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Finding the Farbers: Best Genealogical Gift, Ever

Finding the Farbers: Best Genealogical Gift, Ever

I left you in New York so long ago, virtually speaking, that springtime finally arrived in the city. As I mentioned, at the end of that trip I at long last I met Jill Leibman Kornmehl, who has contributed to this blog in more ways that I can detail.

At that meeting (the proof is in the picture next to this post’s title; Jill is on the right), she gave me copies of manuscripts from Vienna that detail the confiscation of property from the Kornmehl family, especially the butcher shops of Siegmund, for whom this blog is named.

But the best gift–and a total surprise–came from Jill after I returned to Tucson in the form of a PowerPoint slide show.

The Missing Links

Whoa! How Did This Come Together?

Jill explained:

It took me almost a year to gather it all together. Blima [Lorber] was a huge contributor–as an investigative journalist, she has resources not available to most. However, Brazilians take long vacations winter and summer and the research stopped and started all year. As for Isaac Lalo in the Dominican Republic, he asked older synagogue congregants for information, searched for the matadora (slaughterhouse) and actually walked through the entire Jewish Cemetery in Santo Domingo looking for Ernest Farber. It wasn’t until recently we discovered Ernest had immigrated to Brazil.

After seeing the completed piece, Blima wrote to Jill, “It is amazing to put all those pieces together. Thank you for mentioning my name. I feel so happy when I can help people know more about their roots and history.”

What It Meant to Me

As Jill notes, more than two and a half years ago, I set out to learn the history of my grandmother and her seven brothers and sisters, pictured with their spouses on the header of this blog (you can read much of the as-yet not updated story here). I also pursued other related topics and, intermittently, gave up the family search, for a variety of complicated reasons.  But Jill never let me give up entirely. First, she connected me with Frankie Blei, an Australian Jill met in a genealogical group on Facebook, who helped me find the descendants of one of the three butcher brothers, Martin Kornmehl (see The Return of Martin Kornmehl, Detention of Jews in World War II: Et Tu, Australia? and Family Trek, the Next Generation: Herbert Bratspies).

And, unbeknownst to me, Jill never stopped doing her own research, tracking down the member of the Kornmehl family about whom the least was known–or so I thought–that of Resi Kornmehl Farber.

I was blown away as I took this family journey to France, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, found a partner in the cafe and pastry shop, more butchers… How cool is it that I have a cousin named Maria de la Concepcion Menendez?

So a huge THANK YOU, Jill. And yes, I will do my part in pulling the rest of the family story together now that I have this last large piece of the puzzle, I promise.

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Passover Ponderings: The Jews, the Pyramids & the Importance of Questioning

Passover Ponderings: The Jews, the Pyramids & the Importance of Questioning

I consider myself a Jewish rationalist, someone who identifies culturally with Judaism without buying the biblical myths. The Exodus story of the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, told every Passover? Just one of the many overwrought episodes in the Old Testament, akin to the stories of Noah’s ark and Jonah’s stint inside aContinue Reading »

New York Report, Pt. 2: Family & Film, Pastry & Punctuation

New York Report, Pt. 2: Family & Film, Pastry & Punctuation

I admit it: It sometimes takes me a while to unpack from a trip. On my recent return to Tucson from New York, I didn’t need the winter clothes I’d brought with me (nyah nyah); only an underwear shortage inspired me to retrieve the contents of my suitcase. It sometimes takes me even longer toContinue Reading »

New York Report, Part 1: Vienna-on-the-Hudson

New York Report, Part 1: Vienna-on-the-Hudson

Ah, New York. I don’t miss winter since I moved to Tucson from Manhattan more than two decades ago — before I could be mistaken for a snow bird — but I miss New Yorkers’ unabashed grumpiness about the season. If you’re going to experience frigid weather, as I did  last week, you can’t beatContinue Reading »

Family Trek, The Next Generation: Herbert Bratspies

Family Trek, The Next Generation: Herbert Bratspies

I’ve been tracing the family of the third of the Kornmehl butcher brothers, Martin, a journey that starts in Vienna (see The Return of Martin Kornmehl) and takes us to Melbourne (see Detention of Jews in World War II: Et Tu, Australia?). Today I finish the story of the newly found Australian branch of myContinue Reading »

Survival in Paradise: Curaçao

Survival in Paradise: Curaçao

Last July, when I posted an excerpt from Manfred Wolf’s memoir, Survival in Paradise, I was pleased — though not at all surprised — by the positive response it got. It’s a very moving piece about a young boy’s coming of age during World War II. So I am doubly pleased to have gotten permissionContinue Reading »

Detention of Jews in World War II: Et Tu, Australia?

Detention of Jews in World War II: Et Tu, Australia?

I ended my last post about Martin Kornmehl’s family with the promise that the continuation of their story will be happier. I’m afraid that I can’t entirely keep it. The narrative led me to a chapter in World War II history that surprised me — and not in a good way. Come to think ofContinue Reading »

The Return of Martin Kornmehl

The Return of Martin Kornmehl

It’s hard to believe a year has passed since last February,  when I took the Family History Writing Challenge. It was a terrific focusing tool and I highly recommended it — though I’m going to have to pass this go round. That said, I have stories of two close family members, a great uncle andContinue Reading »

Found in Translation: The Mad Butcher of Berggasse

Found in Translation: The Mad Butcher of Berggasse

Happy 2014. So far, this year is looking promising. I woke up on the morning of Jan. 1 to a nice surprise: The notification that the first post of a new blog called Wien um die Jahrhundertwende (Vienna at the Turn of the Century) was devoted to discussing Freud’s Butcher. I was pretty sure theContinue Reading »

Oscar Nemon: Sculptor of Freud — & His Canine Circle

Oscar Nemon: Sculptor of Freud — & His Canine Circle

My discovery of Oscar Nemon — probably the most famous sculptor of whom almost no one has heard — started with a comment I received the other day on an earlier post, Richard Tauber: “How Can I Be a Jew?”: Congratulations on an informative and amusing blog. As you mention Richard Tauber I thought youContinue Reading »