft Board: 2.; Ancestry.com., [database on-line], Provo, Utah.)
However, for some inexplicable reason, when Samuel Bernstein completed his World War II draft registration form 17 years later in 1942, he listed his place of birth as Beresdiv or Berezdov. (World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942.
From United States, Selective Service System. World War II Selective Service Registration Cards, Fourth Registration. Washington, D.C.:National Archives and Records Administration. Registration Location: Sharon, Massachusetts; Roll: WWII 2372205; Ancestry.com., [database on-line],Provo, Utah.)
In a telephone conversation and subsequent written correspondence with Burton Bernstein, Mr. Bernstein said he recalled very clearly hearing his father
mention a village called “Ozeran/Oziron/Hazeran” and concurs that in light of this new documentation, his father was most likely born in Ozeran
and at some point in time later moved to the village of Beresdov. Mr. Bernstein jokingly went on to say that at his current age of 77, he was not going to
amend his book to reflect the change in birthplace of his father. (Burton Bernstein, telephone conversation with Roy Gerber, June 16, 2009.)
Jennie [nee Resnick], Leonard, and Sam Bernstein, circa 1921:
(Leonard Bernstein with parents, Samuel and Jennie, Unidentified photographer, Library of Congress, Music Division, Washington, D.C.,circa 1921, http://memory.loc.gov.)
As a sidebar story, in Leonard Bernstein’s comic operetta, Candide, there is a song called I Am Easily Assimilated, which was written by
Mr. Bernstein and Richard Wilbur. Leonard Bernstein may have remembered hearing something about where his father was from, because the opening lines in
the song are “I was not born in sunny Hispania, my father came from Rovno Gubernya.”