alternate spelling: Kovnovitz
The earliest known member of the Kovnovich family is Getzl Kovnovich (1834-1905), son of Peysach. Getzl's sister Gitl (Gutl) Kovnovich (1835-1907) married Yankl Meyer Glezer. Getzl Kovnovich married Rivka Leya, and they had five children:
- Shlomo (Shloyme/Shleyme) Kovnovich, born ~1871. He married Sora (Shora) Brafman, daughter of Itzik Brafman. In 1921, Shlomo Kovnovich was elected chairman of Trashkun’s Jewish Community Committee (Va’ad Kehilah).[NOTE]Such committees were established after World War I to give Jewish communities some autonomy over their own education and taxation in the wake of Lithuania's new independence.
The five children of Shlomo and Sora:
Moshe-Itzik Kovnovich (enlarge)
- Chana Liba (later Hannah) Kovnovich, born ~1901, died in 1985.
- Zelman Yosl Kovnovich, born 3 March 1903, died before reaching adulthood.
- Abram (Avrom, Avremke) Kovnovich, born 27 or 28 January 1905, died in 1988.
- Leybe Kovnovich, born 27 November 1906, died before reaching adulthood.
- Shmuel Yankl (Shmulke) Kovnovich, born 10 June 1908. He married Hasia Dlot, and died in 1989.
- Leyzer Wulf Kovnovich, born ~1874. On 4 August 1900 in Kovno (Kaunas) he married Chana Levin, who was born in ~1883, daughter of Benjamin Levin. Leyzer Wulf and Chana emigrated to the United States.
- Moshe Itzik Kovnovich, born ~1877. He married Mina, daughter of Yankel.
The two known children of Moshe Itzik and Mina:
- Peysach Zalk Kovnovich, born 15 March 1891.
- Ita Mina Kovnovich, born 13 August 1896.
- Benjamin Beynas Kovnovich, born ~1877.
- Ester Enta (Eta) Kovnovich, born ~1881. In 1904 she married Israel Miller/Muller, who was born in Pasvalys on 8 December 1879. The three known children of Eta Kovnovich and Israel Miller/Muller:
- Leib Miller/Muller, born in ~1905
- Sara Miller/Muller, born in ~1907
- Gita Miller/Muller, born in ~1909
Shlomo Kovnovich (right) with wife Sora
(seated) and son Shmuel (~1928) (enlarge)
During World War I, the family of Shlomo Kovnovich, along with tens of thousands of other Jewish families, were forcibly expelled to the East. While in exile, Shlomo's young sons Zelman Yosl and Leybe died of typhoid fever. The family returned to Trashkun after the war. Avrom became a chalutz (Zionist pioneer) and went to Palestine in 1930. There he played violin in the Palestine Orchestra, which later became the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Chana Liba went to St. Petersburg at age 11 and stayed with her maternal aunts and uncles. She too was musically gifted, but she decided to become a physician. Shmuel escaped to Russia at the start of World War II. (Read his account of his escape and a 1965 interview about his experiences during the war years.) After the war he returned to Vilna (Vilnius) and married Hasia Dlot. They later moved to Israel.
Shmuel Kovnovich was a barber in Trashkun (Troškūnai) before the war. In an interview in Jerusalem in 1965, speaking in Yiddish, he recalled the tense atmosphere in Lithuania during the Soviet rule of 1940 and how he fled by foot to central Russia via Vitebsk and Polotsk, where he worked in a sugar factory as part of the Trud Armia (Labor Army).
— Dov Levin, Historian's Testimony: A Collection of Oral History
Abstracts, Magnes Press, Jerusalem (2013)
Shmuel Kovnovich (1928)
Remembering Shmuel Kovnovich:
“My father was a learned, educated and very talented man. The whole family—Getzl, his brothers, sons—were klezmer players. They all played the violin and entertained Lithuanians, Poles and Jews at ‘simhas.’ Very often my father would pick up his violin, a gift from Berl Glezer in Vilnius after the war, and play Yiddish and Russian popular songs. (see also)
“My father had a talent for writing prose and poetry and he was fluent in many languages: Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian, Lithuanian and Polish. He was an avid reader of Yiddish, Hebrew and Russian literature and he always read it aloud so that his wife Hasia (who was a factory worker since the age of twelve and had little schooling) and his two children could enjoy and learn to appreciate the great art of many famous writers and poets.”
— Sonia Kovnovich Mandel, daughter of Shmuel Kovnovich
Shmuel Kovnovich (right) with Itzhak
Konkurovich in Vilnius (1957) (enlarge)
Shmuel Kovnovich (right) with Itzhak Konkurovich
at the monument at Pajuoste (1957) (enlarge)
DOCUMENT Avrom Kovnovich application for internal passport (1927)
DOCUMENT Shmuel Kovnovich application for internal passport (1927)
MEMOIR Shmuel Kovnovich's account of his escape in 1941
INTERVIEW Oral history interview with Shmuel Kovnovich and his wife Hasia (1965)
DIARY Appreciation of Shlomo Kovnovich's music-making by Esther Selman Solomon (1926)
PHOTO Moshe-Itzik Kovnovich
PHOTOS Brothers Shmuel and Avrom Kovnovich (1927 or earlier)
PHOTO Shmuel Kovnovich (1928)
PHOTO Shlomo Kovnovich with wife Sora (Brafman) and son Shmuel (~1928)
PHOTO Shmuel Kovnovich among group in front of synagogue in Trashkun (late 1930s)
PHOTO Shmuel and Hasia (Dlot) Kovnovich with children (Vilnius, 1953)
PHOTOS Shmuel (Shmulke) Kovnovich appears in Trashkuner youth (1930s), Zionist pioneers (1930), and Reunion in Israel (1987)