Blog Update

When I decided I needed a break from screens back in January and stopped blogging for a few weeks, I never anticipated that during that time (and since) I would be contacted by numerous cousins who found me through my blog. It’s been a wonderful time, connecting with all these people and learning more about their families—and mine. I’ve already written about many of these new cousins and their stories, and there are even more stories and family information that I haven’t yet processed enough to write about.

For example, a new cousin found me with information about a whole branch of my Hamberg tree that I didn’t know existed. A Katzenstein cousin found me, and we had a Zoom session with him, his grandmother, his mother, his aunt, his brother, and another cousin. And a Goldschmidt cousin contacted me, but he and I still haven’t found a good time to talk since our schedules aren’t in sync.

All of this has been amazing and rewarding. It also means I’ve stalled on doing much new research into the Blumenfeld family.

And I am still finding that being online for too many hours is not good for me. So my posting schedule may now become less frequent. But I will still be here, just moving more slowly, as I continue to learn about my Blumenfeld family and connect with cousins from all over my family tree.

Back to the Blogosphere

It’s been over a month since I last posted on the blog—the longest break I’ve ever taken. But I really needed it.

But in the month I’ve been away from blogging (and pretty much away from the laptop), I’ve nevertheless learned a great deal related to my extended family tree. In these five weeks, I have heard from numerous new cousins who found me through the blog. So even while I was taking a break from new research, the blog has been doing its work, helping me find new cousins and new information.

So in the weeks to come I will introduce these new cousins and share the stories and photos and new information they’ve shared with me about their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents.  I have been moved by all of them and am so grateful that they’ve all reached out to me and made these connections.

Two sad notes. My cousin Henry Rosenberg died earlier this month at the age of 94. I had had a lovely conversation with Henry back in the fall, and he was engaged and warm and friendly and so willing to share his life story with me. I was shocked and saddened to learn that he had passed away. I wrote about Henry and my conversation with him here, here, and here. He was related to me through our mutual ancestors Abraham and Geitel Katz Blumenfeld, Henry through their son Moses and me through their daughter Breine.

Also, on November 27, 2022, my cousin Joan Lorch Staple passed away after living a remarkable life for more than 99 years. Joan was related to me through our mutual ancestors, Jacob Seligmann and Martha Mayer, she through their daughter Martha and me through their son Moritz, my three-times great-grandfather. I will share more about Joan’s remarkable life in my next post.

Losing these two wonderful cousins—both of whom were born in Germany in the 1920s and escaped from the Nazis with their families as young people, both of whom went on to live very long and productive lives—reminded me once again of the urgency of the task of finding cousins and learning their history before it is too late.

And so I return to blogging with a renewed commitment to tell the stories of those in my extended family tree.

See you next week!

Time for A Break

I started writing about my Blumenfeld family back in August of 2021—almost a year and a half ago. In my first post about the Blumenfelds, I pointed out that my four times great-grandparents Abraham Katz Blumenfeld and Geitel Katz had six children, one being my three-times great-grandmother Breine Blumenfeld Katzenstein, whose descendants I covered in my work on the Katzenstein family several years ago.

Abraham and Geitel’s first-born child was their son Moses, who had three children, Abraham II, Isaac, and Gelle. So far, in the seventeen months or so that I’ve been posting about the Blumenfelds, I’ve not even reached Gelle or finished Isaac, let alone any of the other children of Abraham I and Geitel, the other four siblings of Moses and Breine: Sprintz, Hanna, Maier, and Jakob.

Sometimes it just feels overwhelming, and I wonder how many more years it will take before I reach Abraham and Geitel’s youngest child, Jakob. I believe each and every one of these relatives should be remembered, and my goal remains to do my best to honor their memories. But at times I feel like I am in an endless maze from which I will never emerge.

And so it’s time to take a break from blogging. I need to reinvigorate myself and clear my head so that I don’t feel so overwhelmed. I will be back—maybe in a couple of weeks, maybe longer. And when I am, I will be writing about Isaac Blumenfeld I’s eighth child, his daughter Rebecca Blumenfeld Rosenberg, one of the over 80 great-grandchildren of my four-times great-grandparents, Abraham Blumenfeld I and Geitel Katz.

Until then I will be enjoying a break from screens and getting outside as much as possible, reading books, and seeing friends and family. I will keep up with blogs and emails, of course, but otherwise hope to limit my time on the computer.

See you all soon! Have a good couple of weeks or whatever it takes until I am ready to return to the blogiverse!


At a Crossroads: The Future of My Blog

I am at a crossroads.

I have been thinking a lot about the future of my blog lately because I am feeling a bit blocked, a bit overwhelmed. Some of my sense of being blocked comes from the fact that too much of what I have been researching recently is overwhelmingly sad. So many of the families I am now focused on were killed in the Holocaust. Each time I need to search Yad Vashem to find out what happened to some cousin, it takes something out of me. Even though these are all very distant relatives, each name is real. I feel compelled to tell their stories, but it does have a real impact on me.

Yet how dare I complain, given what so many of them experienced? I know how important it is to tell these stories and to remember what happened and to honor all of them and their lives. But it is truly wearing me down.

For almost nine years, writing this blog has been a true labor of love for me, and it’s given me the opportunity to do numerous things I love to do: research, writing, connecting with friends and family members, and connecting with fellow family historians and genealogy bloggers. I still love the research, and I still love the writing. I still love connecting with others who are interested in what I write.

But for the first time since I started blogging in 2013, I am having a hard time finishing the posts I’ve already researched and written—that is, doing the technical work where I add all the footnotes and images before hitting publish. It is very time-consuming and frankly boring.

Also, I have noticed a substantial drop in the number of people blogging about genealogy. People who used to post frequently and regularly have either stopped posting completely or are posting very infrequently. The community of genealogy bloggers has become smaller and smaller, and that is a loss for me. I enjoy reading about the work of others almost as much as I enjoy having them read about mine. And if others have lost interest in their own research, it makes sense that they will have less interest in my research also.

But I am not going away or stopping. I started the Blumenfeld branch of my tree back in August 2021, starting with my 4th great uncle Moses Blumenfeld, brother of my three-times great-grandmother Breine Blumenfeld Katzenstein. Breine had five siblings, so there are four more to do after Moses. And Moses had three children, and I am only on his second child, Isaak. And Isaak had ten children, and I am only up to Isaak’s son Moses IIB, the fourth of those ten.

So there is still so, so much to do on the Blumenfeld family. I will complete the Blumenfeld family story no matter how long it takes. I’ve made some wonderful connections recently, and I want to share those on the blog. That’s the most rewarding part of this whole endeavor.

But to help me balance all that is going on and give me a break from the constant pace of preparing posts, I’ve decided to cut back to posting about once a week instead of twice a week.

What about you, fellow bloggers? Are you feeling some burn out? How do you stay motivated?

July 2021: Scenes of the Outer Cape

I will be taking a break for the first two weeks in August, so I will leave you with some of the highlights of July in Wellfleet. See you soon!

Low tide at Indian Neck Beach:

A hike over Uncle Tim’s Bridge to Cannon Hill

My garden:

My cats:

After the storm:

Long Nook Beach in Truro, the ocean beach we frequented when I was a child:

That’s it for now. See you in August when I will return with stories about a whole new branch of the family tree!

One Thousand Posts

This is the 1000th post I’ve published on this blog. It all started almost eight years ago when my cousin Judy Ruzicka, a Brotman second cousin, suggested that instead of emailing my research discoveries to all the Brotman cousins, I create a blog where people could subscribe and see my research. I had at that time read and followed a few blogs, but had never thought about creating one. Judy did the initial setup on WordPress, and I started to publish. Haltingly at first. Posting one census record or death record and adding a few words.

This was my first post. No commentary or analysis, just an image.

Bessie was Joseph's second wife and mother of five children

Bessie Brod Brotman Moskowitz—the first image I posted back in September 2013

And then it grew. I started realizing that I could tell stories about the relatives I was researching. I could put together narratives, and when I started doing that, I could see where I had holes in my research or where I needed more sources. And suddenly I found that I had more than my Brotman cousins reading along. I had other bloggers reading as well. And I started reading their blogs, and that gave me ideas for my own research and my own writing.

From there I discovered I could share my blog on Facebook and connect with more researchers and learn even more about family history research. The blog became a bigger and bigger part of my life. I at one point was posting three or four times a week and writing posts that were sometimes 3000 words. But I then learned that sometimes too much is too much. People didn’t want to read that much in one day or that often. So I cut my publishing schedule to twice a week and my post lengths to about 1000 words.

Then the best part started to happen. Cousins started to find me through my blog. Someone would Google their grandfather’s name or their great-grandmother’s name and find them mentioned on my blog. They would contact me, and I would learn more about that part of my family—often leading to photographs, letters, documents, and memoirs and memories. The blog itself became a way of advancing my research. Today I have connected with well over 200 living cousins, many because they found my blog.

Joseph Brotman’s headstone, the avatar I use for WordPress and for my blog

So as I post Number 1000, I wanted to stop and recognize and thank all those who have supported this endeavor by reading, commenting, sharing, and finding my blog. From Judy Ruzicka, who started it all, to all the family members, friends, and fellow genealogy and other bloggers who read the blog—whether periodically or regularly—thank you for giving me this platform to share and expand my family history project.

Now—on to post 1001! I will be taking a break to spend some time with my kids, but I’ll be back in a couple of weeks.


New Year’s Eve 1919-1920 in Frankfurt, Germany

Two weeks ago I said I was taking a break, trying to figure out where to go next with my research and clearing my head. Well, my head is still not clear, and I still am on the fence about what to do next.

But while I was taking that breather, I heard from multiple new cousins as well as new communications from cousins I’d already found. New photos, new stories, new people. These include new DNA matches on my Brotman line, new photos for my Schoenthal line, new photos for my Seligmann line, a new connection from a Seligmann cousin who also appears to be a Goldschmidt cousin, a new Katzenstein cousin, a set of documents sent by a man living in Oberlistingen about the Goldschmidts, and numerous other questions, comments, or requests coming from my blog, Facebook, or email.  I will blog about many of these once I get my arms wrapped around the details.

All of this has given me a shot in the arm (and yes, I now am fully vaccinated against COVID as well) that I sorely needed. It’s so hard to transition from one research project to another, especially after three years. So these smaller, more focused projects are what I need right now. Especially since I also want to spend some time promoting my new book, Santa Fe Love Song.

Today I want to share an amazing photograph that my cousin Greg Rapp sent me. He cannot identify anyone in the photograph, but Greg is a Goldschmidt cousin (a descendant of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt), and the photo was labeled “New Year’s Eve 1919-1920.” Whether or not we can ever identify anyone in the photograph, it is nevertheless worth sharing. It captures German society during the Weimar Republic. The young women smoking cigarettes evoke that era as does the energy, the expressions, and the postures of all the young people in the picture.

If anyone can identify anyone in this photograph, please let me know.

My Goldschmidt Family Project: Looking Back and Looking Forward

With this post, I come to the end of my Goldschmidt research—at least until I get new updates or make new discoveries. I’ve done my best to find whatever records, stories, and photographs exist for Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann, my four-times great-grandparents, and their descendants.1

I started blogging about my Goldschmidt relatives a little over three years ago on January 12, 2018, making it the longest of any of my family research projects.  And it’s been such a rich and rewarding journey. I’ve connected with Goldschmidt/Goldsmith cousins in France, England, and all over the United States. Some of those cousins have roots in the US that are as deep as mine—going back to the 1840s when Simon Goldschmidt/Goldsmith arrived or the 1850s when my great-great-grandmother Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein arrived; some are the children of those who were born and raised in Frankfurt, Germany, and were forced to leave their comfortable and successful lives to escape from the Nazis as recently as the 1930s or 1940s.

One thread that runs through so much of the Goldschmidt family is an interest in the arts and literature—whether in writing, as with Milton Goldsmith and Anna Seghers, or an interest in antiquarian books, as with Alfred Goldsmith and Emil Offenbacher, or in music like Florence Goldsmith, or  in creating art like William Sigmund and Martha Loewenthal Wolff, or by working as an art historian and curator like Yvonne Hackenbroch, and, of course, then there are the many, many Goldschmidt family members involved in collecting and dealing in art—from the Goldschmidt brothers Jacob Meier and Selig to Julius Falk Goldschmidt to the Freres Tedesco family and so on.

Alfred Goldsmith self-portrait, Joseph J. Felcone, The Old Book Table. A Record of its First Seventy-Five Years, 1931–2005 (New York: The Old Book Table, 2006), p. 5.

Painting by Martha Loewenthal Wolff

Of course, there were also many merchants, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, engineers, and scientists in the Goldschmidt clan. But when I think of my father’s artistic ability and his passion for art, architecture, music, and literature, I attribute it to his Goldschmidt DNA. His mother was artistic, and she was the granddaughter of Eva Goldschmidt. My great-uncle Harold Schoenthal, also a grandchild of Eva Goldschmidt, was also an artist and an architect. My daughter is also very artistic, though she did not pursue it as a career. When I see my grandsons drawing, I think, “It must be their Goldschmidt DNA.” I may not be artistic, but I’d like to think that my love of reading and writing comes from that Goldschmidt DNA as well.

The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers

The Rabbi and The Priest by Milton Goldsmith

After three years of research, it’s hard to boil down in one post all that I have learned. That research has exposed me to so much of American Jewish history and German Jewish history—from the late eighteenth century right up to 2020. The Goldschmidts kept my brain busy during this pandemic time, and they provided me with some truly memorable Zoom calls with cousins.

It has been an amazing experience. I am indebted to so many of my Goldschmidt cousins that I fear if I make a list, I will leave someone out. But thank you to all of you who shared your family’s photographs, letters, memoirs, documents, and stories. I hope that I’ve served our extended family well by recording the stories of their lives for posterity. And please stay in touch! I want to meet as many of you as I can in person someday soon.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Madame Stumpf and Her Daughter, 1872. Courtesy of the National Gallery.
Once owned by the Freres Tedesco Gallery, Paris

A work from the Guelph Treasure
Reliquary of the arm of Saint Blaise (Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Dankwarderode Castle). User:Brunswyk, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons. Once owned by J&S Goldschmidt

It’s bittersweet to reach this point and know it’s time to move on to the next project. But I’ve gone as far as I can go in the Goldschmidt research—at least for now.  I need to decide what to do next. I’ve been dipping my toes in several ponds to see which one grabs my attention.

Before I reveal where I am going next, however, I need to take a break for a bit to catch my breath and to catch up on the research it will take to start that new project, whatever it may be. But first, I will introduce my new novel. So stay tuned!

  1. I would be remiss in my duties as a family historian if I didn’t mention that in addition to their four sons Meyer, Seligmann, Lehmann, and Simon, whom I’ve studied in depth, my four-times great-grandparents Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Seligmann had a daughter Jette Goldschmidt. She married David Gruenwald of Poembsen, Germany, and they had two children. One died as an infant or was stillborn, but the other, Jacob Gruenwald, was born in 1820, lived to adulthood, married Sarah Nethe, and had fourteen children born between 1847 and 1872. All of this information, however, is based purely on a secondary source, a report in the Alex Bernstein Collection at the Leo Baeck Institute. I’ve tried to locate more information about Jette’s descendants, but so far have not succeeded. If the day comes when I can, I will add Jette’s family to the blog. 

Season’s Greetings!

With my last post I completed the stories I’ve been able to find about all the children and descendants of my three-times great-grandparents Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hinka Alexander as well as those of Seligmann’s brother Lehmann Goldschmidt and his wife Ranchen Frank. It has been a full year since I started blogging about the Goldschmidts, and I am not nearly done. Now I need to sort out what to write about next regarding  the remaining Goldschmidt relatives.

In the meantime, I will be taking a break from blogging for the next couple of weeks. So for now, I wish all who celebrate Christmas a joyous and happy holiday, and my hope for everyone is that 2019 will bring good health, happiness, and a world that is less filled with hate and corruption and more filled with love and justice.

Before I go for 2018, here are three short updates about other family history matters that happened this fall while I was focusing on my Goldschmidt/Goldsmith relatives.

Last month I had lunch with two of my Katzenstein cousins, my fourth cousins Marsha and Carl. Marsha and Carl are third cousins to each other and are descendants of Rahel Katzenstein and Jacob Katz. Rahel was the sister of my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein. We are all three-times great-grandchildren of Scholem Katzenstein and Breine Blumenfeld.  We spent three hours, along with Carl’s wife and my husband, eating and mostly talking and laughing and sharing our stories—past and present. Even though I did not know Carl or Marsha growing up nor did they know each other growing up, we definitely have bonded and are more than just cousins.  We are friends.

My cousins Carl and Marsha

Three descendants of Scholem Katzenstein and Breine Blumenfeld

I also recently heard from my cousin Jean. Jean is my third cousin. We are both great-great-granddaughters of David Rosenzweig and Esther Gelberman. Jean is descended from their daughter Tillie Rosenzweig and her husband Yankel Srulovici (later Strolowitz, then Adler), and I am descended from their daughter Ghitla Rosenzweig and her husband Moritz Goldschlager. Jean sent me this beautiful photograph of her great-aunt and my grandfather’s first cousin, Bertha Adler. I wrote about Bertha here and here. Bertha had been married to Benjamin Bloom, but the marriage did not last, and Bertha did not have any children. I am so delighted that I now know what she looked like. I love how simply elegant she looks. She was 71 years old when this picture was taken and died just four years later.

Bertha Adler Bloom, 1956. Courtesy of Jean Cohen

This is my great-grandmother Ghitla Rosenzweig Goldschlager, Bertha’s aunt. I definitely see a slight family resemblance. Do you?

Ghitla Rosenzweig Goldschlager

Finally, another amazing small world story. I recently posted about my cousin Arthur Mansbach Dannnenberg, the son of Hannah Mansbach Dannenberg and grandson of Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach, my great-great-grandmother Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein’s sister. He was a pediatrician in Philadelphia, and his obituary described in detail what a dedicated doctor he had been.

I received a comment on that post from my fourth cousin Meg, who is a descendant of Abraham Goldschmidt/Goldsmith, who was also a sibling of Eva Goldschmidt and Sarah Goldschmidt. Meg commented that  Dr. Arthur Dannenberg  was the pediatrician who saved her sister’s life in 1946 when she was 10 months old and had meningitis.

What we don’t know is whether Meg’s mother Jean realized that their pediatrician was also her second cousin, once removed. Meg certainly did not know that.

Once again, merry Christmas to all who celebrate and happy New Year! Thank you all for continuing to follow me on my journey!




Break Time

For the next two weeks I will be busy with family—not the ones I research, but the ones who are still here, eating, breathing, and sleeping. Four generations together.

I will be back by August 1, but in the meantime, I will try and keep up with all the other blogs if I get the chance.  It’s hard to find a quiet moment with this crew around!

I hope all of you are having a wonderful summer.  Here are some photos of my favorite beach. No ancestors lived here, but since 1962, I have spent at least a few days each summer somewhere on this beach. I’ve walked many times along the beach, finding sea glass and shells and heart-shaped stones; I’ve sat on this beach many, many hours with my family—first, as a child, then as a mother, and now as a grandmother. I’ve spent hot days in the warm bay waters, tossed in the waves. I’ve watched storms come in across the horizon, turn the water a dark green, and bring the waves crashing against the sea wall. I’ve watched the tide go in and go out, twice a day, every day. I’ve walked two dogs up and down this beach.  I’ve held my husband’s hand on this beach, my children’s hands, my grandsons’ hands.  I may have more happy family memories from times spent here than I have of any other place on earth.

Through the years….(sadly, I seem to have no pictures on the beach itself before my kids were born).









See you in August!