An Amazing Day!

No stories about my distant relatives today because my heart is too full with love and pride for my daughters to think about the past—though I realize and recognize that my daughters wouldn’t be who they are but for all those ancestors who came before them—all those who were brave enough and optimistic enough to take all those steps that made it possible for my children to be here. So forgive me for indulging today in parental pride as I bask in the glow of yesterday.

Yesterday was such an amazing day. Both of our daughters were at their very best. And as their parents, we were both excited and worried about how their days would go. Maddy was going to run her third Boston marathon (and her fourth marathon overall), and Rebecca was going to testify before a Congressional committee. How were we going to juggle both and be able to focus on each of them fully?

Well, fortunately Rebecca’s testimony was in the morning, and Maddy’s start for the marathon wasn’t until 11:15, so we were able to watch most of the Congressional hearing before Maddy even started to run. It was an exhausting but exhilarating day from start to finish.

Rebecca was asked to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on behalf of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, the non-profit organization for which she is the executive director. The hearing was ostensibly called as a hearing to determine what could be done for the victims of violent crime in New York City, but as many of the Democrats on the Committee stated and as media outlets also recognized, it was actually called by the committee chair, Republican Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, as an attempt to intimidate and punish the Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg for his office’s prosecution of Donald Trump. Since violent crime rates are higher in many places, including Ohio, than they are in New York City, it was obvious that this was a set-up, not a good faith investigation of violent crime.

As Rebecca said in her testimony, if the committee and Congress were truly concerned about victims of violent crime, then they would be focused on taking actions to prevent gun violence. She stated:

“To make a significant change, we need bipartisan support in Congress to fight violent crime and make our communities safer.  Congress can combat the national gun trafficking crisis plaguing New York City and the state by passing federal gun reform laws that are modeled after New York State’s.  We need to close loopholes in the federal background check system, protect victims and survivors of domestic violence, strengthen extreme risk protection order laws, promote safe storage laws, crack down on ghost guns and hold rogue, reckless gun dealers accountable.  Our federal, state, and local governments need to invest more in community violence intervention and prevention programs, invest more in housing, healthcare, and education.  Our state and our cities need more funding for victim services. And Congress must support and fund federal law enforcement efforts to investigate gun crimes and hold the highest drivers of crime and gun trafficking accountable.”

You can see Rebecca’s full opening statement here.

Rebecca faced questioning by the members of the committee, both Democrats and Republicans, and was steadfast in her position and persuasive in articulating the position that it is the easy access to guns that leads to most violent crime, not the actions of a prosecutor’s office. Surrounded by other witnesses hand-picked by the Republicans to pursue their political agenda, Rebecca stayed calm, resolute, and professional. We couldn’t have been prouder.

Meanwhile, as we were watching Rebecca on my laptop, we were also keeping our eyes on our phones and the Boston Athletic Association app that allows people to track runners in the marathon. Maddy started the race at 11:18 am, and we began to track her progress. You can imagine our excitement and our stress—both daughters testing themselves in challenging and extraordinary circumstances.

Just as last year and the year before, we were staying at the Lenox Hotel in Boston where Maddy is now the general manager of the restaurants. She has worked there for over 16 years, starting as a host and working her way to the general manager’s position. She is passionate about the hospitality business, making sure that all guests receive the best service and feel welcome and appreciated whenever they come to one of the restaurants in the hotel. As we had lunch in one of those restaurants and walked through the lobby and stood outside to watch the runners crossing the finish line a few hundred feet away, over and over we heard from everyone, “We love Maddy.” From the servers in the restaurant to the hotel staff to the many “regulars” who eat there often, we heard how wonderful Maddy is to everyone.

And then, as we tracked the app and watched her progress, we stood outside in the cool and sometimes rainy weather, waiting anxiously to see her finish the race. We watched as she made her paces through Hopkinton, Ashland, Wellesley, Natick. We saw her pace slow a bit as she ran up and down the hills of Newton—the infamous Heartbreak Hill. And then we saw her gain speed again as she went through Brookline and finally crossed the Boston city line. My heart was pounding as I saw her turn right on Hereford Street and then left for the final stretch down Boylston Street. And then there she was, smiling, jubilant, and seemingly unfatigued by the 26.2 mile run.

And then there was the excitement of seeing her return to the hotel and the loud cheers and hugs and flowers and love that greeted her—not only by us, her parents, but by all those friends, co-workers, and guests who were there to cheer for her and support her.

What a day! These are the days that you dream about when you have children—the days that make all the worrying and hard work and sleepless nights worth it. The days that make you grateful for the gifts your children have given you with their passion, their love, their strength, and their commitment to being good and kind people determined to make the world better in many different ways.



Blumenfeld Cousins Hanukkah Zoom

Last Thursday I was fortunate to be able to Zoom with thirteen of my Blumenfeld cousins—Omri, Richard, Jim, Steven, Milton, Kenny, Alan, Debbie, Simeon, Simone, Matthew, Max, and Michael. Some members of the group had known others for their entire lives; others of us had never met in person or otherwise before the Zoom. Most of the group are my fifth cousins—we are all descended from Abraham Katz Blumenfeld and Geitel Katz, who lived in Momberg, Germany, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

We span the globe—Omri from Israel, Richard from Switzerland, and the rest of us from the eastern seaboard of the US from as far north as Maine all the way to Florida. We come from a range of backgrounds—some of us (like me) having roots in the US since the mid-19th century, many of us the children of Holocaust survivors, and three of us born outside the US, one in Israel, one in Canada, and one in Italy. Our religious backgrounds also range from Orthodox Judaism to Christianity. Almost all of us fall into the Baby Boomer generation.

Yet despite our differences, our commonalities far outweigh those differences. We were moved by Omri’s lighting of the Hanukkiah from Israel and our combined voices singing Maoz Tzur. We shared stories of our own lives and the lives of our parents and grandparents. We found much to talk about and to learn from each other, including family heirlooms and family history. For some, learning that they had cousins, albeit distant, was a wonderful revelation because their own family story had not been connected to the larger Blumenfeld family tree.

My only regret is that in the midst of all the warmth, laughter, and stories, I forgot to take a screenshot of all of us on Zoom together. You will have to use your imagination. But here at least is a chart showing the descendants of Abraham Blumenfeld and Geitel Katz to the sixth generation (for most of us, our parents’ generation). It’s quite remarkable to see just how many people one couple generated through their children, grandchildren, and so on.

Overall, it was a wonderful hour for me—to share with those I’ve found through my research (or who found me through my blog or through other cousins) is the best reward of doing family history research. It helps to keep me motivated to continue the search.

UPDATE! Both Omri and Matthew did capture a screenshot of at least part of the group, so I can add these to the post.

Thank you to all who joined in. And I hope all my cousins, friends, and readers had a happy and meaningful holiday, whichever one you celebrated, and I wish you all a new year filled with love, peace, light, and meaning.



The Boston Marathon 2022

As a mother, I have been blessed with many days that have brought me immeasurable joy and pride—the days my daughters were born, their first words, their first steps, their first days of school. Watching them perform on stage in theatrical and musical performances. Bat mitzvahs, graduations, a wedding, and the births of my grandchildren. Those are the big events. Then there are so many smaller events that have filled my heart with so much love and joy—when they’ve done something kind to a friend or family member, when they’ve made someone smile, when they’ve made me laugh until tears roll down my face. Being their mother has been a constant source of joy and pride.

Yes, there were and still are moments that I get exasperated with them. There were times I’ve lost my temper or said something too harsh. Times I was in too much of a rush or under too much stress to be as patient or attentive as I should have been. And there were times they also didn’t behave as I might have wanted them to. But overall being a mother has brought me the greatest challenges and the greatest rewards of my life.

Yesterday was one of those days of immeasurable joy and pride just as last October 11 had been when Maddy ran the Boston Marathon for the first time. Yesterday she did it again. Of course, I am proud of her determination and her hard work and her accomplishment of running 26.2 miles on one of the hardest marathon courses in the world. But it is more than that. So much more than that.

Maddy works at the Lenox Hotel in Boston, a beautiful old hotel with so much style and class that it puts any other hotel to shame. And it happens to be located just a block away from the Marathon finish line. It is the perfect place to watch the thousands of runners as they finally reach their goal after hours of running. You are a witness to all their excitement, exhaustion, and elation as they see that finish line in front of them. And so, of course, we stayed at the hotel to watch and to witness Maddy’s completion of the marathon for the second time.

From the moment we entered the hotel on Sunday night, we were treated like VIPs. Everyone told us how proud they were of Maddy, how excited they were, and how much they loved her. From the top management of the hotel to the woman who came to clean our room, we heard over and over again how kind she was, how special she was. What more could a parent ask for?

And then we waited and watched as the participants passed the Lenox. First, the amazing grit and determination of the wheelchair and hand-cycle participants, then the awe-inspiring runners who were pushing a loved one in a wheelchair through the racecourse, then the elite runners arriving in just over two hours, and then wave after wave of runners from all over the world of all ages.

The fourth wave were the runners who ran for charity, not based on a qualifying time, and in my mind, they are the most important of all. They are not doing it solely for the athletic challenge, but to make life better for others at the same time.

Maddy was in that fourth wave. In the three times she has raised money in order to run in the Marathon (the first time cancelled because of COVID), she has raised close to $50,000 from friends and family for the Boston Medical Center, a non-profit 514-bed academic hospital in Boston; its mission statement states that the hospital is “driven by a commitment to care for all people, regardless of their ability to pay, providing not only traditional medical care, but also programs and services that wrap around that care to enhance overall health.” Maddy’s ability to raise that kind of money for the hospital is a testament to how many people care about her and support her efforts.

As we waited for Maddy to approach the finish line, we tracked her on the Boston Athletic Association app. She was running with her friend Mo, and they stopped to send us a selfie they took as they passed the halfway mark at 13.1 miles—their big smiles glowing with pride and happiness. Maddy’s oldest and dearest friend Anna traveled from western Massachusetts with her family to stand along the race route to cheer Maddy on and give her a hug. Our cousins in Newton waited along Heartbreak Hill to cheer her on as well.

Anna and Maddy

And then we saw on the app that Maddy was crossing Mass Avenue and then turning onto Hereford Street and finally on to Boylston Street, just a few blocks away from where we were standing. We noticed that Mo was now trailing her just a bit and later learned that Mo had graciously told Maddy to run ahead—perhaps to get all her glory alone as she passed us, arms high, smile beaming, with her co-workers and friends and her parents yelling and screaming her name as she ran by and then crossed the finish line.

We then waited for her to return to the hotel, her home away from home, the place where so many who love her were waiting to cheer her accomplishment. As she walked in, the DJ played “Eye of the Tiger,” and the crowd cheered and applauded and then allowed us, her parents, to give her the first hugs.

And then, as she was being hugged and greeted by others, she noticed that the 95-year-old owner of the hotel was also in the lobby, sitting in a wheelchair, waiting to see her. Maddy went over and gave him a hug and spoke to him, and my heart almost exploded with pride and emotion.

So yes, yesterday was one of those days you dream of as a mother when you are raising a young child and hoping that they will grow up to be hard-working and determined and kind and generous. That they will be filled with joy and self-confidence. And most importantly, that they will be loved and loving.

I am so blessed that both of my daughters have fulfilled those dreams for me in so many ways. Rebecca, through her work fighting against gun violence and as a loving and devoted mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend, has also given me many days of intense joy and pride. And yesterday was only one of the many days when Maddy has brought tears to my eyes with her kindness and love and joyfulness and her determination to do her best at whatever she does.

But yesterday—well, yesterday was one of those truly special days that I will always cherish.

My Mother

To my readers.

I will be taking some time off from blogging. My mother died on Friday, February 11, 2022, and I need to take care of myself and my family. I will likely post something soon about my mother, but for now I leave you with a few photos of my beautiful, wonderful, beloved mother. I already miss her more than I can express.

Thanks for your support.


Florence Goldschlager 1931

Florence Goldschlager, c. 1944

Florence and John Cohen 1951


My mother and me, c. 1954

My parents



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.


Joe and Betty Goldfarb and Their Children: A Close and Loving Family, Part II

When World War II ended, the children of Joe and Betty (Amer) Goldfarb were young adults. Marvin was 22, Francine was 20, and Selma was seventeen. Although these photos aren’t dated, I believe they were probably taken around this time.

Francine, Marvin, and Selma Goldfarb 1940s Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Francine, Joe, and Selma Goldfarb 1940s Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Marvin and Francine Goldfarb 1940s Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Joseph and Betty (Amer) Goldfarb. Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Francine was the first of the siblings to marry. On September 15, 1946, she married Irving Shapiro in Brooklyn. Irving was born in Brooklyn on October 2, 1917, to Sam Shapiro and Fanny Lipschitz, both of whom were immigrants from Russia. Sam was a furniture upholsterer.1

Wedding invitation for Francine Goldfarb and Irving Shapiro Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Irving served overseas in France and Germany during World War II and met Francine at a club in 1945 after returning from the war. Irving worked for American Razor Company while also doing furniture upholstery and later worked for E.J. Korvettes, the one-time department store.  They had two children, Stewart and Alyce, the cousin who has so generously shared so many family photographs, including these of her parents Francine and Irving and of her brother and herself.2

Francine Goldfarb and Irving Shapiro. Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Stewart Shapiro 1949 Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Alyce Shapiro c. 1954 Courtesy of Alyce herself

Betty Amer, Alyce Shapiro, Irving Shapiro, Francine Goldfarb, and Joe Goldfarb c. 1950s Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Selma married next. She married Seymour (“Chippy’) Wolotsky (later changed to Wahl) in November, 1948.3 Seymour was born in New York on April 13, 1923, to Isidore Wolotsky and Ida Yellin; his father was from Russia, his mother from Poland.4 Seymour grew up in Brooklyn and was a musician; his World War II draft registration indicates that in 1942 he was employed by Juilliard, the highly prestigious music and performing arts school in New York.

Seymour Wolotsky, World War II draft registration, U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Here a photo of Selma and Seymour, known better as Chippy:

Selma Goldfarb and Seymour “Chippy” Wahl. Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Alyce told me that her parents lived in the basement of Selma and Seymour’s house in Flushing for a few years before moving to East New York in Brooklyn where Alyce grew up. Seymour and Selma moved to Valley Stream, New York, and had two children. Selma and Seymour later divorced.5

Marvin was the last of the siblings to marry. Alyce told me that he had been quite ill with tuberculosis for an extended time.6 He married Florence (“Florrie”) Glasser in February 1950. Florence, born in 1927, was the daughter of Solomon Glasser and Lillian Schwartz, both of whom immigrated from Russia.7 Marvin and Florence created their own wholesale jewelry design and manufacturing business; according to Alyce, Marvin’s experience in the dental lab gave him the skills to cast jewelry. Marvin and Florrie did not have children.8

Here are Marvin and Florrie on their wedding day:

Florence Glasser and Marvin Goldfarb, 1950
Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Thus, by 1950 all three of Joe and Betty Goldfarb’s children were married, and Joe and Betty had one grandchild. Two more grandchildren were born in the 1950s and one in the early 1960s. Alyce, one of those grandchildren, shared a number of photographs of Joe, Betty, their children and grandchildren during those years:

Joe Goldfarb, Betty Amer, Florence Glasser, and Marvin Goldfarb, c. 1950s
Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Joe Goldfarb, Betty Amer Goldfarb, Alyce Shapiro, Francine Goldfarb Shapiro, Irving Shapiro, c. 1957 Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

This photograph was taken at Stewart’s bar mitzvah in late 1960.

Seymour Wahl and son Steven, Selma Goldfarb Wahl, Joe Goldfarb, Betty Amer Goldfarb, Francine Goldfarb Shapiro, Irving Shapiro, Alyce Shapiro, Stewart Shapiro, Florence Glasser Goldfarb, Marvin Goldfarb, 1960. Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Alyce shared this sweet memory of her grandfather Joe in addition to her memories of his deliveries of many types of cookies to their home in Brooklyn:9

One of my few memories of actually spending time with grandpa, he would sit on the bench outside of my building and watch me play with my friends. He would always give me nickels to go buy candy at the corner luncheonette. It’s sad I don’t remember much else, but I was young.

Joe Goldfarb died on July 8, 1962, at the age of 64.10 Alyce shared that he had been quite ill for some time with Hodgkins lymphoma.  Her grandmother Betty survived Joe by eleven years; she died in December 1973, when she was 73.11

Alyce has more memories of her grandmother since she lived that much longer, and she shared some of those with me:12

After grandpa passed away, grandma Betty ended up living in the same housing project I did. She lived in a different building and I would walk to her apartment, she and would cook for me. I used to play cards with grandma Betty. She taught me how to play rummy. She also taught me how to knit although I wasn’t great at it. She knitted clothes for my Barbie dolls. Eventually she moved to Florida to be with her sisters and brother. After a while she became too ill to take of herself, so she came back the NY and shared her time living with us, Uncle Marvin, and Aunt Selma. She eventually went to a nursing home in Queens. By that time I was getting married. She was not able to attend the wedding in 1973. She was too ill. We did go see her that night after the wedding was over. She passed away later that year on December 23, 1973.

Joe Goldfarb and his wife Betty Amer were first generation Americans. They grew up with immigrant parents, helping to bridge the gap between the old world and the new. They spent almost all of their adult lives in Brooklyn. As Alyce wrote, the family was not wealthy, but they also were not poor. Joe worked hard to earn a living, spending many years as a salesman for the Sunshine Biscuit Company. He and Betty were adored by their children and grandchildren.

Joe and Betty (Amer) Goldfarb, 1960 Courtesy of their granddaughter Alyce

Joe and Betty (Amer) Goldfarb Courtesy of their granddaughter Alyce

They were survived by their three children and their four grandchildren. Marvin Goldfarb died on February 2, 1988, when he was 64, the same age his father had been when he passed away.13 His wife Florence survived him and may in fact still be living as I have no record of her death. Francine Goldfarb Shapiro died at 73 on August 28, 1998;14 her husband Irving died just a year later on September 18, 1999; he was 81.15 Selma Goldfarb Wahl outlived her older siblings; she was ninety when she died on November 3, 2018.16

I am so grateful to my cousin Alyce who has shared so much with me—her photographs, her memories, and her own family history research. I feel so very blessed that she and I matched on 23andme and that we have not only found each other but that she also helped me connect with our mutual cousins, Ann, Melissa, Kay, and Becky. Now along with Sue, Debi, Lisa, Steve, Mark, Ted, Michelle, Morty, and Lori, as well as all my Brod/Brotman first and second cousins and their children and grandchildren, we have a large family circle of the descendants of Joseph Brod and Gittel Schwartz.  Finally DNA testing has paid off! Perhaps it’s time for a reunion to celebrate our shared roots.

But first—a look at the two youngest Goldfarb siblings, Leo and Rose.

  1. Irving Shapiro, Birth Date: 2 Oct 1917, Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 40520, New York, New York, U.S., Birth Index, 1910-1965. Samuel Shapiro, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC; NAI Title: Index to Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts in New York City, 1792-1906; NAI Number: 5700802; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Description: Vols 100-105, Certificates 49021-52007 1920-1921, New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943. Family tree of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt on Ancestry. 
  2. Email from Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt, May 11, 2021. 
  3. Selma Goldfarb, Marriage License Date: 15 Nov 1948, Marriage License Place: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Seymour Wolotsky, License Number: 24028, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Brooklyn, New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  4. Ida Yellin, Marriage License Date: 30 Jul 1917, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Isidore Walatsky
    License Number: 25402, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 11, New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018. Seymour Wolotsky, 1925 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 42; Assembly District: 02; City: Brooklyn; County: Kings; Page: 86, New York, U.S., State Census, 1925 
  5. Email from Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt, May 11, 2021. 
  6. Ibid. 
  7. Marvin Goldfarb, Marriage License Date: 20 Feb 1950
    Marriage License Place: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA
    Spouse: Florence Glasser, License Number: 2728, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Brooklyn, New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018. Florence Glasser, Birth Date: 27 Jul 1927
    Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 31085, New York, New York, U.S., Birth Index, 1910-1965. Lillian Schwartz
    Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 3 Dec 1925, Marriage License Place: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Solomon Glasser
    License Number: 21501, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Brooklyn, New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018. Glasser Family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Page: 21B; Enumeration District: 0773; FHL microfilm: 2341266, 1930 United States Federal Census 
  8. Email from Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt, May 11, 2021. 
  9. Email from Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt, April 30, 2021. 
  10. Joseph Goldfarb, Birth Date: abt 1897, Death Date: 8 Jul 1962
    Death Place: Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 14582, New York, New York, U.S., Death Index, 1949-1965. Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 24 May 2021), memorial page for Joseph Goldfarb (unknown–8 Jul 1962), Find a Grave Memorial ID 77764363, citing Mount Hebron Cemetery, Flushing, Queens County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Athanatos (contributor 46907585). 
  11.  Betty Goldfarb, Social Security Number: 052-52-2394, Birth Date: 5 Jan 1900
    Issue Year: 1973, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11361, Flushing, Queens, New York, USA, Death Date: Dec 1973, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 24 May 2021), memorial page for Betty Goldfarb (unknown–22 Dec 1973), Find a Grave Memorial ID 77764305, citing Mount Hebron Cemetery, Flushing, Queens County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Athanatos (contributor 46907585). 
  12. Email from Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt, April 30, 2021. 
  13.  Marvin Goldfarb, Social Security Number: 089-16-6702, Birth Date: 15 Apr 1923
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Death Date: 2 Feb 1988, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  14.  Francine Shapiro, Social Security Number: 112-18-2207, Birth Date: 29 Jul 1925
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11961, Ridge, Suffolk, New York, USA, Death Date: 28 Aug 1998, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. 
  15.  Irving Shapiro, Social Security Number: 051-07-9403, Birth Date: 2 Oct 1917
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11763, Medford, Suffolk, New York, USA, Death Date: 18 Sep 1999, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  16. Email from Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt, May 11, 2021. 

Santa Fe Love Song: A Family History Novel

I am delighted to announce that my newest novel, Santa Fe Love Song, has been published and is available in both paperback and e-book format on Amazon here. Like my first novel, Pacific Street, Santa Fe Love Song was inspired by the lives of real people—in this case, my great-great-grandparents Bernard Seligman and Frances Nusbaum—and informed by my family history research. But as with my first book, Santa Fe Love Song is first and foremost a work of fiction.

Bernard Seligman, my great-great-grandfather

Frances Nusbaum Seligman, my great-great-grandmother

It is a double love story—a story of Bernard’s passion for his newly adopted home in New Mexico and of his deep love for a young woman in Philadelphia. How will he resolve the conflict between those two loves? That is the heart of the novel.

But this is also an adventure story because the first part of the book tells of Bernard’s arrival from Gau-Algesheim, Germany, his adjustment to life in Philadelphia, and then his challenging and exciting trip on the Santa Fe Trail when he moves out west to work with his brother Sigmund. On that trip Bernard faces many different obstacles and learns to love the American landscape. He transforms from a German Jewish immigrant into an American pioneer and businessman.

Upper left, Bernard Seligman with other merchants and Indians on the Santa Fe Trail

As with Pacific Street, I wrote Santa Fe Love Song with my children and grandchildren in mind. This time I also decided to get my grandsons involved in the project. Nate, 10, and Remy, 6, became my illustrators. As I told them stories about Bernard and Frances, they created drawings that told those stories visually. I am ever so grateful to my two wonderful grandsons for their work, and I hope that someday their grandchildren will cherish these books and the illustrations and honor the memories of their ancestors Bernard and Frances.

I hope that you also will find Santa Fe Love Song a worthwhile and enjoyable read. If you do, please leave a review on Amazon. Thank you! I appreciate all your support.

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. 

Thanksgiving in a Pandemic

I’ve been in a bit of a funk the last week or so. It’s COVID, it’s politics, it’s the weather. November is  hard for me. I hate when the trees lose their leaves, the grass turns brown, the sky turns gray, the temperature drops.

So I am going to take the advice of an old friend and list the top ten things that fill me with gratitude—in no particular order. I find when I focus on the things for which I am grateful, it makes me feel better. So here goes.

  1. I am thankful for my husband and my children and my grandchildren. They are the rocks in my life, the ones who get me from spot to spot, no matter how roiling is the water beneath our feet.
  2. I am thankful for my parents. My father is gone, and my mother is struggling. But they were a constant source of love and support in my life, and I hold all the memories close to my heart.
  3. I am thankful for the rest of my family, including all the cousins I’ve found on this genealogy journey. They all remind me how connected we all are—all humans—regardless of where we grew up or when or how.
  4. I am thankful for my three cats, whose ability to live in the moment and to provide constant companionship, affection, and comfort has been so very important during the last nine months.
  5. I am thankful for my friends—my friends from high school, from college, from law school, and from the community where I have lived since 1983. So many times in the last nine months I have turned to my friends—by Zoom, text, telephone, email. They have made me laugh, they have given me perspective, they have given me strength. I hope I’ve done the same for them.
  6. I am thankful for the genealogy village—those who read my blog, those who help me with my research and with translations, those in the Facebook groups who comment and help answer my questions. Family history research has been one way I’ve escaped from the anxiety of the pandemic. It has given me focus and a distraction and continues to keep my brain working.
  7. I am thankful for the good fortune I have to live in a comfortable house in a wonderful community of neighbors. In the course of our daily walks we’ve gotten to know our neighbors and their dogs and feel so fortunate to live where we live.
  8. I am thankful that I don’t have to worry about where my next meal will come from or whether I will be able to get adequate medical care or whether I will be harassed or injured because of my race. In a time when so much feels dangerous, I’ve learned more than ever to appreciate just how privileged I am.
  9. I am thankful for the beautiful world we live in. We’ve taken walks and hikes in places we never knew about before and in places that we’ve always loved—the beach and the woods, the mountains and the lakes. I learned early on that getting into a quiet place surrounded by nature was often the best thing to do to find solace and calm the noise in my head.
  10. I am thankful for science and for doctors and nurses and all the frontline workers in hospitals and grocery stores and elsewhere who are putting their lives on the line to do everything possible to keep us safe.

That’s my top ten. There are probably hundreds if not thousands more. What are yours?

Happy Thanksgiving!