Ziezmariai, Lithuania


29 January 2016

I do have links in Zhezhmir (Ziezmariai!  My grandmother, Ida Benson, neé Zlate Kot, immigrated from Zhezhmir to New York in 1907.  Her parents were Kopel Kot and Frieda Rubinovitch, from the same town.  In addition to Ida, she had a sister, Channa (Annie) and Mosche (Max) who followed her.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that until a year ago we didn’t know who our grandparents were.  Our father, James Patrick Collins, was somehow or another was mistaken for an Irish baby born on the same day in the same New York City teaching hospital.  The other child was raised by my biological grandparents.  Dad wasn’t so lucky.  His Irish mother, Katie Kennedy, died when Dad was 9 months old and his Irish father, John Collins, put the three children in a Catholic orphanage when none of the sisters would agree to raise the children.  We only discovered the mistake 99 years after Dad’s birth and solved the mystery almost exactly a year ago. I’ll include the relevant links to the story.

Since making contact with the Bensons, we’ve had many long discussions about our common grandparents and where they came from in Lithuania.  Unfortunately, my first cousins said our grandparents (who they knew quite well), never talked about the old country or their early lives.  I am so excited to see that someone is researching their Shtetl and may possibly provide some understanding of their lives.  I went to Lithuania 3 years ago and it pains me that I was so close to Ziezmariai, but didn’t know I should visit. 



<http://www.yourgeneticgenealogist.com/2015/02/switched-at-birth-unravelling-century_27.html >


29 January 2016

Hi Alice

Thanks for writing, Alice. Great story.

May I share your blog and links on the Ziezmariai Kehilalink?

Three years ago I met a CHABAD Rabbi in Tallinn and I asked him where his family came from. He said Ziezmariai in Lithuania.

His name is Shmuel Kot. I am copying him here.

When I was in Riga a few days later and attended the morning service at the Peitav shul,  the CHABAD Rabbi, whom I had met before, told me that he was the brother of Rabbi Shmuel in Tallinn.

Do you know them and are you related?

I look forward to hearing back from you as well as Rabbi Kot.


29 January 2016

Of course you can feel free to share (at least my) link on Kehilalink.  I sent an email asking Jess Benson if it’s okay to include her blog, too.  It’s been widely forwarded by others so I doubt she’ll have an objection.

At this point, I don’t know anyone in Lithuania, but perhaps this will help Rabbi Kot to see if he can tie the family together.  My research points to the following family.  All three of the KOTs who came to the U.S. named their parents as Kopel Kot and Friede Rabinowitz.  Their ship manifests for Annie and Max clearly lists Zhermar (or a variant) as their birth location.  I think I found Ida’s manifest, but I haven’t proven it, yet.

Grand mother: Slate/Zlate KOT, known siblings who came to America: Channa (Annie) Kot (married Morris Schwartz in NY) and Mordache (Max) Kot  (married Dora Silverstein in NY)

       Possible siblings : David Kot (1884-85), Yenta Kot (1887-88)  Gish Kot (1893-1909), Chaim Kot (1899-1900)

     Great grand Father: Kopel KOT   

           2X great grandfather: Itsko KOT and Leia ?

              3X great grandfather:  Movsha KOT

Great grandmother:  Friede Rochel RABINOWITZ  (Kopel’s wife)

         2x great grandparents:  Mordche Meier RUDNITSKI (It appears he or Friede changed the surname) and Raina Beila


              3X great grandfather:  Elias Rudnitski (from Lentupis, Belarus)

Our grandfather, Sam Benson (Salmen Pieskin/Peskin) was from Daugai, Lithuania

1 February 2016

Jessica Benson gave her permission for you to use her blog at JewishGen.  I also spoke with my Benson 1st cousin (Phylis PULLMAN) and she was thrilled to hear that, perhaps, some of her Kot relatives survived the Holocaust.

I'm not sure if I sent you a picture of Phylis and me together where the resemblance is undeniable. She's the gray haired lady.


Vancouver, Washington (not Canada, not D.C.)

Cousins Alice Piebuch and Phyllis Pullman

Sam & Ida Benson, neé Zlate Kot

Read Alice Piebush’s amazing story here

Read Jessica Benson’s corresponding blog here

Kot Family