I’ve alluded to the fact that I’ve gone from thinking I had no living relatives on my mother’s side besides my immediate family to the realization that I have a very large — and, as it turns out, far flung — family. Not all of them have the name Kornmehl, of course. And there are probably still more Kornmehl relatives to be tracked down. But Jill Leibman, an avid family historian and a Kornmehl by marriage, has been kind enough to contribute a second guest post to this blog, giving an overview of those she knows for sure to be related to us and who have the Kornmehl name. They range from goat farmers and pilots to bankers and physicians.
Future genealogists will thank you for this overview, Jill.
The focus here is on the male members of the family because that is the more traditional way to maintain a surname, though it is the mother’s line that counts when it comes to determining who is Jewish. But as you’ll see, one family patriarch has his mother to thank for his last name, and another family member, the writer Ariella Kornmehl, kept her maiden name although she didn’t pass it along to her children. I’m planning to do a separate post on her and perhaps an interview — if she speaks English. My Dutch is pretty rusty.
I am also hoping for more detailed portraits of many of these families members — hint, hint.
Those Who Hold the Name
By Jill Leibman Kornmehl
History has not been kind to the Kornmehl family in the last 100 years. Although they flourished in the 19th century, fanning out from their town of origin, Tarnow, Poland, the Kornmehls — and the Kornmehl name — were decimated by the Holocaust. Some of the surviving male Kornmehls did not produce male progeny. Others changed their names when they moved to Israel.
The task of producing sons to preserve the family name rested on five unsuspecting Kornmehl males, who were unaware of each other until chance encounters reunited family members in the last 20 years. Let me introduce the men who proudly hold the Kornmehl name:
Family of Nathan Kornmehl: USA
Curiously enough, Nathan inherited the Kornmehl name through his mother. Yes, his mother, because of an archaic European law: Parents not married in a civil ceremony had to give their children the mother’s last name. Nathan’s parents were married only in a religious ceremony so for the last 96 years — he turns 97 in April — Nathan retained his mother’s maiden name.
Nathan has done his share of reviving the Kornmehl name through his three sons, all of whom worked in the last Kornmehl butcher shop in Buffalo as teenagers. Since then, they have been smart enough to move somewhere warmer than Buffalo and engage in careers that do not involve meat.
Bernie Kornmehl [pictured next to this post's title with his wife, Jill, the author] is a lawyer who lives in NJ. He and Jill are the parents of Jason, Adam and David Kornmehl.
Marvin Kornmehl, an orthodontist who also lives in NJ with his wife, Carol. They have a son, Tyler, and two daughters, Heather and Chelsea.
Ernie Kornmehl, a corneal surgeon in Boston who is married to Ellen, an oncolongist; they are the parents of Jake and Lia.
Nathan’s unsuspecting (until now) five Kornmehl grandsons are responsible for producing a new generation of Kornmehls to carry the name.
Family of Pinchas Kornmehl: Australia
The patriarch of the Australian Kornmehls, Pinchas (Paul) made a dramatic escape during WWII from the advancing Nazis. Raised in a fishing village in Holland, Paul escaped with his parents, siblings and their families, traveling via Belgium to France. As conditions worsened, they obtained false documents and managed to cross the Pyrenees by foot to enter Spain. Bribes passed hands and they managed to scatter to far-flung places like Curaçao and Surinam to wait out the war years. Paul, who ended up in Australia, where he started a successful hosiery business, died in 2010.
Paul’s son, Jim (right) is the current patriarch of the Australian Kornmehl family. He ventured out of Australia in his youth to attend the University of Pennsylvania. His family includes three daughters and a son, Marcus. Jim is the founder of Projex, a waterproofing system.
Marcus (left) is a physician who went to medical school in Tasmania, possibly the closest place to the South Pole a Kornmehl has ever ventured. His tall stature is unique among male Kornmehl family members and you can’t help but love his accent.
Family of Itscho Kornmehl: Amsterdam
Itscho ventured out of Holland for a few years during WWII along with his brother Paul (Pinchas). He quickly settled back after the war and raised his family, which included one son, Robert (Rob) Kornmehl.
Rob’s branch of the Kornmehls includes his wife, Marion, son David, daughter Ariella and her children. Rob is an avid family historian and makes frequent trips around the world to visit his relatives.
David Kornmehl, married to Sharon, is a banker in Amsterdam. They have two children, Dahlia and Gabriel, one of the few third-generation Kornmehl men.
Family of Hirsch Kornmehl: South America
Discovering Spanish family members put our clan on yet another continent, speaking a new language. How they got to Argentina from Europe remains a mystery. They are recent additions to the Kornmehl family tree, having found us by a feat of modern technology: viewing our Facebook pages. They may be the best recently discovered relatives because they live in a great place to vacation and their son is a jet pilot–cool! [Editor's note: Tucson, Arizona, is a very nice place to visit too, especially in March]
Roberto Kornmehl works as an executive in a construction firm and lives in Buenos Aires with his wife, Elaine. Their sons are Nicolas and Pablo, a pilot on Airbus A320 for LAN airlines who lives in Chile.
Family of Markus Kornmehl: Israel
Originally from Poland, Markus and his family immigrated to Germany. Their fur shop was completely destroyed during Kristallnacht. Their flight from the Nazis took them to France and across the ocean to Uruguay; they finally entered Argentina illegally. Their son, Peretz, and grandson Daniel made aliya (went to Israel) in 1963. This put Hebrew as another language in our family repertoire and re-established the family tradition of careers involving food.
Dr. Peretz Kornmehl, married to Renee, had a long career at Ben Gurion University as a pediatric endocrinologist but is now retired. They have two sons, Daniel and Ariel.
Daniel Kornmehl and his wife, Anat, are proprietors of a goat cheese farm in the Negev, profiled here. I don’t have pictures of them, but you can click on the link to see more of their goats.
Ariel Kornmehl — yes, also a male — was born in Israel and now lives in Taiwan.
Bio: Jill Leibman Kornmehl, MD, is a Professor of Radiology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and practices mammography in New York. In her (very little) spare time, she enjoys writing, genealogical research, reading and traveling.