Family & Personal Stories
Barelkowski: The gravestone of Shlomo Moshe Barelkowski can be found in Narewka's Jewish Cemetery. According to the translation contributed by David Feldman, the inscription reads, "Here lies the learned and humble rabbi; Shlomo Moshe Barilkovski the son of Shmaryahu. Died the first day of Sukkot - 15 of Tishrei 5694 - Oct. 5th, 1933. He led our community for 36 years." This text informs us that Shlomo Barelkowski had served as a rabbi in Narewka for many years; additionally, it provides evidence that, although he is listed on Yad Vashem's Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names, he died a few years before the beginning of World War II. According to the testimony there, Rabbi Barilkowski was born in Jasionowka, Poland, and was the son of Shmariahu and Khana. He also appears on the Grodno Gubernia 1912 Voters List (Narewka), the son of Shmerko. (photo by Joy Kestenbaum, August 2010)
Barton/Bartnowsky: Narewka: to Complete the Circle (available on the Museum of Family History website and here), 10 mins. film by Tomasz Wisniewski about Nashville, Tennessee resident David Barton's 2009 visit to Narewka, where his ancestors had lived and from where his grandparents had emigrated with their six children, including his father, in the early 20th century. In 1906 David Barton's grandfather, Chaim Bartnowsky (Hyman Barton), a cobbler, went to Selma, Alabama, to work in the shoe store that he subsequently purchased; his family followed him there. Later, in 1923, David's father started Barton's Department Store.
Birenbaum: Ten years ago Israel Birenbaum visited Narewka with his father Moshe, who was born there in 1918 and left in June of 1941 to join the Red Army, just days before the German invasion of Russia. Israel just returned from a second trip made with his brother Zvika in May of 2011, about two months after his father's passing. They were accompanied by 45 Israeli students from the high school his brother runs; while in Narewka they had the opportunity to meet with local Polish students. You can read Israel's moving account of his two trips to Narewka here, Visits in Narewka - Birenbaum Family. The meeting between the Israeli and Polish students at the School Complex (Zespole Szkół) in Narewka and their joint tour of the town have also been reported on the websites of the GOK - Gminny Osrodek Kultury (Narewka Municipal Cultural Center) and the Zespół Szkół. (photo courtesy of Israel Birenbaum)
Caplan/Kaplański: David CAPLAN (Kaplański), son of Asher Bishka (Bischoff) HaCohen, was born in Narewka; he immigrated to New York c1889 and settled in Alexandria in Central Louisiana. After working as a peddler, he established his own dry goods store in Alexandria in 1891. Caplan's, specializing in men's clothing, is still a family-operated business, managed by one of David CAPLAN's grandsons. David Caplan married Katie Fineman in New York City in 1899. I have been able to determine that Yosef Kaplański, who remained in Narewka, where he died in 1936, was David Caplan's brother, as they both were sons of Asher Bishka HaCohen. Yosef's wife Rachel, his son Beni and daughter Luba were killed in the Shoah. His other daughters immigrated to Israel, New York and Mexico before World War II. Yosef's gravestone survives in the Narewka Cemetery.
Effron-Linevsky: In 1920, when she was six years old, Sylvia (Scheine) Dashefsky, nee Effron, left Narewka for New York with her mother Frume Effron (nee Linevsky) to meet her father, who had immigrated several years earlier. Her 1997 recorded interview, one of the Oral Histories of Ellis Island Immigrants, is accessible online for no charge on Ancestry.com. (Source Citation: Audio ID: EI-894, Ellis Island Oral History Program, Oral History Project, Ellis Island Immigration Museum, New York City, New York.) For Batya Dashefsky's tribute to her parents, see "The Memories of Leo and Sylvia Dashefsky," (an exhibition on the Museum of Family History website). (Passport Photo of Fruma and Sylvia Effron, courtesy of Batya Dashefsky)
Grajewski: Ajzyk (Isaac) Grajewski (c1895-1941) was the last rabbi of the Narewka Jewish community. He may have been appointed after the death of Shlomo Moshe Barelkowski in 1933. (See Barelkowski, above.) Rabbi Grajewski and his family (his wife Rywka and young children, Pinchas, Feigele, Liebenke) were all killed in the Shoah. Grajewski was probably originally from Bialystok. According to the brief reference in one volume of the Hebrew multi-volume work, Atlas Etz-Hayim, Atlas of the Tree of Life (1987, Tel Aviv), by Raphael Halperin, Grajewski was a prominent Polish rabbi who led a Novaredoker Bes Jozef Yeshiva and became the head of the rabbinical court (beth din) of Narewka. If anyone has additional information about Rabbi Grajewski or his family, please contact me. (photo of Grajewski's wife Rywka with two of her children, courtesy of Barbara Kotin; see Family Pictures; see also 1935 certificate signed by A. Grajewski, Rabin Gminy Wyzyznaniowej Żydowskiej, Rabbi of Jewish Religious Community, Narewka, courtesy of Phillip Schreibman.)
Grinberg: Not a great deal is known about the history of the spiritual leaders of the Narewka Jewish community. (See also listings, above, for Barelkowski and Grajewski.) Feivel (Fejwel) Grinberg, who is said to have served as a rabbi in 1900, was also a local merchant. One daughter, Sarah, married Israel Rosenberg, who studied at the yeshivas in Slobodka and Novaredok. In 1902 Israel Rosenberg left Narewka for New York; his wife and daughters joined him the following year. Rabbi Rosenberg became the president of the Agudas HaRabonim, the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada. Rachel Levitzky, the wife of Morris Levitzky, secretary of the Narevker Aid Society in New York, may also have been a daughter of Feivel Grinberg. (photo of Sarah Rosenberg's gravestone, courtesy of Joy Kestenbaum)
Jablanovich/Jablonowicz: The Jablanovich family is one of the few families from Narewka found in the 1897 Russian Census. Leizar Abramov Yablonvich and his son Srol (Israel) are described on the census as shoemakers. Wolf Jablanovich/Jablonowicz (Zeev Tapoohi in Hebrew), the son of Srol and Sora-Leya, was the youngest of nine children. He made aliyah in 1934 at the age of 19 and never saw his family in Narewka again, because of the Shoah. For photographs contributed by Rivka Witenberg, daughter of Wolf/Zeev, and more on the family, see Narewka and the Jablanovich/Jablonowicz Family.
Katz: Centropa Interview with Emilia (Endler) Ratz, Holocaust survivor, who was born in Warsaw and whose maternal grandparents (surname KATZ) lived in Narewka, where her mother, Marija nee Katz, was born in 1896. (Country: Austria; Interviewer: Tanja Eckstein; Date of Interview: July 2004) (Centropa - Central Europe Center for Research and Documentation)
Levitsky: Martin Jacobs contributed some family photographs and pages from his great-aunt Esther's self-published memoir, My Life Story. Born in Narewka, she left for Bialystok as a child with her family, before she emigrated to London in 1901. Her parents, Yossel and Sarah (Waran) Levitsky, made aliyah to Palestine before World War I. Esther later moved to Australia. In her memoir, printed in 1962, she wrote of their early years, "It was a hard life, as twelve of us children had to be fed, and our dear parents, also. And now some of us are in the far corners of the world - Great Russia, England, America, Israel and Australia - and their children, grandchildren, and great-grand children." As it turns out, Martin Jacob's grandfather Nathan (Nachman) was friendly with some of my English family members, as two of my grandfather's sisters settled in London. (photo courtesy of Martin Jacobs)
Linevsky: See Effron-Linevsky, above.
Liss: According to Irving Wallace: A Writer's Profile, IRVING WALLACE (1916-1990), American best-selling author and screenwriter, born in Chicago, Illinois, and raised in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was named after his maternal grandfather, a bookkeeper and Talmudic scholar in Narewka (p. 10). Bessie LISS, Wallace's mother, and aunts and uncles emigrated to the United States. Narewka provided the connection by which Wallace's parents would first meet. In Chicago Bessie LISS met her future husband Alex Wallace (Wallechinsky) at the wedding of one of his step-sisters, who was marrying a man from Narewka (p.13). For more on the LISS famiily, see the webpage on this Narewka website, Irving Wallace and the LISS Family. (Photo used with permission, University of Wisconsin - Parkside Archives.)
Shapiro: Moshe and Bella Shapiro had a grain store in Narewka. Seven of their children immigrated to New York, beginning with a daughter, Fannie, who left in 1902 at the age of seventeen. Fannie and several of her siblings returned to Narewka in the 1920s and 1930s to visit the family. Barry Traub has published a monograph, Our Family History, with accounts of family visits to Narewka, including the one he took with two of his daughters in the summer of 2004. Excerpts from the book can be read here.
Shendrovski/Wasilkowski: Netta Kaplan visited Narewka in August of 2013 with her brother Tal, sister Avivi and mother Asnat. Her grandparents, Pua Wasilkowski and Zvi Shenderovski, met in Narewka; they immigrated to Palestine in 1925. Born in Slonim, Zvi had arrived in Narewka with his family in 1907, when he was six. His father Bezalel served as a cantor and shochet. Her grandfather's entire family went to Palestine before World War II. Pua's sister Esther immigrated to New York in 1934, after marrying Solomon (Shlomo), the son of Moshe and Bella Shapiro of Narewka (see Shapiro, just above). Pua and Esther were the only ones in the Wasilkowski family who survived the Shoah.