Just to show that I never give up, I thought I’d report on a phone call I made this morning to Shmuel Brotman of Kiryat Tivon in Israel. Renee, my mentor, made the suggestion that I look for any Brotmans who had lived in Dzikow by checking both JRI-Poland and the database at Yad Vashem. Both sources found one family, the family of Shmuel and Zipporah Brotman, who had resided in Dzikow/Tarnobrzeg. It looked like the entire family had died in the Holocaust, but Renee suggested I contact the person who had submitted the names to Yad Vashem, Shmuel’s daughter-in-law Chana Brotman.
I then had to track down Chana Brotman. I knew from the Yad Vashem submission that she had lived in Kiryat Tivon in 1997 when she submitted the names of Shmuel and his family, and so I made a request on both the JewishGen website and on Gesher Galicia for help in locating the family. By this morning I had several responses, including two that gave me phone numbers, one for Chana and one for her son Shmuel. The person who provided me with Shmuel’s number had just spoken with him and said he was awaiting my call.
I jotted down some notes and then called Shmuel. He’s about my age and fluent in English. He was very happy to help me, and we spent about half an hour, comparing notes and trying to figure out whether there is a connection between our families.
At the moment I still don’t know what the connection is, but it seems likely that there is one. His grandfather Shmuel Brotman was born around 1888 in Dzikow, and his great-grandfather’s name was Moshe. I don’t yet know where Moshe Brotman was born. He could even be the same Moses Brotman who ended up in Brotmanville. We still have to sort more things out.
He did tell me that he has done some research and believes that the Brotman family originally came from Georgia in the former Soviet Union and left to escape the pogroms. He believes they changed their name to Brotman to get across the border. According to Shmuel, some Brotmans went to the US, some to Romania, and some to Poland, including his family. Whether our ancestors were also part of that family I don’t yet know, but it is a possibility.
So just as I was about to give up hope of finding more traces of our family, I received a glimmer of hope this morning from Israel. No matter where this goes, it was another one of those uplifting experiences where strangers helped me find someone and that someone ended up being welcoming and hopeful that we are related.
Ira Todd Cohen, M.D., M.Ed., FAAP
Professor of Anesthesiology and Pediatrics
Director of Education
Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
Children’s National Medical Center
111 Michigan Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20010
TEL: (202) 476-2025
FAX: (202) 476-5999