Hgeocities.com/candlemaker_kaprov/chapter03.htmlgeocities.com/candlemaker_kaprov/chapter03.htmldelayedxzJ_YOKtext/html0%_Yb.HSun, 24 Aug 2008 15:59:29 GMTMozilla/4.5 (compatible; HTTrack 3.0x; Windows 98)en, *zJ_Y The B'nai Khaim in America
Chapter 3 The Family Tree

       At the turn of the 20th century only two of the candlemaker's
seven children were known to be still living. They were
Beryl, the second eldest, and Itzik-Yoel, the youngest. The
fitst-born, a son Yossel, had died some 25 years earlier. These
three were the progenitors of the B'nai Khaim in America. We
know nothing about the other four, beyond their names, the
names of the spouses of two of them, and their presumed order
of birth. The eldest of these four was a son named Shmuel-Abba
who came right next to Beryl. Then came three daughters-
Nessie, Perl and Khaya-in that order. Shmuel-Abba married in
the village of Kenelski and made his home there. Nessie made
her home in Vman. Perl, too, married away from Yustingrad and
is known to have had at least two sons, Naftali and Yankel.
Khaya "died young." Nessie married a man named Gedaliah;
Perl's husband's name was Shemariah.
  This is all my uncle Avrom, youngest of Beryl's eight
children, remembered of these original B'nai Khaim when I talked
with him in 1946. Since he was then the oldest of the
"ancients" in the mishpokhah, his death a year later precluded
any further knowledge of them. Perhaps this book will find
some of their offspring. Perhaps most of what was left of them
after the pogroms of 1918-20, the Hitlerites obliterated in
1941-45. The fact is that after the Hitler slaughter only about
half of the known B'nai Khaim were left to emigrate from the
Ukraine and be accounted for elsewhere.
Our family tree thus shows the descendants of only three of
the candlemaker's seven children-of his sons Yossel, Beryl and
Itzik-Yoel. We know that Zeide Khaim had at least two
brothers, "Simkha the glazier" and Eli who kept a tobacco
shop. A number of descendants of these two brothers live in
this country. Zeide Khaim also had a stepson, Isruel Dovid, son
of his second wife Edassy, but we do not trace their geneologies
here. This is strictly a "B'nai Khaim" story.
  A word, however, about this Isruel Dovid. He was known in 
Yustingrad as "Isruel Khaim's." Family gossip has it that Zeide 
Khaim loved his Edassy so much that he left all his worldly 
goods, including his candlemaking establishment; to her son. 
This is one reason, it is explained, why Isruel Khaim's was never 
known to have worked for a living-he lived on his yerisha, his 
inheritance, though some say he was also a part-time shokhet. 
Others say he was never seen working because he tended to his 
caldrons at night to keep the candlemaking craft secret. More 
likely, paraffin candles and, before long, the kerosene lamp 
replaced the tallow candle and Isruel Khaim's caldrons.
  Chart 1 shows Zeide Khaim's fIrst line of descent, the "A" 
generation. The second line of descent will be designated as the 
"B" generation; the third line as "C," and so on. Names and 
years of birth and death are enclosed in rectangles. All B'nai 
Khaim who never came to America are enclosed in rectangles. 
Two horizontal bars connect Zeide Khaim with his first wife, 
Osna; two horizontal half-bars with his second wife, Edassy. In 
all cases the horizontal half-bars read "married to" other than 
first wife. Vertical lines connect progenitors with their imme
diate descendants, A's with B's, B's with C's, etc. Those letters 
with numerical subscripts form the "family codes."
  In this first chart the upper-row descent shows the three 
progenitors of the American B'nai Khaim. The lower row shows 
the four "lost" A's. (All "lost" B'nai Khaim are shown in 
dropped lines.) In both rows the A's are listed in sequence of 
birth-A1, A2, ... A7.
  Establishing the life-spans of these early B'nai Khaim presented 
a problem. In only one case did we have recorded data.
For the others I had to resort to various methods of interpolation 
to establish tolerable approximations. A c (circa) marks 
these approximations. The keys to these estimates were the 
known life-span of my grandfather Beryl (A2) and years of 
birth of namesakes. 
  My grandfather Beryl (A2), according to entries in a family
prayerbook, was born in 1824 and died in 1908. We know from 
contemporary evidence that, in the 19th century and even later, 
children among the B'nai Khaim were born two to three years 
apart. (Lactation up to two years may have had something to 
do with this interval of births.) My mother (A2-B2), for example, 
bore nine children within a period of 18-20 years. Assuming 
that this held true for the A's as for the B's and C's, Zeide 
Khaim's eldest child Yossel (A1) can be said to have been born 
c. 1821-22, two or three years before his next sibling. We know 
also that people in those years married at an early age, about 20 
for males. Assuming that Zeide Khaim was no more than 21 
when his first child Yossel was born, we can place Zeide 
Khaim's birth at c. 1800.
  The first B'nai Khaim known to have been named after 
Fetter (uncle) Yossel was Yossel Trachtman (A2 B4 CS), born 
in 1884. Since naming after living persons is prohibited, Fetter 
Yossel must have died before Yossel Trachtman was born. 
Fetter Yossel, therefore, must have died not later than c. 1883, 
a year before his first namesake was born, and must have then 
been only about 62. The next namesake, Yossel Dudnik 
(A1 B1 C2 D2), was born in 1885. I also was named for him. 
But I was born in 1888, at least five years after the death of 
Fetter Yossel. 
  As for the patriarch himself, he seems to have lived until 
about 1869; that is, he was close to 70 when he died. The first 
child known to have been named for him, Khaim Dudnik 
(A1 B1 C3), was born in 1870. His mother Rifka (A1 B1), the 
old man's second grandchild, bore two sons before her son 
Khaim was born and would have named one of them for her 
grandfather had he been dead by then. Accordingly, we enter 
his life-span as c. 1800-1869.
  Following the assumption of a two- to three-year spread between 
births of these early B'nai Khaim, we enter the birth 
years for all the A's alternately two and three years apart, down 
to Itzik-Yoel (A7), except for Beryl for whom we have the 
exact dates. For their years of death we have the first 
namesakes for Nessie (A4) and Perl (A5). The first of Nessie's 
namesakes (A2 B7 C2) was born in 1883. Accordingly, we say the
original Nessie lived c. 1829-1882. The first namesake for Perl 
(A1 B3 C1 D1) was born in 1885. Therefore, we place the first 
Perl's life-span as c. 1831-1884. We have no way of making 
similar estimates either for A3 or A6.
   I estimate the year of birth for Itzik-Yoel (A7) as 1838. The 
year of his death has been placed between 1903 and 1905. I 
remember Fetter Itzik-Yoel quite well. In fact, I remember 
seeing him just before I left Yustingrad for Uman in early 1902. 
He was a smallish man (most B'nai Khaim have been of small 
stature), begrimed with axle grease (birchwood tar[?]) which he 
sold to peasants from sticky barrels in his store shack. (He 
smelled of this axle grease even on the Sabbath despite his 
weekly steam bath the afternoon before.) His house stood right 
behind my grandfather Beryl's. Both stood on the grounds 
which had belonged to their candlemaker father. It is there that, 
early in the preceding century, "Sokolievker" Jews squatted the 
summer they were expelled from the village.
  Fetter Yossel,of course, I do not remember: I was named 
after him! He was always held up to me by my mother as a 
model of a learned man to emulate, and was spoken of with 
utmost reverence. Many saintly virtues and arcane powers were 
attributed to him in the family lore.
  It was this first of Khaim Kaprov's sons who was said to have 
possessed the power to create a golem to service him on the 
Sabbath day. Every Friday just before sunset, the legend went, 
Fetter Yossel would place the Holy Word on the nape of the 
neck of a clay figure which he had fashioned, infusing the 
breath of life into him and instructing him of the Sabbath 
chores he was to perform in the ensuing 24 hours. On Saturday 
evening, just after sunset, he would ask the golem to bend forward 
to perform the final Sabbath task by taking off his master's 
boots. Whereupon the worthy man would snip off the 
magic word and the golem would fall lifeless.
  This, according to the legend, went on for years, until one 
Saturday evening Fetter Yossel removed the Word while the 
boot was not yet fully off his right foot. The figure of clay fell
lifeless, almost pulling the old man's leg with him. This was for 
Fetter Yossel the signal that he no longer commanded the confidence 
of Him Above, and he never again made a golem! This 
part of the legend was used to explain why Fetter Yossel limped 
in his old age.
  In the course of time, this oft-repeated legend was received 
with increasing incredulity. In the end, it intrigued a B'nai 
Khaim boy of ten to make his own tests. A Jew was forbidden 
to touch a lamp or candlestick on Sabbath day if they had had
light in them. To do so might bring on condign punishment. "If
I touch this lamp or this candlestick," the child often mused
with agitation, as he listened to the golem story, "the Almighty 
would strike me dead." But late one Sabbath afternoon, when 
no one was around, the boy did just that! He touched a candlestick 
which had had a lighted candle in it the night before; To 
his great surprise and excitement nothing at all happened to 
him. That night, however, he suffered an attack of diarrhea. 
This scared him. But it also made him think. The next day he 
went to kheder with an unaccustomed swagger. Five years later 
he became the first of the "Sokolievker" B'nai Khaim to shave, 
forbidden to Orthodox Jews.
  I do not know what Fetter Yossel did for a living. He probably
just kept to his sacred tomes while his wife Perl tended to 
whatever business sustained the family. That kind of living was 
true also of his brother Beryl, my grandfather. I do not remember 
ever seeing him work, except on Mondays, the market day. 
On that day he would putter around helping my grandmother in 
the store. During the other days of the week Grandmother 
tended the store alone, selling small grains-poppyseed, sunflower 
seed, millet, maize, lentils, dried peas and beans, and 
tallow candles and, in winter, salt herring. In the winter she 
wore a padded jacket and a long cotton-wool skirt, warming 
herself over an earthen pot of glowing charcoal.
  Zeide Beryl was probably as well learned in the sacred lore of 
the Jewish people as was his elder brother, but was less revered. 
Perhaps he lived too long into senility to inspire continued awe. 
Perhaps the generation that lived after Fetter Yossel had become 
oifgeklert, enlightened. At home we always found Zeide 
Beryl poring over a volume of the Talmud or other Biblical 
exegeses. On Sabbath afternoons he would be seen engrossed in 
the Zohar, a tome of mystic lore. When we, small fry, called on 
him those afternoons, he would give us each a fistful of sweet 
currants or, in winter, steamed "bub" (chickpeas).
  Grandmother Dvossie had come from a wealthy family of 
Vosnosensk. Her large naden, or dowry, entitled her to marry 
into a "learned" family. Her father, family name Brodsky, was 
the proprietor of a beet-sugar refinery. One of his sons was an 
"advocat," a lawyer, the other a doctor. We had a photograph 
of the three of them, the sons' beards trimmed(!). For the son 
of a Jew to "become a doctor" in 19th century Russia was no 
mean achievement. It signified that the family had both affluence 
and influence, and that the son had graduated from the 
gymnasia with highest grades and a gold medal. Only three Jews 
in an enrollment of 100 students were then admitted to the University.
  Pessie, my mother, was the second of Zeide Beryl's eight 
children. She was exceptional in that she was one of the few 
women in Yustingrad who could read. This made her the center 
of a circle of neighborhood women who would congregate 
around her in shule or at home to hear her. I well remember 
the eve of Tishah B'av, the ninth day of Av, when year after year 
women would foregather in our home at twilight and, in stocking 
feet (a symbol of mourning), would sit around her on the 
earthen floor to hear the story of the destruction of the Temple 
by the Romans. With dripping tallow candles in their hands to 
light the printed page, they would sway, weeping and wailing, as 
my mother recited the calamities that had befallen the Chosen 
People at the hands of the Roman tyrant Titus. It was my chore 
in the days that followed to scrape the tallow drippings from 
the yellowed pages.
  It is a long time since my mother died in 1901, and although 
I was already 13 then, I do not remember her looks, except that 
she was a small woman, deeply wrinkled and gray-haired. When 
she was 20, her father married her off to a man she did not love.
She refused herself to him and got him to divorce her at the end 
of a month. Now that she was a "married woman" she was free 
of her father's authority and could select her own mate. Two 
years passed, until, one day, a fetching young man of 21, named 
Moishe Gillman (See note #1) came to Yustingrad from the "big city" Gaicin 
to "look over" a prospective bride, my mother's elder sister. 
It so happened that when he got there it was my future mother he 
saw first. Within a month the two were married; they lived 
together 33 years until, at age 56, she died of pneumonia. The
tragic irony for my father was that the town was then doctor
less, and he was about to depart in search of a new recruit. 
   Father was a seidener yingermonschik, a "silk-gloved gentleman." 
For the first 20 or 25 years of his married life with 
Mother he eschewed soiling his hands in daily toil. Mother was 
the breadwinner. She tended the store, did all the housework, 
the cooking and baking, and bore nine children. It was not until 
they had gone bankrupt and had to sell their store that Father 
bestirred himself in the way of earning a living. Twice he 
worked summers as a laborer, "treading grapes" in vineyards 
near the Black Sea, saving money to buy a new store, which 
they did some three years later. Meanwhile, they eked out an 
existence by selling small grains and flour from an open stand in 
summer, and dried and smoked fish from a wagon and salt 
herring from a barrel in winter.
   I remember well the occasion when we sold the old store. It 
was a drizzly autumn twilight. My sister Alta (A2 B2 C3) and I 
were sitting at the window looking into the growing darkness. 
Across the street a lamp was lit and I began to sing. My sister, 
five years wiser, turned to me. "Hush!" she warned. "Here we 
are losing our store and you are singing; always singing!" and 
began to sob. 
   During that winter, on one Sabbath we had to eat black 
bread instead of the traditional white khalah. This may have 
been due in part to a scarcity of wheat flour that year. One of 
the frequent Russian famines was then raging. Or it may have 
been due to our poverty. Whatever the cause, I still feel sad 
whenever I think of that Sabbath.
   Before his second trip to the vineyards Father taught me to 
read and write Yiddish so that I could read his letters home and 
could write to him for the family. I was seven or eight years old 
then. None of my elder siblings could read or write Yiddish or 
any other language, for that matter, and my mother could read 
only print. 
   Winter nights, those last years of my mother's life, while 
waiting for Father to return from the market in a near-by town, 
Mother, my sister and I would sit on the hard sofa, backs to the 
heated wall, stripping feathers for pillows and perinas. Always 
we would intone sad songs. One of these, a lament over fleeting 
youth, my sister and I recalled, melody and all, when I visited 
her in Buffalo in the summer of 1963.
   These, then, are the roots of present-day B'nai Khaim. 
Branches reach out into many lands but mostly into the United 
States of America. The charts 2a, 2b, 2c show how these 
branches emerged from these roots. A fourth chart traces one of 
these branches to its most recent sprig. These charts were used 
by my "lieutenants" as samples for the construction of all 
family charts which serVed me in this study.
   Charts 2a, 2b, 2c shows the second, the "B" generation 
B'nai Khaim descending respectively from A1, A2 and A7. 
The B's who immigrated to America are placed in squares. All 
B'nai Khaim who came to America and made their home here 
are placed in squares; those who did not are placed in rectangles. 
In the squares, besides the name and the family-code 
sequence, the year of arrival and the age at arrival are given. 
These are basic data for much of our later analyses. We also 
enter the year of death. The year of birth can be calculated 
from these data. 
   Chart 2a shows the "B" generation descendant 
from A1. It shows that Fetter Yossel had six children, all 
female. It also shows that we can trace B'nai Khaim descent to 
only three of them, to B1, B2 and B3. The other three, B4, B5 
and B6, are "lost" to us. None of the six came to America. 
Rivka (B1) and Genendi (B2) were the progenitors of B'nai 
Khaim who were raised in Knyazhe and Uman and surrounding 
villages. Most of these came to America. Leah (B3) married into
Okhmatova. Several of her children emigrated to Canada. A 
grandson and his two children later came to live in the United 
      Chart 2b shows the "B" generation descent from 
A2, from Zeide Beryl. He had eight children, three sons and five 
daughters. Two of the sons, A2 B3 and A2 B6, are "lost" to us. 
His other six children and most of their offspring are accounted for 
in our study. Three of the eight, A2 B4, A2 B7 and A2 B8, 
emigrated to this country. The A2 branch accounts for 
the largest segment of the B'nai Khaim in America.
    Chart 2c shows the B descent from A7. Here, again, 
only three of six B's can be accounted for in our study. A7 B1 
and A7 B2, I am told, had come to Yustingrad to attend their 
father's funeral, returned to Odessa where they made their 
home and were never heard from again. A7 B6 died in childhood.
    Chart 3 is an example of B'nai Khaim descent into the 
generations beyond A and B-into C, D, E, etc. Here we soon 
come upon B'nai Khaim who we're born in America. These we 
place in ovals, to contrast with the previous rectangles and 
squares. All B'nai Khaim born in America are placed in ovals. 
This applies as well to American-born spouses of B'nai Khaim, 
whether these were native- or foreign-born. In the ovals, besides 
names and family codes, the years of birth and death are 
entered. The chart illustrates the sequence of descent from rectangles 
through squares to ovals for a descendant in one branch 
of the family, through A2 B8, Rabbi Avrom Kaprov, and his 
eldest son.
    In all cases each entry is identified by the family-code 
sequence. The code shows at one and the same time the vertical 
and horizontal lines of relationship within the greater 
mishpokhah, denoting each individual's relation to his progenitors 
and to his descendants as well as his "cousins." At the 
same time, the ovals, the squares and the rectangles show at a 
glance each individual's national origin, whether foreign- or 
American-born and whether he had emigrated to America or 
remained in the home country. They also show the sex and age 
of individual B'nai Khaim and spouses. All these "vital statistics"
are basic to our later analysis of the cultural changes of the
B'nai Khaim classified by country of birth, by sex, by marital 
status, and by date of arrival in the United States. (See note #2)
   The data given in these charts made possible our primary 
counts. They show that, by early 1964, 93 B'nai Khaim had 
come to America and made their home here. Thirty-two came 
before World War I; 55 came between the two World Wars; and 
six came since the end of World War II. They show that 289 
were born here, making a total of 382 B'nai Khaim in America. 
In addition, the charts show 81 spouses of immigrant B'nai Khaim 
and 88 spouses of the native-born. In the rest of the 
book we seek to learn what "America" has meant to these 
people. We begin with the 93 immigrants. 

Notes to Chapter 3 

(1) Two other of Beryl's daughters each married a "Gilman" apparently 
of no immediate relation to this Gillman, although they may have been 
related in an earlier generation. Our own name goes only as far back as my 
father's grandfather. 
    As my father told it to me, his grandfather's name when a child of eight 
years was Shestunov. As one in a family of four boys he was subject to 
conscription for 25 years into a military "cantonement" under the 
"military colony" regime of Tsar Nicholas I. The boy would evidently be lost to
    As a way out, the family bribed the town clerk to record the death of a 
boy named Gillman as that of the Shestunov boy. The Shestunov boy 
thereupon became a Gillman, and so his only son and his son's only son, 
my father.
(2) This is the form which my "lieutenants" filled out for every 
B'nai Khaim family. These numerous charts are not reproduced here: they 
would take up too much space. Instead, we constructed one B'nai Khaim 

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