Supplement to 1993 Bereza Memorial Book

On May 12 I received an e-mail from Jeruchem Fishman in which he wrote::

We never knew that a book on Kartuz-Breze have ever been published and we are dumbfounded by this discovery.

My Father came from there. My grandfather was the Mordechai Fishman mentioned as the the "Polonsk Religious Teacher" in chapter 2.

That passage is the section on Education by Nechemia Shtuker and reads:
Polonsk Religious Teacher

My fourth rebe was Mordechai Fishman better known as the "Polonsk religious teacher". Taught chumush (Pentateuch) and talmud, and some Hebrew grammar. He was a quiet Jew of medium height and blond beard. He had his own house and a cow in the stable. He lived in a narrow street behind the school. Domestic issues were solved by his wife Velia who was tall and thin, and was a virtuous woman. He had two children; a beautiful daughter, and a son Leizer who studied in a yeshiva in another city; when he returned home in the evening, he taught some talmud pages in the synagogue.

And in the list of town residents at the time of the destruction of the city in chapter 6 it shows:
Fishman,Velya widow and son Leibel and daughter Manya (Polonskerkah), lived on Shkolna next to the "Tarbut" School
Jeruchem went on to say that there were many details missing, and he provided the following information about his grandfather Mordechai:
My grandfather was the Mordechai Fishman mentioned as the "Polonsk Religious Teacher" in chapter 2.  He was born approximately in 1865 and orphaned at the age of 11 as a result of pogroms.  His father’s name was Eliezer. He married Velye Birnbaum.  Velye’s parents were Henoch Birnbaum and Itka Nitzberg.  Henoch's mother was Leah Birnbaum.  Mordechai and Velye at first had three children, Leah and Eliezer and one other daughter. He left to America in 1902. The younger sister died when she was little.  Leah watched the store they had (or worked in) so her Mother could take care of the sick sister. The child had measles and then from that got sicker.  Mordechai Fishman returned from America and they had four more children, Henye, Henoch, Menye, and Leib. (The exact order may not be correct.)

Leah and a girlfriend, accompanied by her father, took the train from Poland to Bremerhaven, where the two young women embarked for New York. In Bremerhaven she saw indoor plumbing for the first time. They sailed aboard the Kronprinz Frederich Wilhelm to America from Bremerhaven, Germany, arriving in New York via Ellis Island on February 10, 1914.  Leah was born in 1893, so she would have been 20 at that time (her birthday was in Sept., when she would have been 21).  Leah lived to the age 95 on December 5, 1988 (26 Kislev).

Eliezer Fishman married and moved to another town where he had six children.

Henoch left to study in yeshiva.

In the mid 1930's, Mordechai Fishman came again to the U.S. hoping to bring over the rest of the family. Unfortunately, WWII broke out before he was able to do so.  Shortly before the war, Henye took ill and passed away.

Henoch spent the war years in Shanghai, China and then came to the U.S.

Mordechai Fishman passed away at the age of 96 in 1961.

-- Steve Morse