Sheiva Gnisdack Sheinfeld
Isser and Sheiva (nee Gnisdack) Sheinfeld lived in a small Bessarabian agricultural village called Putsuntei (now Putintei, Moldova), located a few kilometers from the city of Orgeyev (now Orhei). In the late 19th and early 20th century, the village was about twenty percent Jewish.
Isser and Sheiva had six children who survived infancy: Herschel, Rochel, Srul, Chana, Yankel, and Chava. The Sheinfelds were orthodox and Isser served as chazzan of the synagogue on the High Holidays.
Isser owned a farm in Putsuntei, which produced eggs, tobacco, and corn. They also had a general store. He was a sick man, so he began to rely upon his oldest son, Herschel, to run the store and the farm. Herschel had been studying at a Rabbinical Seminary, but had to give up his vocation in order to run the family businesses.
Srul and Herschel Sheinfeld in the Russian army
Around 1916, Rose and Annie (the two oldest girls) were brought to Montreal by Sheiva’s sister Freda Bindman and her husband Aaron, who had emigrated to Canada around 1905 from Korneshty. Shortly after the girls left, Isser’s declining health forced the Sheinfelds gave up their farm.
The family moved to the nearby town of Kalarash, where Herschel and Srul became the sole support of their parents and younger siblings. Herschel worked in a lumberyard and Srul was employed by a kerosene wholesaler. Unfortunately, while the Sheinfelds were living in Kalarash Herschel and Srul were conscripted into the Russian army. At one point, they tried to desert to Romania; but they were caught and sentenced to serve time in a prison camp. After Herschel and Srul were drafted, the remaining members of the family (Isser, Sheiva, Yankel and Chava) moved back to the farm in Putsuntei. Yankel assumed responsibility for their support.
Isser died in Putsuntei in April, 1920. A year later, Sheiva and her youngest daughter Chava came to Montreal. Their journey can be traced by looking at Sheiva’s passport. The two women travelled overland through Bucharest and from there to Yugoslavia. They departed from the port of Trieste on January 5, 1921. Yankel and Srul joined them in 1922 and earned a living peddling dry goods near Montreal. Herschel was the last of the family to come over from Europe. With his wife and their three children, he emigrated to Montreal from Teleneshty in October 1925. Sheiva, the family matriarch, died in Montreal in 1934.
Sheiva Sheinfeld and her children
Herschel (Harry) settled in Windsor, Ontario. Rochel (Rose Landau) lived in Ottawa. Srul (Israel), Chana (Annie Kertzman), Yankel (Jack), and Chava (Eva Mintz) remained in Montreal. The elder generation of Sheinfelds all have died, as have some of the next generation. The remaining grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Isser and Sheiva Sheinfeld are scattered throughout Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Detroit, and various parts of the United States.
Two members of the extended Sheinfeld family are well-known in JewishGen circles. Jerrold Landau, the grandson of Rose and Jack Landau, has translated numerous yizkor books that appear on the JewishGen website. Joyce Field, daughter-in-law of Harry and Rose Sheinfeld, is JewishGen’s Vice President of Data Acquisition.
Credits: Page design copyrighted © 2008 by Helene Kenvin. Text by Jerrold Landau, edited by Helene Kenvin. Photographs copyrighted © 2008 by Jerrold Landau and Joyce Field. Page created by Helene Kenvin. All rights reserved.