A History of the Rose family part 2Written by Linda Levine 2019-22 (with research assistance from Jeremy Gordon)
This is the story of the third generation of the Rose family, that is the ten children of Haya Leah and Isaac Jacob Rose who arrived in the UK at the beginning of the twentieth century. They are listed in the order of their birth. For the first and second generations of the Rose family see History of the Rose Family Part 1, and for the fourth generation (the grandchildren of Leah and Isaac Rose) see History of the Rose Family Part 3 (both open in new window).
What's on this page ..
- Hadassah (Hoddes), the uncomplaining wife and mother (blond, placid, kind and generous)
- Morris (Menashe), the businessman (astute, warm, generous towards his less fortunate siblings)
- David, the adventurer (dark complexion, rebellious as a youngster, a wonderful grandfather)
- Jenny (Sheine or Shaindel), the self-sacrificing wife and mother (tall, fastidious, superstitious but with a quiet sense of humour)
- Dora (Devorah), whom life dealt a hard blow but who is remembered by one of her grandsons as always having a smile on her face and also for her chips (“the best in town”)
- Samuel (Shimon), the devout and devoted son (dark hair and eyes with a pale complexion, the double of Edward G. Robinson)
- Jack (Yohanan), the stubborn Jew (devout, nostalgic for the songs of his youth)
- Abraham (Avrom), the rabbi and cricketing enthusiast (short, handsome, courteous towards the fair sex, learned but also liberal in his views, always ready to help others)
- Phoebe (Dubke), who did the Lord’s bidding (plump and tiny, determined, public-spirited, also very devout)
- Moshe (Moishe), the joker and avid photographer (tall, religious to a fault but also a generous donor and performer of charitable works)
We possess a photograph of most of them taken together at the 1948 wedding of Phoebe Crown’s son, Isidore, attended by David and Annie Rose on their one and only trip back to the UK after immigrating to the States in 1910.
Following is a list of all those who appear in the photograph and those who don’t:
Hadassah and David Lev
Morris and Martha Rose (missing from this photograph since they had immigrated to South Africa the year before, in 1947)
David and Annie Rose
David Grossman (Jenny Grossman was probably too ill to attend – she died a year later, in 1949)
Dora Jacobs (her husband, Nathan, had died in 1944)
May Rose (her husband, Sam or Shimon, had died the year before, in 1947)
Jack and Minnie Rose
Abraham and Ellen Rose
Phoebe Crown (her husband, Philip, had died in 1928)
Moishe and Ellen Rose
And here is the photograph itself:
Back row from left to right:
The men: David Lev, David Rose, Jack Rose, Abraham Rose, Moishe Rose, David Grossman
Front row from left to right:
The women (with names before marriage): Hadassah Rose, Ellen Addlestone, Dora Rose, Minnie Levy, May Finkelstein, Phoebe Rose, Annie Greenhouse, Ellen Berman
From this photograph we can see who inherited their father’s genes and who their mother’s, their father being tall and their mother tiny!
The Story of the Rose Family Photographs
Sarah Cook, daughter of Jenny Grossman, often mentioned the fact that all the Rose family photographs were in the possession of the unofficial family photographer, Moishe Rose, the youngest of the ten Rose siblings. In 2004 Moishe was long dead, as was his wife. They had no children, apart from the nephew they had adopted as their own from whom they were estranged.
Gerald, son of Dora Jacobs, who spent his time travelling back and forth between his homes in the UK and Israel, suggested contacting a nephew of Moishe’s wife, Ellen. This nephew, Philip Crown by name, lived in Safed, Israel. When contacted, it transpired that not only had Philip kept all his uncle’s photograph albums but, most importantly, was prepared to hand them over to descendents of the Rose family.
Without Philip Crown, who was not even a blood relative, we would never have known what our ancestors looked like. All the photographs were digitized and distributed among the appropriate descendents in 2004.
Hadassah (Hoddes) and David Lev
The Lev Family Prior to World War I
When the Rose family left Russian Poland for the UK, they did so in stages between the years 1899 and 1904. They left behind their eldest child, Hadassah, who had married and already had two children of her own.
Hadassah, called by her Yiddish name of Hoddes, had been born round about the year 1876 in the shtetl of Raczki (Polish), Ratz or Ratsk in Yiddish, on the border between Germany and Russian Poland. It was common practice at the time for Jews to marry at a very young age, and her mother, Haya Leah, was only fifteen years old.
Hoddes was blond like her mother, but with a completely different temperament. Whereas Leah had a temper, Hadassah seems to have been quiet and uncomplaining.
The period in which Hoddes was born, was marked by mounting anti-Semitism, which led to the infamous pogroms of the 1880s. Every time there was a pogrom in the area in which the Rosenof family lived, it was Hoddes’s job to hide her baby brothers and sisters in the dustbins.
Hoddes was twenty two and Dovid twenty nine when they married in 1898 in the town of Augustow, about fifteen kilometres southeast of Raczki. Born 21 Jan 1869 in the village of Śniadowo in the district of Lomza, west of the governate of Grodno in which the Rose family lived, Dovid (David) was the son of Meir Lev, after whom three of Hadassash and David's grandsons were later named. Their marriage took place the same year that Hadassah's youngest sister, Phoebe, was born not far away in the shtetl of Raczki.
Their first son, Velvel (Woolf), was born a year later, in 1899 in Raczki. She was still breastfeeding him in 1901 when her mother gave birth to her last child, Moishe. By this time Haya Leah was forty years old and had born ten children. As a result she was unable to breastfeed Moishe, so Hadassah nursed him together with her own child. This explains the special bond that existed between Hadassah and Moishe throughout their lives.
Velvel was followed by Nochom (Norman), born in 1903 in Suwalk, Sholom (Shalom), born in 1905 in Dorpat, (German), otherwise Tartu (Estonian) in East Estonia, and finally by Tevke (Edward or Teddy), born in 1909 in Augustow.
Like Poland, Estonia was under Russian rule. The Jewish community of Dorpat or Tartu had been founded by demobilized Jewish soldiers from the army of Nicholas I in the 1860s. Its first synagogue was built in 1876 and a second in 1903. By 1897 the community numbered 1, 774 (4% of the total population).
The family must have moved there at some time between the birth of Nohom in 1903 in Suwalki, and 1905 when Sholom was born in Dorpat. Why the family moved from Poland to Estonia, we do not know. Was the reason connected with David Lev's occupation? We know from his grandson that after WW1 he was a commercial traveller with business dealings in Sweden.
I remember my father, Velvel, making himself a suit (as he was a tailor and furrier) before my bar mitzvah in bluish green. He said it was the same colour suit that his father Dovid was wearing when he returned from Sweden on business.
Or was the family's presence in Dorpat connected with the fact that Dovid was a Talmud scholar?
Isaac and Leah Rose left behind them in Russian Poland not only their daughter and grandsons, but also other members of their families. First were their parents, Hannah Dubka and Abraham Halevi Rosenof, and Shalom Gutfarb and his wife, if they were still alive at this date. Since both Isaac and Leah had been born in Grodno, it is possible that both sets of parents still lived there. This would explain why, in 1902, on the eve of leaving the country for the UK, Isaac gave as his place of residence the town of Grodno.
The same goes for Isaac's brother, Shimon, who, like Isaac, was possibly born in Grodno, but who is documented as residing in Augustow. Perhaps this is the reason why Hadassah was married there. Fetter (Uncle) Shimon, as he was known, would have been married by this time and the father of three children, a son and two daughters, one named Hannah Dubka after her grandmother and the other, Sheyne. Sheyne (or Shaindel) shared the same name with her cousin, Jenny Grossman, Hoddes’s younger sister.
Besides the Rosenofs and the Gutfarbs, mention is made of other family members, such as a number of uncles living in Raczki, one of whom is described as having a stable and horses. This meant that he was considerably better off than many of his co-religionists in the Pale of Russia in which Raczki was located. Perhaps this was the same uncle who owned a forest and who one day, while out inspecting his property, was set upon and murdered by some Polaks (Poles).
Other relatives wore a gartel (Yiddish for belt) while praying, a mainly Hasidic custom to divide the heart from the genitalia during any mention of God's name, representing the control of animal instincts by the human intellect.
Life in Raczki before World War I
Raczki was located on the banks of a small river named the Rospuda.
The most significant fact about Raczki, one which had overwhelming consequences for the Rose and Lev families, was that it was a border settlement, wedged between three countries – Lithuania to the north and east, Poland to the south and East Prussia (Germany) to the west. Because Raczki was located so near Lithuania, its Jewish inhabitants and perhaps its Christian ones, were more Lithuanian than Polish.
The whole border with East Prussia was purposely left starved of infrastructure in order to impede any possible German invasion. As a result there was no railway service until 1914, and the roads were left unpaved, raising clouds of dust in summer and forming a muddy morass in winter. Raczki was such a backwater that its inhabitants would say they came from Suwałki which, if not the hub of the world, was at least on the map. The town of Suwałki lay a mere fifteen kilometers to the northeast of Raczki. The residents of Raczki would travel there by cart. Suwałki is sometimes mentioned as the place of residence or birth of certain members of the Rose family.
The same distance to the southeast lay the much larger town of Augustow, which had a population of 12,800 in 1899 and where Hoddes and Dovid Lev were married.
To make up for its unimportance Raczki is said to have been a very pretty place. According to one source it was so picturesque that it was described by Poland’s national poet, Adam Mickiewicz, in his epic poem, ‘Pan Tadeusz’. It is true that the word appears twice in the poem but each time it is translated as “hands”, so perhaps this source is mistaken.
Someone who originated from Raczki (Ratz) called Aryeh Sharneitz, has this to say about his home town:
I have no explanation for the fact that although our town is older than Suwalk by a hundred and fifty years at least, it remained tiny and numbered less than 100 Jewish families and about twenty Christian families. ... Four streets radiated from the market to the four winds and two or three alleys crossed them parallel to the market and encircled it. This was the town of Greater Ratz... I was born in Ratz Aryeh Sharneitz (pdf file).
In the centre of the market place was a well. This well had a roof of wooden tiles supported by posts sunk into the ground. In addition it was surrounded by wooden railings to prevent people from falling in. Fresh water was brought up in a bucket attached by a thick rope to a rod that was turned by a handle. Aryeh didn’t know exactly how deep the well was, because he was afraid to look down into “its gaping black maw”.
The Jews lived in one long street. It was said that if you sneezed at one end of the street, you could hear the traditional blessing tzu gezunt (to health!) at the other. In this street could be found all the community’s institutions. According to the Talmud a Torah scholar such as Isaac Jacob Halevi Rosenof could not live in a place that lacked any of the following:
Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin Folio 17b
A scholar should not reside in a city where the following ten things are not found:
A court of justice that imposes flagellation and decrees penalties;
a charity fund collected by two and distributed by three;
and a school-master.
See Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin Folio 17b (pdf file)
Therefore we can assume that Raczki possessed most of the above, the most important of which was the synagogue.
In the summer, after attending the Sabbath service, the adults would take a stroll in the local park, while Aryeh Sharneitz and his friends used to cut through the fields and continue down the Rospuda valley to the river to bathe.
The Jewish houses, with their dirt floors on which straw was strewn on the Sabbath eve, were never locked because there was nothing to steal. People came and went at will, sharing the little food they had. Since all the houses in Raczki were built from wood, they were vulnerable to fire. In 1907 there was a serious fire that burnt down a large part of the town. Seventy three families lost their homes on this occasion. We do not know whether any members of the Rosenof or Lev families were affected. In 1913 there was a fire of a different sort, when barrels of tar were set alight in the market square to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty.
In 1903 Rabbi Isaac Leib Staliar was appointed rabbi of the small Raczki community. He ministered as rabbi till his emigration to Israel in 1923. Rabbi Staliar became famous for his knowledge of the law and as the author of several unpublished interpretations of it.
The cantor cum shochet (ritual slaughterer) of the Jewish community of Raczki, seems to have been a Hassid (a member of a sect of Jewish mystics founded in Poland about 1750, characterized by religious zeal and a spirit of prayer, joy, and charity) from Warsaw, for he always wore a flowing silk coat and a little Warsaw-style Hassidic hat. Although a “foreigner” in “Lithuanian” Raczki, no one in the township held it against him. What Aryeh remembers most about him were his wise gray eyes, his shining, apple-red cheeks and his snow-white beard.
Young boys, like Hoddes’s sons, commenced their education in the cheder (classroom lit. room) of Haim the Melamed (teacher of young children). Haim lived with his family in an alley on the outskirts of town, not far from the church. His home served as a classroom for the small boys who came to him for religious instruction. With his spectacles constantly sliding down his nose, and his whole face framed by a dark-yellow beard, he was, like many other teachers of young children, pious but poor. He did not punish his unruly pupils too severely when they slipped out the back door, and ran up the hill at the back of the house to build castles out of sand and mud, after it rained.
When Hoddes’s sons were older, they probably attended the “modern cheder” in the house of Koppel Berchik. The teacher, whose pale face was decorated by a pointed pitch-black beard, and who wore a top hat and a black bow-tie, was a modernist. He constantly reminded his students that Haim the Melamed’s methods were outdated. As they had done with Haim, his students continued to study the Bible and Gemara (the commentary on the Mishnah or Oral Law which, together with the Mishnah forms the Talmud, the central text of Rabbinic Judaism). However greater emphasis was placed on the modern works of Peretz, Bialik, and Mendele Mocher Sforim. They also studied mathematics and other secular subjects. The older boys no longer thought of playing truant, but preferred to spend their free time practicing for the coming festival. Those who were not chosen to recite poems but had artistic ability were soon busily engaged in painting the background scenery.
Revolution and Pogroms
This idyll of country life masked a much harsher reality. By the end of the nineteenth century the Jews of Russia, including Russian Poland, had begun to organize, some with the intention of returning to their ancestral homeland in Palestine (the Zionists) and some to foment a socialist revolution (the Bund). Both held founding conferences in 1897, two years before young David Rosenof, son of Isaac Jacob Rosenof, made his way alone to the UK, in search of a better life for himself and his family.
In the area of Raczki the beginning of such political activity took place in nearby Suwałki, where young Jews established a branch of the Jewish labour movement (the Bund) in 1901.
The Russian Japanese war of 1904-5, in which Russia suffered a series of humiliating defeats, emboldened its citizens to engage in revolutionary activity, which culminated in 1905 in what was described by Lenin as “the Great Dress Rehearsal” for the Russian Revolution of 1917. This took the form of widespread political and social unrest, involving labour strikes, peasant uprisings, and mutiny by members of the armed forces. Even a small place like Raczki must have been affected by the general atmosphere; perhaps some of its inhabitants were personally involved.
The authorities sought to deflect the people’s anger away from the government by inciting pogroms against the Jews. The industrial city of Bialystok, not far from Raczki, was subject to pogroms twice, in 1905 and again in 1906. The revolution in Poland lasted from 1905 to 1907. When the Polish people saw their hopes of autonomy disappearing, they looked for a scapegoat on which to vent their frustration. Who better than the Jews? Before the revolution the Jews had been regarded as potential members of Polish society. After the revolution they were regarded as aliens who refused to assimilate into Polish society. Unable to criticize the Russian government openly, the Poles turned on its Jewish population of “Russian sympathizers”. The concept of “progressive anti-Semitism” came into being, according to which it was “enlightened” to be anti-Semitic, because the Jews were unwilling to adapt to the modern world.
Even in a backwater like Raczki, the Poles never left the Jews alone.
The Lev Family during World War I
The outbreak of WWI in 1914 found Dovid Lev in Sweden on business. Described as a commercial traveller, he was in fact a travelling salesman. We do not know what he was selling in Sweden when the war started in 1914, but we do know that, unable to return to his home in Russian Poland, he sold matches in order to survive.
The reason he was unable to return home was because the two most powerful states bordering the Baltic Sea, Germany and Russia, were on opposing sides during WWI. The German navy virtually controlled the Baltic Sea at the beginning of the war, blocking all access to the Balkan ports of Russia.
Meanwhile, Hoddes and her sons were in a far worse situation in Raczki. As we have already mentioned, Raczki was a border town. Its inhabitants now found themselves living in a battle ground over which the two empires of Germany and Russia fought for control. The situation became desperate when the Russians started deporting 600,000 Jews from the Eastern Front, whom the authorities suspected of collaborating with the enemy. Contrary to this warped perception, many Jews chose to enlist in the Russian army of their own free will, eager to prove their loyalty. By the end of the war some 650,000 Jews had fought for Russia, of whom 100,000 had lost their lives. A contemporary diarist writes:
Wednesday, October 28, 1914 For the Jews of Poland and Lithuania the war is one of the greatest disasters they have ever known. Hundreds of thousands of them have had to leave their homes in Lodz, Kielce, Petrokov, Ivangorod, Skiernewice, Suvalki, Grodno, Bielostock, etc. Almost everywhere the prelude to their lamentable exodus has been the looting of their shops, synagogues, and houses. Thousands of families have taken refuge in Warsaw and Vilna; the majority are wandering aimlessly like a flock of sheep. It's a miracle that there have been no pogroms - organized massacres. But not a day passes in the zone of the armies without a number of Jews being hanged on a trumped-up charge of spying.
See An Ambassador's Memoirs (pdf file).
The deportees were resettled in areas outside the Pale of Russia, to where the Jews had hitherto been confined. Many of the Jews who were not deported from the front, fled from the fighting of their own volition, mainly from the countryside to the cities, seeking safety in numbers.
With her husband stranded in Sweden, Hoddes decided to remain in Raczki. At times she and her sons were forced to hide in the countryside, where they lived off whatever they could find growing wild. One of their staple foods during this period was shav (sorrel).
The situation became so dire that Hadassah sent her youngest son, Tevka, to live with her parents in Birmingham in the UK. He was very young, between five and seven, and arrived with a distended stomach suffering from malnutrition. Because of his bad physical condition the authorities didn’t want to let him into the country. How they were persuaded to do so, we do not know.
Those who managed to escape deportation and remained in their homes were subjected to the horrors of living in a war zone. The older Lev brothers, fifteen year-old Velvel and eleven year-old Nochom, had to walk miles to fetch sacks of potatoes which they carried home on their backs. These potatoes were used to feed the Jewish soldiers serving in the Tzar’s army. First the boys had to search among the dead lying in the gutters, and if they found one still alive, ensure he was a Jew before feeding him.
Time and again Raczki was overrun, first by one army and then by the other. In the month of August 1914 alone there were three battles. The first took place only 85 kilometres north of Raczki, the second 89 kilometres northwest of Raczki, and the third 181 kilometres west of Raczki. In this third battle, known as the Battle of Tannenberg, the Russian Second Army was soundly defeated. These battles may seem to have taken place far away, but battle lines often stretched for long distances.
In September 1914 the Germans won another battle southeast of Raczki. The last battle of the Tannenberg campaign was fought in October 1914 at Augustow, only 22 kilometres southeast of Raczki, in which 15,000 Russian prisoners were captured by the Germans.
Raczki was finally occupied by the Germans in the spring and summer of 1915. Those of its Jewish inhabitants who had escaped deportation and death at the hands of the enemy (both German and Russian), must have been happy to see the backs of the Russian soldiers, who used the excuse of war to rob, kill and rape the civilian population, especially the Jews. Their methods were often condoned and sometimes adopted by their officers.
Under the German occupation Hoddes and her remaining sons were able to return home to Raczki without fear of further eviction. On the contrary they were now subject to severe restrictions in their movements. Nevertheless, as opposed to the Poles, who identified with the Russians and greeted their German invaders with hostility and distrust, the Jews began to pray that Germany and its allies would win the war, not the Russians who treated them so cruelly. It was probably during the German occupation that Hoddes’s sons learned to speak German.
The Suwałki governorate, in which Raczki was located, formed part of the German military administrative district known as Ober-Ost (Upper East). Jews formed thirteen and a half percent of the total population of Ober-Ost. Ten percent of them lived in Suwałki.
War brought with it death, starvation and disease. The absence of male breadwinners caused by conscription, the exaction of levies from the local population to support the occupying army, the recruitment of forced labour and epidemics – all exacted a heavy toll on the civilian population.
The Jews of the Pale, such as the Lev family, who had started out with far less than their Christian neighbours, soon experienced extreme privation, which only worsened as the war progressed.
Jewish and non-Jewish soldiers at a soup kitchen
Raczki remained in German hands until the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June 1919, when it was returned to the newly formed Second Republic of Poland.
By the end of WWI, only half the Jews who had lived in Raczki before the war remained. They engaged mainly in crafts and petty trade, buying up farm produce to sell in the cities. Among them may have been members of the Rose family.
The Lev Family after World War I
With the withdrawal of German troops from the area of Raczki back over the border into East Prussia, there was no civil authority to take their place. A period of anarchy followed during which Polish Nationalists and Soviet Russian forces fought for control of the area, and the civilian population scrambled desperately for food. The Jews of Raczki once again found themselves in the crossfire.
The Polish economy was in dire straits. Apart from the war damage and the shortages leading to rampant inflation, there were the negative effects of Poland’s redrawn borders according to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. On the one hand the Treaty meant independence; on the other it resulted in a much smaller domestic market for Polish products (compared to that when Poland had formed part of the Russian Empire).
For the Jews the redrawn borders posed an added problem. Formerly they had played a dominant role in Polish industry. However the inclusion of Upper Silesia in the new Polish Republic, a region rich in natural resources, especially coal, but with a much sparser Jewish population, greatly reduced their influence. Large numbers of Jews soon found themselves in a losing battle to regain the meager standard of living they had enjoyed before the war.
Numbering more than three million, Jews made up roughly ten per cent of Poland’s population, a third of the population of Warsaw and even more in an important city like Bialystok, the nearest industrial city to Raczki. The Poles, gripped by anxiety over the future of their new republic, viewed the Jews with their stubbornly alien ways as a subversive and dangerous element within their ranks, stereotyping them as leftists, socialists, and Bolsheviks.
In 1919 this situation was exacerbated when Jewish refugees began arriving in Poland in droves, fleeing the chaos of the Russian Revolution and the subsequent civil war. By 1921 Raczki, which before the war had only one hundred Jewish families and twenty Christian ones, now had 252 houses and 1558 inhabitants.
The nationalist Poles did not view the Russian Jews as refugees but as a kind of “fifth column”, sent by Russia to sow the seeds of revolution and bring Poland back under Russian influence. This concept, known as Judeo-Bolshevism, became more widespread in 1920 with the Soviet invasion of eastern Poland, when Jewish loyalties became doubly suspect. Even the use of Yiddish, with its high Germanic content, was considered linguistic treason. Worse still was the accusation that the Jews intended to take over Poland for themselves.
It is scarcely surprising that surrounded by such hate and suspicion, the Lev family made arrangements to emigrate at the first opportunity. After being stranded in Sweden throughout the war, Dovid Lev must have returned to Raczki as soon as he could. Yet no sooner was he reunited with his family, he was off again. By 17 June 1919 he was back in Sweden, working as a commercial traveller in the area of Karlstad, a city and inland port on the northern shore of Lake Vänern.
The region of Varmland, in which Karlstad is located, is rich in three natural resources - forests, iron ore and hydroelectric power. These gave rise to the production of wood and paper products (such as the matches which Dovid sold during WWI), and engineering and metal-working factories which manufactured agricultural machinery. This may explain the occupation of Dovid’s second son, Nochum, who joined his father in 1922 and who was described as earning his living as a “farm merchant” for the two years he spent in Karlstad.
Meanwhile Hadassah, Velvel and Sholom had left Russian Poland. They had probably set out from Raczki Railway Station, built after a rail link was established with Suwałki and the Prussian border in 1914, travelling to Suwałki where they boarded a train to Germany.
Stopping in Frankfurt, Sholom, whose dream it was to live in Eretz Yisroel (the Land of Israel), wanted to make enquiries about immigrating to Palestine, Unfortunately the office of the Jewish immigration organization was closed so, since they already had family living in the UK, they decided to continue on there.
On the day of the UK national census, conducted on Sunday, 24 April 1921, Hadassah, Velvel and Sholom could be found residing with Isaac and Leah Rose at 130 Hurst Street, Birmingham. Also present was twelve year-old Tevka who had finally been reunited with his mother and brothers after seven long years.
Where 18 year-old Nohom was, from the time his mother and brothers left for the UK in 1921 till his arrival in Sweden on 27 July 1922 to join his father, we do not know.
As a practicing Jew, we can be fairly certain that Dovid Lev would have had contact with the local Jewish community during his years in Sweden. We know that the Jewish population grew rapidly during the years 1850-1920 as a result of immigration from Russia and Poland. In 1920 the official number of Jews was 6,469. Some of the East European immigrants settled in newly founded Jewish communities, including that of Karlstad.
Father and son left Karlstad on 11 August 1924, bound for Birmingham UK to join the rest of their family. Prior to setting out on their long journey they had their photograph taken.
The Lev Family in the UK
In Birmingham David Lev taught Hebrew and devoted himself to the study of Gemara (Talmudic literature), while Hadassah took in lodgers and ran a grocery shop. In the 1930s this shop was located at 183 Bristol Street, the address given for “Hads Lev” in a trade directory named Kellys in 1933 and 1936. Hadassah’s shop also served as a restaurant in which Jenny Grossman’s daughter, Sarah Cook, worked at the age of fifteen or sixteen. Hadassah was helped by her youngest son, Teddy (Tevka), who later opened a pickle factory which provided employment for many of his relatives, including his own father, David Lev. David appears in a description of the factory written by Phoebe Crown’s son, Dr. Isidore Crown:
The factory was on two floors. The ground floor was a massive room which contained the working areas and loading bays divided off into sections. The utility rooms and offices were on the first floor. At the back of the premises there was a large covered yard in which stood some large vats which were used for preparing fruit for bottling. In the partitioned-off sections the employees spent their day bottling fruit, pickling vegetables, making jam or chutney. Hygiene was prominent by its absence, the only washing facilities were near the outside toilet at the back of the premises, in the open. Surprisingly the sickness rate of the employees was extremely low in spite of the unsanitary conditions. In a storm the factory was often flooded, work continued as if nothing had occurred. After all, there was a war on. A big poster on the wall reminded them of this. It read Idle talk costs lives. It was strange the goods manufactured in the factory did not contain warnings about eating dangerous food!
In one section there was a little old man with a long white beard, the father of the owner, who was brought in with the owner every morning and whose only employment was to stick labels on bottles. To say this was his only occupation would not be strictly true he had another job – to fall asleep whilst labeling. He would stick on four labels, drowse for four labels then recommence the cycle. Ernest now understood why Timothy had found the very factory which was prepared to employ him. The old man was certainly not cost effective, who cared? He was a lovely old fellow. One of the girls who worked in the factory told Ernest that one day he had actually been asleep most of the day and on this day his total labeling had been ten. This was fortunate as on the following day his work had to be undone. His knowledge of English was non-existent, he could neither write nor read it – he only spoke Yiddish.
When a new batch of products had to be labeled, unless the new labels had been given to him, he would continue with the labels in his possession. Pickled cucumbers would be labeled plums. Herrings in brine would find themselves labeled jam. No one, including the owner, ever reprimanded him. He was quiet, inoffensive, always smiled and if he had any food – usually black bread and salt herring – shared it with them. This salt herring of his was not of the same quality which their factory produced, he called his shmaltz herring and it was a cause of amusement to all the workers as it appeared to be his staple diet. Everyone in the factory loved him. He was the only fellow they had ever seen who could fall asleep and snore whilst standing up!
In 1937 Hadassah was still operating her shop at 183 Bristol Street. However by 1939 she and her husband were both retired, living at 111 Pershore Road with two of their sons, Woolf (Velvel) who was still unmarried, and Shalom (Salaman), by now married to Esther Matthews. Also living there was a forty four year-old unmarried domestic servant named Ruth Cashmore, and a sixty one year-old retired works manager who had lost his wife.
It appears that for a time the Lev’s youngest son, Teddy (Tevka) lived there too, for a description of the back garden of this house appears in Dr. Isidore Crown’s description of the pickle factory:
The owner had a house in Pershore Road with a large garden and fruit trees, Timothy never went short of fruit. One afternoon he had taken Tim to his house to pick some fruit for himself, it had been an unforgettable experience. The garden appeared not only to be populated by humans but by hens, a cockerel, some geese and several cats. They all lived in harmony until Timothy put his body into the poultry domain. The cockerel first attacked him for getting to close to his brood of hens, flew at him and jumped on his head. The geese then threatened him. He was happy when the owner rescued him. For some reason they showed respect to their owner, he only had to wave his hand and they went away.
Teddy’s nephew, the eldest son of Woolf Lev, recalls that his uncle also kept a goat in his garden.
For six years (1936-1942) two rooms on the ground floor of 111 Pershore Road served as a certified place of worship known as the Rose Synagogue. Even after it was no longer officially recognised, these two rooms continued to serve the Rose family as the Lev Minyan (Prayer Quorum) until 1967 when the property was compulsorily purchased for development.
Phoebe Crown’s granddaughter remembers the smell of tobacco smoke that always assailed her nostrils whenever she visited Hadassah’s home. She doesn’t remember who the culprit was – Hadassah’s husband, David Lev, or his sons, Woolf (Velvel) and Shalom Lev.
David Lev died in 1950 in Birmingham, aged 80. His widow, Hadassah, spoke very little English. One of her grandsons recalls that, once, his grandmother took him and his brothers to the park. They suddenly found themselves confronted by two very large, barking dogs. Not being used to dogs they were petrified, and clung to their grandmother. Bubba (grandmother) Hoddes (as they called her) cautiously stood in front of the barking dogs, and kept repeating, “Du bist geroten in Eysoven, ikh bin geroten in Yakoven (You have the nature of Esau, but I have that of Jacob)”. After she had repeated this a number of times, the dogs lost interest and took themselves off.
By all accounts she was exceptionally kind and generous. No matter how many times her grandchildren tried to explain to her, she could not grasp the fact that the gold-coloured coins which she insisted on giving them, were not valuable. In spite of the fact that she had to work very hard all her life, she was never known to complain and remained unfailingly placid, quiet and loving. David Rose, Abraham Rose’s youngest son, described his Aunt Hadassah as a wonderful person. He noted that, considering how frum (religious) she was, she was very broadminded.
Hadassah died in 1958. A notice announcing her death appeared in the 2 June 1958 edition of the Jewish Chronicle:
LEV. – On 2nd day Pesach, Adasa Lev. Mourned by sons, brothers, sisters, Dora Jacobs (Birmingham) and Phoebe Crown (Liverpool), daughters-in-law, sisters-in-law, grandchildren, and great-grandchild.
Both Hadassah and David Lev were buried in the Birmingham Jewish cemetery. Hadassah’s gravestone, located in plot number L 4 1306, gives her name as Adassa bat Yitzhak Ya’akov. The date of her yahrzeit (the day when a candle is lit in her memory) is Tet Zayin (16th) Nisan. Her husband’s gravestone, located in plot number H 1 569, is inscribed with the name David ben Meir. His yahrzeit is Kaf Tet (29th) Tevet.
Hadassah and David Lev’s Four Sons
Read about their four sons in detail in Family of Hadassah Rose and David Lev (requires login, opens in new window).
Hadassah and David Lev had four sons – Woolf (Velvel), Norman (Nochom), Solomon (Salaman) or Shalom and Edward (Teddy, Tuvia or Tevka).
Woolf (Velvel) was born on 17 February 1899 in Raczki, married Minnie Isaacs in 1944 in Manchester and died in December 1958 in Manchester aged fifty nine. They had four sons.
Norman (Nochom) was born on 1 May 1903 in Suwalk. He married Fanny Levine in 1925 in Leeds and died in 1980 in Birmingham. They had three children, a daughter and two sons.
Shalom, born on 25 October 1904 in Dorpat, Estonia, married Esther Gertrude Matthews. By 1971 they had immigrated to Israel, where Shalom died on 9 October 1983. They had two sons.
Edward (Tevka) was born on 19 August 1909 in Augustow, married his second wife, Bertha (Berty) Engelhard, in 1945 and died on 28 June 1982 in Birmingham. They had a son and two daughters.
Morris (Menashe) and Martha Rose
View them in the family tree, or their profiles: Martha Berkovitz, Morris (Menashe) Rose or read about their ten children in Family of Morris (Menashe) Rose and Martha Berkovitz (all in new window).
Morris (Menashe), the second Rose child, was born in Slonim in Belorussia about 1880. All that is known of his early years is that he attended the local yeshiva (seminary) in his youth.
The yeshiva had been founded by Avraham Weinberg (1804-1883), the town’s first rebbe (rabbi) and the founder of the Slonim Hasidic dynasty. A scholarly tzadik (righteous man), he wrote Yesod HaAvodah (the Basis of Worship). In his writings Weinberg stressed the study of Torah for its own sake, prayer with intense devotion (devekut), and love and fear of the Creator. In 1873 he sent a group of his grandchildren and other Hasidim to settle in Ottoman Palestine. They set up their community in Tiberias. Almost all of his followers in Europe perished at the hands of the Nazis in the Holocaust. The present-day Slonimer community was rebuilt from those fortunate enough to have settled in Israel.
Information about the Slonim community can be found in:
Jewish Families of Słonim (pdf file).
The Streets of Jerusalem: Who, What, why P. 34 (pdf file).
Nigun Slonim (Jewish Hasidic folk tune from Slonim)
At the turn of the twentieth century Morris followed his younger brother, David, to the U.K., where, together they set up a hat and cap stall in the market in Birmingham. They were able to save enough to bring over the rest of the family within a few years. By 1908, Morris was no longer selling caps in the market but from a shop at 74 Dale End Birmingham.
When Morris brought his wife-to-be, Martha Berkowitz, born on 3 February 1884, to meet his mother, Haya Leah is reputed to have called her “Tum-tum”, implying that she would be incapable of bearing children. Just to prove her wrong, Morris and his wife had ten children of their own! Perhaps her future mother-in-law disapproved of the fact that Martha came from an Anglo-Jewish family, already well-established in the UK, and not from a family of immigrants like the Roses.
Morris and Martha were married on 22 June 1909. Morris’s younger brother, David, and a relative of Martha’s named Barnett Berkowitz, perhaps her father, were witnesses to the marriage.
Morris may not have been as adventurous as his younger brother, David, but he was certainly the most successful at business. At the time of the 1911 UK census, he was working from home as a self-employed cap maker. Home was a four-roomed retail shop and house at 63 Digbeth, rented from a certain Henry Bolton, who owned a number of properties in the same street. By the following year his business must have expanded because, in addition to the Digbeth shop and house, he was renting another property at 86, The Parade, one of several properties in the same street owned by an Edward Tailby.
On 4 November 1913 Morris became a naturalised British citizen, swearing an oath of allegiance on 19 November.
Morris Rose’s Military Service
When Morris Rose enlisted in the British army on 24 June 1916, he was almost forty years old and married with six children.
He requested to join a Jewish Battalion and was assigned to the 42nd battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, the last of five battalions of Jewish volunteers raised by the British Army to fight in Palestine against the Turks.
His medical record states that he was five feet tall, and weighed 121 lbs. He had dark hair, a pale complexion and his eyes were brown. His physical development is described as ‘fair’. He reported being vaccinated in infancy and had four vaccination marks on his right arm to prove it. We also learn that his left clavicle had once been fractured, but although there was some interference with movement in his left shoulder, it was not enough cause to reject him from active service.
Although he enlisted as a private on 24 June 1916, he was only called up for service on 5 July 1918. He served a total of 272 days, transferring to the reserves on 2 April 1919.
The Photograph of Morris Rose in Uniform
Morris’s youngest daughter, Sylvia Altshuler, born in 1925, always believed that her father served in the army for two or three years during World War I, while her mother looked after the business and the children. However, according to Morris’s younger brother, Abraham, Morris and his brother, David, enlisted briefly in the army, serving long enough to be photographed wearing their army uniforms. They then rented a shop, and hung the photograph at the entrance with the caption, “And what were you doing during the Great War?” This apparently helped bring in business.
(Morris’s son, Sol, is standing at the entrance)
Both versions are verifiable up to a certain point. According to his military records, Morris did indeed enlist on 24 June 1916 but was sent home. As already mentioned, he was called up as a reservist on 5 July 1918 and was demobilised on 2 April 1919, having served a total of 272 days. Therefore for much of the war he remained at home with his family, working in the family business.
There may also be some truth in the matter of the photograph. After the British ship, the Lusitania, was sunk by a German submarine in May 1915, anti-German feeling ran high. Since the British public was unable to differentiate between Germans and Russians, some Russian Jews displayed photographs of themselves in Russian uniform in their shop windows, to prevent their fellow citizens from attacking them and their property.
Therefore it is quite possible that, having enlisted in 1916, Morris was provided with a uniform which he wore to have his photograph taken. This photograph he displayed in his shop window, not necessarily to drum up business, but to protect himself from charges that he was shirking his patriotic duty, and to protect his shop from damage caused by irate British ‘patriots’. Of course his brother, David, could not have appeared in this photo because he had immigrated to the States in 1910.
Morris Rose after World War I
In 1922 Morris and his family were still living at 63 Digbeth. Three years later, in 1925, they had moved to a new address at 65 Gough Road, Edgbaston, whilst continuing to retain the property at 63 Digbeth, probably as a shop.
This continued to be the case till 1935 when their address changed from 63 to 61 Digbeth. The picture becomes clearer in Kelly’s 1937 Trade Directory in which Morris Rose is listed as a clothier at 61 and 62 Digbeth and a hatter at number 63 Digbeth. This means that Morris now owned three adjoining shops.
Morris was very generous. His niece, Sarah Cook, daughter of his sister, Jenny, reported that he used to leave money under the pillow for her mother and her Aunt Dora, two of his less fortunate sisters. There are grounds for believing that Jenny and Morris had arrived in the UK together, to join their brother, David, the first member of the Rose family to undertake the perilous journey from Poland to the UK. It is possible that, until the rest of their family arrived, Jenny kept house while her two brothers sold caps in the market. Perhaps a special bond existed between Morris and Jenny, as a result of which, when Jenny’s fiancé rode his bicycle into a tree and was killed, Morris arranged a shiddukh (arranged match) for her with an acquaintance of his named David Grossman. Because David was unsuccessful at business, perhaps Morris also felt responsible for the family’s welfare, which is why he provided David with employment in his business and surreptitiously gave the family money. It was also Morris who invited all the members of the Rose family to his house, to celebrate the Whitsuntide engagement of Jenny and David’s daughter, Sarah, to her fiancé from London. While the facts are true enough, it must be admitted that the description of the relationship between Morris and Jenny is based on pure conjecture.
By 1939 Morris and his family had moved 43 Chantry Road, Moseley, Birmingham 13. This was a prestigious area which is included in the” 2005 Moseley Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Plan”, where it is described as follows:
Chantry Road (nos.4-64 and 5-69)
Chantry Road is one of the most prestigious and impressive roads in the Moseley Village Conservation Area. It is a tree-lined road which gently winds to the left and at the junction with Alcester Road, the visual amenity of the road suffers from parked cars. Chantry Road was cut and developed by the end of the 19th century. The houses are a mix of detached and semi detached three storey dwellings set back from the road behind original limestone walls with holly or privet planting behind. There are also many mature trees in the gardens. Often the ground has been excavated to accommodate garage or parking space beneath the houses. The houses on the north side of the road, backing onto Park Hill have long rear gardens. There is a consistency of scale, massing and materials with the use of red brick, tile hanging, ornate plasterwork and coloured glass. The roofing materials are either of grey slate or red clay tiles. In addition to this, the houses in Chantry Road are characterised by their distinctive windows, doors, porches, boundary walls and chimneys. These architectural details should be retained. The views between the properties comprise mature trees and every effort should be made to retain them. The Catholic School of Ss. John and Monica is and set back from the road and is well screened by mature planting. Close to the school is a concealed entrance to a secluded part of Moseley Park. At the end of Chantry Road, St Anne’s Court is a three storey modern development of flats, built c.1970 of red brick. It occupies a corner site and is set back from the road with open plan landscaping. The original limestone block wall partially remains and acts as a retaining wall to the development. It has a neutral impact on the conservation area.
See 2005 Moseley Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Plan (pdf file).
Number 43 Chantry Road was built by the wife of a paper manufacturer named W.E. Adlard in 1901, who named it “Norbrook”. The same year it was bought or rented by a Chartered Accountant and his wife, John and Alice Hackett, who changed its name to “The Mount”. In 1997, described as “Semi-detached house, Freehold, 7 Beds, 2 Baths, 2 Receps”, the house was sold for £195,000. Today it has an estimated current value of £714,000.
In the 1939 electoral register for 43 Chantry Road, Birmingham, Morris is described as a gent’s outfitter. He had also become an Air Raid Precaution (ARP) warden, whose job it was to direct people to shelters, help enforce the blackout, assist with fire-fighting and police bombed-out buildings.
By the end of the war, in 1945 Martha could still be found at number 43 Chantry Road while Morris was living at number 40, the house of a family named Fidgens. Also living with Martha were three of her daughters, Lena, Jenny or Netty as she was known, and Doris. By this time Netty had a three year-old daughter. Three of Martha and Morris’s sons were also registered as living at the same address.
It appears that three of Martha and Morris’s children were also working in the family business, Lena and Netty as shop assistants and Sol (Salaman) as a salesman and gents outfitter. Two of Jenny Grossman’s daughters, Sarah and Minnie, confirm that one of the Digbeth shops was indeed managed by their daughter, Lena, who immigrated to South Africa in 1947, while another was managed by their son, Bernard, who died as a result of an accident in 1933. Two other sons, Samuel and Norman, also lived at the same address.
The Move to South Africa
Martha and Morris’s eldest child, a daughter named Selina, known as Lena, was the first member of the family to immigrate to South Africa in April 1947, where she hoped to marry someone she had met in the UK. She was followed a couple of months later by her parents, then in December of the same year by her youngest sister, Sylvia, and her newly-wed husband, Ray Altschuler. Another two sons, Samuel and Norman, joined them later. They all lived in Cape Town. Martha and Morris’ address in 1949 was Marmor House, Hidding Avenue, Newlands, Cape Town.
|1949 Martha Rose holding one of her grandchildren||1950 Morris Rose holding the same grandchild|
The grandchild being held so proudly by his grandparents in the above photographs, the son of Lena and Hans Heilbut, remembers the following from his childhood:
Although not very religious I went to Shul (synagogue) every Shabbat from about eight years on, and walked with my grandfather to his apartment after Shul for Kiddush (prayer over wine or grape juice to sanctify the Sabbath). We spent many Shabbat and Hag (festival) dinners with the Altschuler’s, and in the very early years I remember my grandfather Morris joining us.
Martha died in Cape Town, South Africa on 31 March 1953 at the age of sixty nine. After her death Morris visited his family in the UK. He was in the country at the time of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on 2 June 1953. Hadassah Lev’s grandson, the eldest son of Woolf (Velvel) Lev, remembers being taken by his father from Manchester to Birmingham to meet him. They sat listening to zemirot (Sabbath and festival hymns generally sung around the table). Morris had brought with him all sorts of strange fruit they had never seen before. One was called a cheese fruit and was probably an avocado.
Morris outlived his wife by ten years, dying in 1963 at the age of eighty two. He was buried at Pinelands Cemetery in Cape Town. At the time he was living at 48 Kinsgate, Reech Road, Cape Town.
The inscription on his gravestone says: In loving memory of Morris Rose who passed away on 27th Sept 1963 aged 82 years. Deeply mourned by his sorrowing children and grandchildren. M.N.D.S.R.I.P.
Morris and Martha Rose’s Ten Children
Read about their ten children in detail in Family of Morris (Menashe) Rose and Martha Berkovitz (requires login, opens in new window).
The eldest was Lena, born on 12 April 1910 in Birmingham. She married Hans Theodore Heilbut from Germany in October 1947, and died on 9 November 1989 in Cape Town, South Africa, aged seventy eight. The couple had one son.
Netty Jenny was born on 17 November 1911. She married Mick Levy in 1940 and had one daughter. Netty died in 2006 in Brighton, UK.
Sol (Salaman) Rose was born on 3 July 1913, married Heather Wine in 1948 and died in May 2000 in Sutton. They had four children, two sons and two daughters.
Rita Rose and Bernard were twins, born in the first quarter of 1915. Rita died on 27 March 1923 aged eight, while Bernard died in September 1933 aged eighteen.
Sidney, born on 9 February 1916, married Cecilie Strummer from Vienna in 1941 and died on 21 November 1983 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. They had three children, a daughter and two sons.
Samuel the family historian, born on 18 October 1918, never married. He died in January 2005 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Dorothy, known as Doris, was born on 22 February 1920 and died on 21 July 1948.
Norman, born on 5 April 1924, married Betty Rubinstein from Brussels on 16 June 1963. He died on 10 November 1978 in South Africa. They had three children, two sons and a daughter.
Sylvia, born on 17 May 1925, married Philip Raymond (Ray) Altschuler on 18 June 1947. The couple had two sons and a daughter.
David and Annie Rose
Haya Leah and Isaac Rose’s second son, David, was born on 27 or 28 September 1883 in Grodno in the governorate of Grodno in Poland, south of the governorate of Suwałki in which Raczki was located.
For his bar mitzvah he received from his father a copy of the Book of Proverbs, on the flyleaf of which is inscribed, “This copy of Proverbs belongs to the boy David son of Isaac Yaakov Roznof in the town of Ratz”. Later it was stamped "Rev A Rose, 30 Mansell St, Swansea", disclosing that David did not take this book with him when he emigrated to the States in 1910, and that it passed into the hands of his younger brother, Abraham Rose, who became a rabbi.
As we already know David was a trailblazer, the first of his family to immigrate to the UK in 1899. His children found this difficult to believe, and used to laugh at his tale of how he had saved his family. Because he spoke English without a Yiddish or Russian accent, they were sure he had immigrated to the UK as a child, and not as an adult as he claimed.
When he set off on his long journey to the UK, the train line had not yet reached Raczki (the Suwałki-Raczki branch line was only opened in 1914 on the eve of WWI), so David was probably obliged to travel the fifteen kilometres northeast to Suwałki, his last place of residence according to the passenger manifest of the ship that was to take him to the UK. (The construction of the Olita-Suwałki-Augustów-Grodno railway line had been completed two or three years before.)
c. 1900 David Rose (centre) and Morris Rose (right) (Morris is photographed extracting a cigarette from a cigarette case) Photo taken at National Photo Co. 220, High St. and Bournville Lane SELLEY OAK, STIRCHLEY.
From Suwałki he travelled due west across East Prussia (Germany) to the northern German port of Hamburg where, on 3 June 1899, he boarded the SS Lutterworth, a steamship belonging to the Hamburg-America Shipping Line. In the manifest he is described as being aged seventeen, single and a worker. The ship docked at Grimsby at the mouth of the River Humber on the northeast coast of England. From there David must have travelled southwest to the city of Birmingham where, in 1901 he could be found living at 19 Inge Street, one of five unmarried men lodging in the home of a Mrs. Rose Jacobs, also from Russian Poland. David was working as a coat presser/tailor, while his landlady, Rose, was a dealer in provisions, working from home.
Not only was David Rose the first to travel to the UK, but he was also the first to marry in the UK. (His sister, Hadassah, was already married but had remained in Raczki.) He and Annie Greenhouse were married on 4 November 1906 in Wolverhampton. Annie had been born on 20 May 1886 or 1887 in Birmingham to Lazarus and Betsy Greenhouse. By 1891 her family had moved to Spitalfields London. However ten years later, in 1901, they were back in Birmingham.
At some point Annie’s family decided to immigrate to the USA. They did so in stages, just as the Rose family had done to reach the UK. On 24 October 1904, Annie’s brother, Myer Greehous (sic), had sailed out of Liverpool on the Celtic, bound for New York City in the USA. He was twenty one years old at the time, still single, and was a tailor by profession. He was able to pay his own passage, and his stated intention was to join his brother, Samuel, then residing at 163 East 89th Street.
Three years later, on 9 June 1907, his father, Lazarus Greenhause (sic), aged forty nine, sailed on the Campania out of Liverpool, bound for New York, to join his son Myer, now residing at 187 East 4th Street. His occupation was that of shoemaker, and he had been living in Birmingham for the previous twenty four years. Myer apparently paid his father’s passage to America. Lazarus was described as being five feet two inches tall, with a dark complexion and dark blue eyes. He was born in Minsk.
Another three years passed, and now it was the turn of Annie Greenhouse and her husband, David Rose. David, who was not as frum (religious) as the rest of his family, was regarded very much as the ‘black sheep’. To annoy his religiously observant father he would purposely ride his bicycle before the Sabbath was out. By 1910 it was clear that the two of them could not continue living in the same country. So he and Annie decided to join Annie’s family in America. By now he was the father of two young children. They too left in stages. David was the first to leave in January 1910, followed by Annie and their two children in September of the same year.
On 8 January 1910 David set sail for the USA on the Baltic out of Liverpool. He was twenty seven years old, working as a tailor, and had been living in Birmingham for fourteen years (actually eleven). David’s place of birth was given as Suwalk in Russia. He stated as his nearest relatives his parents, Jacob and Anna Rose, residing at 20 Marshall Street, Birmingham. As we know his parents’ names were Isaac and Leah Rose, not Jacob and Anna Rose. Yet it appears that these are the names that David passed on to his children, causing Robert Rose, the family historian from the American branch of the family, considerable difficulty in tracing the Rose family in the Ellis Island records.
In these records David stated his intention of joining his father-in-law, who had paid his passage, and who was residing at 114-116 105 Street East, New York. He was described as five feet five inches tall, with dark complexion and dark brown eyes. He reached New York on 18 January 1910 after a ten-day voyage.
Later in the year, on 10 September 1910, his wife and two children set sail to join him, on the Campania out of Liverpool. Annie was twenty four years old, Bessie four, and Sydney two. Annie gave the names of David’s parents as her nearest relatives, confirming that both her parents were already in the States. Their tickets were paid for by David who was still living with the Greenhouse family at 114 East 104th Street, New York. Annie was described as being five feet tall, with a fair complexion and brown hair and eyes (her eyes were actually blue). The records confirm that she was born in Birmingham.
Meanwhile David had already signed a declaration of intent to become a US citizen in April 1910, a process that would take five years. In this declaration he gave as his occupation ‘railroad conductor’. When he was finally naturalised as a US subject in 1915, the family was living at 2193 5th Avenue, and David was working as a clothing dealer. By now Annie and David had three children.
At the very end of World War I, David’s draft registration card reveals that the family had moved to 520 Newport Avenue Brooklyn NY, and David was working as a coat presser for a company named Sturz and son. This remained the family address at the time of the 1920 US census, in which his name is listed as Jacob, not David. By this time Annie and David had five children – Bessie, Sidney, Phoebe, Norman and Harold – and David was working as a self-employed chauffeur (taxi driver). According to his grandchildren, David loved to drive, and would make the journey from New York to Detroit in one day (more than a twelve hour drive), despite entreaties by his children to stop over at some motel.
According to the 1925 New York census he was working as a “Hackman,” while in the 1930 census he was a taxi chauffeur. In this census David reported that, although he could read and write and spoke Yiddish in addition to English, he had not attended school. However one of his grandchildren remembers that he was able to answer the questions on a TV quiz show named “Jeopardy” before the contestants. This is explained by the fact that David was an avid reader and must have been something of an auto-didactic. He had a passion for classical music to which he listened all day long on the radio. His wife, Annie, also read a lot and knew the names of many flowers and animals.
These were the years of the Great Depression. The family lived in a rented apartment at 2168 Douglass Street Brooklyn, Kings, New York, a property that was worth $80. Living under the same roof were David’s in-laws, Lazarus and Sarah Greenhouse, plus their presumably unmarried son named Harry. David was no longer self-employed but an employee of a taxi company.
Lazarus died on 11 September 1935. According to David’s daughter-in-law, Fay Rose, wife of his youngest son, Harold, Annie and David inherited Lazarus’s second-hand clothes store in Harlem. Unfortunately they did not hold on to this store for long, because at the time of the 1940 US census we find that David was working as a salaried grocery clerk earning $1200 a year, and living in a rented apartment at 190 Tapscott Street, Kings, New York, that cost $38 a month. On this occasion David reported that he had studied up to fourth grade in an elementary school. Living with Annie and David were their two youngest children, Norman and Harold, who were shortly to be drafted into the army and, dressed in uniform, would attend the wedding of Jenny Grossman’s daughter, Sarah, in Birmingham in December 1943.
The United States entered World War Two in 1941. In 1942 David, now aged 59, completed a draft registration card that tells us that he lived at 746 Howard Avenue, Brooklyn, Kings NY and owned a grocery store at 38 Blake Avenue also in Brooklyn Kings NY.
David was the first to retire. Annie, who had always been a hard worker, continued to work as a seamstress in a department store named A&S, sewing labels or buttons onto coats until the age of seventy five. According to her granddaughter, the daughter of Harold Rose, she was the one who kept them afloat.
David’s grandchildren called their grandparents “Bubby and Zaddy” and described them as wonderful people. A chain smoker, David always had a cigarette in his hand. When his grandchildren came to visit, a lollipop for each used to appear magically from his pocket as they walked through the door. One of Norman’s daughters remembers visiting them when she was very young. She attributes her “sweet tooth” to the fact that her grandparents always had candy out on the table. By the time she left, the candy was gone! David played cards with his grandchildren, read to them, took them for walks and even took them fishing. He sounds like the kind of grandfather that any child would wish to have.
Blessed with a wonderful sense of humour, Annie used to tell her grandchildren stories for hours. Harold’s daughter regrets she did not record them, for she no longer remembers them. What she does remember is laughing when talking to her grandmother. She also reports that her grandmother was a good cook, and remembers her split pea soup till this day. She also recalls visiting her grandmother’s sister, Minnie.
David had left the UK in 1910 because he was not as religious as the rest of his family. However Harold’s wife, Fay, assures us that they did keep a kosher home, even though she does not remember them ever attending synagogue.
The only time that David Rose returned to the UK to visit his family was after the war in 1948, when his parents were no longer alive. A photograph exists of most of the ten Rose siblings and their spouses, dressed in grand attire, taken at the wedding of Isidore, son of Phoebe Crown. Over the years there was some sporadic contact between David’s children and their cousins on the other side of the Atlantic, but apart from one exception, contact between the two branches of the family was gradually lost. Contact was only re-established between the two branches of the Rose family when Morris Rose’s son, Samuel, started collecting information for a family tree in the late 1980s.
David died on 29 September 1968, aged eighty five, and was buried in the Montefiore Cemetery in West Babylon, Suffolk County, New York. His last place of residence was 11207 Brooklyn, Kings, New York. On his gravestone is written in Hebrew "David, son of Yitzchak Yaakov Halevi". David had tried to put as much distance as he could between his father and himself, yet he could never escape the fact that he was his father’s son. Annie died two years later on 18 October 1970, aged eighty four, and was buried at his side.
David and Annie’s Five Children
Read about their five children in detail in Family of David Rose and Annie Greenhouse (requires login, opens in new window).
The eldest was Bessie, born in July 1907 in Birmingham. On 4 June 1927 she married Jacob Rubinoff in Brooklyn, New York. Bessie died on 11 November 2000 in Rockville MD. They had two sons and a daughter.
Sydney was born on 24 September 1908 in Birmingham, and married Greta Kalb on 2 July 1933 in Kings, New York. He died on 20 February 1991, aged eighty two, in Tucson, Pima, Arizona. They had a daughter and a son.
Phoebe was born on 10 December 1911, in Brooklyn, New York. On 26 August 1933 she married Adolph Miller in Kings, New York. Phoebe died on 16 February 2002 at the age of ninety in Southfield, Oakland, Michigan. They had a son and two daughters.
Norman was born on 3 March 1918 and married Diana Sevi on 25 May 1946 in Brooklyn. Norman died on 8 October 1980, aged sixty four. The couple had three children, two daughters and a son, all born in New York.
Harold Leonard was born on 12 February 1919 in Brooklyn, New York. He married Fay Dobrowinsky (Dobrow) in 1948. Harold Rose died on 27 October 2005, aged eighty six, and was buried in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. They had two daughters.
Jenny and David Grossman
Leah and Isaac’s fourth child, born on 7 March 1887 in the shtetl of Holinka, was a daughter whom they named Sheyne or Shaindel (Jenny). As a child Jenny had rheumatic fever, which left her with a weak heart. Her daughter, Sarah Cook, has provided us with two items of information which reveal something of Jenny’s childhood:
My mother was closest to Phoebe and Moshe.
Jenny was eleven when Phoebe was born in 1898 and fourteen when Moishe was born in 1901. Her elder sister, Hadassah, had married in 1898 and no longer lived at home. So it was natural that the task of looking after the babies of the family fell to Jenny as the next oldest daughter. This is probably the reason why she was closest to these two siblings in particular, rather than to her other siblings who were closer to her in age. This closeness was later extended to Moishe’s wife, Ellen, who became a good friend.
She loved parks and flowers. She would meet us after school and take us to the park and sit on the grass, take us to pick blackberries and sorrel leaves for soup. She grew things in the garden.
No doubt growing up in Raczki, Jenny had helped to grow vegetables to augment the family’s diet, and was sent off to pick blackberries and sorrel leaves (called in Yiddish shav) in the nearby countryside, as she was later to do with her own children in the UK.
Sarah tells us that Jenny was fourteen when she arrived in the UK, which leads us to believe that she arrived in the UK in 1901. Apparently, she attended night school to learn English.
Jenny’s youngest daughter, Minnie Klein, described her mother as “tall and stately”, while her youngest son, Norman Grossman described her as “quite plump when she was young and rather attractive". Before she married, Jenny was engaged to a man named Bernard. Unfortunately, he died when he accidentally rode his bicycle into a tree. After the untimely death of her fiancé, Jenny’s eldest brother, Morris Rose, made a shiddukh (arranged match) between her and a friend of his named David Grossman.
On 30 December 1904 David Grossman, born on 23 February 1883 in Odessa in the Ukraine, had set sail from Hamburg in Germany as a deck passenger on an English ship named the Staveley bound for London. He disembarked at the port of Grimsby before making his way to Birmingham. According to his youngest son, Norman Grossman, and his second daughter, Sarah Cook, their father came to the UK to escape being conscripted into the Tsar’s army during the Russian Japanese War.
S. M. Dubnow’s ‘History of the Jews in Russia and Poland’ provides us with the following background:
Such was the end of the two ill-fated years of Russian-Jewish history (1903-1904) - years, marked by the internal war against the Jews and by the external war against Japan, filled with the victories of the reaction at Kishinev and Homel and the defeats of the Russian army at Port Arthur, Liao-Yang, and Mukden. This ghastly interval of reactionary terrorism, which began to subside only towards the end of 1904, drove from Russia to America more than 125,000 Jewish emigrants who fled for their very lives from the dominions of the Tsar.
Their wedding took place on 3 January 1913 at Singers Hill Synagogue, Birmingham. In their marriage certificate, David is described as aged 29, a cigarette maker, residing at 147 Icknield Street, the son of Levi Grossman, a leather merchant. Jenny is stated to be aged 25, a dressmaker, residing at 29 Upper Gough Street, the daughter of Isaac Jacob Rose. Whereas Jenny was able to sign her name on her marriage certificate, David was only able to make his mark (x). The witnesses were Solomon Berkowitz (a relative of Morris's wife?) and Abraham Henry Capland.
Their youngest son, Norman, explains why David was only able to make his mark:
I don’t think he had much of an education. When saying the prayers in Hebrew he could only say them slowly, as though he was not used to it, and although he was in the Jewish religion, he was not as fanatical about it as my mother’s family. He could barely sign his name.
Their youngest daughter, Minnie, confirms that her father could read Hebrew but not English. Jenny and David spoke Yiddish together. They only spoke Russian when they didn’t want their children to understand.
By all accounts David worked hard at all hours and in all weathers. He was prepared to turn his hand to anything to support his large family. His daughter, Sarah, described her father as a ‘jack of all trades’. His wife, Jenny, supported him loyally in every venture, in spite of ill-health. Sarah tells us that when finances were good, the family had help in the house, and that they were one of the first families to have a washing machine. However, more often than not, their finances were not good.
By 1916, the year their third child was born, the family were living at 105 Spring Hill, and David was still earning his living by making cigarettes; a skill probably acquired in Odessa. His daughter, Sarah Cook, recalls:
One of his early jobs was making cigarettes. He used to sit in the window of a kiosk in Congreve Street with a sign saying, ‘The Russian cigarette maker. By hand.’ Crowds of people would stand in front of the window watching while he made cigarettes. He would lay a long line of tobacco in a sheet of parchment paper, fill his mouth with water which he sprayed on the tobacco to dampen it down, roll the paper into a long tube, use a stick with a knob at the end to compress the tobacco and finally cut it off with a pair of curved scissors. He worked very quickly and liked the work.
Unfortunately this profession was made redundant by the advent of machine-made cigarettes, which were obviously neater and probably cheaper. Sadly, it was David’s addiction to cigarettes which led to serious health problems, and eventually cost him his life.
The next venture was a fish and chips shop at 67 Camden Street, named "Fish Fries". Here their son, Louis, was born on 10 April 1918. According to the 1921 census, this shop was successful enough for them to hire a 42 year-old unmarried servant named May Jane Moncrieff, possibly of Scottish origin. Unfortunately, after someone opened a similar shop in competition, its success waned. Norman, their youngest son, attributes the failure of the business to the fact that his father had no head for business:
One of the first shops we had was a fish and chip shop, and because he was very soft hearted and could not resist the hungry look in the kids’ eyes, he gave them more. That’s where the profit went.
The family then moved to the non-Jewish area of Digbeth, where David worked for his brother-in-law, Morris Rose, who had a gent’s outfitters shop there. During this period, David and Jenny had a stall in the market where they sold peaked caps, then in fashion, and fabric materials. Sarah remembers playing in the yard outside, waiting for her parents to come home from the market, and seeing both her parents making caps by candlelight. The cap business was also very successful until someone opened in competition.
By the time their youngest son, Norman, was born in 1924, David was working as a journeyman, a skilled worker. Norman describes his father as “quite good at joinery and suchlike”. In Europe journeymen were called ‘jacks’ and ‘knaves,’ hence the expression ‘Jack of all trades, master of none,’ the same term used to describe David by his daughter, Sarah.
Because of their straitened circumstances, the family were forced to move from one rented home to another. Round about 1927 the family left Digbeth and moved to Great Lister Street:
We moved to Great Lister Street, and I remember mom and dad walking with me in a push cart, a bit like a supermarket trolley, but made of wood and all enclosed, so I could not look out and it was night time. I know now how far it is from Digbeth to Great Lister Street, about four miles. Just as well I was in the trolley. I was only 3.
In Great Lister Street, David may have managed a draper’s shop for one of his wife’s relatives.
In 1930, the family moved to Upper Gough Street (Blucher Street), which was opposite the Jewish infant school, and just round the corner from Singers Hill Synagogue, where David and Jenny were married. David earned a meagre living selling cough drops from door-to-door, which he used to wrap the night before. His daughter, Minnie, recalls that he used to let her taste the sweets he made, so perhaps he also made these cough drops.
Two years later, in 1932, they moved to a house at 106 Gooch Street, at the back of the tailor’s trimmings shop operated by Jenny’s youngest sister, Phoebe. It was here that Jenny started to suffer from angina pectoris, cared for by Phoebe and Phoebe’s daughter, Renee. It was also in this house that Jenny’s daughter, Minnie, had an accident when her hair caught fire.
Norman describes how the Grossmans earned their livelihood during this period:
The year would be about 1932, and we had once again moved to a house and shop in Gooch Street. Mom and dad was into oven ready chickens. The house was quite large, and had a yard at the back, and dad built a hut and run in a corner. Dad would acquire very young birds, fatten them up and when ripe we took them to the abattoir, where the slaughterman (Shochet) slit their throats and they were hung up for the blood to drain, a real smelly and messy business. The next stage is to pluck the feathers, trim and clean, mainly by mom and dad, sometimes a couple of local women too, and because few people had a fridge and there were few cars, delivery usually on Friday for Shabbat meals, was by handcart on foot, I was often invited to help dad with these deliveries, hard work for poor mom and dad.
There was a wood cutters yard behind the house in Gooch Street and the screech of the saws could be heard all day long. Opposite was a large open space between the blocks of houses with wash houses and mangles, and toilets. It was here that a bonfire was held for the whole neighborhood every year on 5 November (a date known as Guy Fawkes Night to celebrate the failure of a plot in 1605 to assassinate the Protestant King of England, James I, by a band of Catholic conspirators of whom Guy Fawkes was the first to be apprehended).
From Gooch Street the Grossmans moved to 41 Pershore Road, where they could be found in 1936. Norman:
It was a quite large, semidetached house, with a fair-sized garden, a tree lined drive, and a huge wooden gate. It was nearer to the Jewish school in St. Luke’s Road. We had a lodger who had a radio, and, as we did not, kindly set up an extension speaker for us, so that when he was in residence we had radio.
It was at this house that Norman fell off the roof after breaking into the lodger’s room to turn on the radio while the lodger was out.
In 1938 David Grossman conducted his latest business venture from this address. However the following year they moved to 98 Varna Road where David continued to work from home. When Leah Rose, who lived with her daughter, Phoebe, at number 56 Varna Road, fell ill and could not be left alone, David Grossman used to sit with her at night.
During WWII, the Grossman family were “bombed out” of their house at 98 Varna Road. In fact the bomb landed in the garden next door, leaving a large crater where it fell. It was the blast from the bomb that must have rendered the Grossman’s house uninhabitable. Instead of finding alternative accommodation in Birmingham, the family chose to evacuate themselves to the village of Halesowen, nine miles outside the city, where Jenny’s brother, Moishe, had rented an old mansion. There they lived for some time, sharing the mansion with other members of the Rose family. When they finally returned to Birmingham, they lived at 126 Cannon Hill Road, a road that links Calthorpe Park in the north with Cannon Hill Park in the south. Norman:
The house, a terrace, was right next to the tram terminus, about a hundred or so yards from the Cannon Hill Park entrance and overlooking the county cricket ground.
Although Jenny seems to have gone to great pains to put tasty and nutritious food on the table for her family, when it came to feeding herself, it was a different story. She always made sure that everyone had enough to eat first. These included unexpected guests, like the American G.I.’s whom her daughters brought home during the War. Only then did she sit down to eat at best, or at worst, not eat at all. Sarah Cook:
There were many American G.I.’s in England, and my sister and I helped at the canteen on their base. Many a lonely G.I. we brought home with us to eat. I now recall my mother saying we have plenty, I have eaten (not so, I am sure). The G.I.’s were very popular with the girls, which our soldiers hated. They had chocolate, nylons etc. to give. They used to say that “the Yanks were over-sexed, overpaid and over here.” There were marriages and babies left behind.
I don’t think she ever was a robust person, and to be sure child birthing and rearing is hard work, and as for eating a balanced diet, or eating at all, would come last on the agenda. When money is short and there are many mouths to feed. It’s all right eat, I will eat later, would be the injunction. She once told me that because she was plump and wanted to be thin, she drank vinegar to achieve this effect. She did become very thin, but I doubt it was the vinegar, what that did was to upset the acid balance of her stomach.
David worked as a chef in Southport, in order to obtain a free holiday for himself and his sick wife. Sarah remembers that they hired a taxi to take them there, which involved a considerable expense in those days.
Whilst living at 126 Cannon Hill Road, David occasionally performed the services of a shadchan (matchmaker). Norman Grossman:
I think dad tried his hand at marriage broking, the Jewish word is a Shadchan, probably for what little money he was paid for it, but I do think he genuinely cared about people. Most people liked him. He had a good sense of humour.
Looking back on this long list of failed business ventures, Norman attributed his father’s business failures to a soft heart rather than a hard head, whereas his sister, Sarah Cook, thought that his business ventures were successful enough until others opened in competition. David’s own excuse for his lack of success was that no one was prepared to help him, and that essentially he was on his own. Some of his criticism was levelled at his wife, Jenny. Norman Grossman:
Dad complained to me a few times that if he tried to discuss something with mother she would confer with her family. He said once that he had the idea to acquire a pony, and to go round selling fruit and vegetables from it. There were few cars in those days and dad could not drive, and I doubt if he could have learned how to. Anyway he told mom about this idea, she immediately told her family, and he said they all laughed at him.
After the war the Grossmans moved to 100 Cannon Hill Road, where their children Freda, Louis, Minnie and Norman could be found at this date. Number 100 was nearer to Calthorpe Park than their former house at number 126 and equidistant between two parks. This would have been very important to Jenny, who no doubt pined for the countryside of her childhood.
Jenny was very devout. She used to read to her children from a sixteenth century collection of Bible stories called the Tzena Rena, written in Yiddish for Jewish women who couldn’t read Hebrew, retelling the stories with embellishments that made the stories come alive. Although hugely popular amongst Jewish women, for whom it provided all the romance and drama missing from their own circumscribed lives, it was frowned upon by the male religious establishment.
There is a photograph from 1948, in which Sarah Cook’s two eldest children can be seen helping their grandmother to shell peas in the back garden.
The same year, Jenny’s youngest son met the girl he was to marry. By the time they married at the beginning of 1949, Jenny was so ill that the marriage had to be held in Birmingham so that she could attend, rather than in Leeds where the bride and her family lived.
Two weeks later Jenny was dead. She died on 16 January 1949 and was buried in the Birmingham Jewish cemetery.
For a short time after their marriage, Norman and his new wife lived with David Grossman at 100 Cannon Hill Road. After a couple of months David moved to the local old age home, beset with bladder problems and watery eyes. Here he was visited by his two daughters, Freda and Minnie, who lived in Israel, each accompanied by a daughter whom he had never seen.
David survived his wife by a year and nine months, dying 20 October 1950 aged sixty eight, at Selly Oak Hospital. He too was buried in the Birmingham Jewish cemetery. Because he left no will (probably because he had nothing to leave) on 8 March 1951 his son, Norman, was granted a letter of administration to administer his estate.
Jenny and David Grossman’s Eight Children
Read about their eight children in detail in Family of Jenny Rose and David Grossman (requires login, opens in new window).
The eldest, Freda, was born on 7 November 1913 in Birmingham. On 14 October 1945, she married David Rothman, a Czech Jew from Palestine. Freda died on 26 August 2000 in Milwaukee USA. They had one daughter.
Sidney was born on 17 July 1915 in Birmingham, and married Beryl Williams on 29 July 1944 at Rowley Regis, Staffordshire. He died on 13 January 1994, aged seventy eight, in Stourbridge, West Midlands. The couple had a daughter and a son.
Sarah (Sadie) was born on 3 September 1916 in Birmingham. She married David Cook on 21 December 1943 at Singers Hill Synagogue in Birmingham. Sarah died on 14 February 2015 in Safed, Israel. They had two daughters and a son.
Louis (Labele) Grossman (Granville Gordon) was born on 10 April 1918 in 67 Camden Street Birmingham, and married Joan Margaret Davies in 1946. He died on 5 September 1996 in Poole, Dorset. They had a daughter and a son.
Abraham (Abe or Aby), born on 13 August 1919 in Birmingham, married Freda Brown on 2 April 1944. He died on 11 July 2000, at the West Midlands Hospital, Birmingham. They had no children.
Walter (Wilfred), born on 16 May 1922, died in 1923 in Kings Norton aged less than a year.
Minnie Grossman, born on 30 October 1923, married Jacob Klein on 14 October 1945. She died on 11 July 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel. They had two daughters.
Norman, born on 21 October 1924, married Phyllis Gould on 2 January 1949 in Birmingham. Norman died on 1 December 2004 in Leeds, aged seventy nine. They had one daughter.
Dora and Nathan Jacobs
Leah and Isaac’s fifth child, Dora (Dwore in Yiddish or Devorah in Hebrew), was born on 1 February 1888 in the shtetl of Raczki.
Nothing is known of her childhood until 1904, when she was sixteen years old. In June of that year Dwore, her mother Leah and her five younger siblings set off by train from Suwałki in Russian Poland to Hamburg in Germany, where they boarded the “Oldham” bound for Grimsby in the UK. As the eldest she must have been a great help to her mother on the journey, looking after twelve year-old Schymen (Sam), eight year-old Chonne (Jack), six year-old Abram, three-and-a-half year-old Dobbke (Phoebe) and two year-old Meische (Moishe).
The other members of the family were already living in Birmingham. Dora’s brother, David, had been the first to arrive in 1899, followed by Morris and Jenny at an unknown date and then by Dora’s father in 1902.
The first documentary evidence we have of Dora in the UK is the 1911 Census, which tells us that she was twenty one, still single, living with her parents at 30 Marshall Street and working as a furrier.
At some time before the outbreak of World War I Dora met her husband-to-be, Nathan (Natie) Jacobs, born on 13 November 1888. A notice was posted in the Jewish Chronicle on 14 February 1913, announcing their engagement. Dora was living with her parents at 29 Upper Gough Street, and Nathan with his at 130 Hurst Street.
They married almost a year later, on 7 January, 1914 at Singer's Hill Synagogue, Birmingham. The wedding ceremony was officiated by Reverend Dr. A. Cohen M.A., Rabbi Bloch and Rabbi Fink.
Norman, Jenny Grossman’s son, remembers:
One of the Jacobs family, a relative of Aunt Dora’s husband, once came to the house and shop on Gooch Street when I was seven to supply us with milk. I can still see him in my mind’s eye, dipping his ladle in the churn and filling our container, just like they did in the shtetls [Jewish villages] of Poland and Russia. He drove a pony and cart”.
Rabbi Maurice Rose, son of Sam Rose, tells us that this supplier of milk was Meyer Jacobs, Nathan’s brother.
Dora and Nathan’s first child, a boy named Gerald, was born in 1916, their second, a daughter named Edna, in 1919, their third also a daughter named Phyllis, in 1922, and lastly their twin daughters, Miriam and Sylvia, in 1927.
In a 1933 trade register Nathan appears as a “fancy draper”, at a shop at 24 Conybere Street, Birmingham.
In January 1939 Dora and Nathan celebrated their Silver Wedding anniversary, an announcement of which appeared in the Jewish Chronicle. When war was declared in September the same year, they were living at 10 Alexandra Road, Birmingham. Next door, at number 12 Alexandra Road lived Dora’s younger brother, Sam and his family. In Number 14 lived the Greenhouses, possible relatives of the same Annie Greenhouse who had married Dora and Sam’s brother, David Rose, and immigrated to the States in 1910. Dora and her husband had a retail drapery shop at 24 Conybere Street. Twenty three year-old Gerald was working as an assistant minister to the Coventry Hebrew Congregation, twenty year-old Edna as a power machinist in a baby linen factory, and seventeen year-old Phyllis as a shorthand typist for the Birmingham Hebrew Congregation.
By 1944 the Jacobs family had moved to 112 Alexandra Road. The country was still at war. This was the year that Nathan Jacobs died of yellow jaundice on 6 April after thirty years of marriage. He was only fifty five years old. A notice to this effect appeared in the 23 March 1945 edition of the Jewish Chronicle. A memorial notice was published in the same newspaper the following year, on 23 March 1945.
Both Norman, son of Jenny Grossman, and Basil, son of Jack Rose, recall that their Uncle Natie taught them their bar mitzvah portions. Norman describes him as “a lively man, patient, and very devout” while Basil speaks of him with reverence, describing how Nathan took him to practice reciting his parashah (Torah portion) before Nathan’s Aunt Florrie, who lived on the other side of Birmingham.
At the time of her husband’s death, Dora was fifty six. Her eldest son, Gerald, was twenty eight. At least his father had the joy of attending his wedding which had taken place in 1943. Gerald was able to support his newly-wed wife by working as an assistant minister to the Coventry Hebrew Congregation, until he was able to practice medicine after qualifying as a doctor in 1945. Edna was still living at home, no doubt continuing to work as a power machinist. She would marry the following year, in 1945, before immigrating to Palestine. Phyllis was twenty two. Nathan had also lived to attend her wedding, which had taken place in the first quarter of 1944, just before his death. After her wedding Phyllis had joined her husband in London. The twins, Miriam and Sylvia, aged seventeen, were still at home with their mother.
As a result of her husband’s untimely death Dora was left to support herself and her two youngest daughters. Her daughter, Phyllis Shindler, remembers helping her mother in her shop off Gooch Street, (in Conybere Street), where she sold socks at sixpence a pair and other items on the “never-never”.
Tragedy was to strike when Dora’s eldest daughter, Edna, fell ill with cancer. Her brother, Gerald, the doctor, was despatched to Palestine/Israel, to bring her and her infant son back to the UK for treatment. Unfortunately nothing was able to save her and she died in 1949.
Dora continued living at 112 Alexandra Road, Birmingham with her two youngest daughters. Mirry married in 1950 and moved to London. Sylvia married in 1955 but she and her husband, Yudel Matlin, continued to live with her mother. All three moved round the corner to 31, Speedwell Road, where the Matlins’ son was born in 1956, and which was registered as Yudel Matlin’s address in the medical register of 1959.
At some point the Matlins must have moved away because the same grandson who had been born at 31, Speedwell Road tells us:
We called her (Dora) Bubba (Grandma). I remember crossing Calthorpe Park once a week for her “homemade chips”, the best in town! I didn’t go the same night for chips as her other grandchildren. I had my bubba to myself that one evening every week!
She spent a lot of time in our house when I was growing up, and we also used to go to her small flat regularly. Well, it was the downstairs of a house in Speedwell Road. She had a large radiogram in the living room and a sewing machine which, I think, she kept in her bedroom. I recall her always having a smile on her face.
This author also remembers going round to see Aunt Dora at 31, Speedwell Road in the 1950s, but regrettably not being offered the “best chips in town”.
Basil, son of Jack Rose, recalls that, in later years, his Aunt Dora and Aunt Phoebe came to visit him and his wife in the religious kibbutz in Israel where they lived. Even though his wife had already cleaned the house in preparation for the Sabbath, it wasn’t clean enough for the two Rose sisters, who promptly set about cleaning it again!
Dora died on 5 October 1967 at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. She left no will. Letters of Administration of her assets were granted to her son, Gerald.
Dora and Nathan Jacob’s Five Children
Read about their five children in detail in Family of Dora Rose and Nathan Jacobs (requires login, opens in new window).
Dora and Nathan’s oldest child, Gerald, was born on 1 March 1916. In 1943 he married Hessie Hass. They had three sons.
Edna, born on 8 January 1919, married Israel Tillinger, a Rumanian Jew from Palestine, in 1945. She died in February 1949. They had one son.
Phyllis, born on 22 February 1922 in Birmingham, married Bernard Shindler in 1944 in Ealing. They had two sons.
The twins, Miriam (Mirry) and Sylvia, were born in 1927. In 1950 Miriam married Sidney Benzion Leperer, in Birmingham. They adopted two sons.
Sylvia married Abraham Julius (Yudel) Matlin in 1955 in Birmingham. Sylvia died on 31 January 2017 in Manchester. They had a son and a daughter.
Sam and May RoseView them in the family tree, or their profiles: May Finkelstein, Sam Rose or read about their four children in Family of Samuel Rose and May Finkelstein (all in new window).
Sam (Samuel or Shimon) Rose was born on 26 December 1890 in the shtetl of Holinka. As in the case of his elder brother, Morris, the documentary proof for his date of birth is contradictory. He arrived in the UK in 1904, aged twelve, with his mother and five of his siblings, to join his father and three older siblings who had already made their home in Birmingham.
At the time of the UK Census of 1911 Sam, now twenty years of age, was living with his parents at 30 Marshall Street, Birmingham, and working as a tailor.
In 1915, aged twenty five, Sam became engaged to May Finkelstein, who had been born on 14 September 1891 in Plock, Poland.
The betrothal contract states the following:
With good fortune (may this match flourish and grow) like a verdant garden. He who finds a wife finds good. The preacher from first to last will provide a reward and a name (with the help of the One who dwells in the heavens).
And these are the terms and the contract that were discussed and agreed upon between both sides, that is, between the groom, the rabbi and teacher, Shimon, son of Isaac Yaakov Halevi, and between the modest bride, Miss Malka, daughter of Abraham Moshe Halevi. That is, the groom undertakes to provide a comfortable abode as customary in high? homes and the bride undertakes to provide the wedding at her expense as is customary, and the wedding will take place with good fortune in the month of Adar in the year 5676 (1915) in Birmingham and all is firm and abiding.
Signed Malka Finkelstein
Signed Shimon Rose
They were married on 14 June 1916. Sam, aged twenty six, was residing with his parents at 29 Upper Gough Street and working as a tailor. May, aged twenty four, was living with her widowed mother, Tova (Teresa), and her sister, Sarah, at 255 Sherlock Street, and working as a schoolteacher. Their marriage was witnessed by Messrs. S. Stern and M. Jacobs. A family photo exists, taken on this occasion.
During World War I Sam, who had not yet been naturalised as a British subject, was regarded as an alien. As such he was obliged to carry an identity card with him at all times, and to report any change of address to the local police. Sam’s identity card was issued on 6 September 1916, three months after his wedding, while he and May were lodging with May’s family at 255 Sherlock Street and Sam was working as a tailor for a Mr Wienstein at 142 Bristol Street, Birmingham.
When applying for this identity card, for some reason Sam decided to subtract five years from his age, stating that he was born in 1895 instead of in 1890, making him twenty one instead of twenty six at the time. Although he states that he was born at Nalinka, he gives Razcki as his last address in Poland, and confirms that he arrived in the UK in 1904. He is described as being 5 feet 2 inches, of medium build, clean shaven with brown hair, dark eyes, and pale complexion.
It is thanks to this identity card that we are able to trace the movements of Sam and his family up to the time they immigrated to Australia in 1928.
For example we know that for three days, from 25-28 December 1916, Sam was in London. This photo was taken at the London Portrait Co. Ltd., 58 New Oxford Street WC.
Sam was possibly accompanied by his younger brother, Jack, who had his photo taken by the same photographer.
We also know that on 12 March 1917 Sam moved to 15 Pershore Road, Birmingham. In October of the same year (23 October 1917) Sam was discharged by the army "in consequence of being permanently and totally unfit for Military Service”.
The couple’s first child, a daughter named Maisie but known as Marcia, was born in 1918.
Even after the war, Sam was obliged to report his every movement to the police. On 3 June 1919, the family moved to Llandudno, Wales, where Sam registered with the Caernarvonshire Constabulary on 10 June 1919. This is confirmed by Sam’s eldest daughter, Marcia, who was told that they went there when she was a baby. Sam’s presence in Wales is possibly explained by the fact that his younger brother, Abraham, was headmaster of the Swansea Hebrew Classes in South Wales at the time.
Two years later, on 10 October 1921, the family moved back to Birmingham where, once again, they lived with May’s family at 255 Sherlock Street. Later they may have moved back to 15 Pershore Road. Three more children were born – Abraham Maurice (Avraham Moshe) in 1925, Beryl Rachel in 1926 and Alan in 1928.
When the Rose family immigrated to the UK between 1899 and 1904, passports were not in general use. It was the British Nationality and Status Aliens Act of 1914 that made it necessary to possess one for the purpose of travelling abroad. So when Sam decided to immigrate to Australia in 1928, he must have been in something of a quandary. He had entered the UK as a Russian citizen, but that part of Russia from which he originated was no longer Russia but the independent Republic of Poland. Therefore he had no choice but to travel to London and arrange for his nationality to be changed from Russian to Polish, so that he could obtain a legal travel document. All this is noted down in Sam’s identity card.
The result was that on 10 January 1928, Sam was issued with a Polish passport in the name of Rozenow, the Polish form of Rosenof, by which the family was also known.
With this passport he was able to embark on the S.S. Hobson’s Bay, which set sail for Australia on 7 February 1928. He was thirty three years old, indicating that he continued to declare himself five years younger than his actual age, and travelled alone, having left his wife and four children with May’s family.
Sam’s daughter, Marcia:
My mother’s mother and sister, Sara, lived at 255 Sherlock Street, and we only moved there from 15 Pershore Road when my father went to Australia in 1928.
Sarah Cook and Minnie Klein, Jenny Grossman’s daughters, explain that the reason why Sam chose to immigrate to Australia was because a member of his wife’s family, the Finkelsteins, already lived there. It appears that this relative had a cap factory in which Sam worked until 1931. Once he had established himself, he was joined by the rest of his family in 1929. These included May and their four children, as well as May’s mother and sister. They sailed from Liverpool to Sydney on the SS Baradine on 10 August 1929. May was thirty eight, Marcia ten, Abraham Maurice three, Beryl Rachel two and Allen ten months old. May’s mother, Theresa, was sixty years old and May’s sister, Sarah, thirty five. They gave as their address in Australia, 3 Corona Flats, Corona Avenue, Waverley, Sydney. By 1930 May and Sam were living at another address - 18 Botany Steet, Waverley, NSW, adjacent to 16A Botany Street where Teresa and Sarah both lived.
Two short years later they were back in the UK. In 1931, Sam, his wife and their four children boarded a ship belonging to the Aberdeen and Commonwealth Line, called the ‘Esperance Bay’, at Brisbane. The ship arrived at its destination, Hull in the UK, on 20 June 1931. Left behind were May’s mother, Teresa, and her sister, Sarah Finkelstein, who could be found in Bondi, New South Wales between 1930 and 1939. After the death of her mother, Sarah moved to Israel, where she lived out her days with her niece, Beryl Lavie, May and Sam’s daughter, in Petah Tikvah.
What could have happened to make Sam and May change their minds so quickly? It had no doubt taken Sam years to save up the fare to take his family to Australia, a voyage lasting six weeks in those days. He had been there only three years, and was just starting to get established. There are a number of explanations. The official one is recorded in the obituary of his son, Rabbi Maurice Rose:
As a small child, he went to Australia with his parents and older sister, who survives him. They moved because of poor economic prospects at home but his parents soon found that Australia was no place for an Orthodox family. They returned to Birmingham in 1931.
Another reason may have been that he was laid off work in the cap factory when the world-wide recession hit Australia in 1931. Possibly he was a victim of the “last in, first out” policy. As a result of finding himself without employment, he decided to return to the UK.
An entirely different explanation is given by Sam’s nephew, Basil, son of Jack Rose. Apparently Sam’s son, Maurice Rose, told his cousin that, after three years of receiving weekly letters from Isaac Jacob Rose, begging Sam to return to the UK so that Sam could recite Kaddish (the prayer for the dead) over his grave, Sam could take no more. He finally gave in to the pressure and returned to England, where he spent the rest of his days living in poverty.
The question is why did his father want Sam in particular to recite Kaddish at his funeral? Four other sons lived in the UK – Morris, Jack, Abraham and Moishe. The last three were highly observant Jews, and Abraham was a rabbi. Can it be that Isaac Rose considered Sam more devout than all of them? After all, Morris’s son, Samuel, described Sam as a “saintly and learned man”.
Basil Rose, son of Jack Rose, stayed with Sam’s family when he was sent from Derby to Birmingham to learn some Yiddishkeit (basic knowledge of Jewish laws and customs) while preparing for his bar mitzvah. He recalls how Sam used to work from Thursday morning until Friday noon, going without sleep, to avoid working on the Sabbath. Sarah Cook, daughter of Jenny Grossman, who worked for Sam for a short time, remembers him telling her to do "shabbes stitches" (large stitches sewn in haste) in order to finish her work before the commencement of the Sabbath.
Perhaps the simplest explanation is the best – that Isaac Jacob Rose simply missed his son, Sam.
Fortunately, while in Sydney, Sam had become a naturalised British subject so that, after his return to the UK, he no longer needed his identity card. Otherwise he would have ended up like Jenny Grossman’s husband, David, who never applied for British citizenship and who, throughout World War II, was subject to visits by the police who came round from time to time to check up on him.
When war broke out in 1939 Sam and his family could be found at number 10 Alexander Road. In Kellys trade directory for 1940 Sam’s place of business is listed as 12 Alexandra Road, the house where his sister, Dora, and her family lived. Sam continued to work as a ladies tailor, May at unpaid domestic duties, (in other words as a housewife), Marcia as a shorthand typist, while Alan Rose, aged thirteen, was still at school. Sam’s granddaughter remembers that her grandfather used to make bags out of left-over fabric.
By the end of the war Sam and his family had moved to 44 Beaconsfield Road, Sparkbrook. His last place of residence was 142 Bristol Road, Edgbaston where he died on 6 July 1947, aged only fifty six. Three years after his death, in 1950, his widow and two youngest children were still living at the same address, together with an Arnold and Millie Wilks.
May survived her husband by fourteen years, dying on 29 July 1961 at the home of her daughter, Marcia, in Ealing. She was sixty nine years old.
According to David Rose, Rabbi Abraham Rose’s youngest son, Sam bore a striking resemblance to Edward G. Robinson, the Jewish American film actor.
Sam and May’s Four Children
Read about their four children in detail in Family of Samuel Rose and May Finkelstein (requires login, opens in new window).
May and Sam had four children. All four were born in Birmingham. The eldest, Maisie Rose, known as Marcia, was born on 23 July 1918. In 1941 she married Henry Jack Kalman, known as Jack Kalman, in Birmingham. Marcia died in 2012 in London. They had two daughters.
Abraham Maurice (Avraham Morris) Rose, was born on 7 September 1925. In 1959 he married Cynthia Corman. He died on 5 May 2009, in Jerusalem, Israel. They had four sons.
Beryl Rachel Rose, born on 24 December 1926, married Yosef Tzvi Levkovitz (Joe Lavie) on 17 February 1952. She died on 12 January 1995 in Petah Tikva, Israel. They had a son and a daughter.
Alan Rose was born on 13 July 1928. He married Nita Cohen in 1953 in Birmingham. Alan died on 22 October 1991, also in Birmingham. They had one son.
Jack and Minnie RoseView them in the family tree, or their profiles: Minnie Levy, Jack Rose or read about their three children in Family of Jack Rose and Minnie Levy (all in new window).
Leah and Isaac’s seventh child was another son, born about 1894, location unknown. The first documentary evidence we have concerning him is the 1904 Hamburg Passenger Manifest, listing Haya Leah and her six youngest children. In the manifest he is called Chonne and his age is given as eight. Later documents give his date of birth as 1893. Chonne was his Yiddish name. His Hebrew name was Yohanan, whilst his English name was Jack or John.
At the time of the 1911 census Jack was still living at home with his parents at 30 Marshall Street, Birmingham. Aged eighteen, he was already working as a tailor. In 1916 he may have accompanied his elder brother, Sam, on a visit to London where they had their photographs taken at the same photographer’s.
In 1919 he met his wife-to-be, Minnie Levy, born on 14 March 1898.
|1919 Minnie Levy (Handwritten text reads “Yours sincerely, Minnie”)||Jack Rose - Photo taken at the London Portrait Co. Ltd., 58 New Oxford Street WC|
On 2 April 1920 a notice appeared in the Jewish Chronicle announcing the engagement of Minnie Levy, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs M Levy of 11 Crompton Street Derby to Jack son of Mr and Mrs J Rose of 139 Hurst Street Birmingham. (Minnie’s family had moved from Whitechapel to Derby in WWI.) Minnie and Jack’s wedding took place the same year in Derby where the couple set up home.
After his wedding to Minnie, Jack began working for his father-in-law, who operated out of the Levy family home at 11 Crompton Street.
By the time tof the 1921 census they were living in a home of their own - 143B Stratford Road, Sparkbrook.
In the August 1930 edition of the Derby Daily Telegraph, an article entitled “Wedding at Derby Synagogue” reported the marriage of Minnie’s younger sister, twenty six year-old Anne Levy, described as the daughter of Mr and Mrs M. Levy of 11 Crompton Street. Minnie and Jack’s eight year-old daughter, Sybil, was a bridesmaid, and their six year-old son, Basil, a page.
By 1939 Minnie, Jack and their three children were living at “The Uplands”, 394 Burton Road, Derby. In 1940, during the early years of the war, Jack applied to be naturalised as a British subject under the name of John Rose.
Thanks to the Derby Daily Telegraph, in which both Jack and his father-in-law placed advertisements from time to time, we learn that, after the war, Jack opened his own shop at 6 Abbey Street, corner of Curzon Street, in 1949. A year later, in 1950, his father-in-law announced the transfer of his business to Jack:
M. Levy, Tailor of 11 Crompton St. wishes to inform customers that for the time being all business will be transacted from J. Rose, Tailor, 6 Abbey St. (Curzon-st. corner), where they will receive the best attention.
One family story relates that Jack decided to take his family to Skegness for the day. When they returned home to Derby late that night, it was to find all their beds occupied by Jack’s younger brother, Abraham, and his family. Apparently Abraham had decided to pay his brother a surprise visit. Finding no-one at home, he and his family had found a way into the house, had something to eat and gone to bed.
According to another story, Minnie and Jack were firm believers in not “sparing the rod and spoiling the child”, and often used a leather belt to punish their children. This continued until their two eldest children, Sybil and Basil, decided they had had enough, and tossed the belt over the garden wall where their parents would never think to look for it.
Jack was very much influenced by his childhood, growing up in a large religious family that celebrated the Sabbath in accordance with tradition. He remembered how his parents had invited needy guests to share their Friday evening meal, after which everyone present would hum or sing Zemirot (Sabbath and festival hymns generally sung around the table). He tried to recreate this atmosphere in his own home. Like his parents, he insisted that his children eat only after the guests had finished, just as he had done as a child. Apparently his children reacted much as their cousin, Teddy (Tevka), had reacted. Teddy had lived with his grandparents as a child, and complained that, because he and the other children were not allowed to eat until the adults had finished eating, all that was left were “the bones”. Teddy, however, was a special case, having arrived in the UK at the age of five, suffering from malnutrition, an experience he never forgot.
There was once a thriving Jewish community in Derby. In 1948 Jack’s nephew, Maurice Rose, son of Sam, was appointed minister of the Derby Jewish community and authorized as a shochet (ritual slaughterer). However Derby was only a small town. Over the years the Jews gradually moved away until so few were left, that those remaining were forced to travel to Nottingham to buy their kosher chicken and meat.
The Derby Hebrew Congregation (formerly Derby Synagogue) was located in the street where Jack lived. The synagogue was at number 270 Burton Road while Jack and his family lived at number 394. This was no doubt very convenient when Jack was elected life president of the synagogue, a position he filled until his death. After the congregation was reduced to three men – too few to constitute a minyan (prayer quorum) – every Sabbath morning they continued opening the ark, taking out the Torah scroll and reading from it.
Susie Rose, the wife of Rabbi Abraham Rose’s eldest son, Reuben, and the source of this story, maintains that it was Jack Rose who finally closed down the synagogue. Since Jack died in 1981 and the synagogue, which had opened in 1899, closed down in 1986, it appears that she was mistaken. The synagogue artefacts were then offered to any new shul (synagogue) awaiting consecration, which is how the bimah (dais), on which Jack had stood for many years, came to be placed in the Thanet and District Reform Synagogue, of which his daughter, Sybil, was a member.
Jack died on 17 april 1981. Only the year before, on 17 October 1980, Minnie and Jack had celebrated their Diamond Wedding anniversary in the Assembly Rooms, Derby. A notice concerning the erection of his memorial stone on Sunday March 21 at 3 pm at the Nottingham Road Cemetery, Derby, was published in the 19 March 1982 edition of the Jewish Chronicle.
Jack’s nephew, Reuben, eldest son of Abraham Rose, wrote the following to Jack’s widow, Minnie:
Uncle Jack was for us like Old Man River, he just kept on rolling along. We always enjoyed seeing him on his visits with you here in Israel, and we were always amazed at his spirit and vigour and the Rose personality which he displayed at all times. Susie and I remember two instances in particular when you came here on two separate occasions. The one was at Eli, Lionel and Tamara’s son’s Barmitzvah, when his face lit up on that Friday evening at the hotel when we were singing Zemirot and he heard the long-remembered tunes taught to me by my late father which he himself must have sung at his father’s table in Birmingham. The second time was in Kibbutz Lavie when he made a short speech in Hebrew at the wedding of Basil’s daughter Aviva, which was well received by everyone. He was a Rose institution in himself, and he will be sorely missed now in Derby.
Minnie moved to Nightingale House in London, the oldest established Jewish home for the aged in Great Britain, dating from Victorian times. She outlived her husband by six years, dying on 8 January 1989.
Jack and Minnie’s Three Children
Read about their three children in detail in Family of Jack Rose and Minnie Levy (requires login, opens in new window).
The oldest was Sybil, born in 1922 in Derby. In 1945 Sybil married Rodney Stubbs and they had a son.
Basil was born in 1924 in Derby. He married Miriam Goldberg in 1955 in Kibbutz Lavie, Israel. They had four children, a daughter and three sons.
Lionel was born on 12 May 1932 in Derby. He married Tamara Canin, from Cape Town, South Africa on 15 July 1961. Lionel died on 1 December 2005 in Jerusalem, aged seventy five. They had one son.
Abraham and Annie RoseView them in the family tree, or their profiles: Annie Berman, Abraham Rose or read about their four sons in Family of Abraham Rose and Annie Berman (all in new window).
The eighth Rose sibling, named Abraham in English and Avrom in Yiddish, was born on 7 March 1897 in the shtetl of Raczki in northeast Poland, the shtetl where most of the ten Rose siblings were born. Indeed it is only thanks to a letter written in 1971 by Abraham to his nephew, Samuel, in South Africa, that we know this fact at all.
Abraham always described himself as “iber Dubka, unter Yakov” (above Phoebe, below Jack), to denote his position in the family. He was only six years old when he set out from Raczki with his family in 1904 to travel to the far-off country of Britain. Probably the only language he spoke was Yiddish. But being so young it would not have taken him long to learn English at school. Like his elder brother, David, who was fifteen years older, he spoke English without the trace of an accent.
From the tender age of nine he already showed promise of the man he would come to be, by helping his father teach Hebrew to private pupils.
At the time of the 1911 UK census Abraham was a fourteen year-old schoolboy. As a boy he was crazy about cricket, which he used to play in the park on the Sabbath, in flagrant violation of Jewish law. As his parents were in the habit of taking a stroll in the park on Saturdays after the synagogue service, his youngest sister, Phoebe, was invariably posted as a lookout to warn him of their imminent approach. At this point Abraham would hide behind a tree until they had passed.
While attending the Manchester yeshiva (seminary), Abraham received a letter from his old school informing him that he had been awarded a cricket prize. Phoebe, who still attended the same school, was promptly dispatched to collect it. When she arrived home brandishing a cricket bat, his father, Isaac Rose, remarked in a surprised tone, “What – all that fuss over a piece of wood!”
The last straw for Abraham was when his father permitted two of his grandchildren to play ball in the back garden on the Sabbath. Abraham, who was now a rabbi, reproached his father for having been much stricter with him. Quick as a flash, Isaac retorted that, since breaking the ban against playing cricket on the Sabbath had not affected young Abraham’s religious beliefs, then it was reasonable to suppose that playing ball on the Sabbath would not affect his grandchildren’s. It seems he had mellowed in his old age.
A word of explanation is necessary. According to Jewish law, it was permissible to play ball at home in the garden, because the back garden was surrounded by a fence, and thus constituted an eruv (private domain) where Sabbath rules do not apply. However it was not permissible to play cricket in an open space such as a public park, where they do apply.
Like other members of his family, Abraham knew quite a bit about tailoring. This was just as well. When his fellow students at the yeshivah (seminary) tore their pants, he would do an instant repair job on their backsides. They couldn’t very well remove their trousers since they only possessed one pair, and going without would have been indecent.
In his early twenties Abraham played an active part collecting signatures in support of Great Britain's bid for the mandate for Palestine from the League of Nations in April 1920. Jewish support for the mandate was a quid pro quo for the British Government’s Balfour Declaration, announced in November 1917 during the First World War. The text reads:
His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
After Abraham completed his studies at the Manchester Seminary he continued on to Yeshivat Etz Hayim, the best-known Talmudic College in London. After his ordination, Abraham was appointed headmaster of the Swansea Hebrew School in Christina Street, Swansea, South Wales, where he met the woman who was to become his wife.
Annie Berman’s mother was anxious for her to marry a yeshivah-bokher (Talmudic student), and was in the habit of inviting many of them to the house, in the hope that Annie would meet one she liked. Their non-Jewish maid was instructed to look out of the window as each young man arrived, and to describe him to Annie. When Abraham walked up to the house, she told her mistress, “This one’s handsome. If you don’t take him, I will!” One of Abraham’s sons thought that his father looked like his brother, Sam, who was the double of Edward G. Robinson.
In 1920 Abraham married Hannah (Annie) Celia Berman, also known by her Yiddish name of Tsipka, in Whitechapel. Annie was born on 10 August 1901 in Mile End, Whitechapel, but her family had moved to Llanelli in Wales, where her father, Jacob Joel Halevi Berman, a master tailor by profession, had a draper’s shop. (According to the 1939 Register they lived at 50 Trinity Road, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales).
In 1921 the young couple were living at 39 Mansel Street, Swansea, where their two oldest sons were born. They could still be found at the same address in 1924.
Ealing and Acton District Synagogue
On 27 June 1924 a notice appeared in the Jewish Chronicle announcing the “call” of Rabbi Abraham Rose of Swansea to become Minister, Reader and Headmaster of the Hebrew Schools of the Ealing and Acton (Associate) Synagogue. The synagogue had been consecrated over two months before, on 6 April 1924.
Abraham was to serve the Ealing Jewish community for the next thirty-eight years. During this time Abraham not only helped his wife rear four sons, but also devoted his whole life to the kehillah (community). An article published in the Jewish Chronicle (in January 2000), describing celebrations to mark the 80th anniversary of the Ealing synagogue’s foundation, reveals how much he was paid:
The display also featured a wages bill with a receipted cheque made out to the Reverend Abraham Rose, the synagogue’s first minister – who remained there for 38 years – for the sum of £63 per year.
At first the family lived in an apartment above the synagogue, which was located at 15 Grange Road. Here their third son was born in January 1925. A little more than a year later, on 23 March 1926, Abraham was naturalized as a British citizen. At the time they were living at number 8 Grange Road. By 1928 they had moved to number 2 Grange Road, where their youngest son was born in 1930. This was also their address in 1933.
According to Muriel Jacobs, a member of the Ealing congregation, Abraham Rose was very popular with the growing community, particularly with young members. Even his sermons were popular, being always prefaced with the words “My friends”. Abraham took an active interest in the Social and Literary Society and in congregational sports activities, being a regular member of the cricket team which he is said to have founded.
His son, David Rose, reveals that his father’s cricketing days came to an end after he lost some teeth playing for the synagogue team.
Not only was Abraham popular with the young members of his congregation, but also with the ladies of the synagogue, with whom he used to laugh and joke. He seems to have inherited from his father an appreciation of the opposite sex. His eldest son, Reuben Rose, once explained to his wife, Susie Feist, that, “I got it from my father, and he got it from his.” Apparently, whenever Isaac Jacob Rose passed a pretty girl in the street, he would exclaim “Ein scheine maidel! (What a lovely girl!)”.
The Story of the Six Bears
Abraham’s third son, Haim Rose, recalls how his father once decided to take all the family on a visit to his brother Jack in Derby. It so happened that Jack had decided to take his family to Skegness for the day. So when Abraham’s family arrived in Derby, it was to find the house locked up and no one at home. Somehow they managed to enter the house, Abraham found them some food to eat and – not knowing when their relatives would return – Abraham, Annie and the children went to sleep. That night, when Jack’s family came home, they found all their beds occupied.
Abraham and Annie 1939 to 1962
Just before WWII, Abraham Rose and his family moved from 2 Grange Road to a house at 35 Elers Road, leading to Northfield Avenue. The house had been purchased with a deposit of 70-100 pounds sterling, a loan or a donation from the more wealthy members of the Ealing Jewish community. This was the first house the Rose family had ever owned. It comprised four rooms and a study.
To this address Rabbi Rose would invite the young members of his community on Sabbath afternoons.
One of the people living with the Roses in 1946 was Isidore, the son of Phoebe Crown, who was studying medicine at University College, London. He kept a skeleton in a cupboard, which gave rise to much hilarity. Every summer Abraham would rent a cottage by the sea to where he would send all the family’s kosher kitchen utensils ahead by train. Isidore’s sister, Renée, was usually invited to join them.
At the time of the founding of the State of Israel in May 1948, three of Annie and Abraham’s four sons were at home to vote. The youngest, David, was possibly in Israel at the time, having been recruited in London as a Mahalnik (an overseas volunteer serving in the Israeli army).
Abraham Rose was a staunch Zionist. Even prior to the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 as well as in later years, he held a regular Ivrit (Hebrew) Class on Sunday afternoons for young people who wanted to learn the Hebrew language. Later, when the family moved to Waldegrave Road, near Ealing Common, Abraham Rose initiated an Adult Study Circle on Sabbath afternoons.
Abraham was remarkably liberal for an orthodox rabbi. This author once heard him say, in a sermon to the congregation, that he would rather congregants came to synagogue by car and parked in a side road, than not attend at all. (It is forbidden for observant Jews to travel on the Sabbath and on High Holidays.) This may have been the result of a visit to his son, Haim, who lived in Israel where Jewish festivals are only celebrated for one day instead of two as in the Diaspora. On the second day of the festival in question, his son took him out in the car. Back home in Ealing, Abraham told his congregants that he now knew how it felt to drive to the synagogue on a holy day!
Another compromise he reached concerned the Kohanim (Cohens - Jews of priestly descent) in the congregation, whom he suspected of not being shomrei Shabbat (Sabbath observers). He simply abolished the practice of dukhenen whereby they transmit God’s blessing to non-priestly worshippers.
Numbers Chapter 6
22The Lord spoke to Moses saying:
23Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying: This is how you shall bless the children of Israel, saying to them:
24"May the Lord bless you and watch over you.
25May the Lord cause His countenance to shine to you and favor you.
26May the Lord raise His countenance toward you and grant you peace."
In 1962 Abraham Rose retired after nearly four decades of service to the Ealing Jewish community. A reception was held in the communal hall at the rear of the synagogue on 17 December 1961, at which Mr. Michael Levy gave him a presentation to which every member of the community had subscribed. A description of Abraham’s words to his congregation on this occasion was reported in the Jewish Chronicle:
THE JEWISH CHRONICLE
MARCH 16 1962
FAREWELL PARTY FOR MINISTER
Jewish Chronicle Reporter
“Your loss, our gain, hearty welcome awaits our beloved friend” said a cable from Israel which was one of the messages which Mr. Nathan Isaacs read out after a service on Sunday to mark the retirement of the Rev. Abraham Rose from Ealing and Acton District Synagogue.
Mr. Michael Levy, Chairman of the synagogue, presented to Mr. Rose a cheque towards the purchase of your new home in Israel" and a book of signatures. After praising his helpers and congregants, Mr. Rose spoke of his wife who "had not been very active in the synagogue." That was because I did not want her to be.” He did not believe that the wife of a minister was also engaged by the synagogue— if the services of a wife were required as well, he should be paid a double salary!
“I have become a great humanitarian,” said Mr. Rose, "and that is why I answer the 'phone on Shabbos, because I know that if my phone does ring, it is probably the hospital or police who want me to help a Jew in trouble.”
Mr. Rose and his wife leave for Israel next month.
Abraham officiated at the synagogue for the last time on 11 March 1962. At the family gathering that took place on the eve of their departure for Israel, the following ceremony took place, as described by Annie and Abraham’s youngest son, David:
In Yiddish we call these Bechas, wine goblets. They don’t look much like goblets, nevertheless, they were given as Bechas by Damon’s grandparents at a family gathering on the eve of their emigration to Israel in 1962. Our family was riddled with Rabbonin (Rabbis) and Dayonim (Judges), so Damon’s Grandfather, my father, being an orthodox rabbi, naturally had to say something linked to learning before making the presentation.
He spoke of crowns. In English, crowns have two meanings – a denomination of money, or a title. He was referring to title, quoting the Hebrew word keter for crown. He went on to speak of three crowns: the crown of Kehuna, priesthood, that of kingship, and the crown of learning, or knowledge – the Torah.
A person may be a priest, but if he is an evil priest; that crown should be denied him. A person can be a king, but if he is a cruel tyrant without compassion; he can be deposed because he doesn’t deserve his crown. A person can be learned having studied the Torah, but if his actions don’t reflect what he has learned; the Torah is of no use to him. But above all these crowns there is one other crown, and that is the crown of a good name. A shem tov.
Damon’s grandfather, my father, felt he could in all honesty claim he was leaving England with a good name. Then, unwrapping these two Bechas, he said he was also leaving behind two little crowns; the crowns of children, Ateret avot b’nei bonim (the crown of fathers is their grandsons), which belong to his two little grandchildren, Jason aged 5 and Damon aged 2.
One of the Rose family members who attended his farewell party was Hadassah Lev’s grandson, the eldest son of Woolf, who was studying at a religious boarding school in London.
Retirement to Israel
Abraham and Annie retired to a small house in a tree-shaded suburb of Haifa called Kiryat Hayim. His pride and joy was the orange tree growing in the middle of his tiny garden, from which he was able to pluck oranges with his own hand. Nothing else could have brought home to him the privilege he felt at being able to live in the “Land of Milk and Honey”.
Eventually he and his wife moved to 13 Kiryat Sefer, an apartment in the Ahuza area of Mount Carmel, in order to be closer to their youngest son, David, and his wife, Carole, who immigrated to Israel in 1963. They were soon joined by their third son, Haim, and his wife, Ruth, who also moved to the city from the suburbs. Abraham’s phone number, as shown in the 1965 Haifa Directory, was 89315. Never one to remain idle for long, for some years he taught English at the Haifa Maritime School.
Annie, his wife of fifty years, died on 13 February 1970 aged sixty eight. She was buried in Hof Hacarmel cemetery (Haifa), plot 3, row 59, location no. 18.
In September the same year Abraham submitted a true story to the Jewish Chronicle, entitled, “For the Sake of a Kaddish”, which was published on 25 September 1970. The article had been written in Hebrew and translated into English by his eldest son, Reuben. After thirty eight years as a rabbi, to whom many came to seek advice, there must have been many more stories that Abraham could have told, had he so desired.
Original article For the Sake of a Kaddish.
PDF transcription For the Sake of a Kaddish.
It was Abraham who, in a letter dated 13 June 1971, wrote to his nephew, Samuel Rose (son of Morris Rose), providing invaluable information about the Rosenof family.
Abraham died on 1 March 1975, aged seventy eight, in Rambam Hospital, Haifa, after an unfortunate fall in his apartment. It was Haim who found him lying unconscious on the floor. He was buried in Hof Hacarmel cemetery (Haifa), plot 3, row 59, location no. 17.
The inscription on his gravestone says:
Rabbi Abraham Rose
The son of Yitzchak Yaakov Halevi
Died 18 Adar 5731
At the age of 78
May his soul be bound up in the bundle of life
All those who have heard your name will bless you
Loved by his sons, his family, his former congregation and all his acquaintances
The phrase “May his soul be bound up in the bundle of life” is engraved on many Jewish graves. It is based on the words designed to placate King David’s anger uttered by Abigail, the wife of Nabal, after her husband had refused to feed the king and his men:
I Samuel Chapter 25
29. And a man has arisen to pursue you and to seek your soul. But my lord's soul shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord your God, while the soul of your enemies, the Lord will sling it with the hollow of the sling.
Abraham’s death was reported in the Middlesex County Times on 14 March 1975. Notices of his death were also published in the Jewish Chronicle, one by his son, Leon, the only one of his sons left in the UK, and another by his brother, Jack.
An obituary, published in March 1975, describes him in these terms:
From his youth be was imbued with a1ove for Israel, and was an active Zionist, collecting signatures to further Great Britain's receiving the Mandate for Palestine from the League of Nations. He was for many years Chairman of the Ealing Zionist Society, helping to send many of his congregants on aliyah to Israel, where they are now deeply rooted. He was a man of great learning, which was combined with a deep understanding of his fellow beings. He was kind, courteous, charitable, considerate, and was always ready to help his fellow man in time of trouble. This help was extended to non-Jews too, as his work for the Brotherhood Movement in Middlesex bore testimony. He was at the same time a real spiritual leader, earning for himself the title of “Der Vater von der Gemeinde” (the Father of the Community). Withal he was blessed with a sense of humour.
The “Brotherhood Movement in Middlesex” mentioned in the obituary above refers to the Hayes or Botwell Brotherhood, a non conformist interdenominational religious grouping, founded in or around April 1908, which closed down circa 2001. In 1961, the year before Abraham Rose retired to Israel, the Brotherhood had a membership of about 40, and the Sisterhood one of 100, both organizations being non-sectarian and non-political.
Abraham and Annie’s Four Sons
Read about their four sons in detail in Family of Abraham Rose and Annie Berman (requires login, opens in new window).
Their eldest son, Reuben (Rubin), was born on 9 July 1921 in Swansea. He married Susie Feist from Germany in 1961. He died on 1 February 1989 in Haifa, aged sixty seven. The couple had no children.
Leon (Judah) was born on 21 April 1923 in Swansea. In 1957 he married Maureen Phillips. He died on 5 March 2004, in Brent, Middlesex aged eighty. They had one son.
Hyman (Haim) I. Rose, born on 2 January 1925 in Brentford, married Ruth Simon from Iraq in June 1948. He died on 9 August 2018 aged ninety two, and was buried in Haifa, Israel. They had two daughters.
David was born on 22 September 1930 in Brentford. He married Carol Lilian Seedburgh in 1956 in Ealing, West London. David died on 22 June 2017 aged eighty six. They had two sons.
Phoebe and Philip CrownView them in the family tree, or their profiles: Phoebe Rose, Philip Crown, Louis Boyarsky and read about Phoebe and Philip's two children in Family of Phoebe Rose and Philip Crown (all in new window).
Phoebe Rose, the youngest daughter of Leah and Isaac Rose, was born on 12 May 1898 in Raczki, Poland. Her real name was Hannah Dubka, in memory of her paternal grandmother, but when she started school in Birmingham her brothers deemed it wiser to register her under the name of Phoebe. They also reported that she was five, when she was in fact six.
Phoebe was born the year before her elder brother, David, aged sixteen, left the shtetl of Raczki to travel alone to the UK. Such was the age difference between them. David was followed by his brother and sister, Morris and Jenny, and then in 1902 by his father. Phoebe, her mother and five of her siblings joined them in 1904, when Phoebe was three and a half years old.
In 1911 Phoebe was a twelve year-old schoolgirl, living with her family at 30 Marshall Street, Birmingham. She grew up to be small and plump like her mother and, it seems, just as determined.
In 1922 she married Philip (Shraga Faivel) Crown, born 1899 in Leeds, where he served as minister and shochet (ritual slaughterer) to the Leeds Sinai Association. According to custom the marriage took place in the bride’s place of residence, in Birmingham.
On the occasion of their wedding they were presented with a silver Kiddush cup (for holding the wine that it customary to drink when reciting a blessing) by the Association.
The inscription on it reads:
Presented by the Leeds Sinai Association to REV & MRS P Crown on the occasion of their marriage AUG 1922 AB 5862.
By 1925 Phoebe and Philip were living at 130 Hurst Street, in the centre of the Jewish area of Birmingham. Although now aged twenty seven, for some reason Phoebe was not registered to vote.
In 1928, tragedy struck when Philip Crown died of a burst appendix that turned gangrenous. He was only twenty-nine, leaving his thirty year-old widow to bring up their two young children alone.
1928 From left to right:
Jenny Grossman with her children, Sarah and Louis, Ellen Addlestone, Phoebe Crown with her children Renee and Isidore, and Phyllis Jacobs.
From then on Phoebe and her children lived with Phoebe’s parents, Leah and Isaac Rose, at 106 Gooch Street, where Phoebe had a tailor’s trimmings shop. Phoebe worked in the shop, while her parents looked after her children. Living at the same address in 1930 was her youngest brother, Moishe, who married Ellen Addelstone the same year.
Phoebe received a small pension from the Leeds Sinai Association, which augmented her income from the shop. She was to prove adept at business, for not only was she able to help her brother, Moishe, set up a business of his own, but she managed to pay for both her children’s higher education.
At one time the Grossmans lived at the back of the shop in Gooch Street. Jenny Grossman’s daughter, Sarah Cook, remembered the narrow passage at the side of the shop leading to their part of the house.
By 1935, the year in which Isaac Rose died, the family had moved from Gooch Street to 56 Varna Road, while Phoebe’s shop relocated to 201 Sherlock Street, where it was later destroyed in an air raid.
During the war Phoebe was drafted into a factory that manufactured military uniforms, her son, Isidore, studied medicine in London, and her daughter, Renee, music in Birmingham.
After the war Isidore remained in London to complete his medical studies, while in 1945 Renee married and moved to Liverpool. In the wedding photograph below the man standing next to Phoebe may be her husband-to-be, Louis Boyarsky.
Phoebe was not alone at 56 Varna Road, because a certain Gertrude Falkenstein was registered at the same address in 1945. This may well have been one of Phoebe’s “refugees”, for so many of whom she posted £50 bonds for their eventual resettlement. Since she had no money herself, she would use emotional blackmail to raise the money to back these bonds from among her fellow Jews in Birmingham.
In May 1947 Phoebe’s son, Isidore, became engaged to Louise Isaacs of Coventry. They married the following year. After qualifying as a doctor of medicine, Isidore and Louise remained in London.
Eventually Phoebe joined her daughter, Renee, and her family in Liverpool where she married Minister Louis Boyarsky in 1949, when she was fifty-one years old. Ten years before his marriage to Phoebe, Louis, born on 15 May 1884, had been living with an Ada Boyarsky, presumably his first wife, since she was born on 24 May 1891. In 1955 Phoebe and Louis’s address was Flat 1, 4 Gresford Avenue, Liverpool.
Unfortunately eight years after their marriage Louis died on 24 December 1957. After his death, Phoebe moved into a house at 46 Orton Road with a garden backing on to that of her daughter, Renee. The fence between the two houses was soon taken down to enable their occupants to come and go at will. Phoebe loved gardening and had “green fingers”. She also used to make clothes for the whole family. It was just unfortunate that her grandchildren preferred shop-bought clothes.
When any member of the family fell ill, Phoebe’s remedy was to lick their forehead. If it tasted salty she knew they were ill, whereupon she would chant, "If it’s ayin-hora, let there be nisht kayn bayn un nisht kayn tzora (if it’s the evil eye, let there be no disease or distress)" and then she’d spit out three times: "foo, foo, foo". This apparently was a traditional Jewish ceremony known in Yiddish as Oys-shpuhen di ayin-hora (spewing out the evil eye). It is not surprising that she was described as "a sweet soul with a simple faith".
Gradually Phoebe grew hard of hearing, and became very dependent on Renee, who took her everywhere. Therefore it was all the more of a shock when, in 1965 or 1966, she entered her daughter’s house one day, and announced she was immigrating to Israel. Phoebe’s granddaughter tells the moving story of her grandmother’s last years:
Sometime after I became engaged, Bubba (Grandma) entered the house and announced: “Hashem (He whose Name cannot be uttered) came to me in a dream and told me I must go to Israel immediately”. The family took no notice and passed it off as a joke. However, Bubba kept on talking about it. I assured her that after I married, my husband and I would immigrate to Israel and then she’d be able to join us. “No”, was her reply. “I’m an old lady. I don’t know if Hashem will give me time. I’ve got to go immediately”. We tried to reason with her. “You can’t hear, you don’t speak the language, you have no close relatives there, you can’t go to the bank alone, you’re talking nonsense...”
The next thing we knew, Bubba’s house was in the hands of an estate agent and she had bought a ticket to Israel. There she was met by her niece, Beryl, (daughter of Sam Rose) and Beryl’s husband, Joe (Levkovitz) Lavie, who took her under their wing. Because she liked the sea, they directed her to Bat Yam, where she bought a two-room apartment. Bubba came back to England for my wedding, very happy to have made friends with some Yiddish-speaking people.
According to Jewish tradition, new dishes that are not made by Jews have to be ceremonially dipped in rainwater or water from a river or the sea. Thus Phoebe could be seen wading out into the sea to dip her dishes. In fact she was so devout that even when her observant nephew visited her, she would check to see if he was wearing a kippa (prayer cap).
Once, when someone told her how sorry she was to see Phoebe living alone, Phoebe replied: “I’m never alone. He is always with me”.
After my marriage, I did not come to Israel immediately as my husband was still working on his PhD thesis. We only arrived at the end of March 1967. In the meantime I had become pregnant and was vomiting continuously. I spent most of my pregnancy in Bat Yam, nursed by Bubba, who said: “Now you know why Hashem came to me in my dream. I had to come here first, so that I’d be able to look after you when you arrived”.
After Phoebe’s great grandson was born, he would go into hysterics if left with anyone besides his mother. The only other person he agreed to stay with was his great-grandmother, Phoebe, who had to commute to Jerusalem in order to look after him.
When Phoebe’s daughter, Renee, and her husband finally immigrated to Israel, and settled in Jerusalem to be near their daughter, they naturally wanted Phoebe to join them. However she only agreed to make the move from Bat Yam to Jerusalem when she grew older, moving to a house two doors away from where they were living.
Phoebe was a very ardent Zionist, and truly loved the State of Israel. By 1986 she was living with her daughter, infirm, confused and barely aware of her surroundings. Her son-in-law, Arnold Pink, had endless patience for her. The night before she died, Renee and Arnold got her out of bed, and seated her in an armchair in front of the TV, so that she could watch the closing ceremony of Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen at Mount Herzl, and the opening ceremony of Independence Day.
They say that people often experience a few lucid moments before their death. On that particular evening Phoebe asked, “Are those Jewish soldiers?” When her son-in-law replied that they were, she observed: “What a wonderful privilege it is to see such a thing”.
They put her to bed and she died in her sleep. The date was 15 May 1986. Since then her family meet by her graveside every Independence Day, before spending the rest of the day together, picnicking at some beauty spot.
Phoebe and Philip Crown’s Two Children
Read about their two children in detail in Family of Phoebe Rose and Philip Crown (requires login, opens in new window).
The eldest was a son named Isidore Wolfe, born in 1923. In 1948 Isidore married Louise Isaacs who lived in Reading. Isidore died in Netanya in December 2018, aged ninety-five. They had two sons and a daughter.
Renee, born on 15 Feb 1925 in Birmingham, married Arnold Avraham Yitzhak Pink on 27 February 1945. She died on 18 October 2015 aged ninety. Renee and Arnold had four children, two girls and two boys.
Moishe and Ellen Rose
The youngest of the ten Rose siblings, Maurice (sometimes written Morris and universally known as Moishe, the Yiddish form of the Hebrew Moshe or English Moses), was born on 10 April 1901 in Russia in the shtetl of Raczki. He was actually two years younger than his nephew, Woolf, the eldest son of his sister, Hadassah, who was born in 1899, the year that the pioneer of the Rose family, sixteen year-old David Rose, left Raczki for the UK. By the time of Moishe’s birth, his mother, Haya Leah, was already forty years old and unable to breastfeed her tenth child. Luckily Hadassah, who was still nursing her firstborn son, was able to help by breastfeeding both infants.
Moishe was only two when he accompanied his mother and five elder siblings on the long journey, first from Raczki to Suwałki, then from Suwałki to Hamburg, then from Hamburg to Grimsby and finally from Grimsby to Birmingham – not a journey for the faint-hearted in those days, and one only undertaken by the desperate.
In the 1911 UK census he appears as a nine year-old school student living with his family at 30 Marshall Street, Birmingham.
Apparently Moishe used to suffer from terrible migraines, which he treated by binding thin slices of lemon to his forehead with a large handkerchief. We do not know whether or not this old folk remedy alleviated his pain.
On 2 May 1930 a notice appeared in the Jewish Chronicle announcing the engagement of Ellen Addlestone, daughter of Mr and Mrs Addlestone, 43 Hamilton Avenue, Leeds to Maurice, youngest son of Mr and Mrs J Rose, 106 Gooch Street, Birmingham. Ellen had been born on 28 March 1906. Their wedding took place in Leeds in 1930.
The couple started out married life at 106 Gooch Street, Birmingham, living in the same house as Moishe’s sister, Phoebe, whose husband had died in 1928, leaving her to bring up two young children.
Towards Phoebe’s children, with whom he lived until his marriage, Moishe behaved like a father, and towards their children like a grandfather. One of his “granddaughters” recalls a bedtime story that he would recite to them, which she in turn recited to her children and they to theirs. It goes like this:
“It was a dark and stormy night and the Captain said to the Mate, “Tell us a story, Mate,” and this is what he said. “It was a dark and stormy night, and the Captain said to the Mate, “Tell us a story, Mate,” and this is what he said.” And so on ad nauseam.
Like many Jews, several members of the Rose family made their living from the textile trade. Morris owned a men’s outfitter’s shop. Sam was a tailor, as was Jack, while Phoebe and Moishe had tailor’s trimmings shops.
Until his marriage, Moishe worked in his sister’s shop, learning the tools of the trade. After his marriage Phoebe helped him open his own shop which became quite successful. Jenny Grossman’s son, Norman:
At that time there were quite a few small-bespoke tailors in Birmingham. Indeed my sister-in-law’s family were doing just that, and my sister-in-law, Freda, herself was a tailoress, and worked for them, a family business. So they would all want cloth, linings and cottons etc. So Moishe’s shop did well.
Moishe and Ellen Rose repaid Phoebe’s act of kindness by “passing it on”, i.e. helping someone else in the same way. They took in a sixteen year-old refugee boy named Kurt Landes, paid for him to study electrical engineering, and eventually helped him set up his own business as a car mechanic. Kurt also “passed on” this kindness by providing one of Hadassah Lev’s grandsons employment in his business. Kurt was not the only non-family member to benefit from Moishe’s kindness; he also helped a Jewish family from Egypt to set up a business of their own.
On 25 May 1938, Moishe was finally naturalised as a British citizen, his decision to apply for citizenship no doubt influenced by the uncertain political situation at the time. His certificate of nationalisation gives his name as Maurice Rosenow, known as Maurice Rose, residing at 1 Princess Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, a Tailors’ Trimmings Merchant, having been born in Ratzig, Poland on 10 April 1901, of no nationality, married to Ellen and the son of Russian parents, Jacob and Leah Rosenow. As in other official documents his father’s second name “Jacob” was preferred to “Isaac”, his first.
By 1939 Ellen and Moishe Rose had moved further up the road to number 21 Princess Road, Birmingham. In the 1939 Electoral Register he is described as a silk merchant and Ellen a housewife. Living with them was a fifteen year-old youth named Tooh Hans (sic) who was learning some kind of trade. By the end of the war in 1945 they had moved to 233 Pershore Road.
After the war Moishe Rose moved his shop to Hurst Street, in the Bullring opposite the Hippodrome. The whole area was under threat of demolition in order to rebuild the city centre. Down the road in the same street was an empty shop. Moishe was afraid that someone would rent it and set up in competition with him. So he suggested that his nephew, Leon, son of Abraham Rose, come to Birmingham, live with Dora Jacobs, and work for him under the name of “Leon of London”.
Leon moved up to Birmingham, returning home only at weekends, continuing to do so for eighteen to twenty months. It took him and his uncle six months to quietly stock up the new shop with inventory from the existing one, bringing it in through the back entrance so that no-one would be any the wiser. Running the two shops kept Moishe so busy that he hired another nephew, Abraham (Abe), son of Jenny Grossman, to work for him. Eventually a sign went up announcing that “Leon of London” had been bought out by M. Rose, and Leon returned to London.
When the time came for Moishe to retire, Abe Grossman, who had managed the shop for years, wanted to buy it. However Moishe’s wife, Ellen wanted her brother to have it. Naturally Abe was very upset and the two men parted on acrimonious terms.
In September 1967 the Birmingham Jewish Recorder published an article describing the move of the Minyan (the Rose family’s private synagogue) from 111 Pershore Road to 95 Willows Road. In the article appears a photo of Dr Gerald Jacobs, Teddy Lev and Moishe Rose carrying the Sifrei Torah (Scrolls of the Law) to the new synagogue. In another article the Minyan is described as being under the “able presidency” of Moishe Rose.
Retirement to Israel
After their retirement Moshe and Ellen immigrated to Israel in 1971. Their story is told by Hadassah’s granddaughter:
Something else I remember about Uncle Moishe Rose is the fact that he was an ardent Zionist who went on a yearly trip to Israel. He had a cine-camera with which he took a very shaky film of what he saw. This film was, for me, my first look at Israel (I must have been about six at the time). He described his impressions and told us about Israeli chutzpah (cheek). I knew then that Israel was where I wanted to be, rather than rainy Birmingham; and as this country is still shaking up and down, it seems that Uncle Moishe made accurate films! It took him time to persuade his wife, Ellen, to accompany him, but they eventually moved to Petah Tikvah, where they lived very near Sholom and Esther Lev. After I made aliyah (immigration to Israel), I often visited them there.
They settled in Petah Tikvah, near Moishe’s nephew, Shalom (Hadassah Lev’s son), and his niece, Beryl Lavie (Sam Rose’s daughter). The Roses and Lavies had previously lived in the same house in Pershore Road and were close friends.
In 1977 Moishe persuaded another nephew, Gerald (Dora Jacob’s son), to build himself a home on a plot of land in the street where Moishe lived, thus enabling Gerald to spend part of the year in Israel after his retirement.
In 1984 Moishe paid for the following announcement in the Birmingham Jewish Recorder:
ROSE – Mr. and Mrs. M. Rose of Petach Tikvah wish all their dear relatives and friends in Birmingham, Leeds, London and Israel, a very Happy New Year, and Mr. Rose wishes to thank all those kind donors who regularly contribute to the very worthy charities for which he collects. Kesiva Vechasima Tova (May you be inscribed [in the Book of Life] for Good). Next year in Jerusalem. B.H.
Apparently Moishe Rose donated large sums of money to charity, without his wife’s knowledge, knowing she would disapprove. After he died on 24 October 1988, a memorial service was held in his honour in the synagogue in Petah Tikva, which he used to attend. In his eulogy the rabbi remarked that the synagogue had lost one of its major benefactors. Beryl Lavie, the daughter of Sam Rose, who was present on the occasion, told members of the Rose family afterwards that it was just as well the rabbi had spoken in Hebrew, a language that Ellen did not understand, for had she understood, she would have been most unhappy!
After her husband’s death, Ellen Rose continued living in Petah Tikvah, where she was cared for by Moishe’s niece, Beryl Lavie, and her husband, Joe. When they too passed away, she moved into a retirement home in Netanya and lived there until her own death on 7 June 1997, aged ninety one.
Moishe Rose was punctilious in his observance of the Jewish faith. Some family members went so far as to accuse him of intolerance. However, perhaps the last word about him should be left to his nephew, Leon, son of Abraham Rose:
My brother, David, opened a kosher delicatessen shop in Hanger Lane. When the shop next door fell vacant, he invited me to take it over and open up a kosher butcher’s shop. I went to Luton to learn ‘porging’ (a Jewish ritual to render a slaughtered beast ceremonially clean by removing its veins and sinews), and duly became a certified kosher butcher. However I hated the work.
At the time I was living round the corner from the shop. One day I was running up the stairs when I tripped and cracked my knee. The wound refused to heal, and I was in a great deal of pain, becoming a virtual invalid. Eventually I was advised to have my leg removed, to prevent the infection from spreading further. This meant that at the age of thirty two, I was left with only one leg. I refused to use a stick, and learned to walk with a false leg.
The new Hanger Lane bypass eventually put both our shops out of business. I then borrowed money to open up a delicatessen shop which was not very successful.
Meanwhile Uncle Moishe came down on one of his periodic visits to London to buy inventory. He told me that he knew a man with an old-established buttons and belts shop, who wanted to retire. He advanced me the money to buy the business from him. In this way I and Maureen, my wife, took over “Taylor’s Buttons and Belts”, which had already been in business for sixty years when we bought it. We remained on the same premises for thirty more years, before the lease ran out and we were forced to move to new premises. Today the business is over a century old, catering to the Bridal Wear market and to Theatrical Costumiers. Our main item is hand-covered buttons which Maureen makes at the back of the shop.
Uncle Moishe played a decisive role in the path my life was to take, for which I will always be grateful to him. Uncle Moishe knew only two things – religion and tailor’s trimmings – but what he did know, he knew well.
Ellen and Moishe’s Adopted Son
Ellen and Moishe were unable to have any children of their own, so when Moishe’s niece, Edna, daughter of Dora Jacobs, died of cancer in 1949, they adopted her two year-old son, Nisan (Nissim) Tillinger Rose.
This concludes a survey of the third generation of the Rose family, according to existing information. The lives of the fourth generation, the grandchildren of Leah and Isaac Rose, are described in Part III of the Rose family history.