Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Jewish Burials in Eastern Europe - Relatives Left Behind?

My immediate ancestors were all in America by 1947--and my mom's ancestors by the early 1920s.  But especially for the branches of my family who came over earlier in the twentieth century, we know that they left relatives behind.  My family, like many others, lost contact with those relatives over the years--and definitely post-Holocaust.  Many of those who stayed behind (and survived the Holocaust) were buried in local Jewish cemeteries.  And finding those burials can potentially point you towards their descendants.

Grave of Leia Zubkov Linetzky, Courtesy

Leia Zubkov was my fourth cousin twice removed.  Her father, Chaim Yaakov/Chaim Yankel was born a Zubkis but at some point started using the surname Zubkov, and it's under this surname that he registered his children's births in the town of Shargorod.

Birth of Leia Zubkov; April 25, 1894; Shargorod Russian Empire

I knew (from her birth record) that Leia Zubkov was born in 1894.  But I had no insight into what happened in her life after that point.  If she survived to adulthood, I assume she would have married and used another surname--and I had no clue what that would be.

But then I happened upon Mitzvat Emet.  This is an organization that is cataloging (with photographs) Jewish graves across Eastern Europe, but primarily in Ukraine and Belarus.  They also have a service where they will take care of graves.  You can search Mitzvah Emet in English (or Russian) for specific surnames.  And when I searched for Zubkova (make sure to various female endings to pick up on females!), I struck gold.  Leia's grave, as seen in the first image, included her maiden name as well as her married name.  I now know that Leia lived until 1961, and she is buried in Shargorod (today Sharhorod, Ukraine).  And her grave also tells me her married name, Linetzky.  The wording at the bottom tells me that she was a wife, mother and grandmother--meaning I can now try to track down her descendants, also my distant cousins.

I recommend searching in both English and Russian; change the language of the site and search by clicking on the appropriate language on the top left of the page and then using the search box on the top of the page.

This isn't the only such site out there.  But it's worth looking at this one--and checking back, as it seems they add new cemetery data regularly.

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