Is Julianna Margulies My Cousin?

Is Julianna Margulies My Cousin?

I’m not going to lie. After being away for a while, it’s been a little tough getting back into my family history.

For one thing, all roads seem to lead to antisemitism, if not death.

Then there’s the learning curve. It feels like a lifetime ago that I took February’s Family History Writing Challenge – at least long enough that it’s taken me a while to reacquaint myself with the information I once knew intimately. The intensity of the writing/researching experience was like cramming for a final exam — now that really is a long time ago — with the associated memory loss in a matter of weeks.

And, although I’d like to wrap up the story one of the relatives I explored during that challenge, the thrill of the research chase is gone.

So you’ll forgive me if I needed a little celebrity spice to get back into the mood.

Let’s Recap

University of Vienna, alma mater of Sigmund Freud and Viktor and Ezriel Kornmehl

University of Vienna, alma mater of Sigmund Freud and Viktor and Ezriel Kornmehl

I  focused on two relatives during the challenge, Viktor Kornmehl and Ezriel Kornmehl — not because they are particularly closely related, but because they were both doctors who studied at the University of Vienna. I thought there was a good chance that they had interacted with Sigmund Freud, thus providing an additional link of Freud to my family that was not meat related.

I had proof in Viktor’s case, a letter to Freud on the occasion of his 75th birthday, but none in Ezriel’s. Viktor Kornmehl’s son, Hillel Koren, provided a great deal of information about his family and more was tracked down, but the trail of Ezriel and his family grew cold after the war.

That’s because they changed their name to Kornel, just as Viktor’s family changed it from Kornmehl to Koren.  With the help of friends and family, I now know much of the story.

Family Background

Ezriel, born in 1891, was the son of Leiser Kornmehl and Chana Sheindel Kornmehl. He had one younger brother who died of tuberculosis when he was three years old or less, and a younger sister, who was killed in the Holocaust.

Here’s a bit more about them.

Chana Kornmehl b. 1866, lived in Tarnow, died in Auschwitz

From left to right: Helena (Chaya) Kornmehl Margulies; Helena’s son, Sigmund Margulies; Chana Kornmehl, mother of Helena; Ludwig Kornmehl (later Kornel), Chana’s grandson, Helena’s nephew.

Samuel Lejser/Leiser Kornmehl, known for most of his life as Leiser Kornmehl, was born March 28, 1864 in Tarnow, Poland. He was the son of Baruch Hersch Kornmehl, an innkeeper who likely owned real estate, and Chana Sheindel Kornmehl.

Leiser married Chana Dwora Grossbard, who was born in 1866 in Zabno, Poland.  They owned a store in Tarnow that sold roofing supplies, including tar and tiles, at Lwowska 21.  After Leiser died, in 1921, his widow, Chana, opened a gas station. She is remembered as a very successful businesswoman.

Leiser and Chana Kornmehl had three children in Tarnow, Pinkas, Helena (Chaya), and Ezriel.

Pinkas was born in 1888 and died in 1891 of pneumonia.

Helena (Chaya) Kornmehl was born in 1889. She moved to Krakow when she married Josef Margulies, an attorney. They had two children, Stella, born in 1916, and Sigmund (Zygmunt), born around 1924.  The Margulies family relocated to Tarnow during the war to be with Helena’s widowed mother, Chana.

Stella was initially deported to Plaszow, a labor camp near Krakow. Her piano-playing skills had been recognized in Krakow (she is listed as a musician) and she was asked to play for the commandant — likely Amon Goeth, of “Schindler’s List” fame.

All of the members of the Margulies family perished during the war.

See what I mean about all roads leading to antisemitism?

The Celebrity Tie-In

But the name Margulies — sometimes spelled Margolis — persists. Among many Margulieses around, the current most famous one is Julianna.

I wasn’t crazy about her in “ER,” but she is amazing in “The Good Wife,” which is one of my favorite shows. I would be proud to have her ancestors in my family.

Is claiming relationship a stretch?

According to Wikipedia:

Her parents were Jewish, descended from immigrants from Austria, Hungary, and Romania…. The family lived in Israel for a time before Margulies was born, before moving back to the Upper West Side of New York City.

So you never know. I’m not planning to pursue it, though I’d bet there’s a subgroup of genealogists that try to link their families with current celebrities rather than, say, past royalty. If there isn’t, there should be — although I suppose there’s the potential for stalkiness or scams.

I promise not to ask you for any money, Julianna. And, by the way, I loved the ending of this season’s “The Good Wife.”

Next: Ezriel’s story.

14 Responses to Is Julianna Margulies My Cousin?

  1. Karyn Zoldan says:

    Very interesting. And Julia, if you’re reading this — I, too, liked last show of this season. Also those sex scenes with Josh Charles were really hot. Living vicariously, KZ
    Karyn Zoldan recently posted..Tucson Tails: Adoptable Black Dogs-part 4My Profile

  2. Jill says:

    You never know…Talented relatives seem to be popping up-doctors, musicians and perhaps actresses! Dr. Ezriel has been given a new genealogy life thanks to your research! He spans the Tarnov-Vienna family connection and has an encounter with Freud. A perfect Kornmehl combination!

    BTW did you notice the mother-daughter shoes in the picture?

    • Edie Jarolim Edie Jarolim says:

      And thanks to your research, Jill! Yes, I was thinking about the shoes — it’s sweet that they match and it’s also an interesting way to confirm that the boys (who have long hair and are wearing hats) aren’t girls.

  3. Oh my heavens, piano-playing for the commandant at Plaszow. Makes me shudder. I do see what you mean about “all roads.”

    I sympathize with the intense experiences of writing and researching, and I’m glad a little “celebrity spice” might get you back to the thrill of the research chase. So much of the genealogy “life” is all-consuming, that I wonder how people endure for long periods.

    I too am a fan of Julianna Margulies. My Direct TV recorder failed me for “The Good Wife,” so I will keep up on DVDs. I realize you don’t want to be a “celebrity hound,” but if you do decide to look for a connection, I hope one is there. “We’re all connected.”
    Mariann Regan recently posted..China, Anglicans, TroubleMy Profile

    • Edie Jarolim Edie Jarolim says:

      Who knows — it might be a fun diversion at some point to see if there is a link with Julianna Margulies. It definitely helped me today!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by.

  4. The Margulies tie seems worthy of note. Lately all stories seem to be leading to death and destruction. . .I was thinking of getting into baby and puppy photography instead lately.
    Diane J. Schmidt recently posted..Alcohol rehab art therapy Navajo styleMy Profile

    • Edie Jarolim Edie Jarolim says:

      Yup, you’re in the same boat I’m in, writing about hatred and antisemitism. Baby and puppy photography might make a nice break…

  5. Jill says:

    Back again.

    I cannot help but think about the picture–a smiling family standing unwittingly on the edge of the abyss. The next chapter in their history is one of desperation and loss. Only Dr. Ezriel survived to share his amazing story of survival and keep their memory alive. And you, Edie, have given them all center stage to bring them to life for your family and followers.

    • Edie Jarolim Edie Jarolim says:

      Yes, I have to admit the picture was one of the things that made it difficult for me approach the topic, knowing what was in store for this happy family. You’re always so good at reminding me why I’m doing this, i.e., to give back the lives that were lost. It’s a huge help!

  6. I had an African-American friend who was avidly tracking down her family history. Discovering more and more “relatives” who had owned and raped her ancestors was a disturbing part of the process for her.

    I can’t imagine how hard it must be to follow the trail of undeserved and early deaths in your family. But your work and storytelling shows that even the most organized annihilation can’t wipe out the human spirit. You’re sharing stories. And that’s one of the most important things anyone can do in the face of death and horror.

    Hey, if storytelling weren’t important, no one would care who Juliana Margulies was. :)
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    • Edie Jarolim Edie Jarolim says:

      Yes, that’s definitely a similar — and similarly difficult — process that your friend went through. And you’re right about the stories — including, as you say, the ones on TV. Most of the time I know that what I’m doing is keeping these relatives from being faceless victims. When I’m back in the rhythm of blogging, I’m okay. But having been away from it for a bit, I had to psych myself.

  7. Lynn Palermo says:

    Hi Edie, I for one am very happy you are back regardless of whether you are related to Julianna. Not only do you have an important and moving story to share but your journey of uncovering this story will be equally important, including the stops and starts.

    • Edie Jarolim Edie Jarolim says:

      Thank you, Lynn. And of course it was as a result of your challenge that the possibility of the Julianna link was discovered. I never know when I’m crossing the line between describing a process that’s interesting to others — and self indulgence. But from the response to this post I guess I haven’t!

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