I would like to dedicate this page to my GrandAunt Dora Laibowitz Stollman. She courageously left her home and family in Poland to travel by herself at a young age to America . It was because of her that my Grandmother was able to come to America.
I would also like to thank her Daughter Claire Stollman Cohon for sharing the family history with us.
By Claire Cohon
We will start in Krinik in Grodno Gubernia (province), Poland. My grandmother Esther Riva Diamond was the oldest of six children. All the rest were boys. Her father was a furrier. When he made fur coats for some Polish army officers, instead of paying him they took the coats and shot him. Being the oldest and a girl, Esther Riva was sent out as a servant to help support her mother and brothers. The boys were sent to school but she never learned to read or write. When she was in her twenties, the town had to put up money for her dowry. The matchmakers brought a shoemaker but she refused him. Then they brought a tailor and she refused him. Finally they brought a young handsome man who was a mason (bricklayer) and who also played the violin. They married. His name was Jacob Laibowitz.
Esther Riva had four miscarriages before she carried “Bubke,” your grandmother. I don’t know what her real name was. (Bertha was a name acquired on paper in this country but the family didn’t use it.) The name Bubke means “little grandmother” and was given to make the angel of Death think this was not a baby but an older woman and he wouldn’t come to get her as he did the previous babies. After Bubke came Mutke, Samuel, another boy who died, my mother Dobbe (Dora in English) and her twin Baile -The youngest was a boy, Shepsle (in English Simon).
My grandmother developed a dairy business; she was a “milchike.” She had a 3-storey brick house on the “market” – the town square. She kept a few cows but mostly bought milk from farmers. They had a very deep cellar where they could keep butter and cheese fresh even in the summer. (There was no refrigeration there, nor could you get ice except in the winter.)
Bubke was a beautiful girl and had many suitors. She was married and soon gave birth to Sonia, your aunt. Soon after Sonia was born her father left for America to earn money to send for Bubke and Sonia. He did not send money, however, and Krinik their town was overrun, first by the Russian army, then the Polish army and then the German army and again the Polish army. Another member of the family, Samuel, left his wife Esther and his baby Miriam and went to America.
Things were bad in Krinik and there was no money from Bubke’s husband or from Samuel for their wives and children. Dobbe was 18 years old whe she was sent to go to America to find her brother and brother-in-law and get them to send money for their wives and children. She went to a seaport and boarded a ship to go to America. World War I was going on. When the ship was out at sea a German U-boat stopped stopped the ship and accused the captain of carrying munitions. The ship was sent back to Europe and landed in Holland. Dora (my mother) had no money and knew no one. Luckily a well known Yiddish (Jewish) actress was on the ship. She started an acting troupe to travel around Holland putting on shows to support themselves. My mother was cast as the ingénue. The group traveled around the country putting on performances for a whole year, unable to leave.
Finally my mother got on another ship and arrived in America. She found Bubke’s husband and got him to send for Bubke and Sonia. She found her brother Sam and got him also to send for Esther and Miriam.
When they all got to America Bubke’s husband said he didn’t want to be married to her any more and was getting a divorce because “she was too skinny.”
The times were hard for Bubke and Sonia. Bubke soon married Mike Rabinowitz. Jack Rabinowitz (Jackie Robbins) your father was born to the delight of his sister Sonia.
Sonia grew up and married Jack Ashberg. Sonia and Jack had two children, Alan and Ruth. When Ruthie was about 4 years old, they moved to California and at first lived in Santa Monica.
Dora (my mother) married Louis Stollman and they had three children, Jacob, Max and Claire. During the Second World War Jacob and Max were in the army.
Louis and Dora drove Mike and Bubke to California. They all settled in Santa Monica. Later Louis and Dora drove back to New Brunswick to pick up their daughter (me) from New Jersey College for Women. My brother Jack (Jacob) was married to Nena Didier and had one daughter Jacqueline. Max married Bess Levitt and they had three children, Rita, Kay and Gary.
When Claire got to California she entered UCLA where she met Baruch Cohon and they were married in August 1950. They have four children. Rachel married Randy Simon and they have one son, Jeremy, who is now 14 years old. Deborah married Bruce Boyer and they have two sons, Jeffrey, 17, and Michael, 14. Samuel married Rhody Schneider and they have three children, Boaz, 9, Gabriel 6 and Cipora 5. Jonathan is single and has no children.
This is my Grandmother Bubke Leibowitz, she is the Mother of my Father Jack Rabinowitz (Robbins). She was born in Poland in 1889 or 1890. She was the oldest Daughter of Jacob Laibowitz and Esther Riva Diamond. In Poland she married a man named Perlstein and had a Daughter named Sonia
Sonia was born in 1912. Sonia's Aunt Dobbe came to America in 1917 too find Sonia's Father and to get the money to send for Sonia and Bubke. When they arrived in America Sonia's Father no longer wished to be married to her Mother Bubke. Around 1925 Bubke married Michael Rabinowitz a widower who had 2-3 children. In 1929 Bubke and Mike had a baby boy Jacob Rabinowitz. In 1930 they lived at 468 Harrison St in Paterson,New Jersey
This is a picture of Jacob Rabinowitz (Jack Robbins ) On his birthday with his Mother and Father . His half sister Sonia is standing at the far left.
The picture above is Sonia with her brother Jack and their first Cousin Claire Stollman
The picture below is Sonia and Jack
Sonia married Jack Ashberg 1898-1985 and they had 2 Children Ruth and Alan
This picure is of ( L to R Jack Ashberg,Mik Rabinowitz,Jack (Rabinowitz) Robbins and Alan Ashberg )
Ruth Ashberg married John Geiger
Alan Ashberg married Jan and had 3 children Sheri (1963) Jay (1965) and Lori (1968)
Sheri married Cosmo Defina and they have a daughter Melissa (1988) and a Son Kevin (1992)
Jay married Vicki Phia and they have a son Mitchell Jack Ashberg (2002)
Lori has a daughter Molly Brogan 2002
Bubke passed away when I was just over a year old, she had a stroke. Both Mike and Bubke are buried at Sholom Memorial Park in Sun Valley, CA
Miriam (1914-2005) married Barney Dedenberg and they had 2 daughters Judy and Lois.
Judy married Marty Slutzky and they had a daughter Beth and a son Barry.
Florence told me the story of how she met her husband
My husband's name was George Hoffman. He lived in Highland Park and I met him at a dance in the Workmen's Circle building in l940. We dated very briefly and he enlisted in the Navy right after Pearl Harbor -spent 2-l/2 years in North Africa. His ship was an LCI (landing craft infantry) - a small vessel that took the troops from the large troop
ship and brought them to the beach at Anzio . It was very dangerous.
We corresponded the whole time he was away and became engaged when he came home in 1945. His ship was sent to Norfolk, VA (from Portsmouth, NH) and I spent a week with him. We decided to get married because the ship
was being sent to the Pacific Theater.
George got a 72 hour pass and we married in Highland Park on July 15, l945. He left the same day and a week later the ship went into drydock in Boston. I went up there for 5 weeks and while I was there, the war ended (Aug.14, 1945). The Navy allowed points for time served and 10 points for a wife - he had enough to get him off the ship and discharged.
Florence has 2 boys Neil (who is named after his grandfather Samuel's brother Nissel who was killed by soldiers in Poland ) and Matthew.
Matthew told me this story about his grandfather
My favorite story about him is of the time when he got arrested for driving his laundry truck on the Pulaski Skyway (an elevated road in North Jersey where trucks are prohibited). Actually, he was just getting a ticket, but he gave the policeman such a hard time that he was taken in, and when they put him in a cell, they took away his shoelaces, presumably in case he was thinking of hanging himself over getting a ticket for driving a laundry truck on the Pulaski Skyway!
At Samuel and Ester's 45th anniversary party Samuel was presented with an award of honor for his efforts in finding survivors.
At one point Samuel and Ester lived above Miriam and her family in Highland Park and Florence was living a few miles away in New Brunswick. Ester would sneak down to Miriam's everynight at 7:00 p.m. to call Florence. This became known by th efamily as the 7 o'clock report
Another story told to me by Florence.
One day Florence was summoned by phone to come to her parents house. She was alarmed because it sounded like it was an emergency. She arrived to find the family in a heated discussion. Samuel wanted to take part in a group trip to Israel and Florence was being summoned to join the others to help talk him out of it.
But to Samuel's surprise after asking several questions regarding the trip Florence sided with Samuel and thought that he should go. It turned out to be a very memorable trip for Samuel and one of the highlights of his life.
Baile was the twin sister of Dobbe (Dora) . Baile was a brunette and her twin Dora was a blonde.
Baile died at the age of 11 of a kidney disease.
The ship was sent back to Europe and landed in Holland. Dora had no money and knew no one. Luckily a well known Yiddish (Jewish) actress was on the ship. She started an acting troupe to travel around Holland putting on shows to support themselves. She was cast as the ingénue. The group traveled around the country putting on performances for a whole year, unable to leave.
Dora married Louis Stollman in 1918 or 1919 and started a family in New Jersey.
Their first son Jacob (Jack) was born on Dec 26th 1919 followed by Max in 1922 and then Claire in 1930