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       Date Last Updated: 18-May-2012

Vitebsk Families Stories and Pictures


The Chidekel/ Berman/ Levin/Levine/ Singer Families

This information was donated by KLK.

This is the story of my maternal Grandmother Liba/Lille Chidekel Berman and her family. My LEVIN/LEVINE originally LURIA relatives were from Sharkovschinna. I now know they may have been from further in Poland, which matches what my grandmother LIBA (CHIDEKEL) BERMAN of Shsrkovschinna and Shkuntiki told me. She waved her hand towards the East of that Vilna Giberna, region and I thought it was further into what is now Belarus and then was Poland and Russia, and Litvak territory. I now know from the Revision lists I reviewed that my Greatgreatgrandfather was Shlema/Shlomo LEVIN, father of my Greatgrandmother Movsha/Masha LEVIN CHIDEKEL. He was a Rabbi; but this was not indicated it on the list as his occupation. Only "farmer" was listed, which all were; if they were not merchants. His father, according to the list, was Leiba Levin, and Leiba's father seemed to be Zackaria. He would be my maternal Great greatgreat greatgreatgrandfather LEVIN. Somewhere along the way the LEVINs had been orphaned and were adopted by a very kind LEVIN family and took the name in gratitude. They were a long rabbinical line. For some reason I don't know, my grandmother's father Itzyk Chidekel who was a carpenter and glazier with a farm, moved to settle Shkuntiki with a brother and with the LEVINs. He was only 12, according to the revision list, at the time and he and Shlomo went there along with other relatives of my Greatgreatgrandfather's. There were the Singers who were Greatgreatgrandfather Shlomo Levin's wife's family. She was, as I recall, Sarah Singer, daughter of a Rabbi Singer and his wife.

Cousins in the Levin and Singer families would marry quite often.It was a blessing to do so.

My great grandfather Itzyk Chidekel (b. 1863) seemed to be engaged to my great grandmother Masha b. 1874, when she was 1year old and he was 12. His father was Chaim Chidekel, Chaim's father was Michel, and Michel's father was Zalman. Were they once the same family? I don't know. I don't know why the close relationship existed. I know that my grandfather David Berman also of Sharkovschinna was the son of Moshe Baer and Feyge Monak (Moonyick pronunciation of Warsaw). She had a brother who had a big store in Warsaw. Moshe Baer's father was Shepsel married to Bashya Perelman and they were in another shtetl, on one record, before coming to Sharkovschinna. It was the shtetl, where a father of Modern Hebrew lived. Probably her brother or a first cousin lived there.

Shebsel was the son of Israel. Was the name originally Levin or Levitan or Leavitt, or Konstantin, or Epstein? These are the surnames that matched my maternal uncle's BERMAN DNA, I don't know. Maybe the lines were those same ones and families took different names? I know that all of the families of Sharkovschinna and Shkuntiki were related to each other. I was told that when I visited the shtetl, and also was told so by my Grandmother. They intermarried and cousins married cousins. My own grandmother's sister Rycha Chidekel married my grandfather's brother Khona Berman, for example.

Itzyk Chidkel and Moshe Baer Berman grew up together in Sharkovschinna. When the shtetl got crowded Itzyk and his brother David (?) with the Levins started a new shtetl 3-5 km away. I visited this shtetl, which is known as Shkuntiki, and is in the direction of Vilnius. There my Great grandmother's family lived on one "L" shaped street.

My Greatgrandmother's brothers ReHirshal, known to my grandmother as Uncle Hirsch and his brother Reuben Levin moved to Brooklyn, where the Levin cousins lived.

The Bermans who came over to America went to Staten Island and the Bronx, where my grandparents lived and where my Mother Betty and her brothers Hy/Chaim and Sam Berman grew up.

There were other LEVIN relatives some changed the surname spelling to LEVINE and several became physicians.

Those who remained in Shkuntiki and Sharkovschinna were murdered in 1941-2, when the Nazi's invaded "Poland". This was done in very brutal ways; some were slaughtered in the town square and when running towards the woods. The "Poles" who lived there, eagerly participated in the capture and slaughter of many residents. My Great Uncle Khona Berman knew one of the residents, who was participating, and he challenged him and the Nazis and was tied and pulled apart between a truck and a horse and wagon. Raycha was shot in the back running with a baby in her arms towards the woods. My Greatgrandmother and Great aunt Brochka Chidekel were set on fire with the children and grandchildren. The beautiful teenage daughters of Raycha and Khona Berman were raped, beaten, strangled and shot at the edge of the woods by Nazi soldiers.

My grandmother's maternal line cousin, Yitchak Gurevich escaped and hid and lived in Vilnius with his family. His second wife was a surgeon in the Russian Army where he served in WWII and then saved his life. I think his first wife and family, if he had one, were murdered. I am not sure.

My Grandfather Dave's brother Shroll (short for Israel) Aaron Berman survived in the Russian army and lived out his 80 years in St. Petersburg/Leningrad. This great uncle Shroll Aaron Berman had a first wife' who saved Galina in the Warsaw ghetto. He divorced her and lived with his common law wife and mother of his son Michael YUDIN (he had the surname of his Mother, for it seems that his parents were never legally maried). I was told she was not Jewish. Michael, my non-Jewish cousin from St. Petersberg gave me his "Family Tree" which sets much more light on our family. It lists his Mother's surname as YUDEN. (Much of the information here is based on this "Tree".

Michael's father was Shroll (Israel) Berman (b.1/21, 1895- d.2/10/1980). His birth in Russian winter confirms the story that his mother, my Grandfather's mother Feyge or Shelva Fega, known as Feyge (Monak/Moonyick) Berman died of pneumonia having a ritual bath after giving birth in the cold river to save money vs. using the bath house /mikvah bath.

Michael's Mother was Ekatrina (Katherine) Yudin, born 1/24, 1925, died 9/20/2003. Michael's Sister Galina (Berman) Aidman, my cousin, had a different mother. Galina is a chemical engineer, as her father was an engineer (but was forced to work as a tailor during Stalin's time). She lives in Pennsylvania now and has an Engineer husband Eugene. Her daughter Yana Pelligrino and her husband Art Pelligrino, live in Manhattan and has one or to little children.

Michael was born 10/4/1955. He is a businessman/Director of Development in St. Petersburg. His wife Ludmila, neeTropina (b.6/24/1960), is a nurse. His son Alexander Yudin, (b.5/5/1982) and is a manager., His daughter Ekaterina/Katherine (b.4/28/1985) is married and works with her husband in his business. I don't have her married name.

The Gurevich cousin of my Grandmother Liba/Lillie Chidekel Berman, came to the USA just after my grandmother died. She died on May 14, 1975 and he arrived too late to know anything about the connection. My Grandmother had told me of an Aunt she would visit when she went to Vilnius, who was a dressmaker and widow with teenage children in a (Jewish) school. I think this was his family. He remembered my Grandmother stuffing her shoes to look taller and he remembered her visits. It put the pieces together for me.

My grandmother told me of being a member of the BUND in Vilnius. She attended o meetings there. This was before she came to NYC in 1921 to reunite with my grandfather David Berman of Sharkovschinna.

Her brother Mayer/Moshe Chidekel was a brilliant university student on full scholarship for his brilliance at the university in Vilnius. She said, it was unusual for a Jew to get that scholarship, He was also in the Yiddish theatre then as was/were (a) cousin/s. I think those were Josie Chidekel Barnett's relatives, who were my grandmother's cousins. She spoke of them when she told me of the cook cousin who had a daughter, who had a daughter older than me but in England. That was Josie, now in Israel.

My grandmother told me her maternal line was always Rabbis/teachers going back hundreds of years.

Masha, her mother was a gifted dressmaker and was a designer of challahs with 18 braids that were sought far and wide and women would come see her to learn how to make them. She used to create and make the dresses for the traditional dances the "Christians" would have. Raycha, Grandma's sister was a gifted dressmaker and Brochka too.One of them made the magnificent lace. I can't remember which one.

They all had children and grandchildren and it breaks my heart how they were cut down by brutality.

There was also a brother Michel, whom I don't think survived to adulthood and I recalled she mentioned a brother Boruch, but I may have been wrong and confused that. There was a sister Sarah who died at age 5. Altogether Masha and Itsyk had 10 children, only five survived to adulthood: Liba (b. ca. 1887-8), Mayer, Raycha and Brochka. If Michel died as a teenager of 15 and was crippled, as my grandmother said then he was the fifth. I can't be sure of the Boruch.

I did the testing and my mtdna is 100 percent Middle-eastern Jewish designated H6a1a as the specific halpogroup. That would be my maternal line going all the way back from my grandmother, her mother, her mother's mother, etc.

My Berman uncle's Y DNA was Rb1 as I recall. I would have to double check, but it was Central Asian and had 10 percent Basque or Russian.

My father's Y DNA through my brother is I2, (that is an "eye" not an "L"). Also, that is 100 percent middle-eastern Jewish.

I cannot get my paternal grandmother's DNA tested, because my Father's first cousin, Rabbi Shimon Segal of Brooklyn and Muncie and Israel, refuses to provide it. He is a survivor of the Nazi death camps, including Dachau. That line, through my paternal Grandmother is HaCohen and from the line of David, with direct decents from Rabbi Nachman of Breslov and his ancestor Baal Shem Tov, founder of Hassidism.

My grandmother was very proud of her line.

There were many Levin relatives of my maternal Grandmother's whom we've lost track of over the years. My Mother and my Grandmother knew them, I didn't, but would like to find them. They were the finest people in my Grandmother's time. Her family was sophisticated, educated, cultured, kind, all the good things people should be.