Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blogger upgrade enables categories

I upgraded to the new version of the Blogger software today. This will allow a variety of improvements, which I will look at later. But I've already implemented the most important new feature. We are now able to categorize our blog posts according to labels we define. I've quickly gone through and assigned labels to all our old posts. We may want to refine the label wording and assignments later, but already you can go to the label listings in the blog sidebar and select any one to view just the posts relevant to that subject. Any future posts can be assigned to one or more of the existing labels or given a new one.

One immediate conclusion from looking at the results is that we have only scratched the surface in producing content for the blog. Maybe that will inspire us to put some new energy into the project.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Journal publishes Stanley Ruby obituary

Here is the Stanley Ruby obituary from Hyperfine Interactions, as downloaded from the Springer-Verlag library of scholarly journals. Thank you to Gopal Shenoy for making this happen and keeping us informed. It is wonderful to have this assessment by three of Stan's peers of his impact in the physics world.

Stanley Ruby 1924–2004
Gopal Shenoy & Gennadii Smirnov & John Arthur
© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2006
Hyperfine Interact
DOI 10.1007/s10751-006-9348-8

Stanley L. Ruby, who made major contributions to Mössbauer spectroscopy and who inspired the community with the idea of observing the Mössbauer effect using synchrotron radiation, passed away on October 18, 2004, in Los Gatos, California. His boundless intellectual curiosity and passion for life was an inspiration to all around him, especially his scientific colleagues.

Born in New York City in 1924, Stan served in the US Army Signal Corps during World War II in New Guinea and the Philippines. He performed his undergraduate and graduate studies at Columbia University, guided in his graduate work primarily by Professor Madame C.-S. Wu.

He briefly worked at the IBM Watson Laboratory before starting his work on Mössbauer spectroscopy with Fe57 in 1960 at Westinghouse Electric Corporation. He collaborated with Paul Flinn (Stanford University) and Gen Shirane (Brookhaven National Laboratory), studying a large class of magnetic compounds. His most recognized work from this period was on the acoustic modulation of the wavelength of resonant gamma radiation, detected using the Mössbauer effect. During a visit to the Weizmann Institute in 1962, he observed the 9.3 keV Mössbauer resonance in Kr83.

Stan joined Argonne National Laboratory in 1964, where he was involved in the discovery of many Mössbauer resonances, including K40. Since this isotope has no radioactive parent, Stan and R. E. Holland (Argonne) observed it by populating the 29.4 keV excited nuclear state by means of deuteron bombardment (K39(d,p)K40). Later, Stan and D. H. Vincent (University of Michigan) excited the K40 resonance through the neutron capture reaction (K39(n, +)K40).

Argonne provided an ideal setting for Stan. He could incubate his ideas with colleagues who helped them blossom into successful experiments. He actively worked with a large number of scientists from different divisions at Argonne, with backgrounds in nuclear physics, materials science, and solid state physics. This was essential for establishing new Mössbauer resonances and finding the best techniques to unravel nuclear, chemical and solid state properties. In particular, his collaboration with Michael Kalvius, Bobby Dunlap and Gopal Shenoy led to many publications dealing with resonances in Sn119, Sb121, Te125, I127,129, U238, Np237, Am243.

Stan will be best remembered for his proposal in 1974 to excite the 14.4 keV Mössbauer resonance in Fe57 using synchrotron radiation rather than a radioactive source to populate the nuclear excited state. Stan struggled for years to develop techniques for separating the nuclear resonant X-rays from the overwhelming background. In the early 1980s, Stan moved from Argonne to the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory with the sole desire to succeed with his idea. Although it was the group of Erich Gerdau that first achieved this goal in 1985 at DESY, Stan and the SSRL group followed in 1987 and proceeded to make important contributions to this new field.

During the period 1990–1995 Stan and the Stanford group collaborated closely with scientists from Russia (Kurchatov Institute) and Germany (Munich Technical University) in a series of experiments at SSRL and CHESS. They observed and explained several surprising features of the coherent nuclear exciton created by a synchrotron pulse in a nuclear sample, such as the extreme speed-up of the nuclear exciton decay in scattering from a multilayer, and the nuclear exciton echo induced by vibrating a portion of an excited sample. They were also the first to use synchrotron radiation to excite the narrow 6.2 keV Mössbauer resonance in Ta181. Stan was particularly concerned with the conceptual problem of understanding “when and where” the interaction of X-ray photons with nuclei occurs during the propagation of radiation pulses through a target.

Fundamental physics was central to Stan’s life, though his interests ranged from cosmology to biology. While he allowed that quantum mechanics was useful for calculations, he found it very unsatisfactory on a philosophical level. During his later career, and especially after his retirement, he worked hard to find simple, alternative explanations for quantum phenomena. Stan was young in soul, always individualistic and passionate about his scientific ideas, which sometimes touched very exotic fields. His mind was most acute when he was talking, so he was eager to sit and talk about his latest ideas.

These discussions were always interesting, involving physics, history, astronomy, and politics. Stan’s lifelong concern with the impact of science on society was expressed in his leading role in the campaign against anti-ballistic missiles during the 1970s. Beyond his consuming interest in physical science, his many pursuits included international travel, outdoor recreation, marine life, and observing the human parade.

He was truly a family man and took an avid interest in the lives of all his colleagues. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, three children, and four grandchildren. His friends on several continents will miss him. We remember Stan for his never-fading enthusiasm to discuss physics with anyone who would listen, his friendship, and above all his curiosity for new ideas.

G. Shenoy (*)
Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL, USA
e-mail: gks@aps.anl.gov

G. Smirnov
Russian Research Center “Kurchatov Institute”, Moscow, Russia

J. Arthur
Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Stanford, CA, USA

Monday, October 23, 2006

The younger Sharons

Photos from Walter in Israel.

Tal, Achikam, Dalit, Gali (left to right) in Achikam and Gali's lovely new suburban home in Kfar Yona north of Tel Aviv.

Little Netta (Achikam and Ali's daugher) with Aunt Dalit

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Moving tribute

This is an e-mail I just send to Joanne after reading her wonderful tribute to Stan on his yahrzeit, but then I thought what the hell, I'll put it up on the family history blog as well. Catching a moment in time for posterity and all of that.


Just read your enormously moving tribute to Dad and broke into tears sitting in my hotel room in Jerusalem. You are so right that the view from their gravesite evokes Hodel's farm--thanks so much for the image. And thanks so much for your compassion and love for our parents and your ability to grieve for them in such a deep and profound way on behalf of all of us. Zeh mashehu dai chashuv, something deeply important that you are doing on a cosmic, existential level that is impacting the world far beyind what we can see and discern (as you can see Israel effects me in all osrts of unexpected ways.

You have warmest regards from the whole Sharon family. I got to visit Achikam's house and hang out with him and his lovely wife Gali and baby girl Netta. Dalit and Tal were there also. Spoke to Pnina, who is pressing Ahikam to travel with her to her birthplace in Belarus as well as Raya, who leaves this weel for a vacation with Amiram in northern Italy. Once homebound in Afeq, they have all turned into world travelers. Anyway, the one question that everyone asked of me (it was more of a demand than a question) was "WHEN IS JOANNE-EE COMING? MATAI HE TAVO? ANACHNU KOL KACH OHEVIM OTAH." So what can I say? You better get on a plane over here ASAP! Dan, the Israeli branch of the family would all love to see you as well.

OK, am on a deadline and must run. I put some of my writing on the Russian conference on rubyjewsday; now I have to write another piece on Lieberman (Avigdor, not Joe), whbich is due immieditely for Jewish Week.



Saturday, October 21, 2006

Remembering Stan's last days

Joanne writes:

Standing by his gravesite, I was flooded with my still very vivid memory of Stan's last week. It started on my 50th birthday (Monday) -- not being able to take him home as was the discharge plan, but instead to the hospital. I drove him -- my very, very sick father with a failing heart and failed kidneys sleeping next to me. I remember it feeling a bit surreal; like this could be it, he could go out on me right there rolling up 280, his all time favorite highway, past SLAC, to the exit for Stanford Hospital.

He rallied and made it: a ‘rolling admission” (hospital variety not college) – an in-and- out stay for the very sick elderly who come in from a nursing home and are discharged quickly back to the nursing facility. The dialysis was keeping him going, but not for much longer they predicted. We gathered family and friends.

I invited Peggy, of the Good Death Institute, to meet Stan. He had been so quiet and withdrawn. I just had this sense that if he could become aware of his imminent death, he might choose to use the time he had. He had struggled so desperately his last months with his want to have time, to be awake, not to be asleep when he had so much to write, read, say, share. It had been driving him crazy; how his bio-ryhthms were so out of whack. How the kidney failure affected his cognitive process. As a child with my own sleep issues, he had so stressed the joy of being awake. It just seemed right to bring him this woman who helps the dying person die a good death.

Peggy met him on Saturday afternoon 4ish. Stan had been quiet all day, closed eyes, not responded to anyone including cousins Sandy & Mel, Joe, Gene, Helga, me. Peggy held his hand, rubbed it, told him I'd invited her, and that she came to talk about his heart. He opened his eyes. Looked straight at her and said, “My heart? I can tell you a lot about my heart, but you should hear about my kidneys.” Within minutes Stan was alert, upright, and fully engaged, as we all know he can be, and then asked, 'Who are you?" In finding out she was not a doctor, or nurse, but rather a person who talks with people before they die, Stan looked genuinely puzzled, and said, “die”. “Do you think I’m going to die?”

Peggy later told me she’d never in 20 years of hospice work met a person like Stan, so unaware of dying, and found him absolutely remarkable, brilliant, funny, witty and loveable all at once. They talked about the ways of death, of rituals, of the middle ages, of the big bang and the origins of the universe. Stan, said repeatedly, “I am so enjoying this. Thank you so much, Jo, for bringing her to me. But what do I call you? I need a name for you. I know, I’ll call you the ‘warner’”. He pleaded with Peggy to come back as soon as possible.

She said she’d be there Monday after his dialysis and could stay for a few hours. It was stunning. To have Stan back, his brain woken up, his intellectual curiosity aroused. Most incredible was that Stan was bright on the phone in the morning, and when I arrived Sunday afternoon, he wanted to talk more about the Einstein article in Scientific American. He watched football with Zach and Bill and Dan. He talked to Twyla and Lani. He stayed engaged. He was present. He was looking forward to the next day: Walter was due to arrive at noon, he would go with Stan would go to dialysis, Peggy was coming after that.

Friday, October 20, 2006

October anniversaries

Gopal's letter and Dan's posting have moved me to add my thoughts. Just read pieces that I hadn’t seen before, and learned there’s yet another family member to add to the important October dates: Walter Ruby (my grandfather’s) birthday, Oct. 15. So that sits right between mine, the 11th and Helga’s, the 20th. And right in there we also have Stan’s death day, the 18th. And most years we get Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur thrown in there too (as we did this year).

Last week, on my birthday, I took my dear Carly to the cemetery. I gathered a few photos, our combined collection of seashells, and a journal. There at the Oakmont Cemetery in Lafayette, in the Jewish section, called “compassion” I do find true comfort. It does surprise me. Who would have known? It’s not just that it is so incredibly beautiful, being in the open hills and looking down on what I call “Hodel’s Farm” (reference to our backyard neighbor in Pittsburgh). It's that it all seems right; the decision of which plot/s, our carefully crafted words on the stone (“Stanley and Helga Ruby, generous spirits and forces of life, the important thing is to not stop questioning”); that you pass Green Valley Drive and Stanley Boulevards on your way; and that Carly is free to roam. So, it only seems fitting to post this photo of the site and their grave - our official unveiling on the blog.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Stan's science legacy

We received a wonderful email today from Gopal Chenoy, a long-time colleague of Stan's from Argonne days who we Ruby kids remember well from his many meals and overnight visits at our home. His message said that the physics journal Hyperfine Interactions would be publishing a tribute to Stan's work in physics written by himself, John Arthur, and Gennaddi Smirnov, two other colleagues. He attached pdfs of the author's proofs of the article, which are reproduced here.

The article puts Stan's legacy as a physicist as clearly as anything we have seen. Here are some excerpts:

His most recognized work from this period [early 1960s] was on the acoustic modulation of the wavelength of resonant gamma radiation, detected using the Mössbauer effect. During a visit to the Weizmann Institute in 1962, he observed the 9.3keV Mössbauer resonance in Kr83.

Stan wil lbe best remembered for his proposal in 1974 to excite the 14.4keV Mössbauer resonance in Fe57 using synchrotron radiationrather than a radioactive source to populate the nuclear excited state. Although it was the group of Erich Gerdau that first achieved this goal in 1985 at DESY, Stan and the SSRL group followed in 1987 and proceeded to make important contributions to this new field.

Fundamental physics was central to Stan’s life, though his interests ranged from cosmology to biology. While he allowed that quantum mechanics was useful for calculations, he found it very unsatisfactory on a philosophical level. During his later career, and especially after his retirement, he worked hard to find simple, alternative explanations for quantum phenomena.

As well as reviewing Stan's scientific accomplishments, the article gives an appreciation of him as a co-worker and man in the world. After the article appears in the journal, I'll put up a link to it or reprint the text. Gopal says he has also submitted a proposal for a longer article on Stan's science legacy that has not yet been accepted for publication.

All of this was wonderfully timely, since we're observing Stan's Jahrzeit this week. Joanne has lately visited with several of Stan and Helga's close friends. She and I will go to synagogue to say kaddish tomorrow. I'll ask Joanne if she wants to post some of her thoughts.

In the meantime, thanks so much to Gopal for this unexpected gift today.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Walter's Israel journal (Part 6): Coming home

This is the final installment of Walter's report on his recent Israel trip. Although it only peripherally about our Israeli relatives, it sounds as if it could be the opening of a new chapter of Ruby family history.

As for myself, I made a decision during my two days visiting my cousins in Afeq and sitting with residents in the air raid shelters of Haifa; namely that someday in the not-too-distant-future I will return to live in the hometown of my youth, stricken now, but still achingly beautiful as it sits resplendently on the steep slopes of Mt. Carmel.

Over 25 years ago, I made a decision not to stay permanently in Israel despite my abiding love for the land, the people, the Hebrew language and the primal intensity of the place. I felt myself too much of a cosmopolitan Jew to stay permanently in a place that then seemed to me parochial and intensely nationalistic, and I was unready to join the IDF and take part in enforcing an occupation of the West Bank and Gaza that I found to be fundamentally wrong and immoral. Or so I rationalized it to myself then, yet somehow I have known in my bones during all the ensuing years that Israel is where I belong.

And then suddenly last week, listening to my aunt Penina narrate the story of our family and the role they played in the rebirth of the Jewish commonwealth in the land of our forefathers, and listening to Orly Magen express her profound distress on the emotional toll that the latest outburst of violence is exacting on her Etai and whole new generation of Israelis, I vowed to myself that I will return to Haifa to devote the remaining years of my life to doing whatever I can to help transform conflict into reconciliation so that the next generation of Jews and Arabs, Israelis, Palestinians and Lebanese alike, will not have to endure the horrors that have scarred the lives of this generation and the four generations of Israelis and Arabs preceding it.

Suddenly I remembered two things I knew long ago but had somehow since forgotten; that underneath their hard-edged and sometimes truculent exteriors, Israelis are kind, decent and profoundly vulnerable. Also that despite the hell visited upon it by recurring wars, the tiny jewel-like Land of Israel is the most radiantly beautiful place on earth. It is where I belong.

Walter's Israel journal (Part 5): An odd sense of normalcy

Away from the war zone, Walter finds life goes on in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Like almost every Israeli to whom I spoke, Magen (see previous post) said she supports the government’s decision to press on with its military offensive to the Litani River, some 20 miles north of the Israeli-Lebanese border, although, like nearly all the others, she is dubious the expanded offensive will bring lasting peace or end the missile threat that had turned their lives upside down. When the cease-fire was announced several days later, there was an almost unanimous feeling that it would last only a matter of hours or days and then violence would erupt again.

The three quarters of the Israeli population that lives south of Hadera in the region where the missiles have yet to penetrate live in a jarringly different reality than their compatriots further north. In Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and elsewhere in the center and south of the country, life goes on more or less normally. People sit in cafes or to the beach as though the whole nightmarish scene happening a few score miles to the north simply does not exist.

A slogan emblazoned on an electronic billboard overlooking the main Tel Aviv-Haifa highway proclaims, ‘Residents of the North, we are all with you’, yet the slogan seems at least partly hyperbole. When I informed friends in Jerusalem that I had just spent two days in Afeq and Haifa before coming to the capital; most responded with comments to the effect of, ‘You were brave to have done that, but I wouldn’t go there myself in this situation.’

Most of those to whom I spoke seemed to feel they are in enough danger and under enough stress given the reality they are forced to live with in relatively peaceful times as well as times of war—that they don’t need to go in for false heroics. It is enough that they go to work every day to keep the economy running—not to mention being ready, if fate so decides, to sacrifice their children for the good of the country. In addition, many have opened their homes to refugees from the north. So why, they ask, should they go north and dodge missiles themselves?

Walter's Israel journal (Part 4): An encounter in the shelter

Walter hears the sad story of a young Israeli mother.

Inside the hot, dank and overcrowded shelter, Orly Magen, a harried-looking woman of about 25, sat dejectedly in the corner, holding her two and a half year old son Etai. Asked about her situation, Magen explained that several weeks earlier her husband had been called into the reserves and the office where she is employed as a clerk sent its workers home for the interim of the conflict.

After several days in which she and Etai were forced to take shelter ten or more times a day during incessant air raids, Magen decided to take her toddler to Tel Aviv and stay with acquaintances there until things calmed down in the north. Yet after a week, and a half, Magen felt that she had worn out her welcome, and with her meager bank account dwindling rapidly, she was in no position to move into a hotel. Instead, she drove back to Haifa with Etai, and moved in with her mother in the building in which the Hadassah members took shelter (see previous post).

A few days later, a missile landed nearby, totally demolishing Magen’s car. She has been assured by a government official that she will eventually be reimbursed a large portion of the value of the car, but, for the moment, she has no idea when the money will come. After narrating her story in matter-of-fact fashion, Magen’s voice quavered as she said, “I can’t stand any more of this. Etai is being traumatized by the constant air raids and the boom of the rockets when they hit. The situation is completely unbearable.”

Several of the Hadassah women hugged Magen and placed into Etai’s eager hands presents like stuffed animals, crayons and coloring books. Smiling broadly through her tears, seemingly for the first time in days, Magen profusely thanked the visitors and said, “It means a lot to me that there are Jews from America who are willing to come here despite the dangers and be with us at this moment.”

Walter's Israel journal (Part 1): At Kibbutz Afeq

Here is Walter's report after his recent visit with family members at Kibbutz Afeq, which took place during the war with Hezbollah when bombs were falling in the north of Israel. I've broken his article into several pieces for readability. For more of Walter's observations from Israel and Ukraine, see his Ruby Jewsday blog.

I was having lunch with my 87 year old aunt Pnina, her daughter Raya and son-in-law Amiram in the communal dining room on Kibbutz Afeq, listening to Pnina reminisce about how her husband, 89-year-old family patriarch Ze’ev, a refugee from Hitler’s Germany journeyed to the Land of Israel as a teenager in the mid-1930’s and, together with other members of his Zionist youth group, helped to found the kibbutz and to plant orange groves on land located on the coastal plain between Haifa and Acre that was then mostly sand dunes and malarial swamps.

Penina talked movingly about how she herself escaped the Nazi invasion of Poland as a young woman by fleeing to Soviet Russia, where she was interred for several months in a prison camp in Siberia before being allowed to emigrate to Palestine. Finally she spoke about the desprate struggle for survival that was Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, and how Ze’ev and other members of a platoon from Afeq took part in house to house fighting in the battle to capture the ancient seaside city of Acre from Arab forces during the 1948 War of Independence.

Suddenly my absorption in Pnina’s narration of a piece of our family history I have heard many times before but which never fails to fascinate me, was pierced by the unmistakable wail of an air raid siren. Manifesting no discernable sign of alarm, Penina said, “OK, we’ll finish our meal in a little while, but right now we need to get up and walk quickly to the shelter”. So I followed my dynamo of an aunt and about 30 other kibbutzniks out of the dining room and down a flight of stairs to a smallish space underneath the stairwell of the building; an alcove which, it appeared to me, would offer only minimal protection to its occupants in the event of a direct hit by a katushya missile.

We stood against the walls of the shelter for about five minutes, with the kibbutzniks socializing and discussing the latest developments in the war, and then, without waiting for an ‘all clear’ signal, walked back up the stairs and concluded our meal.

As we tarried over coffee and ice cream, I asked Pnina how it felt to have survived the onslaught of the Nazis and the rigors of a Soviet prison camp; to have experienced seven Israeli-Arab wars, including the 1973 Yom Kippur War, during which one of her three children and her her only son, Avinoam was killed; to have participated in the building of a kibbutz from swampland into a thriving entity and to have watched her beloved Israel grow from a struggling entity of 600,000 Jews to one of six million, only to find herself having to run to an air raid shelter in the sunset of her life.

She paused for a moment to consider the question in all of its weight and then said, “Look, I don’t appreciate having to run for the air raid shelter five or more times a day as we have been doing here for the past three weeks, and sometimes I ask myself why I bother to take shelter at all, because I am going to die soon enough anyway. But then I say to myself, ‘I don’t want to give those Hezbollah bastards the satisfaction of killing me.’ So I get up from whatever I am doing when the alarm sounds and head for the shelter.’”

Monday, August 14, 2006

AP: Famous ancestors adorn most family trees

Here's an interesting article from the Associated Press that says that almost everyone descends from a famous ancestor. In our family, that could be the Kovno Rav. The article goes into detail about actress Brooke Shields' pedigree. Among her ancestors are Catherine de Medici and Lucrezia Borgia, Charlemagne and El Cid, William the Conqueror and King Harold II, vanquished by William at the Battle of Hastings.

Even more surprising, according to Irish computer scientist and genealogy enthusiast, Muhammad, the founder of Islam, appears on the family tree of every person in the Western world. Who knew?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Twyla turns 21

Stan and Helga's first grandchild turned 21 a few days ago. Here's a photo of Twyla, her mom Kate, and her dad Dan enjoying a toast and the view from San Francisco's Top of the Mark.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Walter posts from Haifa

Walter has been posting updates from Israel at his Ruby Jewsday site. However, his latest report (which he also emailed) is not yet posted at RJD so I'll put it up here:

Yesterday was one of the most exhilarating and profoundy depressing days of my life. I spent the day in Haifa--my beloved hometown where I spent the best years of my life as a young reporter 1976-79, and the city yesterday was achingly beautiful from the vista of Yefe Nof Street--I had forgotten just how beautiful is, but it was almost dead. Hardly any traffic, the port was empty.

A visitor does not see physical destruction, until they take you to a few of the houses that were blown up. I accompanied a group of Hadssah women from the U.S., first to Rambam hospital and then on a tour of the city--which was cut short by air raid sirens again and again. The first siren came when we were inside the hosital, but they insisted that we go inside the conference room where we had been scheduled to go anyway, but a little later, because it is the most secure spot in the hospital. We spoke to several soldiers who had been gravely wounded in Lebanon whose lives were saved by the wonderful; doctors there.

It turned out a rocket had landed a kilomter away friom us, but it didnt explode. Then we began a tour of the nearby Bat Galim neighborhood which was abruptly cut short by another siren and we rushed into the shelter of a nearby rundown apartment building. The shelter was tiny with maybe 30 people crammed shoulder to shoulder in a small space--verry hot and smeeled bad.

Residents of the house were sobbing--a young single mother cradled her 2 year old and said, "I cant take this any more...its been going on for weeks and my nerves are snapping." I asked her why she didnt evacuate to Tel Aviv or somewhere else safe and she replied, "I already went there, but I couldnt impose on people any more, so i came back. I have no money now and nowhere to go". Her car was destroyed in a boming attack. Her mother wailed, "What is goping to happen to us...Please help us."

After we left there we went into another shelter in a parking lot underneath a kenyon (mall) where a mixed group of Jewish and Arab kids were being entertained by musicians beating drums. One Arab counselor shouted, "The jews and Arabs of Haifa stand together. We wont let Nasrallah tear us apart." By the way, everyone I spoke to--mostly non-Russians had learned from Russian-Israelis via the media the meaning of "Nasral" pa Russki and had a good laugh from it. Calling him "shit"is one of the few bright spots of the "matzav" (situation) here.

I saw young Israeli girl soldiers working with the Arab and Jewish kids, helping them to laugh and sing and those girls were so wonderful that at that moment I vowed to myself somethign I havent vowed in 25 years--that I intend to come back and live the remainder of my life in Haifa, where I can make a contribution for the sake of my own people, the Jews, and also for the Arabs and for the peace of the sacred Land we both love and cant manage to share.

I kept breaking into tears throughout the day, but felt uplifted and hopeful. Then on the long bus ride to Jerusalem, my spirits flagged and I felt a sense of hopelessness as i heard of the decision of the cabinet to go on to the Litani--nothing but death and destruction as far as the eye can see. My friends, understand me, I devoutly hope it works. The Israelis have convinced themselves that is the only way and I pray with every fiber of my being that Olmert and company are right and I am wrong. But hevreh, it is so FUCKING painful here, you have no idea. I love Haifa and the people of Israel so much and their world is failling apart. If you are up there, Hashem, get your ass in motion and save the people of Israel, save the world and stop this killing now.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Flickr photoset for Lani's bat mitzvah

Walter sent email from Israel requesting current family photos for Dalit and Tal. Here is a quick selection from Lani's bat mitzvah last fall. I will try to put up more photos later.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Translation update

Rather than sending Walter the hi-res files, I decided I should finally get translations done for the two German documents--Hermann's birth certificate and a 1925 death certificate for an unknown Ringel--that were not previously translated. The birth certificate is heavily annotated with additional information from 1888, three years after the certificate was originally issued. The names of the mother and possibly the father are indicated but are difficult to decipher in the handwritten German script.

I googled for German translation services and found one that handles small personal jobs as well as corporate and legal work. I emailed them yesterday and heard back right away from someone asking for more details on the project. I sent off low-res copies of the documents and am waiting to hear more from them.

There is one other document for which we need an English translation, Hermann Ringel's 1906 Polish language "domicile of origin" certificate. My German translators don't do Polish, but it doesn't matter because we already have French translation of the document, done perhaps in 1940 in Nice. I will reproduce a closeup of that document (below) that may be legible even in the blog.

But first, here's a theory. Elly carried the Polish domicile record and presented it in France to support her claim of Polish citizenship and use of a Polish passport. Closer inspection of the passport seems to indicate that it was issued in Toulouse in France on July 5, 1940 and would expire after one year. So this suggests that Elly used Hermann's domicile record as documentation to acquire the passport from a Polish consulate in France.

Anyway, the French translation follows. If anyone can render that into English, it would be most helpful.

On the Kurfürstendamm

I had trouble with the display of this photo in the post below and decided it deserved a post of its own: Hermann and Helga on the Kurfürstendamm in about 1934.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Hermann Ringel documents

Doh. He was born in Berlin in November 1885. Then the family returned to Galicia, and then he came back in 1906? There are still some mysteries here to unravel. For one, we have not yet had anyone translate the birth certificate, and especially the handwritten annotations.

Here are Hermann's birth certificate and relocation document. I've made them as large as possible in the blog, so I'm sorry they are not very legible. Hopefully I will also be able to get higher resolution versions to Walter.

The Ringel dossier

I just spoke to Walter, who departs tomorrow for his trip to Israel and Ukraine. The family gathering day is supposed to be Tuesday, though he is unsure if the latest round of bombings got close to Dalit and Tal's town of Zichron Yachov. I can't wait to get Walter's report on the reunion. Don't forget to take lots of pictures.

To prepare for the meeting, I need to supply Walter with copies of the Hermann Ringel birth certificate and relocation permit, as well as various photos for him to share with the Israeli relatives. The problem is that the documents are really big files--what's the best way to get full-resolution images to him over the wire?

While I mull that over, I'll go ahead and post the pictures that I want to share. Here we have: Hermann Ringel, Herman and wife Elly, Hermann and daughter Helga, Elly's mother Bette Katz (we think), and an unknown Ringel woman (possibly Rosa, Bette or Margot). Only Ze'ev will know any of the people in the pictures, and it sounds as though it is doubtful Walter will be able to see Ze'ev, since he is not well enough to travel from the kibbutz, which is within the war zone.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Family Finder search results are promising

I mentioned that JewishGen Family Finder success story in my last post. Well, I figured, we might as well give it a try. The JGFF database lets you query on surnames, towns and countries to discover other people who are researching those sames names and places. I guess it has been running quite a while and has a large number of researchers indexed.

I ran queries on Tulbowitz in Rostov, Rabinovich in Kaunus, Ringel in Rzeszow, and Wolgemuth in Kaliningrad. Three of the four rang up good hits--only the Tulbowitzes came up blank. There are lots of hits for Rabinovich and Ringel, both fairly common names in their regions of Lithuania and Galicia. We will certainly want to follow up with some of those researchers.

The Wolgemuth hits were more specific--two researchers interested in Wolgemuths in Kaliningrad, the modern name for Konigsberg, then the capital of German East Prussia, where our grandmother Elly was born 1900, Both records are old. Bernice Siegel of Brighton MA last updated her record in 1999. Gary Smith, who does not list an address, updated last in 2001.

I sent each of them an email tonight introducing myself as a descendent of the Julius Wolgemuth-Bette Katz family who had two daughters born in Konigsberg in the early years of the last century. We'll cross our fingers and hope that either or both of the emails finds their destination. If so, it may be that we will find someone who can tell us more about our great-grandfather Julius.

Genealogy blog

I came across a good collection of articles and resources at the Jewish section of Genealogy Blog. I may post a few that are relevant to our search.

For example, here is a detailed report about a genealogy success story, in which long lost branches of a Jewish family in Maryland, Uruguay, and the Netherlands are reunited through the Jewish Genealogy Family Finder. So far I have not entered myself in the JGFF, but this article is strong incentive to do so.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Seven cousins

Here's another great photo from the Sandy collection, or else it is Marsha's. The photo print this was scanned from says October 1957. That's Walter, Danny, and Joanne on the right, Robert Felenstein at left, Marsha Felenstein kneeling, and I am guessing Janis and Leslie Brenner up front.

Four generations

Now that the focus is back to Albany, how about this great photo from the Sandy Brenner collection? Here we have a photo from 1941 with matriarch Rose Ratner (seated), her daughter Selma (right), Selma's daughter Joan (left), and Joan's daughter Wendy (on Rose's lap).

Albany 1915 census

Here is one interesting lead, a Sofie and Morris Tulbowitz in Albany Ward 3 in a special NY State census in 1915. I can imagine that Sofey might be Sophia, but Morris doesn't sound right for Solomon.

Albany, New York State Census, 1915 Record
Albany, New York State Census, 1915 Record

Whether or not they are related, the 1915 census is worth looking into deeper. Here is info about the census database.

Although not the largest city in the state, Albany, New York is one of the most important urban areas along the Hudson River. This database is a collection of state census records from the city in 1915. It includes information regarding residents of the city's first eight wards. Researchers will find the resident's name, election district number, and ward number. Page and line numbers are provided to aid those wishing to find the original state document housed at the capital. This update adds nearly 65,400 names, making a total of 108,000 names now available. For those Ancestry.com patrons seeking ancestors from Albany, New York, this can be a useful collection of records.

Source Information:
Lommel, Brenda, ed.. Albany, New York State Census, 1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: MyFamily.com, Inc., 1999. Original data: State of New York. State Census of 1915. Albany, NY, USA: New York State Government, 1915.

Tulbowitz search

So far, I have not found more than the 1900 census document Walter discovered. Here it is blown up and divided into three panels left to right. The Tulbowitzes (Solomon, Sophia and Edward) are the bottom three rows in each image.

Family resemblance

By the way, I think Rabbi Spektor looks a hell of a lot like Stan, especially in the photo on the right.

Meet Solomon and Sophia Tulbowitz--our great-great grandparents

Big News! I got a call from Beth Abraham Jacob congregation in Albany today advising me that there are two Tulbowitz (finally the correct spelling) graves in their cemetery on Fuller Street, where Dan and I made a brief stop last month, and they belong to Solomon and Sophie Tulbowitz, who are clearly the parents of Rose Ratner and our great-great grandparents. The lady from the synagogue also told me exactly where in the cemetery to find the graves and I will make a trip up to Albany to photograph them after returning from my overseas trip. I went now to Ancestry.com, typed in Sophie Tulbowitz and was directed to the 1900 census. Here is what I found: a three member household at 244 Pearl Street in Albany occupied by Solomon born in 1848, his wife Sophia, born in 1850 and son Edward, born in 1876, making him Rose's younger brother (by two years). The census had the year that they arrived as 1890, which seems correct for Sophie, who came with her daughter and son-in-law Rose and Abraham Ratner, but incorrect for Solomon and Edward, who were said to have come several years later. Solomon and Sophie were said to have had 5 children, of whom three were still alive in 1900. Both Solomon and Edward were identified as tailors by occupation. What we dont have so far, obviously, is the year of their deaths. I wasnt able to find death records for them on ancestry, but maybe Dan, who is already more of a maven at all of this, can also check to make sure I didnt miss them.

At the moment, I am thinking it would be probably be relatively easy to trace our family if we went to Rostov because the name 'Tulbowitz' is so unusual, and I'm feeling frustrated that I'll be so close to both Rostov and Kovno (Kaunus), Luthuania on this trip to Kiev and Crimea, but not able to go to either this time. Unfortunately, I cant change the date of my flight, without screwing up my freeby flight. In the meantime, though, I'll contact that geneology maven in Moscow to see if he'd be willing to do some checking for us without charge, and, if not, in the near future, I'll have to make another trip to Mother Russia (and Lithuania) to follow the Tulbowitz and Rabinowitz lines. Frankly, I dont need a lot of inducement to go to Russia, a place I love hanging out, just need to secure some funding for the trip. Dan, Jo, you're invited to come along when I go.

German Jews in WWI

The other day I posted information about the military draft in the U.S. for World War I. Our grandfather Walter Ruby registered in the draft, was called up, and fought and was seriously injured in the war. Our German grandfather, Hermann Ringel, also fought in the war on the other side.

I was curious about German Jewry and its response to the war, so I dipped into Amos Elon's "The Pity of It All--A Portrait of the German-Jewish Epoch, 1743-1933" for these excerpts:

"When war actually broke out, five weeks after the assassination, middle- and upper-middle-class urban Jews did not 'go home.' They joined up. By volunteering for war sevice long before being called up they hoped they would finally overcome the remaining informal impediments to full integration in German society....

The common experience of war was generally expected to cement firm new bonds among Germans of all faiths. The term used for that experience was Erlebnis. A young Jewish volunteer, Julius Holz, invoked his Erlebnis on December 7, 1914, his twentieth birthday, in a letter to his father from the front. He vowed to 'fight like a man, as a good German of true Jewish faith and for the greater honor of my family.' ...

In the main urban centers, liberal, leftist, and perhaps even some pacifist Jews were swayed by the prevailing emphasis on Russia. It was easier to endorse a war directed against the last despoitic and openly anti-Semitic regime in Europe....

In a speech he gave on August 4 affirming his government's decisio to go to war, the kaiser solemny assured his audience by proclaiming that differences of religion, political affiliation, class, and ethnic origin no longer counted. He said: 'I no long know any aprties, I know only Germans,' at which point the Reichstag broke into a 'storm of bravos.' ....

Jewish volunteers and conscripts felt very little hostility in the ranks. In the name of the kaiser's 'civic truce,' the military authorities ordered the more radical anti-Semitic periodicals to refrain from anti-Jewish agitation.

The Zionists were still a negligible minority among German Jews. At a conference just sight weeks before the war, they had reaffirmed their conviction that they were aliens in Germany. Once war was declared, though, they joined in with as much--and often more--enthusiasm than others, ready if necessary to shoot at French or Russian Zionists.

The Zionist Judische Rundschau, in its first issue after the outbrak of war, exhorted reader to volunteer unhesitatingly and en mass....

German Zionists already settled in Palestine hurried back to volunteer....

Large parts of the Pale of Settlement in Russia soon came under German military rule. Nearly everywhere, Russian Jews welcomed the German troops as liberators....

[Lots of great detail about Jewish pro-war sentiment, including from Freud and other intellectuals, followed by rising disillusionment as the war dragged on.]

Far from unitying Germans and Jews, the ware seemed only to deepen the gulf between them. As soon as the war turned sour, chauvinism turned inward....

Such feelings were exacerbated by the sudden influx of impoverished Jews from occupied Poland and Russia. Living in abject conditions on the edges of the larger cities, they elicited revulsion....

In October 1916, when almost three thousand Jews had already died on the battlefield and more than seven thousand had been decorated, War Minister Wild von Hohenborn saw fit to sanction the growing prejudices. He ordered a 'Jew census' in the army to determine the actual number of Jews on the front lines as opposed to those serving in the rear....

The Jew census had a devastating effect on German Jews, generating an unprecedented moral crisis among those on the front line....

In 1914, Eranst Simon had fully shared the 'intoxicating joy' of going to war. The Jew census was a 'betrayal:' the dream of community was gone. In one horrendous blow, the census reoped the deep chasm that 'could not be bridged by common language, work, civilizaton, and custom.' ....

Only two years earlier, Nahum Godmann had hailed the gloried of Prussian milarists and their wonder war. Now he wrote that Jews had nothing to do with this war: its origins, its aims, its content were totally alien to them. It was taking place outside their sphere.....

[I'll stop there. This book has lots of great content about Jewish life in Germany until it was obliterated by the Nazis. I'll return later with excerpts about the Zionist movement and also the Jewish reaction to the rise of Hitler. For now here is a photo of Hermann Ringel in uniform as a German soldier during WWI.]

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

HIAS documents

From Walter: here are the two scanned documents from HIAS. The first is the file filled out by the HIAS worker in NY and the lower is their address in Lisbon.

Photos of Rabbi Spektor

Any family resemblance?

Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Spektor

Since Dan has started down the road of trying to understand our relationship with the Kovno Rav, lets start with this biographical entry from the Eilat Gordin Levitan archive.

He had four children; Son Benjamin Rabinowitz was murdred in 1906R. Zvi Hirsh Rabinowitz died in 1909 his two other children; a son died at age 40 and a daughter Rachel who died in 1876.

Notice no mention of the Gonif, who would have died around 1855.

Here's another page from the Kerenets section of the Levitan site that has a lot of stuff on vartious Spektors who fill the gap between 1880 or so and the Holocaust:

So how and why did some Spektors become Rabinoviches and how does all lof this relate to Joseph Rabinovich deciding to pull up roots and head to America in 1874, which seems very early. But hey, he must have been the smart Rabinovich/Spektor.

Elly's passport

A couple of days ago, Walter posted about HIAS and Helga and Elly's arrival in New York. He mentioned a scrap of paper with a birth date and birth place, and he surmised these would have been taken from Elly's false Polish passport.

We have that passport among our artifacts, and Walter is precisely correct about Katowice and the July 3, 1900 date--the place is fictitious but the date is accurate. Actually, there is a discrepancy regarding Elly's birth year in the two official death records that are accessible through Ancestry.com. The Social Security Death Record has her date of birth as July 3, 1900, but the State of California death record has it as July 3, 1901. We agree that 1900 is correct, right?

Here's an image from the passpost, followed by a closeup of the passport photos.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Joanne checks in

This came by email this morning.

arrived totally exhausted. revived. out on the Seine last night. lots of talk about Lani coming to live here next year and schooling with international kids at an amazingly warm and wonderful small school two block from La Tour Eiffel. I keep saying if Lani doesn't feel ready, I will come....

heard back from Ahikam w/ Edith phone number. Penina suggests I just call when I get to London, and ask if I can come see her. Not sure she will agree..but they all feel I should definitely try. To my great surprise and joy, Ahikam said he may be in London at the same time. I would be thrilled, and am waiting to hear back. Now that will add something substantial to the blog. Meanwhile I will start w/ death records in Paris to see about Hilda...

Monday, July 31, 2006

Etta Rabinowitz married an Italian guy

It seems like the Ratner boys werent the only ones marrying out of the faith back in the day.

Etta Rabinowitz 1896-1979 (died in the Bronx) was the daughter of Barnet Rabinowitz and Rebecca Kurser. Her spouse was named Fran cesco James Pastorino.

Joanne Ruby fan chart

Walter asked about what kind of graphics we can do with the family tree. The program I use has a lot of output options. Most are very large, either horizontally or vertically. One format called a fan chart is compact enough for the confines of the blog. As an example, here is a four-generation fan chart for Joanne. You can see we have a lot of work to do on the Herman Ringel sector. Hopefully, there will soon be a Ze'ev interview.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Joseph's naturalization record

This is exciting because it shows Joseph Rabinowitz gaining his citizenship in 1892 and it also provides an exact date of arrival, Nov. 23, 1875. Something may not jibe exactly, since I believe one of the census documents had it in 1874. And wasn't Julius born in 1874?

Walter, I noticed on the Castle Garden site, they had an advanced search capability that involves human researchers. It costs $45. I put in a request for a Joseph Rabinowitz arriving between 1870 and 1880. I'm supposed to get an email with preliminary results before paying.

Joseph and Lena

Wow--the 1900 census has Joseph born in about 1855 and Lena in 1857, which is really getting back there. Lena is 36 when she has Walter, her last of 8 children (one deceased). They reside at 288 Pleasant Ave. in Manhattan, wherever that is. A deluge of info--but I have to stop now because must get up and finish writing a story tomorrow.

a few new findings--The Bloch-Ratners arrived in 1890 or 1891

Dan gave me the password to Ancestry.com and showed me around a little bit, and I managed to make a few findings from the census. The 1900 census lists the arrival date of Abraham and Rose Ratner in America as 1890 (whereas the 1930 census says 1891). Assuming that one or the other is correct it solves the Ellis Island mystery--they arrived shortly before the opening of the Island on January 1, 1892 and were probably processed in the barge office that served as the site between the closing of Castle Garden on April 18, 1890 and the opening of Ellis Island. We see from that census that their oldest child was Peyzer born 1891 followed by Hyman (George?) 1892 and Lillie (probably Til ) 1896 and Sadie (clearly Selma) 1899 and Dora born 1900, who probably died soon thereafter. At that time they lived at 42 Broad Street, are renting their house and Abe is already listed as a soda water manufacturer. The 1930 census, by the way, has Abe, Rose and Thelma (Til) at 16 Cuyler Ave, which has a net worth of $14,000 and mentiones that they own a radio set (one of the few on the this page of the survey to do so). Amazing stuff.
Well, lets collect a lot more of this stuff before I get back to revising the Ruby Family Histories.

The 1917-18 military drafts

Here are excerpts from Kennedy about the 1917-18 military drafts. There will be more from him on other subjects, such as the gassing of American troops in France, at a later time.

Wilson might have accepted a comporomise that permitted at least an interim trial to the volunteer system, had not his arch-rival Theodore Roosevelt been busily establishing himself, with strong Republican backing, as the coountry's most visibly eligible volunteer....

Wilson determined to nullify the possibility that Roosevelt might lead a volunteer division to France by largely foreclosing all forms of volunteering....

The first order of business was to compile a national roster of eligible men in the designated age group between 21 and 30. The government quickly decided that the only expedient way to proceed was somehow to induce the men to come forward and register themselves. It was not at all certain that this scheme would work. Memories of Civil War draft riots haunted the adminitration. Senator James Reed of Missouri starkly predicted that the streets of America would run red with blood on registration day, June 5....

Governors, mayors, chambers of commerce, and state council of defense joined in concerted patriotic incantation to urge young men to the registarion places on June 5. Wilson himself struck the keynote of this gigantic propaganda exercise when he proclaimed, some what disingenuously, that the draft was not really a draft but a "selection from a nation which has volunteered in mass." ...

For all its ambiguity, the administration's approach to the distasteful business of military impression was largely successful. Nearly ten million men presented themselves at their local polling places to be registered on June 5, and the day, somewhat to Secretary Baker's amazement, went by without serious incident...

At 10:00 am on July 20, a blindfolded Baker drew the first draft number from a huge glass bowl in a ceremony at the Senate Office Building. College student tellers drew more numbers throughout the afternoon and evening, until by two the following morning a national "order-of-call" list had been compiled and telegraphed to local boards throughout the country...

At first the administration proceeded rather hesitantly against "slackers." By mid-1918 the Justice Department had prosecuted only 10,000 persons for failure to register. But in March of that year the Department inauguarted a new tactic, aimed not at the individual offender but designed to round up thousands of delinquents in one swoop. Justice Department agents launched the first "slacker raid" in Pittsburgh. More raids followed in Chicago, Boston and other cities, most notoriously in New York and norther New Jersey from September 3 thorough 6. In these last raids, armed soldier and sailors joined a canvass that detained more than 50,000 apparently draft-age men who were often apprehended at bayonet point in ball parks, restaurants, or on street corners and made to show their Selective Service documents....

In August, Congress extended the eligible age limits to 18 and 45, a step that called for a massive new registration on September 12 of the estimated 13 million men under 21 and over 30 now suddenly liable to the draft...

Immigrants in military service

I remembered I have a great book on the World War and American society that I acquired for family history research, Over Here by the historian and former Stanford University president David M. Kennedy. I've just begun to dip into it, but here's a striking passage, during a section on the political debate in 1917 about universal service, also called conscription:
Shared military service was the only way to "yank the hyphen" out of Italian-Americans or Polish Americans or other imperfectly assimilated immigrants. "The military tent where they all sleep side by side," Theodore Roosevelt preached, "will rank next to the public school among the great agents of democratization." Compulsory military training, said a Representatiove in 1917, "is a melting pot which will ... break down distinctions of race and class and mold us into a new nation and bhring forth the new Americans"

More later if the book has anything specific to the Rabinowitz and Ratner men as the country prepared for war.

Changes in the sidebar

You can see that I have been fooling around in the sidebar to demonstrate how the blog will provide access to documents and artifacts that we already produced. The trouble is that none of those links are live. I hope to start fooling around later to figure out how to host our multimedia assets so that the links can be made live.

Seymour's draft card

I noticed on Seymour Rabinowitz's draft registration that he gives his real birth date but changes the year to make himself 28 instead of 30. Was that intentional to get into the war? However, the card also notes that he is blind in one eye. Was that to get out of the war? This is our future truant officer, now an unemployed bookkeeper.

It would be worth reading up on the draft of 1917-18 to get a sense of how popular the war was. Were men of all ages required to register? It's interesting that Julius registered at age 41.

Welcome Joanne as a blogger

At this hour, Joanne and Lani's non-stop flight has just departed SFO bound for Heathrow. From there, they will take several trains to connect to the express for Paris, arriving perhaps 15 hours from now. They will spend a few days in Paris, then have a week or so in Venice, come back to Paris for a week, and then end with a three-day stay in London, where they will also reunite with Bill and Zach, who will be on the way home from their trans-Siberian adventure.

Busy as she was getting ready for the trip, Jo completed the Blogger.com registration and is now set up to contribute her own posts to this blog. You can see the three of us listed at right under "Contributors" in the blog sidebar. As the blog grows in the future, I can imagine that other family members and friends might also join in. (Of course, anyone can add a comment to any of the blog posts, whether or not they are a "contributor").

For now, welcome to Joanne. Maybe she'll have time to put up a word or two from an Internet cafe sometime during her trip.

Bette Wohlgemuth's maiden name

This was an unexpected small step forward. The death record for Elly Ringel lists her mother Bette Wohlgemuth's maiden name as Katz. Bette was the one in Walter's narrative who kisses Elly and Helga goodbye at the Berlin train station, never to see them again.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hunting for the truant officer

Tracking Blossom and Meta is harder since we don't have married names for them, but the Rabinowitz boys should be trackable. I checked Julius and found a 1920 census listing Anna as spouse, and three children Seymour, Abner and Judith. Walter's history mentions that Julius had a daughter Judith who was friendly with Stan's sister Joan, and who was about Joan's age. Sure enough, Judith Rabinowitz is one year old in 1920.

Walter's history also has Julius working for the New York City school board as a truant officer, but the census records show his occupation as bookkeeper (1910) and clerk-dry goods (1920). Perhaps it was one of the other brothers, Henry, Seymour or Abe, who worked in the schools. Like his younger brother Walter, Julius registered for the draft in 1918 even though he was then 41 years old.

Checking the other brothers, there are several plausible Henry Rabinowitzes, none a truant officer. I have an Abraham Rabinowitz who matches Walter's description as a men's clothing cutter. In 1920, he lives in the Bronx with wife Celia and children Yetta and Isadore. For Seymour, I have a 1917 draft registration card listing him as an unemployed bookkeeper who is blind in one eye, a 1930 census record showing him living alone in the Bronx and working as a--aha, there it is--a truant officer in the public schools, and a New York death notice recorded in February 1963.

Rabinowitz family

My most recent find are census records for the Rabinowitz family in 1900 and 1910. In our family tree that I have been assembling, we had Joseph and Lena Rabinowitz with five children--Julius, Meta, Abe, and Blossom in addition to little Walter, the youngest.

The 1900 census gives us a number of other names. In order, the children with their birth years, are Julius (1874), Henry (1879), Sadie (1881), Abraham (1883), Mammie (1886), Seymour (1887), Blossom (1891), and Walter (1893). Also living in the household was a boarder, Barnard Linkoff, presumably Lena's brother. All of the children were born in New York, so Joseph and Lena must have emigrated no later than 1875.

Oh, here it is right here. The year of immigration to the United States for Joseph and Lena is 1874. Barnard arrived in the same year, when he was only five years old, presumably traveling together with Joseph and Lena. Joseph's occupation is listed as "peddler." The oldest children were already employed, in order, as a bookkeeper, stock clerk and milliner. Barnard Linkoff's occupation was clothing salesman.

Then we move on to 1910 for the same family. The family, now living at an address on 118th St., now includes Joseph, Lena, Abraham, Sadie, Meta, Seymour, Blossom and Walter. Barnard is still in residence along with his spouse, Fannie. Joseph is still listed as a peddler, and all of the kids now have jobs. Walter at age 16 is listed as an office clerk.

I have image clips from the two census documents but for some reason Blogger doesn't want to upload them now. I will add them later on.

The Jersey City Rubys

Good news, I've found a plausible Walter Ruby in New Jersey for the 1920 census, a good bet to be the young man who will be in a car accident in Jersey City 15 years later. He is Walter Ruby, 25, one of three Ruby-surnamed stepsons of Thomas Fahey of Jersey City Ward 10. This Walter Ruby was born in New Jersey of parents born in New York, like the one from the 1930 census. He is listed as being a clerk with a steel company.

Anyway, it puts to rest the whole double life scenario. Wild goose chase indeed. By the way, it is amazing just how many Walter Rubys there were with birth dates in the 1890s. There are WRs in Nebraska, Kentucky, Alabama, and several other places, in addition to the one in Manhattan and the one in Jersey City.

Gerald Clerc

From Walter's link in the previous post. Is he a grandson of Joe Liebman?

Israel family reunion

On a whole different front, Walter is getting ready to meet up with our Israeli family next week, as he travels there despite the war before meeting up with Tanya in the Ukraine. Meanwhile, Joanne has canceled her visit to Israel, but will instead travel with Lani to Venice, Paris and London. In London, she has hopes to contact Helga's cousing Edit who is reported by one of the young Israeli relatives to be alive and well.

To give a flavor, here is a series of emails, with Walter's latest update on contingency plans for meeting the family if Afeq remains unsafe.


I had a long talk with Dalit and Tal on Thursday and Tal offered to have me picked up at airport upon arrival in his company car and brought to their house in Zichron. That is on the morning of the 7th. Dalit said that if the present situation is continuing at that point, the family reunion set for August 8th on Afek will be moved to Zichron, which as you know is about 15 miles south of Haifa and no rockets have gotten there yet, although some have gotten pretty close. The problem, of course, will be what to do about Ze'ev ,who might not be able to move to Zichron, though Raya, Pnina etc. certainly can do so. But the feeling is 'you do what you can' and 'zeh mah she yesh' and if we need to hold the reunion in Ze;ev's absence thats what will have to be. Tal said rockets have landed all around Afek and they themselves wouldn't travel there at this point at least.

Dalit, who I havent spoken to in about 30 years, was a delight, an absolutely charming person, very thoughtful, speaking about the sense of fragility of life in Israel--one moment a beautiful summer season, the next moment all of this horror. The situation is bringing people together and causing people to rise to the next level of generosity and collectiveness and all of that, but its still a dispiriting mess.

So, presumably the family reunion will take place on the 8th, probably in Zichron and of course you can be involved by phone. They all very much wish you could come, but understand and respect your concern about Lani.

I dont remember the address of the chateau in Neuilly--I have a picture of it in my mind's eye, but wouldnt know how to find it. And, as I may have mentioned, Clerc is gone. It used to be on the Place de La Opera, but I couldnt find it when I was there with Tanya in January.

But look at this link I just found on Google.

it seems to be the same firm. Do you think Gerald is Arnaud's son? So, according to this, the firm appears to have been created in 1874 on the Place de L'Opera and Joe Leibman must have taken it over at some point.

Love, W.

On 7/29/06, joanne ruby wrote:

joanne ruby wrote:
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2006 23:05:18 -0700 (PDT)
From: joanne ruby < joanneruby@sbcglobal.net>
Subject: Re: Edit and Gina
To: Dan Ruby

good go, Dan. I will write Achikam shortly w/ this and see what he can add for preparation to my talking by phone or in-person w/ Edit Aug. 14-16 in London.

Walt, shall we think about when/ how we can communicate while you are in Ha'aretz w/ our cousins. I think you definitely need to show them all the blog. Can you access Dan's photo album on line? would surely blow them away. are you taking the CD - Stories of Helga and Stan Ruby? wow. you two sure are pulling it all together. Walt, do you have recollection of location of Hilda's mansion in Neuilly? I'd love to find it. Is anyone buried there we need to find? Now there's a question (am I blogging yet?): where is Hilda buried?

Dan Ruby wrote:
Edit and Gina were daughters of Bette Ringel, who was Hermann's sister. There
was a third sibling Rosa, mother of Ze'ev and his sister Margot. We
don't know anything about Hermann, Bette, and Rosa's parents.

The Jersey City mystery deepens

Remember that among the New York Times clippings about Walter Ruby that I discovered last year there was one that reported an auto accident taking place in Jersey City on June 14, 1936. A car driven by a Walter Ruby, age 41, of 110 Cottage Street in Jersey City, collided with another car, resulting in six injured people. One of the injured was Evelyn Ladd, 52, of the same address listed for Walter Ruby.

This article has been a continuing mystery. Perhaps it is a different Walter Ruby, though the age is about right. If it is our Walter, why does he have an address in Jersey City? I had came to the conclusion at that time that the reporter had made an error and gave the Cottage Street address for Ruby, particularly since I had interpreted the article as suggesting that Mrs. Ladd had been a passenger in the other car. My explanation was that our Walter was passing through Jersey City, perhaps on business, had an unfortunate accident, and that the news report was mistaken about his address.

So today I am looking at census records available at Ancestry.com. Earlier I already described the 1930 census record for the Ruby household at 685 West End Ave. Now pops up another 1930 census record for a Walter Ruby, listed as a boarder in a Jersey City household with Edmund and Evelyn Ladd.

This is six years before the accident at a different Jersey City address, but obviously if Walter Ruby were a boarder with Evelyn Ladd in 1930, the same Mrs. Ladd must have been in his car in the accident. So my explanation about the mistaken address is not correct. The obvious explanation is that it is a different Walter Ruby.

The one thing that continues to raise an eyebrow is that the Jersey City Ruby lists his industry as "jobber," the exact term listed for the West End Ave. Ruby. Is there any possibility that our Walter conducted business in Jersey City and kept a room there for occasional times that he needed to sleep over? If someone kept a part-time apartment in addition to his family home, is it possible he could have been counted twice in the 1930 census?

But there are a few more anomolies about the Jersey City listing. This Walter Ruby is listed as being 36 years old on April 30, 1930, which would have been correct for our Walter. However, he is listed as being unmarried. Also, it says he was born in New Jersey and that his mother and father were born in the U.S. Those facts are obviously wrong. Also, going back to the newspaper clipping, his correct age on the date of the accident would have been 42, not 41.

So what are we to make of this? Almost certainly we are looking at another Walter Ruby. I will go back into the records and see if I can document an earlier history for this other person. But we can't yet entirely rule out the possibility that our Walter Ruby kept an outside apartment in New Jersey for at least six years in the 1930s, and that if so he evidently fictionalized some details about his life despite using his real name.

I'm going to see if I can find anything else that would bring some clarity.

Ancestry.com researches

I mentioned yesterday that I signed up for a 14-day trial period with Ancestry.com. It has proven very useful so far, turning up various census and death records. If it continues to be useful, I will have to consider paying the very expensive membership fee--more than $300 a year or about $40 a month for access to their worldwide databases. I'm going to try to get as much use of it as I can in the trial period.

Two things of note I discovered today. I was doing searches on some of the Ratner children and was able to follow George and wife Emma to Englewood Cliffs, NJ, in 1920, where he was listed as a grocery proprietor. Household members were wife Emma, daughter Marjorie (age 2) and Emma's mother Louise Paeglow. From there I can follow Marjorie into her marriage with Robert K. Decker, evidently known as Ken. Marjorie and Ken appear to still be living at age 89 and 91 at 20 Willow Dr. in Delmar NY, outside of Albany. The phone number listed is 518-478-0208. We know that Marjorie (Stan's first cousin) and Ken had two sons, Kurt and Ronald, but I have not yet been able to find them among the many Deckers with those first names.

But much more exciting than any of that is this morsel, Walter Ruby's draft registration card from June 5, 1917, apparently filled out in his own hand. He lists his name as Walter Ruby Rabinowitz. It provides an exact birthdate for him, October 15, 1893, a datum we may not have had. He lists his occupation as "salesman" with (as best I can make out) Lenox Novelty Co., located at 109 Lenox Ave. in New York City. He is 23 years old and writes that he is a "natural born" citizen.

Here's the image.

BLC photos

Here's a taste of how Brant Lake Camp looks in the summer of 2006, 74 years after Stan first attended. Our guide is 86-year-old former camp director Bob Gersten, who was four years ahead of Stan in camp and in Long Beach High School. Gersten was a star athlete who went on to play starting guard at University of North Carolina. He has fond memories of young Stan Ruby.