Hunting in Zhytomyr

For many years I have been searching for my Moldavsky family. I know my grandfather, Ber Moldavsky was born in Zhytomyr. When I was on-site researching in the Zhytomyr archives in 2009, I found his birth record. That record identified his parents and his grandfathers. Since it had his parents’ names, and I already knew who they were, I knew I had the correct person.

Ber’s father, Simche, left Europe in 1906 for the United States. Ber was born during his father’s journey. Simche’s wife, Shaina Mintza Farber and her 3 older children had, I speculated, gone to live with her mother in Zhytomyr. They probably stayed there until Shaina Mintza, now with 4 children, left for the US in 1910.

Simche’s passenger manifest gave his last place of residence as “Ozjew”. That was written pretty clearly. For years I thought it must be somewhere near Zhytomyr but didn’t find any place with a similar name where Jews had resided. I also thought that because I found no other records for Simche, that perhaps this Moldavsky family did not reside in Zhytomyr for long. I knew that Shaina Mintza’s family had probably been in that area for several generations and during my research in the archives found records for the Kaminer family and the Farber family, the latter being Shaina Mintza’s birth surname and the former being the surname of a family one of her siblings married into.

Now I have new information, thanks to the dedicated Ukraine SIG volunteer who is translating the Zhytomyr vital records for indexing. I found the 1868 marriage record of Simche’s parents! The additional information I got from that record included his grandfather’s names and his mother’s maiden name. Additionally it did not record that his parents were from outside of Zhytomyr. This means that the family had been in Zhytomyr longer than I thought, and perhaps I just hadn’t look far enough into records when I was researching.

I decided after identifying the 1868 marriage record, to look further in Shoah records to see if any of the family appeared on any lists. I did find many people who were killed, with that surname,  and who had either Pages of Testimony or were on lists collected by Yad Vashem. To my surprise, I think I’ve now identified that mysterious Ozjew!  There is a place called Orgejew that was in Romania during the interwar period and in Bessarabia before WWI – this was really Orgeyev and now is Orhei, Moldova. Orgiejew was the Polish name for it. There were two families named Moldawski living there who were killed during the Shoah with their children who were born in the 1930s. What if Simche, Shaina Mintza and several of his siblings went there?

I don’t have the answer to that question yet – I have to do some research in Romanian and Moldovan records, now. It does mean more work, but I’m excited – after over 30 years of research, there is still more to be found.

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