The People of Motol



Arieh Leib Chemerinski Goldstein, born in 1876, was the son of Schlomo and Naomi Chemerinski from Motol.  He married Yetta Sporofski from Yanova (Ivanovo) and had four children:  Jennie (b. 1901).  All were born in Motol although it is know that Fannie Friedl moved to Yanova before later emigrating to the U.S.  Arieh Leib apparently took the surname Goldstein by the time he and his family settled in Chicago.  None of the family retained the name Chemerinski after they came to the U.S.  However, it does appear on immigration records.  Arieh Leib died on February 25, 1946 and is buried in the Waldheim Cemetary in Chicago.  Fannie Friedl died in Los Angeles in 1987.

Contributed by Hananya Kronenberg

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Isadore Eisenberg Family

Isadore was born about 1886 in Motele, Russia (the same hometown of the first president of Israel, Chaim Weizmann) which is about 26 miles outside of Pinsk in present day Belarus.   Isadore was a twin.  Isadore moved to Pinsk and met Ida Rose Grutz, born about 1888 in Pinsk, Russia.  She married Isadore Morris Eisenberg in Pinsk about 1908.
Isadore emigrated to the United Sates from Rotterdam, Holland, on  the 23rd day of Oct., 1909, and arrived in the  United States at the port of New York, NY, on the 3rd day of Nov.,  1909, on the vessel Potsdam. He sent for his wife, Ida and daughter Hannah.  Ida was pregnant with Sylvia when Isadore left, and according to Eva, Sylvia was born on the ship during the crossing to NY.  They settled in Chicago, because of relatives living there. Isadore later sent for his brother Dovid & his sister Tsivia.  Isadore became a naturalized citizen on Feb. 14, 1918.
Isadore opened a shoe repair shop, as that was his trade, at 514 E. 39th Street on the south side of Chicago.  The family lived in the rear of the shop, as there were complete living quarters there.   Later, they moved into an apartment on Lake & 39th.  Much later, he bought a duplex on Champlain and 60th.

Contributed by Melanie Greenberg

Isadore Eisenberg, 1926

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The Sholom Polin Family

Sholom & Sara Polin
Sholom & Sara Polin

Dr. Sholom Polin was married to Sara (Shashaka) Rivka (Chernick), who was the daughter of Dr. Yehudah Leib Chernick. Sholom was known in Motol as “Sholom der Rofeh” which means Sholom the Doctor. 

Sholom and Sarah had 12 children, of which six survived and migrated to Chicago in 1912.  The Polin children included: Anuta (Sadkin), Abraham, Rose, Oscar, Emma (Fleishman) and Herbert.

The family name Polin is not related to the country Poland nor to the personal name Polina.  According to Rabbi Milton Polin (son of Abraham, who was born in the nearby town of Pohost), the name was “conferred” upon his great grandfather Mordechai who was a very pious person. He was always available to help others so they used to say, “Go to Reb Mordechai, and you will accomplish (payln in Yiddish) whatever it is you need.”  A Hebrew translation might be Poel Yeshuot (English translation would be “savior”) 

Rose Polin was the first female pharmacist in Chicago, and the first female pharmacist to own her own drug store.

Herbert J. Polin was born in Motol in 1900. He was a past president of the Chicago Pharmacy Association. 

Rabbi Milton H. Polin is the Rabbi Emeritus of Kingsway Jewish Center of Brooklyn, NY, and a past president of the Rabbinical Council of America. A speech honoring Rabbi Polin by the Honorable Charles E. Schumer can be found in the records of the House of Representatives dated Thursday, October 2, 1997.

Contributed by Vicki Polin

Standing top left to right: Rose, Anuta, Abraham; Standing and sitting left to right: Emma, Sara, Herbert, Sholom, Oscar
The Polin family Motele 1905

Herb Polin & sons Paul & Richard
Herb Polin & sons Paul & Richard
(Chicago 1937)

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Shmuel Ratnofsky family

Shmuel_Ratnofsky_family_from_Motol.jpg (113409 bytes) The Ratnofsky family pictured in the photo emigrated to the United States from Motol between the years 1898 and 1913.  Once in the U.S., they took the last name Radner.  Front row, left to right:  Sarah Ratnofsky Bergman, Malka Lutsky Ratnofsky, Samuel/Shmuel Radner, Miriam Warshovsky Radner, Barnet/ Dov Baer Radner, Florence/Feigl Radner (later Ocko).  

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Malke Lutsky Ratnofsky

Back row, left to right:  Max/Hershel Radner, George/Moshe Yankel Radner, Frieda Ratnofsky Rabinowitz, Victor/Avigdor Radner, William/Velvel Radner, Stella/Slata Radner Wolf, Louis/Leib Radner, Esther Ratnofsky Wasserman.

Samuel Ratnofsky, was the head of the family.  He is seated between his mother on his right, and his wife on his left.  They are surrounded by the next generation.

Although Samuel’s occupation was an innkeeper, the family apparently owned land.  Two of the children had fond memories of a large barn on the property. One of the children reported that he had supervised the peasants in their work on the farm.  A third described riding into town on a wagon full of produce.  The family was apparently fairly well off since Samuel’s wife reportedly had a small carriage that was sometimes borrowed by the town to transport dignitaries.  Samuel’s father, Avraham Yakov Ratnofsky, had been a rent collector for the local nobleman and had been robbed and murdered when he had been out on his horse.  Samuel was the eldest of seven children and took over the leadership of the family when his father was killed. 

The eldest Ratnofsky children arrived in the U.S. one by one at fairly young ages beginning in 1898.  In 1906 Miriam Ratnofsky brought one of her daughters and a niece to attend the weddings of her daughters Sarah and Esther.  She then persuaded her husband to emigrate the following year with the remaining three children.  Only one daughter, Frieda, remained in Motol until 1913 since she had been married at a young age and already had a family.

Three of Samuel’s siblings also came to the United States.  A sister, Esther, may have arrived first from Motol with her husband, Moshe Gutensky.  A younger brother, Aaron, was also an early arrival.  He changed his name to Raunik and then Ronick and worked for a relative by marriage who had a furniture factory in Norfolk, VA.  After Miriam had arrived for the weddings, another brother, Max/Michel arrived in the U.S. with his family and their mother, Malka, in November 1907 and took the surname of Ronnick.  The Ronnicks lived in Hartford, CT. 

Contributed by Debra Wolraich

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Sarah Feigel (Faga) Kagan (nee STEINBERG)

SarahSteinbergKagan.jpg (44500 bytes)  

Sarah Feigel (Faga) Kagan (nee Steinberg) was the daughter of Shraga Feivel Steinberg of Motol. Sarah was the wife of Eliezer Kagan, who was for 32 years the gabbai (sexton) of the Vakzolner (or Voksolner) Bet Midrash (House of Study) in Pinsk.  She died in Pinsk in 1924.


Contributed by Martin Fischer

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Jacob and Emma Warshovsky Tanenbaum

Jacob_and_Emma_Warshovsky_Tanenbaum_sm.jpg (83202 bytes) Emma and Jacob Meyer Tanenbaum came to Chicago from Motele in or around 1899.  Jacob was one of the founders of the Motele Shul in Chicago.  Emma’s father was an innkeeper in Motele.  Her mother and the mother of Chaim Weizmann were sisters.  Emma also had a sister, Martha Gitlin (wife of Shepsel Gitlin), in New York who started the “Society for the Preservation of Pure Yiddish,” and a cousin named Jacob Harrison.  who was an accountant and had three children.  The photos were taken in San Antonio, Texas in the 1920’s. 

Contributed by Joyce Tanenbaum Hill


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Nathan Greenfield was the son of Fannie Chimirinsky.  His Hebrew name was Noach Zvi and his father was Mordechai.  Nathan was married to Minnie (maiden name either Becker or Glazer or Golasshoff).  Minnie’s Hebrew name was Mounecha bat Beinish.  This information was taken from their tombstones at Mt. Sinai Cemetery in N. Miami Beach.  Nathan was the great uncle of Diane Glazer Jacobs.

Contributed by Diane Glazer Jacobs


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Ida Chemerinsky, the daughter of Yehiel and Frouma Chemerinsky, married William Friedman and had three children:  Louis Friedman (b. 1891), Herman Friedman (b. 1899) and Nehamka Friedman (b. ?) who came to the U.S.  Louis Friedman married Sarah Shelupsky and emigrated by 1909.  They had four children, all born in the U.S.  Nehamka had two sons.

Contributed by Peter Friedman, Louis Friedman’s grandson


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According to family legend, Israel Jacob Silberfarb was in the lumber business with Chaim Weizmann’s father. Israel Jacob had three sons who emigrated to the United States:  Morris, Abraham and Mordechai (Max).  They arrived in New York around the turn of the century, about 1902.  Morris was married to Jennie.  Abraham was married to Ida.  Mordechai was married to Raizel.  Mordechai and Razel Silberfarb stopped in London where their son Louis was born.  Their son Jacob was born in 1903 after their arrival in the U.S.

Contributed by Edward Silberfarb



A sister and brother from the Rosenfeld family emigrated to the United States from Motol.  The sister, Shprintza (Sophie) Rosenfeld Portnoy/Perlman, came in 1911.  She had married Issacher Yehuda “Alter” Portnoy in Motol and had several children, most born in Motol:  Ethel (Silverman), Ida (Cohen), Bess (Karbelnig), Morris Jacob “Jack,” and Albert H.  In the United States, the family changed their surname to Perlman and lived in Chicago.  

Shrintza’s brother’s name is unknown.  He and his family settled in New York City.  Two of his children, Rose Rosenfeld and Benjamin Rosenfeld, both lived in the Bronx and never married. It is known that Rose died in a nursing home in Brooklyn in 1967 and that  Benjamin died in 1973.  A third child, a son, married Fannie and had two daughters before he died around 1945.  One of the daughters, Muriel Rosenfeld, never married and is no longer living.

 Contributed by Dan Silverman

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