Our Families

This webpage is a scrapbook of families from Makhnovka, their recollections and photos. Each entry is told from the point of view of a JewishGen researcher, and how they and their family are connected to Makhnovka. It is our hope that this scrapbook can help sketch the lives and people of our shtetl, that recollections may inspire other recollections, and that maybe family members can find ancestral connections here.

Index of Makhnovka surnames found in this scrapbook:



















AXELROD. Family of Gary LEVIN.

My father was born in Vinnitsa and came to the US when he was 4 years old. I first learned of Makhnovka, his mother's birthplace, when my father died 6 years ago, from naturalization papers found in his personal effects. I have some recollection of my grandmother's family, all of whom lived in Philadelphia. Everyone in her generation died before I was 12. My grandmother, Bina AXELROD, was born in Makhnovka (12 Aug 1879), daughter of Gayrshin AXELROD and his wife (name unknown). Other known AXELROD siblings were Jack (Yonkel), Anna (Nessa) (married COHEN), and Rose (married BROOKER). My father and grandfather were born in nearby Vinnitsa (according to naturalization papers). My father, Abraham (Y'Rachmiel) LEVIN, was born in 1907 (possibly 1909), and came to the US in 1912. Per Ellis Island records, my grandfather, along with his oldest daughter Ida, arrived in the US on 3 Sept 1911, on a ship named the Adriatic from Liverpool. The story I was told is that he sent for the rest of the family a year later, and they came to the US in 1912, directly to Philadelphia on a ship named the Ruggia. To the best of my knowledge, all of these family members stayed in Philadelphia for the rest of their lives. None of them are alive today. My grandmother is buried in Montefiore Cemetery (Aha Achm Y-602-4). I don't know if this is in the Machnovka plot, but I plan to look next time I get a chance to visit that area. (She is not buried in the same place as my grandfather because she remarried much later in life after he died in 1946.)

Photo of AXELROD-LEVIN family, circa 1908-11 in Ukraine, possibly Makhnovka.
Left-to-right: Gayrshin AXELROD (seated, my great-grandfather for whom I was named), Ethel LEVIN (my aunt), Mrs. AXELROD (seated, my great-grandmother, first name unknown), Y'Rachmiel LEVIN (my father, on his grandmother's lap, he became Abraham LEVIN in US), Rose AXELROD (my great-aunt, subsequent married name BROOKER), Bina (AXELROD) LEVIN (seated, my grandmother, became Becky LEVIN in US), Ida LEVIN (standing, my aunt, subsequent married name WEXLER), Joseph (Yussel) LEVIN (standing, my uncle), Sender LEVIN (seated, my grandfather, he became Samuel LEVIN in US).

ELLMAN. Family of Michael ELLMAN.

(Current contact for Michael no longer available, but there are other researchers with Ellman Makhnovka connections.)

My Grandfather, Abraham ELLMAN came from Makhednike (otherwise Makhnovka) in the Kiev Guberniya, in the early 1890s, and settled in Manchester, England, where he married my grandmother, Rebecca CUTSEN, believed to have come from Latvia, on 26 May 1896. Their four children (including my father Philip) were all born in Lancashire.

Around the same time his parents, Michael ELLMAN and Cisey (Zipporah/Sophia, ne GERSHFIELD) also came to Manchester, and his siblings Harris, Kate, Louis/Lewis and Sarah also came - but we do not know the exact dates when they came. All except Kate appear to have married in the UK, and all had children, mostly born here.

However Kate married Hyman KERMAN from Odessa, presumably in Ukraine/Russia, and her firstborn David was born in Russia, but her other five children were born in Lancashire; Lewis married Selina/Sarah BESMAN, and their seven children were born in Manchester; Harris married Fanny/Fayge (born around 1883 in Russia), and they had nine children, all believed to have been born in Lancashire; Sarah married Maurice DUNN in Prestwich (Lancashire) and they had five children, all apparently in the UK.


Samuel FOIGEL (changed to FELDER upon arrival in America) was born on September 20, 1887 in Berdichev in the shtetl of Machifka or Machnowka.

Mordecai, and Pearl FOIGEL, Samuel's parents, had three children, David, the oldest, Samuel, and Ida Cheika. David later changed his family name to FOGEL. Ida became Mrs. Benjamin GOLDBERG.

David helped to bring Samuel to America. Samuel left Berdichev (Machifka), Russia, (at age 17) traveled to Rotterdam apparently. Then the ship left from Liverpool, England: 6 June 1904; arrived on 16 July 1904 in New York at Ellis Island. The ship was the S.S. Majestic (White Star line). The name on the manifest is FAIGEL, Schimell. Samuel then went to Boston, Massachusetts to meet David.

After a short time the two brothers moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They both worked in the garment industry in Philadelphia. Samuel did piece work, seaming garments. Many times there was no work at all. After a short time, they had saved enough money to bring their sister, Ida, and their mother Pearl to America. Mordechai, their father, died in Russia. Pearl only said that it was a violent death. We assume it was a pogrom. No one in the family was allowed to discuss it.

Samuel met Sara Bessie GOFSTEIN in Philadelphia. She was from Baranovka, Russia. Sam and Sara were very much in love. They were married on September 19, 1907. They had seven children: Mary, Jack (Morris), Reba, Fannie, Pearl, Leon, Yossi (later Joseph).

Samuel worked in the garment industry until he started to have strokes at about 45 years old. Samuel and Sara belonged to a group called B'Nai Chaim Social. This was an organization for Jewish immigrants that helped them to assimilate to life in America. It offered social programs, movies, burial arrangements, and a burial plot. Samuel and Sara are buried in Mount Sharon Cemetery (Springfield, PA) in the B'Nai Chaim area. The group is still in existence.

Samuel was a quiet, soft-spoken, gentle man. He always had some small coins in his pockets and cough drops that he liked to give to the grandchildren, fourteen in all. In the early years he made delicious cherry wine in barrels in the basement. I was allowed to pick cherries out of the barrel to eat. He loved his children and grandchildren very dearly. After a number of strokes, he died in his bed on April 29, 1954. At the time, Sara and Sam lived in an area called "Strawberry Mansion".

Top left, brothers Samuel and David Foigel (abt 1904). Ida Cheika with Rebecca Fogel (abt 1905). Above left, their mother Pearl. Samuel and Sara, May 1953. Below, postcard photo of the ship that Samuel arrived on. (Click on any photo to enlarge.)

KANDEL. Family of Vivian SINGER.

Cantor Moishe KANDEL was the family patriarch, and the photo of the old man with the white beard had a place of prominence in all of his children's homes. He and his wife, Esther Malka, had 4 daughters in Makhnovka — Pesa, Sarah, Chana and Bella. Three of them settled in Philadelphia, but Moishe never came to the US.

Pesa married Shalom Yosef KEYSER and had twin sons, Leib and Aaron. She died when the boys were very young.

Sarah married Leib APPLE and had 4 children who lived to adulthood: Sam, Harry, Goldie and Dora. The photo with the children was taken after Leib and Sam had already made it to the US, and before Sarah took the younger children to join them. The old man in that photo is Moishe — this is the more inclusive version of the portrait of him.

Chana married Shlomo FRIEDMAN and had one daughter, Liba/Luba. After Shlomo died, his parents took the daughter and Chana went to the US. Luba stayed in Makhnovka until her grandparents died, and then came to the US, where she met her half-siblings Joe GOULD and Esther GOLDENBERG. She also met her first cousin, Harry APPLE, and married him. It was against the law for them to marry in Pennsylvania, so they went to Wilmington, Delaware.

Bella married Philip LIEBERMAN and had six children, most of them born in Philadelphia.

(See also the LITMAN family below, who shares common ancestry in Moshe KANDEL.)

The "beach" photo includes (from left) Bella, Sarah, and Chana, with Harry Apple at top. (Click on any photo to enlarge.)

LITMAN. Family of Richard C. LITMAN.

My grandfather Nathan LITMAN was the founding president of the Moshe Machnover Society, which has a burial plot in Montefiore Cemetery in Philadelphia. The society was named for Moshe KANDELL (or some spelling variant), a Cantor who was the grandfather of 3 sisters: they had 1 half-sister (plus 2 half-brothers) who emigrated from Makhnovka. The half sister was my grandmother (Nathan LITMAN's wife) Goldie KEYSER. Their father's name was Shalom Josef KANDEL, a Rabbi. His father-in-law from his first marriage (wife died) was the Cantor. Moshe was the family patriarch, and was at least in his 80's around the turn of the century, and stayed behind. My Hebrew name is Moshe, after the Cantor.

I believe at least one SPECTOR and a LIEBERMAN are in this burial society's plot. In fact, a Philip LIEBERMAN was married to one of the 3 sisters (half sister to my grandmother) and was one of the first to emigrate to Philadelphia. I believe he ran a tailoring business in South Philadelphia and was the relative that was listed on my grandfather's records on arrival at Ellis island in September 1904.

(See also the KANDEL family above, who shares common ancestry in Moshe KANDEL.)


One of my family names is "Stoller" (also spelled "Stoler" on some ship manifests). The elder (my great-great grandmother) was Miriam Chane Stoller (buried at Mt. Zion). Among her children were Fishel (aka Philip) Stoller, Pearl Stoller and Sara (Sarah) Stoller. Fishel married Sadie (aka Sara), Pearl married Elias (aka Eli or Elihu) Weisberg and Sara (aka Sima) married Efroim (aka Froim or Frank) Zips. The spelling of the "Zips" name has been problematic for me. On the headstones, the name is spelled "Zips," but it is also spelled "Zipps" and "Zipes" on other documents I have collected. "Tsipes" may actually be a more accurate transliteration of the European surname. Sara and Frank Zips had four children: Lillian, Sadie, Lottie and Max. Of course, these are their English names. The Yiddish version of most of these names are found on the gate inscriptions at the Mt. Zion burial plot. The name "Leah bat Ephroim Zips" would appear to be Lillian Zips. Sadie married a Kantrowitz and Lottie married an Issacson. I do not know who "Chaya Tsipes" is on the Zips family tree. On the "Officials" pillar, Elihu Weisberg is Elias who married Pearl Stoller. The name beneath Fishel Stoller is my grandfather, Moshe/Moishe Nearenberg, and Israel Tzipes is certainly Max Zips. For unknown reasons, some of the Stoller/Zips family are buried in nearby Mt. Hebron Cemetery and not in Mt. Zion.

TALALAYEVSKY. Family of Beatrice MARKEL.

My research interest in Makhnovka is as the birthplace of Aaron TALALAYEVSKY, who married Chaya MINKOVSKY (my aunt), and their children, six sons born in Makhnovka and two daughters born in Kiev. All of this family moved to Kiev after 1920. One of their sons, Mottel/Matvie (1908-1978), became a well-known Soviet Ukrainian Yiddish writer, whose daughter Irina TALALAYEVSKY still lives in Kiev. I have a lot of biographical material on him.

There are TALALAYEVSKY family membes who emigrated to the US after the Soviet breakup. And I have found a relative of Aaron TALALAYEVSKY living in Israel.

WEISBERG. Family of Ilene MURRAY.

My grandfather Avram Ze'ev (William Abram) WEISBERG was born in Makhnovka and came to New York at age 16. (See photos on right). He came on the USS Statendam from Rotterdam and arrived on July 4, 1906. His was the first passenger arrival record I ever found, simply because he remembered being in the port of New York on July 4th, but not being able to disembark until the next day because of the holiday. He is listed as 17 on the manifest, but he always told us he was 16 when he arrived. I knew him well into my adulthood, but unfortunately, I never thought to ask him much about his birthplace. I've always known that "our" Makhnovka was near Berditchev and Kiev because my grandfather told me. He used to describe his town as "Makhnovka near Berditchev", and he talked of visiting Berditchev often. Grampa's father, Nuchim, was born in 1864, possibly in Vitebsk, Belarus. He was a "cheder bucher," a perpetual scholar, and his marriage to Liebe BOCHES was arranged. Nuchim's father was Yakov Meyer WEISBERG; Nuchim's mother was supposedly "Brantze," but I have also seen her called Sarah LEVINE. Nuchim and Liebe's children were Nachman (Norman), who married his cousin Anna BOCHES and settled in Lowell, Mass.; they had two children, Eugene and Laurence; my grandfather, who married Malka Feige (Fay) ZEITLIN, and lived in New York; one child, Jeanne, (my mother), still alive and healthy at 86 1/2; Malka Feige (Frances) who married Sam COHEN and settled in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., no children; Chaje (James) married Minnie AGIN; they lived in New York till after the 1930s and eventually settled in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.; one son, David; and the youngest was Yakov (Jack), who married Florence FREEMAN, and died unexpectedly young without children in New Rochelle, N.Y.

Grampa's mother, Liebe BOCHES, was from Pikov, near Vinnitsa and not too far from Makhnovka. (Grampa spent some of his childhood living at his mother's father's farm in Pikov, just to give the young family one less mouth to feed.) Liebe BOCHES's father was Yitzhak Aizik BOCHES; Liebe's mother was Pesse/Tesse; last name a mystery although maybe YKDECH.

In 1906, when Grampa came to America, the family was very poor; his older brother Norman WEISBERG had already settled in the US and had earned enough for Grampa's passage. The draft was imminent for both of them, and there was no economic future for them in Ukraine. Grampa lived for a while in Massachusetts with Norman and their uncle Joel BOCHES. By 1909, they had earned enough to send for their father Nuchim. By 1910 both brothers were in New York City. Soon Norman returned to Mass and lived in Lowell. In 1912, they sent for their sister Feige, and by 1914 the rest of the family (mother and two boys) had come too. Luckily for them, they beat World War I or they would have been stuck for at least four more years. Also, Nuchim had a half brother, Elias WEISBERG, and a half sister, Ettel (WEISBERG) PERFIT, who came to New York from Makhnovka.

Grampa settled in Brooklyn by 1916. He was on Moore St.and Howard St. but he lived most of his life on Eastern Parkway: first at 1081, then 1085, and finally at 1199. In the late 1950s, he and my grandmother moved to Foster Ave and then in the 1970s to East 19th St. After my grandmother's death in 1978, he lived with my parents in East Meadow. When they moved to Florida in 1980, he went with him and died there in 1982 at the age of 92. My grandparents are buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery in the Makhnovka section.

Above, my grandparents, Fay Zeitlin Weisberg and William Abram Weisberg, their Americanized names, taken in East Meadow, New York in the late 1960s or early 1970s.
Left, one of the first photos of my grandfather after he arrived in the US in 1906.
Below, a postcard photo of the ship that he arrived on.
(Click on any photo to enlarge.)

BRAUTMAN. Family of Tom CHATT.

My great-grandfather's connection to Makhnovka is a mystery. I had never heard of Makhnovka until I learned that my great-grandparents are buried in the Makhnovka Aid Association plot in Mt. Zion Cemetery in Queens. What I do know is this: Louis (Leib Yitzchak) BRAUTMAN, son of Koppel BRAUTMAN and Rachel SPERBERG, was born in 1865 in Kishinev (now Chisinau, Moldova). Family lore says his parents died when he was only 7 years old, leaving him orphaned and without other family. He apprenticed himself to a goldsmith, learned that trade, made his way to England (not sure if he stayed for a bit or just passed through), and came to New York around 1889. In New York, he met his wife Bertha (Bluma) "Betty" LITTMAN, who was born about 1870 and came to New York in 1887. Her parents, David LITTMAN and Sali (or Sadie) SCHOEN, lived in the town of Spisske Podhradie (then Hungary, now Slovakia), and I have had the privilege of visiting their graves there. Louis and Betty had five daughters: Rhea (Rachel, my grandmother), Fanny, Hannah, Nina (Lena), and Celia (Chanah Tsiviah). The family lived in mostly Galician neighborhoods in the Lower East Side from at least 1892 until nearly 1920, when they moved to "Jewish Harlem" (Madison & 102nd St). German (not Yiddish) was the native language in the home, though my great-grandmother pushed everyone to learn English. The family was very religious, and even declared one daughter "dead" when she married out of the faith. Neither of them came from anywhere near Makhnovka, so their connection to the society remains a mystery. From data collected about the "landsmanschaft" societies, it is known that an average of about 10% of the members were not from the town/place that the society was organized around, but joined for other connections or reasons. Perhaps Louis, who had no extended family, was treated kindly by Makhnovkers in New York, and joined their society.

Louis (Leib Yitzchak) BRAUTMAN. Circa 1890?

This page maintained by Tom Chatt. Please feel free to contact me with any comments or contributions.

Updated by TRC 29 Dec 2021
Copyright © 2004-2021 Tom Chatt

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