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Family history by Annie Berman

Click here to see photos of Annie & Herman

INTRODUCTION (Written in February 1994)


I am Annie Berman, the youngest daughter of Elke Sauce "Sonia", who was the youngest child of Feivel and Beila Chasin - my grandparents.  My mother, Sonia, adored her sisters and brothers and nieces and nephews and kept in constant touch with all of them. Therefore, I had the privilege of meeting all my relatives who lived in the United States and Canada.


Mama used to tell stories, which I remember, about her life in Daved Horodok and her family.  In this so-called tree, I will omit some details which various relatives have asked me to omit for their own reasons.


Zadie Feivel was a Nicoliaker Soldat (probably kidnapped at age 7 or 9) and served 25 years in the Tsar's personal Army. This gave him some privileges, such as special Yellow Passes, which permitted them to live anywhere in Russia they chose to live. And, this is where the error in my mother's birthdate arose. I remember her telling me that when she needed a pass, she was too young by 2 years, so she added 2 years to her birthdate and changed the date to 1888. She kept that date 'the rest of her life. However, if her older brother was born in 1888, and there was a child between them (a boy) this was not possible. That would make her date of birth 1890. Remember, girls birthdates were never recorded - just the boys who would have to serve in the Army. To go on –


According to Mama, her mother Beila was a very independent woman (pre Women's Lib) and she would not live in a large town. So, she stayed in Daved Horodok and raised her children there. And Zadie worked in a so-called big town and was home for the Holidays and probably Shabbat.


Daved Horodok was on the border of Russia and Poland, so depending on who won the current skirmish - it was considered either Russia or Poland. The town was so small that when a fire broke out, before anyone could yell “Fire”, half of the town was up in flames.


Our Bubbie insisted that all of her children, girls as well as boys, be educated. So Mama, born in this tiny hamlet could read, write and speak Russian, Polish and Yiddish, could read Hebrew and Daven - and spoke Goyish -the language of the peasants. Girls in those days were not educated - I met several of my mother’s friends who could not read or write in any language.


I don't know how much education Bubbie had, but she could read Hebrew and Davened. She also wore a sheitle (wig) -and according to Mama, was a truly wonderful human being who was well respected in their town.  Unfortunately, I know little of my grandparents’ parents, except that my grandmother’s mother was named Chana Libe. I know because I was named for her.


Our Zadie died of pneumonia when Mama was 15 and Bubbie died of a respiratory ailment when Mama was 17 - and so at 17 she was orphaned. When her mother died, she sat up all night with her alone until the burial. So, Mama sat with respect and love with her parents so that the soul would not be alone. Incidentally, when her brother Avramel died, she sat in his hospital room with him until the end. After the death of her parents, I think Mama lived with Chana -her oldest sister.  I do not know the date of birth of Zadie, but I think Bubbie was born in 1850.   I do know - each was 57 when they died.


Our Bubbie was known as "Beile de Neiterke" in the town. She was a seamstress and our Zaide was a tailor.  There were six children:

  • Maishe Dovod (Morris David)

  • Chana

  • Yente (Etta)

  • Avramel (Abraham)

  • a beautiful baby boy -died of an Ainhorah

  • Elke Sauce "Sonia" renamed by immigration in Halifax as Sophie - he could not spell Sonia


Starting with Maishe Dovod, I will take one family at a time and write all I know about that family. Hopefully, I will get all the pertinent facts. As some of you know I have been trying for years to get information. And I am sorry there is information I don't have. So, forgive the length of time this has taken.


I know I said at the beginning that I would not reveal 'secrets' I was asked to keep. But I have two stories I have to tell all of you. The story of Romance cannot hurt anyone –


When Jack Pasman arrived in Detroit, of course, he stayed with us. My mother had sent for him (that is the second story) -he was her Godson. Sophie Simkin (a singer and pianist) used to come to Detroit from Toronto to visit. When these two met - they fell in love. I was a very little girl but I do remember the hand holding and the 'necking' and they wanted to get married. But, they were first cousins – the children of two sisters - so that was out. As small as I was, I remember how sad I was. Sophie never married - Jack did.


The other story: As I told you before, my mother adored her siblings. She ran to Yente whenever Tante got siok, which was often - and they all visited us. Meishe Dovod lived in New York. Yente lived in Toronto. Ontario and Avramel had already or

was about to try his fortune in California.  Prior to that, he lived either with Yente in Toronto or Sonia in Detroit before moving to California. Mama wanted Chana to come to America also. She missed Chana and felt they would all be better off in America. She asked her sister and brothers for money. They sent her whatever they could ~ or would and Mama borrowed the rest at the famous Morris Plan. Then she sent 11 tickets to Sarny for Chana and Alter,the six children - Elke was married and her husband and children as well (NOTE THIS ONE IS BABA).  When the tickets arrived, Uncle Alter said he was not going to America and he turned in all the tickets and bought a larger barber shop instead. His children were upset and my mother was fit to be tied. It took her many years to pay off the loan, and she had to do without to do so.


She then got another ticket and sent for Jack. He then sent for Sonia and then Grisha (or the other way around). Grisha could not come into this country, so he went to Argentina. When he married Nadia there - none of us knew of his marriage. When he finally came to America, he wound up in the hospital - had his appendix out and then came to us and my mother nursed him.


It was the early thirties and Mama was very worried about those still in Poland.  She knew Feivel would have to serve in the Polish Army and the storm clouds were gathering. She went to her friend - Lawyer Schlissel and asked his advice. The solution would be for me (I was 15 or 16 at the time) to go to Poland - marry Feivel and come back - he could then enter the country as my husband - and then after his papers were in order, I could divorce him.  Mama's fortune in the bank of $500 was lost - (remember the Bank holiday) and she had no money. She tried to raise the money.  And - there were those who couldn't and then there were those who wouldn't. She even sent me to New York to try.


When the Germans marched on Poland in 1939, Uncle Alter refused to leave. He told his family, he had lived in Sarny all of his life and no one would bother him. Elke, her husband and the girls Bronia and Bella left to try to walk to Russia. Shaya, Alter's son-in-law felt terrible. He told Elke he would go back to try to convince him to leave with Chana. The three of them were caught – and were shot and buried in a mass grave -35000 Jews were shot and burned.


Many years later, when Jack learned what had happened to his parents and brother-in-law, he came to see his Aunt Sonia and to tell her the story. There are no words to tell you my mother's reaction. She went to her grave never forgiving her brother-in-law for the horrible death of her beloved sister. Elke and the girls walked and hid and walked and hid -and finally made some

sort of connection and were evacuated to the Caucasians on a cattle car that could only ride at night.  Basia was on this same oar and they were reunited. They spent the rest of the war in the Caucasian Mountains where Elke worked in the potato fields and the girls went to school. After the war, Elke and the girls went back to Poland to see what had happened to Chana, Alter and Shaya. They had nothing – no money, no food. They met Sony Bronkesh who got them food and somehow got them into an American D. P. Camp in Germany.


I don't know how, but Basia got to France, where she settled, and I think she married Nathan there.  We here, did not know if any of them had survived the War. Elke had a terrible skin problem with her hands and went to the Base Hospital. She met an American soldier who was a patient and his friend who had come to see him.  I think one or both of them understood Yiddish. Elke said to them "When the war is over and you are back home, would you please place a story in the Yiddish paper to let my sister and brothers know I am alive and here with my daughters?


The soldier was so moved by her story, he wrote to his mother that night and she placed the story in the Forwards (the Jewish Newspaper). Neither Sonia nor Grisha who lived in New York or Jack who lived in Detroit, read that paper. But Jack and Grisha each had a friend who did - when they read the story they called Jack and Grisha. Since none of us knew what had happened to any of them -you can imagine the excitement.


Minnie and Jack Chasin were very friendly with a Congressman from New York. (Jack said the Congressman had a crush on Minnie). He agreed to help and got a special bill passed in Congress for Elke, Bronia and Sony (they were married by then), their daughter Annette and Bela to come to America -and soon they did. Bela wanted to marry Joseph who was still in Europe, so she went to Montreal where a friend of her grandmother Chana signed the papers for Joseph to come to .Montreal - and also for Basia and Nathan to come to Montreal as well.


I nearly forgot what I think is a darling story and so typical of my mother. When Bea Hubbard (Simkin) was 60, she learned for the first time that Sophie was a half-sister Etta's daughter. So, Bea came to California to see my mother and try to learn the details. My mother's answer? - "Kinder dafinit visin die zakin" (Children don’t have to know these things.) I told Bea she could have asked me - I knew all the details. The only thing I never found out was Sophie's father’s name.


Family Tree: Children of Feivel and Beile


MAISHE DOVOD (Morris David) CHASIN 1879-1934 (Tailor)

married Sarah Ginsberg (1884-1931) (Nurse) 3 sons


  • H. Jack Chasin 1903-2/25/78 - (Supervisor - U.S. Post Office) married Minnie Medgebow 6/2/09- 8/25/90

    • Florence Anne 12/17/29 - married Martin Wechter 3/16/52

      • Sheila Wechter 3/26/56 - married Benjamin Sumilat on 11/26/79

        • Anna Michelle - 1/25/85

  • Phillip Johann Chasin bom 1910 (Retired Banker) married Florence Friedman (1912-1981) in 1932. In 1982 Phil married Blanche G. Rubenstein


  • Susan Toni - 1/30/46

  • Mark B. 2/10/42 - married Rena Bleiweis

    • Jeffrey David - 5/15/65

    • Larry Jay 10/8/69

    • Marni Beth 3/22/72

  • Samuel Solomon Chasin 4/29/12 - died ?) (Watch Parts business. Married Helen Weintraub (born 7/15/17) on 2/4/36.  David was a purchasing agent for watch parts and then worked with Marylin in silk flower business

    • David 7/15/37 – Marylin (5/22/40) - married 6/11/61

      • Eric - 11/04/62

      • Mark - U/ 5/ 64

      • Andrew 5/24/68

Footnote: Many of us gathered in Miami to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of Jack and Minnie. Very sadly, Jack died the morning of the anniversary. We attended services instead the next day.


CHANA CHASIN 1881-1939 - married Alter Pasman ? -1939 no wedding date - 6 children:

  • Sonia - 1898- - Louis Zimmerman(t-2/90) married 6/1;/3; - no ohildren

  • Elke 1899-1964 - Shaye Zimmeran (1899-1939) married 1920 - 2 children

    • Bronia - 4/22/21 – Sam Bronkesh 3/14/15; - married 10/14/45 - 2 children

      • Annette 7/46 - Richard Jaffe 1/28/47 - married 6/17/70 - 2 children (Annette and Richard both PHD- chemistry)

        • Elizabeth Rebecca 4/24/77

        • Matthew Aaron 7/22/80

      • Sheryl - 9/27/50 - Edward Buchbinder 8/17/49 married 5/20/73 - 1 ohild

        • Emily Miriam - 11/23/78

    • Bela - 8/24 - Joseph Braun 5/7/25 -married 11/7/48 - 2 children

      • Henrv 9/28/49 - Rita - married 12/26/71 - 3 children; Henry is a PhD in statistics - Rita English degree

        • Ilana - ;/12/74

        • Nora -~1./2/80

        • Jonathan - 1/13/88

      • Esther Ann 3/23/58 - Douglas Wyman 9/18/57 -married 10/31/82 - 2 children;  Esther is an M.D. and Douglas is with the University in Hamilton, Ontario

  • Jillian Viotoria 4/27/89

  • Benjamin - March 92


  • Jack born 9/21 (?) - married Leah Hecht - 2 children

    • Robert Fred 3/8/31 - Joan Ruth Lefton ;/31/32 - married 3/28/53. 4 children. Robert is an Attorney.

  • Mark Adam - 7/22/55

  • Robin Alise - 9/5/57 - James Wesley Hudson 11/24/66 -married 512/79 and have 3 children

    • Jordana Webster - ;/12/83

    • Aldan Elyse - 10/2/8;

    • Jacquelin J. Grace -11/8/88


  • Stephanie Lynn - 9/11/60 -Steven Gary Wollach 4/30/54  married 6/11/83

    • Seth Leigh - 5/29/88

  • Lauren Stacy - 7/18/63

  • Judith - 1/21/41 - George Litman - 10/15/39 - married 10/13/63   4 children. Judy is an R.N. and Reg. Dietician. George is Chief Cardiologist at Cleveland Gen. Hospital

  • Scott - 11/1/65 - (Photographer)

  • Amy Beth - 8/5/67 - (Medical Student in 1989)

  • Kimberly Hope - 3/14/69 - English Degree

  • Meagan Diane - 1/31/83 - born in Korea - adopted


  • Grisha – 1906 - 4/13/93 - Nadia - married in 1925 in Argentina - 1 adopted child. Nadia died in 1979 - Grisha married Doris several years later who died (?)


  • Isabel - married Gene Garfinkle in 1964 - 1 child

  • Rachel - married George Zivolas –September 1989

    • Son Chris born May 1991

  • Feivel - December 1910- - died in Prisoner of War Camp in Germany in 1940 or 1941; was told it was typhus.


  • Basia - 7-/-/1912 - Nathan Marcus - married 5/15/46 - One child. Nathan had business in Montreal

  • MarvAnn - 9/18/51 - Ken Harrison - married 9/4/80 ; 2 children

  • Lily - 11/19/81

  • Kelly- 6/23/84

YENTE (ETTA) CHASIN born about 1883 - Morris Simkin (about 1883) no wedding date

Etta married at 18 (?) widowed after six months then married in London – 1 child - then married Morris Simpkin and came to Toronto. Morris raised Sophie as his own. Etta died in 1950.

  • Sophie - 5/13/03 -- Was a mezzo soprano and pianist -never married.

  • Louise Lillian 7/27/08 - married Benjamin Lebof 6/27/33 - (he died 9/17/86); no children

  • Beatrice Violet 6/12/15 - - Walter Hubbard 7/14/14 - married 8/29/36; 1 child. Walter - retired Plastic Mfg.

    • Peter - 3/7/42 - - married Annabel Duff 8 /14/64; 1 child. Peter is an attorney. Peter and Annabel divorced -then married Carolyn Rose (9/21/47); married 10/21/87


  • Elizabeth Ann (Lisa) 6/27/69


AVRAMEL CHASIN (Abraham) 1888-1942 - changed his name to PASSMAN - (Tailor)

Mama said he changed his name because of an argument with a Chasin cousin - who knows. Uncle was about 40 when he married. He wanted to marry a widow with a child to be sure he could have a child. He succeeded. Chene (Jenny) Aronow - 1888-1975

  • Albert Aronow - 5/12/13 - 4/14/90 - married Betty Altman. He was a chemist.

  • Annie Sophie Passman 11/24/28 - Elmer L. McMichel 11/13/28 - married 10/2/54. divorced; 1 child. Annie was a school teacher - now in investments. Elmer was a pilot with Eastern Air Lines - now retired.

    • Judith Ann - 8/15/55 - Gary Howard - 5/15/46 - married 1984 - 1 child together.

      • Ashley Shannon - 2/19/85

Gary's children from previous marriage - living with them.

  • Michelle Lee - 10/29/72

  • Gary Lee. Jr. - 5/31/69

Betty and Albert were divorced. Albert married Alice Davies 10/12/57

Annie was named for uncle’s two favorite nieces - Annie Altman and Sophie Simkin.


ELKE SAUCE (Sonia)CHASIN - 7/90-9/9/79 - Eli Altman 1884-8/2/46 - married 1911; divorced in 1931. 2 children

  • Betty - 8/16/12 - Albert Aronow - married 1/33 - 2 children. Divorced in 1957 -Betty practiced law for many years.

    • Maureen - 11/25/34 - Alexander H. Ellenberg - 10/13/34 - married 8/8/54 - 2 children. Maureen is a retired schoolteacher & Sandy is a Plastic Surgeon

      • Steven Aronow 4/25/63 - Susan Slater 5/20/66 - married 5/27/90; both attorneys - first child expected Feb. 1994

      • Gary Joel  - 2/19/66 - Aspiring Producer

    • Ruth Naomi - 6/1/37 - Alfred H. Sporer - 5/28/29 - married 8/14/55 - 2 children. Ruthie has a degree in English – Al PhD in Chemistry

      • Amy Lynne - 9/21/58 - Daniel Schiff - 2/21/58 -married 8/4/85 - 2 children. Amy was a school teacher - Dan is in investments and is a writer.

        • Rachel - 7/18/88

        • Frank - 6/8/91

      • Julie Adina - 8/9/60 - Stuart Krigel 1/30/61 - married 1/21/90 -1 child. Julie is a graphic artist -Stuart is a psychiatrist.

        • Benjamin - 4/7/93

  • Annie Lillian - 9/5/16 - Herman Berman 5/10/21 - married 3/25/48 -1 child. Annie – bookkeeper/accountant.  Herman retired jeweler and plaque Maker extradinaire. 1 child.

  • Tara Belinda - 8/3/49 - Moshe Kaiserman 12/9/50 - married 10/6/72. 5 children. Tara was an R.N.B.S. taught nursing (now retired). Moshe - Engineer - now co-owner with Tara of the Herman Berman Company.

    • Dafna Elvira - 10/6/74

    • Mya Shoshana - 9/1/77

    • Elon Shimon - 11/25/78

    • Avi Chai - 10/23/83

    • Shalev Ani - 11/23/86

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