Eli Fuchs and Fruma Skriloff

17 April 2011


     Philip Trauring's blog, Blood and Frogs, is an excellent source of information on Jewish genealogy. His post on the symbolism engraved in Jewish gravestones is especially interesting. He includes photos as examples. Read more at LINK TO BLOOD AND FROGS

12 April 2011


     Yad Vashem has 1,100 photographs of young children who were either displaced or orphaned by the Holocaust. The Museum has created an online display of these photographs in an effort to track down and identify the children in the photos. The Museum is asking for everyone to spread the word about the online display, in the hopes of reaching these children in order to preserve their stories and, perhaps, to reconnect families. View the display at the link below:
Yad Vashem Displaced Children Project Link

04 April 2011


Naturalization papers and death certificates have been added to the "Family Documents" page, please click on link in heading.

13 March 2011


How did the migrations and displacements of Fruma and Elia ancestors lead them to be in Uzlyany on October 8, 1941? The realistic answer is that we may know some of the recent past but beyond that we will never know the families earlier history. That doesn’t mean we haven’t been asking ourselves that question for decades. So we are doing what people have done for ages, we are trying to put together a picture of their and our family history.
The process we are taking is to gather the information we understand best, and that is the physical and oral evidence we have available to us now. The word of mouth stories we can capture in family trees, tales handed down by elders, letters written, birth certificates, other documentation and photos and videos.
Beyond those resources, we hope to rationalize a longer term view of what might have been a part of our family history. The following are some of the factors we consider.
The first piece of information I have is of my own DNA. I requested a DNA analysis be made for me by the National Geographic‘s “The Genographic Project”. I requested a kit that contained a swab to rub on my inner cheek and the sample was returned to them for analysis. I received the following Map from the project that represents the results of their analysis, Haplogroup J2. 

This suggests that one possible ancestral path of migration may place my family near the Black Sea. DNA studies are very sophisticated and I do not pretend to understand the details or reliability of the results. I do understand that there are many who question the utility of DNA analysis, in general, to determine family history. I do find it interesting that the study of my DNA does imply the family may have followed a M172 path that nears a general region of my grandparent’s home. We also have to remember my DNA code is a composite of my father David, and my Mother Fannie Greenberg Fox who was born in Poland. Since both of my parents were born relatively close to one another I suspect that the DNA paths may in general be similar.
The second piece of information is that my Mother, Father and I all have Blue Eyes. As a child I had white blond hair. There are published studies of Professor Hans Eiberg of the University of Copenhagen that suggest all Human beings with Blue eyes resulted from the mutation of one individual that occurred in the area near the North-West section of the Black Sea, about 6000 to 10,000 years ago. That is another bit of information that may place members of our family in the same general region near Uzlyany.                           
The third piece of information that may have some relationship to our family’s history is the history of the Khazarian people, who were a distinct political entity in the Black Sea area, between 650 and 1016. The Khazarian royalty married Jews and converted to Judaism. The reigning Khazarian established Judaism as their national religion. It was reported that they were Blue eyed, redheaded with fair complexions. Eventually they were dispersed by Mongols and Rus’ians into neighboring regions.
The fourth piece of information that may relate to how our family came to Uzlyany was as a result of the Pale of Settlement.  Empress Catherine II (Catherine the Great) in 1791 forced all the Jews, throughout Russia, into restricted areas of Belarus and the Ukraine.  The Russians continued the restrictions to varying degrees through 1917.  This clearly must have confined the Fuks migrations during this period.
The continual dislocations of the Jews over the millennia have created an infinite number of paths that the Jews could have traveled to be at any one specific location at any specific time. One of those paths placed Elia and Fruma in Uzlyany on October 8 1941. Their story tells of the unbridled cruelty one human being can show to one another. Most important, their story carries with it the rich heritage of the survival of a people and they should be remembered for whom they were and how they lived their lives, the past they embodied and the future they leave with us.

28 February 2011


     Uzlyany, like many shtetls in the Pale of Settlement, had a wooden synagogue. I first became aware of the synagogue through the book Wooden Synagogues by Maria and Kazimierz Piechotka. This beautiful old volume was published in Warsaw by Arkady in 1959. In the Introduction, Dr. Stephen S. Kayser states that the book "commemorates martyred buildings." The book is a witness to another class of victims of the Holocaust--these examples of Jewish architecture that "deserve to be remembered like the six million human beings who perished with them...and who to a considerable extent were a part of them."
     The book was the first real inventory and study of these synagogues. Where photographs of the synagogues did not exist, the authors reconstructed them in drawings from descriptions and records. Such is the case of the Uzlyany structure. We only have drawings and reconstructions, but at least those sources help to provide a witness to its existence.
     Using the notes and drawings of the Piechotka's, a David Dawidowicz made models of many of the synagogues, including the one in Uzlyany, below. Link to Wooden Synagogues of Poland web site
   Years ago, I found a postcard with a rendering of a Holy Ark. I later learned that this postcard is of the Holy Ark from the Uzlyany synagogue.
     While the outside of the synagogue seems plain, the inside was glorious, as the intricate work on the Ark attests. From the research I have done, most of the wooden synagogues were full of beautiful woodwork, and often had vividly painted walls with symbols and colorful designs.
     David Fox told his son Marvin that the depiction of the shtetl in the movie Fiddler on the Roof was very close to the Uzlyany he remembered. The synagogue in Fiddler was a wooden one, much like Uzlyany's, simple on the outside but beautiful within. The movie is well worth watching for the sets alone, which can provide us with a visual grasp of our ancestors' lives.

12 February 2011


Stories my father David Fox told me.
     Elia and Fruma scraped out a living in a one room house with an earthen floor and a wood stove in the middle of the room. In winter my grandmother Fruma would get up earlier than the rest of the household and light the stove. Then one by one she would take the children from their bed, dress them on the warm stove and feed them breakfast. In the middle of winter in Uzlyany, men would come to the door and place my father on their shoulders to take him to Hebrew school through the heavy snow.
       Grandma Fruma was in charge of the cultivation of the leased fields, and saw over the planting and harvesting of the fields, while Grandpa Elia visited trappers with his horse drawn cart to collect furs for a marketplace in Minsk. Occasionally, in the winter, my father went with grandpa to collect furs. I asked my father if he rode in the wagon with grandpa. No, he answered, in the winter you never rode in the cart. You would run along side of the cart because if you sat still you would freeze to death. Grandpa Elia periodically went to Minsk, to represent Uzlyany, my father proudly told me. Every day my grandma would take my father to visit my maternal great-grandma. My father said she always made sure he knew she loved him.
     We took my father and mother to see "fiddler on the roof" and he said that the town shown in the movie was similar to Uzlyany.
      He once described his father Elia as kindly in that townsfolk would come to him if they needed to borrow money.

       My grandpa told my father that there was no work in this small town for him. Grandpa Elia gave my father $5 and a ticket to find a new life for himself in America in 1913.
   My father came to America through Ellis Island stayed with his relatives in New York City. He did not get a job for two weeks and was starving, He got a job as a house painter and reluctantly was given  $0.50 by his boss after his first half day at work He went out and got a pail of water a loaf of bread and a salami, He says that was the best meal he ever ate.
      Lonely in NYC he started spending his weekends in museums. He enjoyed doing that and that is a memory I always have and i also enjoy. Imagine that a peasant boy spending his weekends in museums. He learned to paint and I feel he was a very good unschooled artist. 

      My father David and mother Fannie (born in Poland) came to America in 1913, met at a house party where, they played spin the bottle.  I asked my father what was the first words he said to my mother. He said he was sitting next to her, and he reached over and touched her sleeve, and my speedy father said “nice material"

01 February 2011


     According to its self-description, Yad Vashem is the "Jewish people's living memorial to the Holocaust."  Yad Vashem's commitment to remembrance is manifested in four ways: commemoration, documentation, research, and education. Victims of the Holocaust, plus the Righteous who saved lives, are honored at the facility in Jerusalem and on its online memorials.
     The resources and documentations collected by Yad Vashem are of importance to Jewish genealogists. Our goal, like that of many other family history researchers, is to use genealogy as a way to remember and honor our ancestors, especially those who were lost to us in the Shoah. Yad Vashem has provided family history researchers with valuable materials for meeting that goal.
     We have found, through the Yad Vashem online database, that an unknown relative has submitted the names of Eli and Fruma Fuchs and their daughter Rakhil Fuchs Levin to the Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names. Finding this online memorial was our first step in determining the dates and cirmcumstances of their deaths. We are trying to find the person who submitted the Fuchs' memorials, in the hopes of reuniting with a cousin who may have survived the atrocities in Uzlyany.
     Yad Vashem also has a You Tube Channel. The videos of the survivors' telling their stories are especially compelling in their witnessing and remembering. Family history researchers should search the videos for their surnames, shtetls,  and  other identifying terms for their ancestors.
     Yad Vashem, in partnership with Google, has recently placed 130,000 photographs from the Shoah online. The photograph labels and descriptions are searchable.
     Families can submit Pages of Remembrance to the Names Database, as well as photographs to the Photo Archive. The forms and procedures are available online through the web site.
     Reminder to family history researchers: don't forget to search for alternate spellings of names and search terms.