A History of the Rose family part 1Written by Linda Levine 2019-22 (with research assistance from Jeremy Gordon)
This is the story of the first and second generations of the Rose family, according to existing information. The lives of the third generation (the ten children of Leah and Isaac Rose) and the fourth generation (the grandchildren of Leah and Isaac Rose) are described in History of the Rose Family Part 2 and History of the Rose Family Part 3 respectively (both open in new window).
What's on this page ..
- Research into the Rose Family’s History
- Historical Background
- Where Did the Rose Family Live?
- The Shtetl of Raczki
- The Cemetery of Raczki
- The First Generation – Avraham and Hannah Dubka (Halevi) Rosenof
- The First Generation – Shalom Gutfarb and Wife
- The Yichus Brief
- The Second Generation – Shimon (Halevi) Rosenof and Wife
- The Second Generation - Isaac Jacob (Halevi) Rose and Haya Leah Gutfarb
- Anglo-Jewry's Welcome
- The Birmingham Jewish Community
- The Rose Ghetto
- Life and Death in Birmingham
- Tzdakah (Charitable Works)
- The Minyan (Prayer Quorum)
On 3 June 1899 a young man sailed from Hamburg, Germany, to Grimsby, England, on a ship named the Lutterworth belonging to the Hamburg-America Line. His name was David Rosenof, and he was the first of a large Jewish family from the shtetl (a small Jewish town or village in Eastern Europe) of Raczki in Poland to flee persecution, seeking a better life in an unknown land across the sea.
David was only sixteen years old and travelled alone. On the ship were many other young Jews, some of whom he may have befriended. Perhaps he carried with him the Book of Proverbs, given to him by his father on the occasion of his bar mitzvah (a Jewish coming of age ritual for boys), on the flyleaf of which was inscribed in Hebrew:
This copy of Proverbs belongs to the boy David son of Isaac Yaakov Roznof living in the town of Ratz.
This adventurous young man settled in Birmingham where, two years later in 1901, he was living at 18 Inge Street, one of five boarders in the home of Rose Jacobs and her family. By now his surname had been changed to Rose and he had found work as a coat presser tailor.
Following in his footsteps at some unknown date, David’s elder brother, Manashe (Morris), possibly with their younger sister, Sheyne (Jenny), joined him in the UK. Together the two young men set up a cap and hats stall in the market in Birmingham, and managed to save enough money to pay the passage to the UK of the rest of their family.
On 16 August 1902, their father, Isaak (Isaac) Rose, aged forty five, set out from Grodno in Poland to Germany, where he sailed on the ship ‘Staveley’ from Hamburg to Grimsby on his way to Hull, before joining his children in Birmingham.
Two years later, on 25 June 1904, Isaak Rose’s wife, Leie (Leah or Haya Leah) Rosenow, aged forty four, left Suvalki in Poland with another six of their children, and sailed on the ship ‘Oldham’ to Grimsby. Apparently they were pushed onto the ship at the last minute. From there they travelled to Birmingham to be reunited with the rest of the family. The children included sixteen year-old Dwore (Dora), twelve year-old Schymen (Shimon, Samuel or Sam), eight year-old Chonne (Jack), six year-old Abram (Abraham), three-and-a-half year-old Dobbke (Phoebe) and two year-old Meische (Moishe) who must have been born just before his father had left home for the UK.
Missing was their eldest daughter, Hoddes (Hadassah), who was already married to David Lev and the mother of two sons, Velvel (Woolf) and Nochom (Nahum or Norman) and pregnant with a third who would be named Shalom.
When Leie and Isaak emigrated from Russian Poland at the beginning of the 20th century they left behind what was possibly a large family. Those we know about include Isaak’s aged parents, Abraham and Hannah Dubke Halevi Rozenow, Isaak’s brother, Shimon, and Shimon’s three children. Shimon moved to Warsaw and is believed to have died in a concentration camp during World War II. His son immigrated to the Argentine, while his two daughters immigrated to Palestine.
As for Hoddes, she remained in Poland, possibly with her grandparents and her Uncle Shimon and his family. During World War I, with her husband stranded in neutral Sweden and the family on the verge of starvation, she sent her youngest son by himself to his grandparents in the UK. She and her three elder sons were forced to hide in the countryside, as the area in which they lived was captured first by one army and then by another. Only after the war was the family reunited and able to travel to the UK to join Hoddes’ parents and her nine siblings.
For more about the ten children of Haya Leah and Isaac Jacob Rose (the third generation of the Rose family) see History of the Rose Family Part 2 (opens in new window).
Research into the Rose Family’s History
When fifty three year-old Samuel Rose, son of Morris Rose, wrote to his uncle, Rabbi Abraham Rose, in 1971, asking for information about the family’s history, he had no idea that this would lead to a search that continues today (2019), almost fifty years later, conducted by other family members. Without him, and the answer he received from Rabbi Abraham Rose, we would never have known where to begin our search.
Rabbi Abraham Rose’s letter reads:
With regards to the (Hebrew) Genealogical Family Table, I may be a little helpful. Firstly, the family name Rosenoff was changed by the Immigration Authorities here in England when Uncle David (who settled in America later) first arrived in England. The Authorities thought it easier to spell if the “off” were cut off. So the name became Rose. (Sylvia Altshuler informs us that the family decided to shorten their name on the boat coming over to the U.K., to facilitate their passage through immigration.) After Uncle David, your father (Menashe) emigrated from Ratz Poland, (originally Poland but was annexed by Russia). Then the rest of the family emigrated and this, I think, was in 1903 or 1904. I was perhaps six years of age, Phoebe four, and Mosha (Uncle) two.
One of my grandfathers, whether from my father’s side or mother’s I am not quite sure (from my father’s side, I believe) lived to 96. It was said that I was named Abraham after him. My mother, i.e., your father’s mother, was an only child, and yet she had, as you probably know, 10 children, six sons and four daughters. The names of those who have passed away, peace be upon them, were Menashe, David, Sam, Jenny, Hod(d)es and Dora.
Of those alive, and may they enjoy long life, there are Uncle Jack still living in Derby, myself living in Haifa, Auntie Phoebe living in Jerusalem, and Uncle Mosha living in Petah Tikva.
Now I would like to inform you that cousin Sholom, i.e., the late Hod(d)es’s son, is now retired and is also living with his wife in Petah Tikva. The late Uncle Sam’s daughter (2nd daughter) is also settled in Petah Tikva. Auntie Phoebe’s daughter Renée is settled in Jerusalem two doors away from Auntie Phoebe. We often meet and see one another.
After a gap of seventeen years, having retired just before the age of seventy, Samuel had the time to continue the search. In January 1988, he wrote three letters to two cousins living in Israel. The first was to Sarah Cook, the daughter of Jenny Rose, in which he requested:
comprehensive details of all your family, i.e., sisters and brothers and their families. As you are aware, we are all rapidly losing touch with each other, so I am trying to get an up-to-date record of all the Rose descendants and will eventually send a copy to each. What I require is the names and addresses, ages, and occupations (optional) of parents, children and grandchildren.
In another letter – addressed to Rabbi Maurice Rose, son of Sam Rose, he mentions the fact that his late father gave him “quite a bit of information over the years”, but at the time he wasn’t particularly interested and did not commit the facts to memory.
In these three letters, of which two are quoted above, he provides details of his siblings and their families, and of other members of the Rose family with whom he is in contact. Reference is also made to a “Fetter Shimon” (Uncle Shimon), the brother of Isaac Rose, whom Samuel thought to be living in South America.
He discloses that his father, Morris, told him that the family once possessed a Yihus-brief (letter of relationship), tracing descent from one Torah scholar in the family to another) but that it had been lost. There was also a relative on his father’s side in the U.S.A., a former Supreme Court Judge, about whom or by whom a book had been written, according to Samuel’s cousin, Bessie Rubinoff, the daughter of David Rose. Samuel also noted:
As far back as I can remember I have seen the name Rosenoff mentioned only three times and that was in the London “JC” (Jewish Chronicle). In fact, I wrote to one family that had lost their father and asked for any information they could give concerning their background, but never got a reply.
From his research at the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv during the same year (1988), we learn that the family name (also spelt Rosenau) could derive from a number of possible sources. These include a Romanian variant of Rose or Rosen, the flower referred to in Ben Sira (an Apocryphal work written in Hebrew) and symbolising joy; the rose associated with paradise in Rabbinical lore; and the mystical rose of the Zohar (Book of Splendour). Descent from a female ancestor named Rose has also produced many Jewish family names, including Rozeanu. In addition, the name could derive from the Hebrew term rozen (count), denoting an aristocratic lineage.
By this time (April 1988) Samuel was becoming worried about the fate of all the information he had collected:
At this stage may I suggest that we come to an arrangement whereby you delve into the past and I will attend to the present. But I intend that all documents and letters should be lodged with you as I do not have any children and cannot see that any of my nephews being particularly interested with the exception of David (well he can have copies).
In December 1993 Samuel completed and distributed a provisional family tree, to enable relatives to add or make changes as necessary. On the basis of these additions and changes, a revised family tree was distributed in December 1995, twenty four years after Samuel first became interested in the subject.
I also enclose the final issue of the Family Tree. B’Ezrat Hashem (with G-d’s help) I propose to issue an annual addendum of all extra items which I have been advised off during the year. Many thanks again for all the help and encouragement which I have received from you. It hasn’t been an easy task as you can guess, especially as I am using an old portable which is now ibberbottle (Yiddish for senile) and which at times I have felt like throwing out of the window.
The following month (January 1996) found him still engaged in family history research:
I am enclosing a letter from the Central Archives which you may like to follow up. I think that if you write to Poland your status might elicit a better chance of obtaining some information than my writing to them. You might also find something of interest in the Yiskor (Memorial) Book at the Yad Vashem (Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem) Library.
From his letters we learn that Samuel’s cherished dream was to retire to Israel, a desire that unfortunately never materialised owing to lack of funds. He wrote a final letter to Rabbi Maurice Rose (April 1997) and another to Dr. Gabriel Sivan, husband of Phoebe’s granddaughter, (20 January 1999), claiming to be still “in good health, Baruch Hashem (Thank G-d). He died in January 2005 aged eighty seven.
Samuel had conducted his research with the tools then available – letters, a visit to the Yad Veshem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem and to the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv, and a portable typewriter. When Linda Levine, granddaughter of Jenny Rose, took up the search in 2002, the tools had changed to the telephone, computer, email and the internet. In 2004 a Rose family history was compiled based on interviews with children and grandchildren of the original ten Rose siblings over a three year period from 2002-2004. Perhaps the most important ‘find’ during this period were the Rose family photographs that had passed into the keeping of a nephew by marriage of the unofficial family photographer, the youngest Rose sibling, Moishe Rose. It is thanks to these photographs that we know what Leah and Isaac Rose and their ten children looked like.
Between 2004 and 2019, a number of Rose descendents constructed online family trees, although not in conjunction with one another. A number of these are hosted on the MyHeritage website. These include a tree managed by Shimon Rose, grandson of Sam Rose, and another by Shimon Ben Horin on behalf of the Pink and Freedman families. Another Rose family tree is hosted on the Ancestry.com website, managed by Robert Rose, the grandson of David Rose, who also created a Rose family website. Finally there is a Sarah Cook family tree hosted on the Geni website, managed by Pheobe Rose’s great grandson, Yehuda Pink.
More recently Jeremy Gordon, grandson of Jenny Rose, has used his skills to search the millions of public records published on the internet. To a remarkable degree they have corroborated the stories passed on by word of mouth throughout the generations. So much new information has now come to light that an updated version of the 2004 Rose family history has been prepared. If, in 2004, many of the children of the ten Rose siblings were still alive to proofread the history, in 2019, this task has devolved onto their grandchildren and great grandchildren.
The information contained in this background survey is taken from History of the Jews in Russia and Poland Vol III, S. M. Dubnow, Published by the Jewish Publication Society of America
The Reign of Nicholas II, last Czar of Russia
Nicholas II, who ascended the throne of Russia at the end of 1894, was to prove the most reactionary czar of the 19th century. At the very beginning of his reign he made it quite clear that he did not intend to share his power with anyone:
In several Zemstvo assemblies (local government bodies) there have been heard lately the voices of men carried away by preposterous delusions concerning the participation of the representatives of the Zemstvos in the affairs of the inner administration, Let everybody know that I shall guard the principle of autocracy as firmly and uncompromisingly as it was guarded by my never-to-be-forgotten deceased parent.
If this was his attitude to the Russian people, it is not hard to guess what his attitude would be to the Jews. Among his advisers was Pobyedonostzev, the head of the Holy Synod, who on one occasion made the following statement about the Jews:
One-third will die out, one-third will leave the country, and one-third will be completely dissolved in the surrounding population.
To accomplish this solution to the Jewish problem in Russia, the policy of the Russian government was to squeeze the Jewish masses into a smaller and smaller area, deprive them of their livelihood and cause their physical, moral and economic collapse.
The Pale of Settlement
The Pale of Settlement was a region of the Russian Empire in which Jews were allowed to live, albeit with many other residency restrictions. Very few, only those useful to the authorities, were allowed to reside outside its borders. All the towns and villages, with which the Rose family is associated, are located within the Pale.
The Pale of Settlement comprised Belarus, Lithuania and Moldova, much of present-day Ukraine, parts of eastern Latvia, eastern Poland, and some parts of western Russia.
Created by Catherine the Great at the end of the 18th century, it included the newly-annexed territories of Poland and Lithuania. At its height, it had a Jewish population of over five million, the largest concentration of Jews in the world at the time.
In 1882 so-called temporary rules effectively prevented Jews from owning land, by cooping them up in cities and towns and excluding them from rural areas. Another law, passed in 1894, took away one of their traditional sources of livelihood – the trade in liquor - by placing it under Government control.
In the course of 1896 -1898, during the reign of Nicholas II., all private pot-houses were replaced by official liquor stores, the so-called "imperial bar rooms." In consequence of this reform, tens of thousands of Jewish families who had derived their livelihood either directly from the liquor trade, or indirectly from occupations connected with it, such as the keeping of inns and hostelries, were deprived of their means of subsistence.
This affected two hundred thousand Jews.
Between 1894 and 1898 the number of Jewish families in need of assistance increased twenty-seven per cent, as compared with former years. In 1897, the number of Jews without definite occupations amounted in certain cities to fifty per cent and more.
Rigidly enforced quotas prevented young Jews from acquiring a secular education or a profession in Russia. As a result, many of them travelled abroad to obtain a higher education, returning with revolutionary ideas.
At the end of the nineties pogroms broke out again in various parts of the Pale. The combination of Polish anti-Semitism and Russian Jew-hatred led to accusations of the ritual murder of innocent young Christians to make matzo (unleavened bread) at Passover with their blood.
For two decades six million Russian and Polish Jews had suffered increasing persecution. The turning-point came in 1897, with the first International Zionist Congress held in Basle and Theodor Herzl’s appeal to the Jews to establish a ‘Jewish State’.
The Pale of Settlement resounded with the din of its hundreds of Zionist societies, with the speeches of Zionist agitators at public meetings and in the synagogues, with the intense agitation preceding elections for each Zionist congress, with the heated debates about the program between the political and the cultural Zionists, between the Mizrahists (the faction of orthodox Zionists) and the Progressives.
The Bund, the "League of the Jewish Workingmen of Lithuania, Poland, and Russia," was created in 1897 in Vilna, one month after the first Zionist Congress at Basle. This organization was more interested in achieving socialist aims, rather than national ones.
At the third convention of the “Bund”, which took place in Kovno in 1899, the proposal to demand national equality for the Jews was voted down on the ground that the attention of the workingmen should be concentrated on their class interests and ought not to be diverted in the direction of national aspirations.
This period is marked by the flowering of Jewish literature in Hebrew and Yiddish, by such writers and poets as Mendele Mocher Sforim, Isaac Leib Perez, Shalom Aleichem, Hayyim Nahman Bialik and Saul Chernikhovsky.
Where Did the Rose Family Live?
Although Rabbi Abraham Rose wrote in a 1971 letter to his nephew, Samuel, that the Rose family came from Ratz (Raczki), according to the 1921 UK census both his parents, Isaac and Leah Rose, were actually born in Grodno, Galanski, as was their third child, David.
Grodno or Hrodno was both the name of a town and the name of a governorate (a territory ruled by a governor) in the Russian Empire. We believe that Galanski refers to Grodnenskaya, a northern subdivision of the Grodno Governorate, with the town of Grodno as its administrative centre.
From the list below we can see that by David's birth in 1883, the family had lived in two other places – Raczki and Slonim. After this date they seem to have lived mainly in Raczki but also in an even smaller shtetl called Holinka or Golynka.
|DATES AND PLACES OF BIRTH|
Below is a map, dating from the 19th century, showing these four towns and shtetls in relation to each other, with added names and dates of birth.
Based on the above-mentioned list, following is a description of the Rose migrations within the Pale of Settlement.
When Isaac sailed for the UK in 1902, he gave as his place of residence the town of Grodno in today’s Belarus, the same town in which he had been born in 1856 and his wife, Leah, in 1861. It is possible that members of their respective families still resided there.
In 1856–57, the year of Isaac's birth, the Jews of Grodno numbered 10,300. By 1904, the year Leah and their younger children immigrated to the UK, this number had doubled to 27,874.
Grodno was one of the oldest Jewish communities in Poland-Lithuania and an important Jewish centre. The principal occupations of the Jewish inhabitants were commerce, crafts and industry. According to the 1897 Russian Census, 65.2% of real estate in Grodno was owned by Jews, a statistic that supports the claim that Leah's parents were landowners.
Important facts about the Grodno Jewish community include its outstanding reputation for looking after its members, the role of Jewish socialists in organizing Jewish self-defense in Grodno in 1903 and 1907, and the Zionist activities of many of its members. The last possibly provides the background to Isaac's support of the poor in Palestine by collecting money for various charitable funds in Birmingham.
If there were still members of the Rose family living in Grodno at the outbreak of WWII, then they would have been liquidated by 1943.
For more detailed information concerning the Jewish inhabitants of Grodno, see:
History of Grodno (pdf file) by Dov Rabin, Encyclopaedia Judaica. (Accessed 21 Jan 2022).
Isaac and Leah's first child, Hadassah, was born in 1876. By this time the family had moved to the shtetl of Raczki, over eighty kilometres northwest of Grodno, passing the town of Augustow on the way. Their most likely means of transport was a horse and cart.
The map below shows where Raczki is located in relation to the rest of Poland.
Raczki is the shtetl most associated with the Rose family, five or possibly six of the Rose siblings having been born there. A detailed history of the shtetl appears below.
Four years after the birth of Hadassah, their son, Morris, was born in the town of Slonim in 1880 or 1881. Slonim was over 200 kilometres southeast of Raczki. To get there they would have passed by Grodno, where they may have stopped on the way.
Slonim, in today’s Belarus, had a significant Jewish population at the end of the 19th century, numbering over 11,000 Jews. Some of them had founded the town's first industries. The community's resulting affluence enabled it to support many synagogues and houses of prayer. In this way Slonim became a major centre of Jewish learning. The first rabbi of the community, a Hasid named Rabbi Abraham Weinberg, was so highly regarded that the yeshiva he founded and at which he taught, attracted pupils from near and far including Morris in his youth.
For more detailed information regarding the town of Slonim and its Jews, see:
History of Slonim (pdf file) Virtual Shtetl: History of Slonim (Accessed 21 Jan 2022).
4. Back to Grodno
From Slonim Isaac, Leah and their children moved back to Grodno, 137 kilometers to the northwest of Slonim. Here their third child, David, was born in 1883.
Their next child, Jenny, was born four years later in 1887. By this time the family was living in a small shtetl named Holinka (also known as Holynka or Golynka) on the outskirts of a village named Halynka, 22.5 kilometers northwest of Grodno.
The map below shows the shtetl of Holinka in relation to the village. The shtetl is marked by a blue Star of David.
According to the 1897 Russian census there were about 500 Jews living in the shtetl of Holinka, 72% of the total village population of 687. By 1893 the overall number of inhabitants had risen to 898.
For full details about the shtetl of Holinka see the following website:
The Shtetl of Holinka by Ralph Remick (opens in new window).
6. Back to Raczki
The next stop on their journey was Raczki, 75 kilometers from Holinka, where their daughter, Dora, was born in 1888.
Apart from Sam Rose who, like his elder sister, Jenny, was born in Holinka in 1890, the remaining Rose siblings - Abraham, Phoebe and Moishe - were all born in Raczki in 1897, 1898 and 1901 respectively.
The only one whose place of birth we do not know is Jack who was born in 1894. The strongest likelihood is that he was born in Holinka or Raczki, but we cannot be certain until new information comes to light.
David Rose was the first member of his family to immigrate to the UK in 1899. At the time he gave as his place of residence the town of Suwalki. When his mother, Leah, sailed to the UK in 1904 accompanied by those of her children who had not yet left Poland, she also gave Suwalki as her place of residence. However, when his father, Isaac, sailed alone to the UK in 1902, he gave as his place of residence, Grodno, the town of his birth. The only conclusion that we can draw from this is that at some time before leaving Russian Poland, the family had left Raczki.
The city of Suwalki lies eighteen kilometers northeast of Raczki.
Suwalki grew to be an important commercial centre. In 1908 there were 13,002 Jews living in the town.
During the second half of the nineteenth century, and especially in the interwar years, Suwałki became a prominent centre of the Zionistic movement. Suwałki was the home town of Abraham Stern, leader of the Lohamei Herut Israel movement (LEHI), fighting for the establishment of the State of Israel in Palestine, and in 1891 it was the cradle of the Safah Berurah association, whose 70 members devoted themselves to teaching and propagating Hebrew.
Later, at the beginning of the twentieth century, a Jewish labour movement was established in Suwałki. In 1901, the General Jewish Labour Union (BUND) was created; Bundists and their supporters in Poalei Zion and other organizations were involved in the revolution of 1905–1906 through organising self-defence for the Jewish community amidst the pogroms.
From History of the Jews in Suwalki (pdf file) Virtual Shtetl: (Accessed 21 Jan 2022).
The map below shows the path the Rose family followed between the years 1856, when Isaac Rose was born, and 1904, the year that Leah Rose and their youngest children left Poland for the UK.
The question is, why did the Roses move around so much? There are a number of possible answers.
The year that Morris was born (1881), a new set of laws was promulgated affecting the Jews of the Pale. Known as the “Temporary or May Laws”, they forbade Jews from settling in rural areas of the Pale, prohibited Jewish ownership of property and ordered the Jews to cease conducting business on Christian Sabbaths and holidays. This placed them at a considerable commercial disadvantage and resulted in even greater hardship.
The policy of territorial restriction had begun with the inauguration of the Pale at the end of the 18th century. The Jews of the Governate and town of Grodno had been subjected to further restrictions in 1827:
In the same ill-fated year which saw the promulgation of the conscription statute, barely three months after it had received the imperial sanction, while the moans of the Jews, fasting and praying to God to deliver them from the calamity, were still echoing in the synagogues, two new ukases were issued, both signed on December 2, 1827 — the one decreeing the transfer of the Jews from all villages and village inns in the government of Grodno into the towns and townlets, the other ordering the banishment of all Jewish residents from the city of Kiev.
The expulsion from the Grodno villages was the continuation of the policy of the rural liquidation of Jewry, inaugurated in 1823 in White Russia, the Grodno province was merely meant to serve as a starting point. Grand Duke Constantine, who had brought up the question, was ordered" at first to carry out the expulsion in the government of Grodno alone," and to postpone for a later occasion the application of the same measure to the other "governments entrusted to his command."
From History of the Jews in Russia and Poland Vol II, S. M. Dubnow, Published by the Jewish Publication Society of America (opens in new window)
Did the new law of 1881, forbidding Jews to settle in rural areas, affect the Rose family? On only one occasion might it have done so – when the family moved from Raczki to Slonim:
|Grodno to Raczki||=||town to village|
|Raczki to Slonim||=||village to town|
|Slonim to Grodno||=||town to town|
|Grodno to Holinka||=||town to village|
|Holinka to Raczki||=||village to village|
Another explanation lies in the fact that Isaac was a magid, an itinerant preacher. In this case he must have taken his family with him on his travels.
A third reason may be that Isaac and Leah had family living in all four towns and shtetls, while economic hardship may provide a fourth. A fifth and final reason may have been to escape the pogroms of the period, which resulted in the emigration of over 2 million Jews from the Russian Empire between 1880 and 1920, among them Isaac and Leah Rose and their ten children.
The Shtetl of Raczki*
Much of the information contained in our historical survey (‘The Shtetl of Raczki’) was actually gleaned from the entry in Pinkas ha-Kehillot, a Hebrew-language encyclopaedia of destroyed Jewish communities published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.
The beginning of Jewish settlement in Raczki dates from the end of the 17th century. We know that the Jews already had a rabbi of their own, Rav (Rabbi) Gershon, during the years 1670-80. For a long period thereafter, the small Jewish community of Raczki was evidently unable to support a rabbi and his functions were therefore performed by a dayan (judge) or a shohet (ritual slaughterer).
The township continued to develop in the 18th century, and around 1800 there were already 766 inhabitants, most of whom were engaged in crafts (mainly tailoring and shoe repairs). A trade in flax and wool also developed. Two inns served visitors trading at the markets and fairs. By 1808, out of a total population of 1,404, 1,117 (79.5%) were Jews.
The 1815 Congress of Vienna took the Suwałki (and, presumably, Raczki) area from East Prussia. Under Russian rule, the limits placed on Jewish settlement in border towns (1823-1862) resulted in the temporary decrease of Raczki Jews to 957 out of 1,296 inhabitants.
By 1857, however, the number of Jews had risen to 1,758 out of a total population of 2,093 (84%). Rav Ya’akov Yissakhar served as rabbi and his name appears in a number of haskamot (approbations of books) published during this period. Through the initiative of the Jewish population, in whose hands the township’s trade and commerce was concentrated, industrial factories were established in the second half of the century. The largest of these manufactured wax candles. There was also a small factory producing earthenware, as well as a brick-kiln and two leather-processing workshops.
Whilst many of Raczki's Jews were involved in trade and crafts, among them were those who earned their living by smuggling goods across the border. Sometimes this included fellow Jews fleeing Russian tyranny, often hidden in a hay cart and travelling under cover of night. They were not alone. The inhabitants of many other settlements on the Prussian-Russian border did the same.
For much of the 19th century, Russian-Polish Jews, with the exception of a few prominent families, were not permitted to marry outside their own province, and so there was considerable intermarriage among families within the former Augustow province, which included all of Suwalki and four districts of Lomza. As a result, Jews in this area shared a common Litvak (Lithuanian) culture, modelling their community on the great Jewish centre of Vilna (Vilnius).
Raczki lost city rights in 1867. Like Augustow, it was probably built of wood from the surrounding forests and thus subject to frequent fires and rebuilding.
In 1888, the year that Dora Rose was born, a major fire broke out, burning down 98 houses. There is no way of knowing whether or not the Rose family was affected. At the time there were 2,329 Jews living in the shtetl.
In the 1870s Rav Zelig Berman served as rabbi of Raczki, and at the end of the century this post was occupied by Rav Hayyim, known as Rav Hayyim Ratzker, whose hiddushim (novellae) were published during his lifetime in a work entitled Orah le-Hayyim (Path of Life).
In 1903, Rav Ayzik Leyb Stoliar, known for his Talmudic learning and (unpublished) hiddushim, was appointed rabbi. He continued to officiate until his emigration to Palestine in 1923, serving as a dayan (judge) in Petah Tikva until his death in 1935. By his time the Jewish population had shrunk to 833 (53% of the total).
Information about Jewish life in Raczki between the two World Wars is very sparse. Most Jews fled during World War I, leaving only 100 Jewish families behind. They mainly engaged in small trade and crafts. Jewish traders in the area sold woven materials and purchased grain, fruit, poultry and hides, and supplied these products to nearby urban centres. Between the two wars Raczki had one synagogue and a bet midrash (house of study). A charity fund also operated to assist merchants and craftsmen in need.
The names of Razcki Maggidim (preachers), who also served as dayanim (judges), are likewise mentioned in books of the period, the best-known of them being Rav Hillel Mekubbal, Rav Elyokim Getzel Altshul and Rav Yosef Moshe Aharonzon (who later settled in New York). Although anecdotal information describes Isaac Jacob Rose as a preacher, there is no mention of him acting as a judge.
On the eve of World War II conditions were especially grim due to the economic decline affecting Raczki in general and the economic boycott of local Jews in particular.
The last rabbi of Raczki was Rav Shemuel Serebrowitz (1931-39). On 2 September 1939, the second day of the war, Raczki was bombed by German aircraft. Most of the Jews fled, but some returned even before German soldiers entered the town. When they eventually arrived, the Germans began to seize property belonging to Jews, and also forced them to carry out humiliating tasks such as cleaning the streets and pulling out weeds.
At the end of the month, when the Bialystok district was invaded by the Soviet Union, a unit of the Red Army entered the town. It soon became clear, however, that Raczki would be handed back to the Nazis. Russian officers then urged the Jews to leave and even supplied transport for their move to Soviet-occupied territory. Three days later the Germans returned and, at the end of October or in November 1939, all the remaining Jews were deported.
From an article on the Virtual Shtetl website, recounting the history of the Jews in Suwalki, we learn the following gruesome details:
After the German army entered Poland in September 1939, Suwałki was incorporated into the Reich. Approximately 3,000 Jews fled to Lithuania, Belarus, and the eastern part of the USSR. Some of the Jewish community managed to survive, but many perished in ghettos and death camps. In December 1939, many Jews of Suwałki – the elderly, ill, and disabled --were murdered by a Nazi firing squad in nearby forests. Approximately 2,000 survivors were deported to Biała Podlaska, Łuków, Kock, Międzyrzec Podlaski, and other centres in the Lublin area. Ultimately, they perished with other Jews trapped in ghettos in 1941 and 1942. Having deported the Jewish population from Suwałki, the Germans began to construct a new residential district for their officials in the section of the former Jewish district (the “Małe Raczki”).
See article here (pdf file).
Today the commune of Raczki comprises the town of Raczki itself and more than thirty hamlets, ranging in size from less than five to forty households. In 1994 the population of the town numbered less than a thousand, with no Jews among them.
At the beginning of the 1990s Leah and Isaac’s grandson, Rabbi Maurice (Moshe) Rose, was traveling in Poland in a van with a party of eight people, including Lord Jacobovitz, the Chief Rabbi of Britain, whose office he supervised, when he saw a sign for Suwalk, a city not far from Raczki. Unfortunately he did not have the time to visit. However he told an amusing story connected with this trip:
We crossed the border between Poland and Lithuania on the first day of Lithuanian independence, in February 1991, before the authorities had time to organize themselves properly (they were not sure where to set up the table and on which side of it to sit). The members of our party were of course very anxious to have their passports stamped on such an auspicious day. Unfortunately Lord Jacobovitz and his wife had forgotten their passports. Our guide told us not to worry – he would deal with the matter when they reached the border. True enough, he handed over a bar of soap and we were allowed to cross!
Over twenty years later another family member did succeed in visiting Raczki and recorded her visit.
See: A visit to Raczki by a family member (opens in new window).
The Cemetery of Razcki
From a 1994 survey conducted by Dr. Janusz Mackiewicz, we learn that the Jews of Raczki were buried in a cemetery 800 metres south of the town, on the west side of the road from Raczki to Moczydly, a small village that has since been incorporated into Raczki. The isolated cemetery was vandalized during World War II. Located in the midst of flat, agricultural land, and surrounded by a fence with two strands of wire, it has neither sign nor gate, and anyone can enter. It is 1.2 hectares in size, with one to twenty gravestones dating from the 20th century, less than 25% of which are toppled or broken. These include rough granite stones or boulders and flat-shaped stones. There are no mass graves. The site is owned by a regional or national governmental agency, which undertakes no maintenance. Private visitors are rarely seen.
The Matzeva Project, which aims to help preserve over 1200 Jewish Cemeteries and millions of Matzevas (Tombstones) in Poland had a specific page for the cemetery in Raczki, at http://przemyslawziolek.com/matzeva/en/actions/raczki.html. Robert Rose recorded this from the webpage before it became inaccessible:
In the city of Raczki, in North East Poland, near the Lithuanian border, Jonny was pictured with the mayor who showed us the sites of the Jewish Cemetery and a few matsevas found around the city that have been returned... we discussed the upcoming project we are working on in Trondheim, Falstad, as we have found that the first Jews to emigrate to Norway were from the city of Raczki, all Norwegian Jews (2,000) were rounded up by the Norwegian police, sent to Falstad and from there to Auschwitz-Birkenau. In the cemetery in Raczki, there are only two matzevas remaining, all the rest of the Matzevas are still somewhere, we will soon embark on a campaign in Raczki with the mayor asking for all the Matzevas to be returned.
One of the very few remaining headstones in Raczki Jewish Cemetery.
For more information concerning the gravestones of Jewish cemeteries like that of Raczki, there is a documentary prepared by Israeli Television Channel 2 on YouTube: search for "The Matzeva Project".
The First Generation – Avraham and Hannah Dubka (Halevi) RosenofView them in the family tree, or their profiles: Hannah Dubka Rosenof, Avraham (Halevi) Rosenof (all in new window).
From Rabbi Abraham Rose’s letter dated 13th June 1971, we know that he was named after one of his grandfathers (probably on his father’s side) who lived to the age of ninety six. In this way we learn of the existence of Avraham (Halevi) Rosenof, who, according to Samuel Rose’s family tree, was born circa 1830 and therefore died circa 1926. Renée Pink, Phoebe’s daughter, believes that his wife’s name was Hannah Dubka. The couple had two sons, Isaac Jacob and Shimon. Isaac immigrated to the UK, while Shimon remained in Europe.
The only documentary evidence about this generation is the 1921 UK census which states that Isaac Jacob was born in Grodno in 1856, which means that his parents must have been living there at the time.
There are a number of accounts of how and why the family name was changed from Rosenof to Rose. Morris Rose’s son, Samuel, wrote in one of his letters to his cousin, Maurice, son of Sam Rose:
However I can tell you that the family’s name was ROSENOFF and originated from Radsk, Poland. I am enclosing a copy of letter received from our late Uncle Avrom (Z.L. - R.I.P.) from which you will learn amongst other things how the name was changed.
We now know that the family name was changed from Rosenof (Russian) or Rozenow (Polish) to Rose by David Rose at some time between the date he set sail for the UK and the year of the 1901 UK Census, probably on arrival at Grimsby to simplify matters with the immigration authorities.
The First Generation – Shalom Gutfarb and Wife
From her gravestone in the Birmingham Jewish cemetery we know that Haya Leah Gutfarb had a father named Shalom. Unfortunately we do not know her mother’s name.
If Haya Leah was born in 1855, her parents must have been born at the latest in the 1830’s. If they were of advanced age when their daughter was born, then their dates of birth would have been even earlier.
From the 1921 UK census we know that Haya Leah, like her husband, Isaac, was also born in Grodno, where her father, Shalom, was both a land-owner and horse-owner.
If this was the case, then it is possible that he was a victim of the so-called ‘Temporary Rules’ of 1882 which made it increasingly difficult for Jews in the Pale of Settlement to remain in rural areas and own land. However even after this date:
According to the statistics of 1898-1901, some 150,000 Jews in Russia engaged in agrarian pursuits. Of these, 51,539 were occupied with raising corn in the colonies, 64,563 engaged in special branches of agrarian economy, 19,930 held land as owners or lessees, and 12,901 were engaged in temporary farm labor.
From History of the Jews in Russia and Poland Vol III, S. M. Dubnow, Published by the Jewish Publication Society of America (opens in new window)
Since Haya Leah was an only child, this meant that he had no sons to carry on his name or inherit his wealth. Leah left Poland in 1904. Whether her parents were still alive or not, we do not know.
Since a shiddukh (match) was arranged between their daughter and Isaac Jacob when they were born, we have to ask ourselves why a shiddukh between the Gutfarb and Rosenof families was considered desirable. One explanation that springs to mind is of wealth being married to learning, which brings us to the subject of the Yichus Brief (Letter of Relationship).
The Yichus Brief
Isaac Rose’s full name was Isaac Jacob (Yitschok Yaacov) Halevi Rose, which indicates that he belonged to the tribe of Levi, members of whom served in the Temple in Jerusalem before it was destroyed by the Romans. Without a temple their importance was diminished, but they still have a degree of precedence in synagogue worship.
The Rose family was obviously proud of their heritage., Samuel Rose, the son of Morris Rose, was astonished to find that his Uncle David’s ketuba (Jewish marriage certificate) made no mention that he was a Levi, indicating that this was a serious omission in his eyes:
I am enclosing a copy of the Ketuba of my late Parents, also one from Bessie in USA of her late Parents. Here I must point out something quite extraordinary, the Ketuba does not mention that Uncle David (Z.L. – R.I.P.) was a Levi. – what do you make of that?
It was Samuel who wrote to his cousin, Rabbi Maurice Rose, the son of Sam Rose, telling him that the family had once possessed a Yichus Brief (letter of relationship) bearing witness to the family’s lineage:
My late Dad Z. L. gave me quite a bit of information over the years but in those days I wasn’t particularly interested so didn’t commit much to memory. My Dad also told me that the family had Yichus Brief but these had been lost.
Unfortunately this letter was lost. Lest we be tempted to dismiss this piece of information as unimportant, we should remember how important lineage was to the Jewish people and especially to Polish Jews. We all remember the long line of biblical names linked by “and he begot” in the Old Testament. However in Eastern Europe, especially in Poland, the whole subject of lineage became a matter of great importance, determining social status. It became very advantageous to both sides for the daughter of wealthy parents, or the daughter of a distinguished family, to marry a young man of humble origins who showed promise of becoming a famous Torah scholar. This may have been the case with Isaac Rose, who possessed an impeccable pedigree as attested by his yichus brief, and Leah Gutfarb whose family owned land and horses.
We learn from the Talmud just how important Torah scholarship was:
Babylonian Talmud - Tractate Menachoth 53a
The Rabbis said to R. Perida, ‘R. Ezra, the grandson of R. Abtolos, who is the tenth generation from R. Eleazar b. ‘Azariah, who is the tenth generation from Ezra, is standing at the door’
— Said he to them, ‘Why all this (pedigree)? If he is a learned man, it is well; if he is a learned man and also a scion of noble ancestors, it is all the better; but if he is a scion of noble ancestors and not a learned man may fire consume him’.
They told him that he was a learned man, whereupon he said, ‘Let him come in’.
See Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Menachoth 53a (pdf file).
Isaac’s eldest son, Morris, was supposed to carry on this tradition of scholarship by studying at the Slonim yeshiva. However after he arrived in the UK, he quickly discovered that his talents lay elsewhere – in making money. Instead, one of his younger brothers, Abraham, took up the mantle of scholarship, becoming the rabbi of the Ealing and Acton District Synagogue in West London.
In the following generation of Roses, Maurice Rose, the son of Sam Rose, continued this family tradition, first by qualifying as a rabbi, then serving as executive director of the office of the Chief Rabbi of Britain, and finally as executive director of the Conference of European Rabbis from its inception.
The Second Generation – Shimon (Halevi) Rosenof and Wife
View Shimon (Halevi) Rosenof in family tree, or his profile (opens in new window).
Isaac Rose had a younger brother called Shimon, known to the family as Fetter (Yiddish for Uncle) Shimon. The little information known about him came from family stories, until ongoing research revealed documentary evidence that both corroborated and added to it.
Most of the following is translated from the Augustow Memorial (Yizkor) Book (accessed 26 January 2022). This can be viewed at the New York Public Library or the Yiddish Book Centre (both open in new window).
Like his elder brother, Isaac, it is possible that Shimon was born in Grodno in Poland-Lithuania, today's Belarus.
For more detailed information concerning the Jewish inhabitants of Grodno, see:
History of Grodno (pdf file) by Dov Rabin, Encyclopaedia Judaica. (Accessed 21 Jan 2022).
What is now clear is that, at some point, he and his family moved to the town of Augustow, 22 kilometers from Raczki, where the family name became Roznov.
The History of "The Pioneer Movement" in Augustow
By Dr. Nehemiah Aloni
Augustow, the population of which reached ten thousand, was a typically Jewish Lithuanian town. It was a district town that encompassed the surrounding townships and villages. Politically it belonged to Poland, while socially and culturally it belonged to Lithuanian Jewry. This was the rabbinical form of Jewry, that did not recognise the Hasidic movement. Lithuanian Yiddish was the language spoken, and its customs were those of the Jewish population of Belz and Telz (Telsiai), Kovna and Vilna. The big towns adjacent to it were Suwalk and Grodno, both connected by a train that travelled once a day in each direction. The railway station was a few kilometers outside the town and horse-drawn carriages would convey the passengers in the morning from the train to the town, and in the evening - from the town to the train travelling on the line between Grodno, Bialystock and Warsaw (the capitol of Poland). This constituted the main traffic of passengers, whereas the traffic of passengers in the morning to Suwalk, and in the evening – from Suwalk – was only secondary.
The number of citizens was overwhelmingly Jewish and they determined the Jewish character of the town. On Sabbaths and holidays the whole town came to a halt, while on weekdays the whole town worked……
Augustow Memorial Book Pages 302-322
For additional information about Augustow, see: History of the Jews in Augustow (pdf file) Virtual Shtetl: (Accessed 26 Jan 2022).
Unlike Isaac, who emigrated with his family from Poland at the beginning of the 20th century, Shimon remained behind, perhaps to care for his aged parents. He must have been much younger than Isaac or married at a much later age, for according to a 1924 photo, his son, Y., a member of the 'Pioneer Union' was only 18 years old. This means that he was born in 1906, five years after Isaac's youngest son, Moishe Rose, who was born in 1901.
According to family stories Shimon moved to Warsaw where he met his death in one of the death camps. He may have lived in the Warsaw Ghetto, established in November 1940, before being transported to the Treblinka extermination camp where, in the summer of 1942, at least 254,000 Ghetto residents died. The map below shows that Treblinka was the nearest death camp to Warsaw.
Shimon's Three Children
Although we know of three children it is possible that Shimon and his wife had more.
The three whose existence is known to family members are:
Y. (full name unknown), aged approximately 18 in 1924, who was born in 1906
Hannah Dubke, named after her grandmother, aged between 14-17 in 1929, who was born around 1914
Sheyne, who is believed to be the youngest
Photographs of both Dubka/Devorah and Y. Roznov, but not of Sheyne/Shani Roznov, can be found in the Augustow Memorial Book in the sections on pages 302-322 and 325-328.
Both Y. and Dubke were members of the same Zionist movement in Augustow. Y. belonged to the 'Pioneer Union' for those aged over 17, while Dubke belonged to the 'Young Pioneer' for 14-17 year-olds.
The History of "The Pioneer Movement" in Augustow
By Dr. Nehemiah Aloni
The most active movement in Augustow after the First World War was the "Pioneer Union"; this was a practical Zionist movement with a clear purpose: to immigrate to Palestine and take part in building up our country of birth through self-realization. It was founded in 1923 and existed until 1939, the year of the outbreak of the Second World War, the occupation of Poland by the soldiers of Hitler and the destruction of Polish Jewry by the Nazi murderers. This article was written in the year 1965 in Jerusalem, after "The Pioneer" archives were destroyed together with Augustow's citizens. Therefore only memories remain as a source for the following.
The foundations of the society and its leaders were shaken by the First World War. The foundation of the State of Poland after its liberation was an awakening factor for the youth movement in Augustow. The liberation and establishment of the State awoke nationalistic feelings also in the heart of Jewish youth. Branches of the Zionist movement developed as well as of the Communist movement, a branch of the Bund was organized and also the Young Zionists, Hashomer Hatzair, Hashomer Trumpeldor and the Yiddishe Jugend Bund.
On the basis of these, "The Pioneer Union" was founded in Augustow. The modern cultural level was not high. With the liberation of the State of Poland a Polish elementary school was established. Those wanting to continue their studies migrated to high schools in Suwalk, Lodz and Bialystok in Poland; Dresden and Konigsberg - in Germany. The little education the youth acquired, after the age of elementary school, was in the youth movements.
The most important factor in the growth of "The Pioneer" movement was the economic situation of Polish Jewry in the years 1923-5. The heavy taxes that the Polish government imposed on the middle class, and especially on petty traders, destroyed their trade and their standing. The children of the middle class could not continue their education from lack of material means. And even institutions of higher education were closed to them by the anti-Semitic authorities. The Jewish youth of Poland lacked stimulation, aim and employment. Most lived boring, purposeless lives and searched for a way out, redemption, a mission and a vision. There were those that sought a solution in assimilation, absorption and loafing around, in putting the world to rights and the kingdom of demons, in Communism and self-sacrifice for strangers, and in contrast – others turned to nationalist and Zionist organisations, and through these immigrated to the Land of Israel to build her up and be built up.
In the year 1923, between Purim and the festival of Passover, a group of young people aged 17-18 gathered in one of the houses in the town to found "The Pioneer Union"….
The aim was clear to all the participants: immigration to the Land of Israel and participation in the building the country as workers. This demanded preparation and training, including Zionist-Socialist recognition, Hebrew culture and the acquisition of a profession….
Within a short time many of the youth of the town joined "The Pioneer" …. We became the most important youth organization in the town, numbering fifty to sixty members.
It was more difficult in the matter of professional training. We demanded from our members that they pick a physical profession, although the most important profession was, in our eyes, agriculture. We couldn't work in large-scale agriculture. Therefore we leased two plots of land for growing vegetables. We even found an adult … who joined as a member and agreed to instruct our members in the work in two vegetable gardens.
"The Pioneer Union" brought about a revolution in the town and injected new concepts among the youth and even among the adults. The parents viewed with approval the deeds of their children and did not object; they opened their houses to meetings and gatherings and even gave their children the pennies necessary to pay membership dues.
However they did not agree easily to their children becoming workers and labourers, growers of vegetables and farmers. When the vegetables were grown and the task of selling them to house-owners was imposed on the members of "The Pioneer", they were sold with difficulty; we were forced to sell them at a lower price than that demanded by the non-Jewish farmers. Fathers and mothers came out of their houses and looked with astonishment at the sons of the wealthy wheeling a handcart of vegetables for sale….
The life of the youth, and public life in general in the town, became much more stimulating…..
The Sabbath evening walks in the forests and the boating on the river provided a unifying social factor for the youth. In our town we had never been in fear of stone throwers, and we would respond by throwing stones. Links were established with small townships nearby; Rajgród, Sztabin, Suchowola, Goniondz and Raczki, and with the large towns - Suwalk and Grodno.
Augustow Memorial Book Pages 302-322
The last paragraph reveals that there were links with the shtetl of Raczki, where many of the Rosenof children were born and where Rosenof family members may still have been living.
Photo of a 'Pioneer Union' group taken in 1924, the year that the 'Young Pioneer' group was founded. The arrow points to Y. Roznov.
Augustow Yizkor Book Page 304.
Members of the 'Pioneer Union' group. The arrow points to Y. Roznov. Augustow Yizkor Book Page 312
Since Y. was older than his sisters it is likely that he was the first to emigrate. The question is, "Why did he immigrate to Argentina and not to Palestine, in accordance with the ideals of 'The Pioneer Union' to which he belonged and whose members were expected to immigrate to Palestine and found kibbutzim?" Was it because Palestine was considered too dangerous, too hard or too uncertain? Or was it simply a matter of shrinking options?
Argentina kept its doors open to Jewish immigration until 1938, when Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in Germany began to take more actions against Jews, and tensions rose across Europe in preparation for war. The government imposed new regulations on immigration; it was severely curtailed at a time of increasing persecution of Jews and the outbreak of World War II, when Jews sought a safe haven from the Nazis.
For further information see:
Wikipedia History of the Jews in Argentina (opens in new window).
Dubke and Sheyne Roznov
The Augustow Memorial Book provides us with two photos of Dubke taken in 1929 when she was a teenager aged between 14 and 17.
In both she appears as one of a 'Young Pioneer' group preparing for life in Palestine by working in the vegetable garden of 'Kibbutz' Ivatzvitch (Yiddish) or Ivatsevichy (Belarussian), south of Slonim.
Page 328 contains the following text:
A revolution took place in the town’s attitudes. Until then only non-Jews who were considered of inferior status performed such tasks. Thanks to the “pioneers” the status of (manual) labour rose among the Jewish public.
Around the age of eighteen we transferred to the “pioneer” union, and after a short while our turn arrived to undergo “training”. Our parents, of course, were against it, but after a difficult argument we won, and we left for kibbutz Ivtzvitz near Barnovitz. The living conditions in the training kibbutz were very hard. The place was cramped. In one small bedroom about twenty youths lay side by side on primitive beds. When they awoke from their sleep, those who had returned from the night shift lay down in their places. We worked in the saw-mill. The Augustov group were outstanding at work, and after a few months were given permission to make aliyah (immigrate to Palestine). After a short stay at home, we left the town the day after the Fast of Av (Hebrew month) 1929. Many came to part from us with songs of joy, while our parents parted from us in tears.
The following day, while we still in the capital, Warsaw, our parents learned from the newspapers that riots had broken out in the country (Palestine). They immediately sent two emissaries to bring us home. However we were not deterred. After a long argument, the emissaries of our parents withdrew their demand (that we return home) and blessed us with “Have a safe journey”. On the 6th September (1929), we reached Palestine.
Written by Moshe Amit (Drozinski)
According to family members, Shimon bribed two non-Jewish sailors to marry Dubke and Sheyne. The two sailors brought the daughters to Palestine illegally, where they divorced, since the marriages were only marriages of convenience, and where both daughters later remarried. Hannah Dubke, named after her grandmother, changed her name to Devorah and Sheyne changed hers to Shani.
We do not yet possess documentary proof as to when the two sisters arrived in Palestine. All we can do is make an educated guess. Apparently they were very helpful to Freda and Minnie Grossman, the two daughters of Jenny Rose who married Palestinian Jews and immigrated to Palestine in 1946. This indicates that Devorah and Shani must have arrived before them.
Before the outbreak of WWII, as many as 100,000 members of the 'Young Pioneer' movement immigrated to Palestine. Even if the two sisters arrived in the unorthodox fashion described above, would they not have gravitated to where members of their youth movement were living? If so they may have started out in the town of Petach Tikvah.
The History of "The Pioneer Movement" in Augustow
By Dr. Nehemiah Aloni
The town of Augustow was full of with Zionist youth movements, and was considered one of the important centres in the Zionist movement. Until the Second World War our members immigrated to Palestine year after year, influencing many of the adults residing with us today in Israel, and taking an active part in building up our country.
In the years 1923-45 some of the first immigrants of "The Pioneer Union" in Augustow were concentrated together into a temporary group in Givat Hashlosha in Petach Tikva. After a year these immigrants founded, together with immigrants from the same district in Poland, an independent group named "Endeavour". …..
Members of the group worked in the houses of the farmers of Petach Tikvah, and in the citrus groves – in picking, hoeing and in irrigation. In the years 1925-28, years of crisis for the fourth Aliyah (wave of immigration), they suffered in no small way from unemployment, a continual deficit, continual anxiety over the next slice of bread. Nevertheless this same group served as a centre for immigrants from branches of "The Pioneer" in the towns of Augustow, Suwalk, Suchowola and Raczki and other places.
This group served as an agricultural training school for working in the settlements and as an absorption centre for our members as they immigrated to Palestine. In 1928 it merged with Hakibbutz Hameuchad – Giv'at Hashlosha settlement in Petach Tikva, that took upon itself to cover the deficit and inherited the little in the way of property and the considerable experience of those who had learned the hard way.
For many Petach Tikvah served as a transit camp. The members who left the "Endeavour" group became independent farmers and labourers in the settlements in the Land of Israel, others – turned to various professions. Thanks to the immigrants from "The Pioneer Union" in Augustow Jews who were not members of the Pioneer immigrated too, and it is thanks to them that parents and the elderly from the land of Poland were also saved, with even whole families settling in the country.
Augustow Memorial Book Pages 302-322
The last paragraph might explain why, when Minnie and Freda Grossman visited one of the sisters, she was living in a border settlement, in which there were bushes, trees, horses and pigeons.
The above is based on pure supposition.
Fortunately we possess documentary evidence as to where they were living in 1966, the year that the Augustow Memorial Book was published, in which Devorah and Sheyne Zak are listed as living in Hadera, Giv'at Olga, 154/2.
Giv'at Olga, founded in 1949-1950, is a suburb of Hadera, a coastal city of Israel midway between Haifa and Tel Aviv.
We know from family members that Devorah's married name was Zak and that she had a son and daughter, but why her sister's name is also registered as Zak is unclear.
Later Devorah moved to Kiryat Motzkin, a township north of Haifa. David Rose, the youngest son of Isaac and Leah's eighth child, Abraham, remembers meeting Devorah and her husband. Although elderly, they still ran a stationary kiosk which they claimed was very profitable, so much so that they recommended he open one too.
For further information see:
Wikipedia Kiryat_Motzkin (opens in new window).
Shani lived in Netanya, a coastal city north of Tel Aviv. The story goes that, In the early 1970s, Isaac and Leah's youngest child, Moishe, struck up a conversation with a woman whilst waiting for a bus in Netanya. She turned out to be his first cousin, Shani. After her husband died, she moved to Haifa to be near her only daughter.
For further information see:
Wikipedia Netanya (opens in new window.
1960's Devorah and Shani with Rabbi Abraham and Annie Rose
The Last Contact
In the 1970s two daughters of Isaac and Leah's fourth child, Jenny, visited both sisters. They were well received and promised to keep in touch, but unfortunately over the years contact was lost. One, Sarah, remembers meeting them again some years later, when she and her husband gave them a lift to one of the Rose family weddings. They conversed in Yiddish.
This all the knowledge we possess at present about this branch of the family.
The Second Generation - Isaac Jacob (Halevi) Rose and Haya Leah GutfarbView them in the family tree, or their profiles: Haya Leah Gutfarb, Isaac Jacob (Yitzhak Ya’akov Halevi) Rose (all in new window).
Isaac was born about the year 1856 in the town of Grodno in northwest Russian Poland.
He seems to have had a number of different occupations. One of the first was as a guard in the forests, sleeping in a hut all week and returning home for Shabbat. Perhaps he worked for his wife's parents who were reputed to be landowners. Another source tells us that in Poland he had been a magid, an itinerant preacher who travelled from shtetl to shtetl, using stories to drive home his moral message, and to keep the spirit of Judaism and the hope of the Messiah alive in Jewish breasts.
Leah Gutfarb, known in the family as Haya Leah, was five years younger than her husband, having been born about 1861. She was as fair-haired, short and dumpy as her husband was dark-haired, tall and gangly. With her fair skin and blond hair she was very Polish-looking.
From the 1921 UK census we know that Haya Leah, like her husband, Isaac, was also born in Grodno, where her father, Shalom, was both a land-owner and horse-owner.
When she was born, according to the custom of the time, a shiddukh (match) was made between Leah and her future husband. They married when she was fourteen.
Between 1876 and 1901 Isaac and Leah had ten children, the first when Leah was fifteen and the last when she was forty six and already a grandmother.
Isaac was not the only learned member of the family. His wife, Leah Rose, was known as a zugger or suga (Yiddish or German from “sagen” to say), a learned woman whose self-appointed task it was to point out the right page in the prayer book to women who arrived in the middle of the service. She also recited the prayers in an undertone for the benefit of those who could not read Hebrew.
Leah and Isaac Rose had ten children, which was probably not unusual in those days (the second half of the 19th century). During the frequent pogroms that took place in the Pale of Russia, the family suffered persecution at the hands of their non-Jewish neighbours. Indeed it was the task of Leah and Isaac’s eldest child, Hadassah, to hide her baby brothers and sisters in the dustbins until the pogrom was over.
At the turn of the twentieth century the family had had enough. They decided to leave the country in which they had lived for generations and immigrate to the UK.
How they reached this momentous decision, we shall never know. Was it a decision made by the head of the house, or was the decision made for him by David, the headstrong rebel, who was the first to arrive in the UK at the age of sixteen, followed in stages by the rest of the family?
It must have been very hard for the family to leave behind their eldest daughter, Hadassah, and her family. Why they decided to remain behind is a good question. It would have been better for them had they not done so, for during World War I Hadassah’s husband, who was away on a business trip in Sweden, was unable to return to his family, and Hadassah and her children were left to fend for themselves in Razcki.
Isaac Rose took with him a copy of Maginei Eretz (Shields of the Earth), part of a code of Jewish law called the Shulchan Aruch (Set Table) dealing with laws concerning prayer and synagogue, Sabbath and holidays. This book had been given to him by his brother, Shimon Halevi, as we learn from the inscription on the flyleaf:
This book “Shields of the Earth” belongs to Yitzchak Yaakov Halevi part one of three parts and now it belongs to the house of Shimon Halevi who gave (it) to him (Yitzchak Yaakov Halevi) in order that he should learn, keep and carry out the laws……… that all that is written in the Shield of Abraham and all the commentators shall not move from his mouth and from his seed and from the seed of his seed for all eternity.
The above inscription is based on Isaiah 59:21:
“As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My spirit, which is upon you and My words that I have placed in your mouth, shall not move from your mouth or from the mouth of your seed and from the mouth of your seed’s seed,” said the Lord, “from now and to eternity.”
In turn this book was passed on to Shimon Halevi’s namesake, Leah and Isaac’s son, Sam Rose, who was persuaded to return to the UK from Australia in order to recite kaddish (Prayer for the Dead) at his father’s funeral. At Sam’s death, the book passed into the hands of Sam’s son, Rabbi Maurice Rose.
The information presented in this section is based on a work entitled “Jews as Soldiers” by an unknown author - Accessed on 13 Mar 2019 see the article here (pdf file).
In leaving Raczki, the Rose family joined the massive exodus to the West of Jewish refugees fleeing poverty and persecution in central Europe and Russia in the late 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. It is estimated that three million of these refugees reached British shores, of which only 120,000 remained in this country, among them the Rose family.
One would expect the already well-established British Jews to do all they could to help their less-fortunate Eastern European co-religionists, flocking to Britain from 1881 onwards. Instead they did all they could to get rid of them, by sending fifty thousand back to where they came from and facilitating the departure of the huge majority to America and other distant lands.
Their excuse was that the Eastern European Jews showed no sign of wanting to become British, either in dress, language, religion or where they lived. To a great extent this describes the Rose family who all lived in the same Jewish area of Birmingham, spoke Yiddish among themselves, and even worshipped in their own synagogue. In contrast, British-born Jews were anxious to become more British than the British!
In 1905, the year after Leah Rose arrived in the UK with six of her children, a law was passed to limit immigration into the country called the Aliens Act. Because ‘immigrant’ and ‘Jew’ were synonymous as far as the British public was concerned, this law was clearly aimed at the Jews. This Act was actually supported by British-born Jews who, afraid that the Eastern European ‘foreigners’ would jeopardise their acceptance by the British, were anxious to ensure that no more would arrive.
Indeed it is entirely possible that if the Rose family had not immigrated when they did, they might never have ended up in the UK or even been able to leave Russian Poland at all.
The Birmingham Jewish Community*
See 'A Brief History of the Birmingham and West Midlands Jewish Community' based on an article by Arthur Chesses here (pdf file).
The Birmingham Jewish community is reputed to be one of the oldest in the provinces. From as early as 1730, the special manufacturing industries that were springing up all over the City attracted its first Jewish settlers. Indeed, Birmingham became something of a centre for Jewish pedlars, who would travel the surrounding countryside in order to earn their meagre livings.
The first recorded synagogue was in a district known as the Froggery, which roughly covered an area around Station Street and New Street Station. The synagogue was extended in 1791, 1809 and again in 1827. The "Singers Hill" synagogue, which is still in operation, was opened in 1856. According to public records, nearly one hundred Jewish families had made their homes in Birmingham's fashionable Edgbaston suburb by the end of 1871.
In the late 19th century, conditions in central Europe and Russia led to an influx of Jews into the West. Many of these refugees made their new homes in Birmingham and the Jewish population of the city increased once again. Some however, finding the anglicised style of services at Singers Hill uncomfortable, formed their own breakaway minyanim and congregations. (Among these were members of the Rose family.) These eventually led to the creation of the two other orthodox congregations in Birmingham; the Central Synagogue and the New Synagogue. They were in turn followed by the Liberal Synagogue, formed in the late thirties.
Between the two Great Wars, Birmingham thrived as a provincial Jewish centre. A number of Jewish grocery stores and delicatessens had founded sturdy businesses, as had everything from the many Jewish-run fish-and-chip shops (such as the one run by David Grossman, husband of Jenny Rose) to the dozens of Jewish backstreet tailoring workshops, who supplied hand-made suits to retail tailors across the city. (These included a number of the ten Rose siblings.)
There existed a Jewish area comprising Holloway Head, Hurst Street, Sherlock Street, Ashley Street and Benacre Street. In 1934 the Hebrew School, which had previously formed part of the Singers Hill complex, was moved to a purpose-built site in St. Lukes Road. Side by side with this close ghetto-like existence in the Jewish area, the Jewish residents of Edgbaston and Moseley were also increasing. Families prospered, and as they became more affluent, actively sought these areas' more suburban lifestyle.
Much of this embryonic vibrance was ripped apart, however, by the advent of the 1939-1945 war. During this time, the communal life of the closely-knit Jewish area was shattered through bombing. Sadly, the subsequent redevelopment of the damaged sites left little room for the old Jewish area to reform.
The Rose ‘Ghetto’
As stated above, the immigrants from Eastern Europe who arrived in Birmingham at the turn of the twentieth century, started out their new lives in the Jewish area of Birmingham comprising Holloway Head, Hurst Street, Sherlock Street, Ashley Street and Benacre Street, before moving out to the suburbs of Edgbaston and Moseley when they became more affluent.
The Rose family was no different. At first they could be found in Hurst Street and Sherlock Street. As time went on, they gravitated southwest in the direction of Edgbaston, living in the area of Bordersley, as can be seen from the map below.
(The roads in which the Rose family lived and worked are marked in yellow)
During his first years in the UK Morris lived and worked in the non-Jewish area of Digbeth to the northeast of the Jewish area, where at one time he had three neighbouring shops at numbers 61-63. At one point Jenny Rose’s family lived there, perhaps with his help, for he was a wealthy man who was very generous towards his less fortunate sisters. At some point he moved to 65 Gough Road, Edgbaston, east of Pershore Road and Bristol Road, where he and his family could be found between the years 1925-1935. However his place of work continued to be in Digbeth.
The first known address of Leah and Isaac Rose and their family in Birmingham is 30 Marshall Street, their address at the time of the 1911 census. When David Rose set out on the long journey to the USA in January 1910 he gave as his address number 20, but when his wife and children followed him in September 1910, their address was given as number 30. In 1915 Isaac had a shop at 72 Bath Row.
Upper Gough Street
Their next address was 29 Upper Gough Street, from where both Jenny Rose and Sam Rose married their respective spouses in 1913 and 1916.
Many years later, in 1930, Jenny and her family moved back to Upper Gough Street, round the corner from Singers Hill Synagogue, known as the ‘English’ synagogue, in Blucher Street, opposite the Jewish infant school.
After their marriage in 1922, Phoebe Rose and her husband, Philip Crown, lived at 130 Hurst Street. By 1925 they had two children. Living with them was Leah and Isaac Rose, and their youngest son, Moishe. After the war, Moishe Rose’s tailor’s trimmings shop was located in Hurst Street.
After Philip Crown died in 1928, the whole family moved to 106 Gooch Street. Not only did they live at this address, but Phoebe had a shop there in which Moishe Rose also worked. In 1932 Jenny Rose’s family moved to the same address, where they lived on the ground floor at the back of Phoebe’s shop, accessed by a narrow passage.
Bristol Street was where several members of the Rose family lived from time to time. The earliest mention is of this street is in Sam Rose’s identity book, where it is recorded that, at the time of his marriage in 1916, he was working as a tailor for a Mr Wienstein at 142 Bristol Street. In 1928 number 120 became the location of the Bristol Street synagogue, attended by Isaac Rose and his family. In 1936 Hadassah Rose and her family also lived in Bristol Street, at number 183, where Hadassah had a shop and from where her eldest son, Woolf, set out for Poland to find a bride. Lastly Sam Rose, after spending time in Llandudno, Wales, and in Sydney, Australia, ended up where he started at number 142 Bristol Road (a southern extension of Bristol Street) when he died in 1947. In addition Hadassah’s daughter-in-law, Fanny, wife of her son, Norman, could be found at number 36 Bristol Road in 1955.
Even before the outbreak of war in 1939, the family was gradually moving out to Edgbaston. They tended to congregate in a small area of four parallel roads - (from west to east) Pershore Road, Varna Road, Princess Road and Alexander Road, linked by Speedwell road at their southern end.
Leah and Isaac’s final address in Birmingham was 56 Varna Road, to where they moved, together with Phoebe and her family, in 1932. This may have something to do with the fact that, by now, Isaac Rose could no longer walk to the Bristol Street synagogue, and his children wanted to find a house in which he could both live and worship. At all events this is the year when the family organized their own minyan (prayer quorum) at 56 Varna Road.
A Ruth Cashmore is shown as living with Phoebe Crown at 56 Varna Road in 1935, the year of Isaac Rose’s death. In 1939 when Leah Rose could not be left alone at night, Jenny Rose’s husband, David Grossman, who lived in a terrace house opposite, at number 98 Varna Road, would often sit with her. 98 Varna Road was the house which the Grossman family was forced to evacuate in World War II when a bomb fell in the garden next door.
When the family moved from Gooch Street to Varna Road, Phoebe relocated her shop to Sherlock Street, where it was destroyed in a German air raid. 255 Sherlock Street was the address of May Finkelstein’s family. It was from this address that May married Sam Rose in 1916, and where she and her children lived when Sam sailed for Australia in1928. Living in the house was May’s widowed mother and her sister, Sara.
At the beginning of the war, in 1939, Ellen and Moishe Rose were living at 21 Princess Road, while Dora Rose and Sam Rose were living next door to each other at numbers 10 and 12 Alexander Road. At number 14 lived a branch of Annie Greenhouse’s family. Annie had married David Rose in 1906 and had immigrated with him to the States in 1910.
In 1944, the year of Nathan (Natie) Jacobs death, he and his wife, Dora, lived at number 112 Alexandra Road. Dora continued to live at this address until her death.
During World War II the area of Bordesley, in which Alexander Road was located, was heavily bombed. After the war it was rebuilt, and Abe Grossman, son of Jenny Rose, moved into 124 Alexander Road, part of a new housing development bordering Calthorpe Park with the River Rea at the rear. Next door lived his wife’s parents. Opposite lived his sister-in-law, while his brother-in-law lived six houses down.
All three of the above parallel roads – Varna Road, Princess Road and Alexander Road were located east of a main road named Pershore Road. This road housed a number of members of the Rose family at various times.
Sam Rose lived at 15 Pershore Road in October 1914 and in the 1920s. In 1936 number 111, the home of Hadassah and David Lev, was certified as a place of worship where it was known as the Lev Minyan (Prayer Quorum), serving the religious needs of the Rose family until 1967. Jenny Grossman and her family lived in Pershore Road at number 41 in 1938.
In 1945 Ellen and Moishe Rose lived at number 233, close to the Lev Minyan where Moishe served as beadle. They lived on the ground floor, while on one of the upper floors lived his niece, Beryl, daughter of Sam Rose, and her husband, Joe (Joseph) Lavie (Levkovitz). One of Moishe’s two tailor’s trimmings shops was in the same road. Later Ellen and Moishe moved to number 119 Pershore Road.
Having registered as a medical practitioner on 27 December 1945 with an MB from the University of Birmingham, Dora Jacob’s son, Gerald, lived at number 148 Pershore Road where he and his family could be found in 1947, 1950, 1955 and 1959.
Jenny Grossman’s son Abraham, and his wife, Freda, lived at number 161 Pershore Road in 1950 before they moved into their final place of residence at 124 Alexandra Road.
Finally, Sam Rose’ youngest son, Alan Rose, lived at 47 West Drive, Pershore Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham at the time of his death on 22 October 1991.
Life and Death in Birmingham
In Birmingham Isaac Rose earned his living as a Hebrew teacher and shochet (ritual slaughterer). Apparently he continued working as a shochet into his eighties. Two of his granddaughters, Sarah and Minnie Grossman, have very unpleasant memories of having to take their home-reared chickens round to him to be slaughtered.
At the time of the 1911 census Isaac and Leah Rose were living at 30 Marshall Street with seven of their children - Jenny, Dora, Sam, Jack, Abraham, Phoebe and Moishe. In 1915 Isaac had a shop at 72 Bath Row.
In some family stories Isaac is confused with the rabbi of Birmingham who is said to have stopped little Jewish boys in the street, saying “Show me if you're wearing tzitzit (a fringed undergarment) and I'll bless you”, or, according to another version, “give you a penny”. One of the children who received a penny in this manner was Basil, the son of Jack Rose, who remembers that in those days a penny could buy a hot potato in the jacket.
With his long beard and twinkling eye Isaac Rose, known as Zeida to his many grandchildren, was not without a sense of humour. He used to ask the youngest son of Jenny Rose, Norman Grossman, “Du vilst a knip, Shnip?” (“do you want a tweak, little bit?”), tweaking his grandson’s chubby cheek with a wicked grin on his face. A quiet, gentle and loveable man, he was apparently much liked and respected in the community. Sarah Grossman remembers that he was always humming to himself.
Both Norman and Sarah remember Isaac’s wife, Haya Leah Gutfarb, as being bent-over (probably from osteoporosis). She always wore a sheytel (wig) and a shawl over her head. Small and frail as she was, she could still boast “Little me got big sons!”
Every Shabbes (Sabbath) all her grandchildren would go round to her house for havdala (the service separating the Sabbath from regular weekdays). Not only were they welcomed with dignity and love, but also with the food their grandmother had prepared. Although she had a sense of humour, she also had a temper, and would get very annoyed with her grandchildren if they didn’t eat her cookies. Sarah remembers her grandmother’s thick, pearl barley soup with kasha and onions on top, which she hated then but loved in later years.
Everyone in the family was called by their Yiddish names. Since Isaac and Leah Rose only spoke Yiddish and Polish, they were unable to converse with those of their grandchildren who spoke only English. Rabbi Maurice Rose, son of Sam Rose, remembers Leah Rose giving him and his younger brother and sister, Alan and Beryl, a cat in a sack to release in Cannon Hill Park. Because it was jumping about so much, they released it in Calthorpe Park which was nearer. When they returned to their grandmother's house, she asked them what had become of the cat. They told her that they had done as she requested and released it in the park, not mentioning which park. “Then what's that over there?” she demanded, pointing to the cat which had found its way home and was curled up in the corner.
Isaac and Leah Rose ended up living with their widowed youngest daughter, Phoebe, and her two children at 56 Varna Road. Isaac was the first to die on 3 September 1935, after a great deal of suffering from some disease of the urinary tract. Leah died exactly four years later on 3 September 1939, the day that war broke out. Isaac was seventy nine and Leah was seventy eight.
Here is Leah’s gravestone engraved as follows:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR DEAR MOTHER LEAH ROSE
The woman Chaya Leah, wife of R 'Yitzchak Ya'akov HaLevi
She ascended to heaven on the second day of Rosh Hashana,
There was always a prayer on her lips
and the law of kindness was on her tongue.
She stretched out her hand to the poor
and did not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rose up and called her fortunate; [also] her husband, and praised her.
A God-fearing woman
May she be praised.
The above is based on Proverbs 31
“A woman of valor who can find, for her price is beyond pearls”.
Tzdakah (Charitable Works)
According to Maimonides (a famous medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher) there are eight levels of charity, each greater than the next:
- The greatest level, above which there is no greater, is to support a fellow Jew by endowing him with a gift or loan, or entering into a partnership with him, or finding employment for him, in order to strengthen his hand so that he will not need to be dependent upon others . . .
- A lesser level of charity than this is to give to the poor without knowing to whom one gives, and without the recipient knowing from who he received.
- A lesser level of charity than this is when one knows to whom one gives, but the recipient does not know his benefactor.
- A lesser level of charity than this is when one does not know to whom one gives, but the poor person does know his benefactor.
- A lesser level than this is when one gives to the poor person directly into his hand, but gives before being asked.
- A lesser level than this is when one gives to the poor person after being asked.
- A lesser level than this is when one gives inadequately, but gives gladly and with a smile.
- A lesser level than this is when one gives unwillingly.
Mishneh Torah, Laws of Charity, 10:7–14
See this accessed on 13 Mar 2019 from Chabad.org here (pdf file).
Members of the Rose family practiced charity on various levels.
When tinkers came to the back of the house, offering to mend pots in return for a meal, Leah Rose would always find something for them to do, even if it was only to polish the brass. She never sent anyone away without a meal.
In addition to the ten Rose children, there were always another ten poor people invited to eat at their home. The Rose children were not allowed to sit down until these guests were seated at the table, nor might they taste any food until the guests had eaten their fill, after which they had to make do with the leftovers.
Upon seeing a man in the street without a coat, Isaac Jacob is said to have taken off the brand new coat he had just purchased in order to give it to him, stating that he could manage with his old one.
From a framed certificate hanging in the Jerusalem apartment of Rabbi Maurice Rose, son of Sam Rose, it transpires that in 1909 “the industrious pursuer of justice (rav pe’alim rodef tzedek) Isaac Jacob Rose” was appointed warden and trustee of the Rabbi Meir Ba’al Haness charitable fund in Birmingham. It was his responsibility to collect money from pushkes (charity boxes) distributed among members of the local Jewish community for the benefit of poor Jews in the Holy Land.
Dr. Isidore Crown, son of Phoebe Rose, remembered tramping round the streets of Birmingham in the pouring rain with his Zeyda (grandfather) to collect money for Rabbi Kook. Moishe Rose believed that the Rose family was related in some way to Rabbi Kook, perhaps because, on the mantelpiece of the Rose family synagogue in Pershore Road, was a picture of Rav Kook all the time that the synagogue was in existence.
However no evidence has been found to substantiate such a claim. This is a shame, since Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook (1865-1935) was the first Chief Rabbi of Israel.
In the same year as Leah Rose immigrated to the UK with six of her children, Rabbi Kook, born 1865 in Griva, Latvia, immigrated to Palestine, then under Turkish rule, where he became rabbi of Jaffa. At the outbreak of war in 1914, he was in Europe on his way to attend a conference. Unable to return to Palestine, he lived in Switzerland before travelling to the UK in 1916 to become rabbi of the Spitalfields Great Synagogue, founded by East European immigrants and located in Brick Lane, London. In spite of the fact that Rabbi Kook was in the UK at the same time as Isaac Rose, there is no evidence of any direct contact between the two, other than the fact that Isaac was a devoted supporter of the rabbi’s charitable causes.
The Minyan (Prayer Quorum)
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Polish and Russian immigrants who settled in Birmingham felt uncomfortable with the anglicised services at the Singers Hill Synagogue, so they formed their own breakaway minyanim and congregations. In 1901 they acquired premises in Wrottesley Street for a bet midrash (house of study), perhaps on the site of a former synagogue. Among these immigrants would have been the Rose family, who arrived in Birmingham between 1899 and 1904.
These breakaway congregations eventually led to the creation of two other Orthodox shuls (synagogues) in Birmingham, the Central Synagogue and the New Synagogue. They, in turn, were followed by the Liberal Synagogue, established in the late thirties.
In 1928 the Wrottesley Street congregation moved to a red brick building at 120 Bristol Street that had previously been a Methodist hall. From the Central Synagogue website we learn:
There does appear to have been some resistance to the setting up of another synagogue in the city by the members of Singers Hill (Englischer Shul) in Blucher Street. Their concern appears to have been that this synagogue should not have been in competition with them. This did take some years to resolve, but agreement was eventually reached.
Rabbi Maurice Rose, son of Sam Rose, provides us with more information:
As I remember the first rabbi of Bristol Street Synagogue, located at 120 Bristol Street, Birmingham, was a Rabbi Hodes. He was succeeded by the secretary, a Rabbi Rabinovitch. The synagogue was upstairs. If the hazan (cantor) prolonged the singing, my grandfather, Isaac Jacob, would bang on the desk in front of him. Having risen early to attend prayers he was, no doubt, impatient for his breakfast! Downstairs there was a hall which was used for overflow services on High Holidays. Isaac Jacob sometimes acted as one of the baalei tfila (cantors and readers) on these occasions.
When he was older, it was difficult for Isaac Jacob to walk as far as the Synagogue, and so the family organized their own minyan (prayer quorum) in the house where he lived at 56 Varna Road.
As one entered the house the room where the minyan was held was in the room on the left. The members of the family who used to daven (pray) regularly at the minyan included my grandfather, Isaac Jacob Rose, my father, Shimon, myself, my cousin, Isidore Crown, and my Uncle Moishe Rose. My father was the baal kore (reader), who read from the torah (Pentateuch). There was always a very nice atmosphere at the minyan. I remember that on Shabbat (Sabbath) afternoon, at the maariv (evening) service, Uncle Moishe, Isidore and himself would sing tehilim (psalms).
Maurice remembers that every Sabbath morning he would arrive early to find his grandfather sitting at the kitchen table, learning from a large Gemara (the commentary on the Mishnah, the Oral Law), with a hot glass of tea at his side.
After Isaac Rose’s death, the minyan moved to the house of his eldest daughter, Hadassah, and her husband, David, who was also a Torah scholar. Living with his parents at the time were the Lev’s youngest son, Edward (Teddy or Tevka), and his family.
His daughter, Mirri Reich, recalls:
When I was very small, Hadassah Lev lived in the house where the Minyan was held and where we davvened (prayed). I remember sitting quietly next to my father. The only other children there were Maurice, the youngest son of Gerald Jacobs, and Michael, the son of Yudel Matlin, both of whom were younger than me. (They live today in Birmingham.) My father (Tevka) was the main ba’al koreh (reader). I recall Uncle Moishe Rose passing round plastic (imitation) chocolates on Purim and a Purim party with members of the Minyan taking turns to give a comic devar Torah (sermonette) or tell a joke. I also remember the ladies lowering cake and sweets tied to string from the gallery, a large hole cut from the ceiling of the upstairs room. This may have been on Simhat Torah (the festival that celebrates the Giving of the Law).
During the 1960s, redevelopment by the City of Birmingham Corporation took its toll of both the Bristol Street Synagogue and the Lev Minyan. In 1961 the Bristol Street structure housing the synagogue was demolished and its congregation moved to the Central Synagogue. Some of the Torah scrolls transferred to their new abode on this occasion were thought to have been smuggled out of Nazi concentration camps during World War II. A few years later, in 1967, the bet midrash (house of study) in Pershore Road, which had served the Rose family Minyan for 20-25 years, was transferred to more commodious premises at 95 Willows Road.
In this article, in the Birmingham Jewish Recorder, the Minyan is described as “a small, independent Orthodox congregation” and “a stronghold of traditional Orthodoxy in the community”, under the spiritual leadership of Rabbi B. Cofnas and the able presidency of Moishe Rose (Isaac’s youngest son):
On a dismal wet evening, Thursday, July 27, the Sifrei Torah (Books of the Pentateuch) were taken by car to their new premises, where two Minyanim eagerly awaited their arrival. The bearers were Dr. Gerald Jacobs, Mr. M. Rose and Mr. E. Lev. Before the davvening (praying) of Ma’ariv (Evening Service), Dr. Gerald Jacobs said how pleased they all were with the compulsory move, which had given the Minyan a new lease of life and had encouraged them to continue even more fervently and zealously the traditions of Yiddishkeit (Jewish custom and observance) established by their revered founders. After Ma’ariv, Mr. Lev gave a discourse on the texts from Tehillim (the Book of Psalms) which had been read and the need to preserve their own Orthodox observances and practices. It is worth noting that every member also belongs either to Park Road Synagogue or the Central Synagogue; that each is a Shomer Shabbat (Sabbath observer) and quite capable of conducting the service; and that the Minyan is maintained by voluntary contributions.
In 1973 a large extension was built on to the existing structure at 95 Willows Road to house the new Lubavich Centre. The Lubavich movement takes its name from a small Russian village near Mogilev which, until the 1917 Russian Revolution, was the seat of the Schneersohn dynasty, whose rabbis led the Habad (or Lubavich) Hasidic Jews.
Finally, at a special general meeting of the Minyan membership, held 10 March 1996 in Willows Road and chaired by Dr. Gerald Jacobs, it was resolved that the entire premises be leased to the Lubavich Foundation, for use as a youth centre to be run on religious lines. A provision of the lease ensured that all religious services and study sessions of the Minyan would continue uninterrupted. It was also understood that the building would eventually revert to the trustees of the Minyan if, at any time, Lubavich had no further use for it.
Mirri Reich tells us that, on a visit to her father’s grave in the Birmingham Jewish cemetery, she noticed that most members of the Minyan are buried in the same area. They include the three Rosenberg brothers and their wives.
Some members of the Birmingham Minyan, (Shalom (Sholom) Lev, son of Hadassah Rose, Gerald Jacobs, son of Dora Rose, and Moishe Rose) attended the same synagogue in Petah Tikvah, Israel, from the 1970s onwards.