From Galicia to Brooklyn: Seven Generations of My Family

This is a photograph of the Jewish cemetery in Rymanów, a town in southeastern Poland about two hours from Krakow. To the east is Ukraine, to the south, Slovakia. The entire area was part of the Galicia region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from which so many Eastern European Jews came to the US and elsewhere.

Rymanów’s Jewish population dates back to the fifteenth century; the town had a distinguished line of Hasidic rabbis. After the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, they set up a POW camp near Rymanów, where after 1941 they killed about ten thousand Soviet soldiers. They then used the camp as a transit camp for the area’s Jews, who were sent to various extermination camps to be murdered.

Rymanów is also the closest place that we can trace—on my mother’s mother’s side—my family’s origins.

My great great great grandfather was Arthur Sohn; my great great great grandmother was Lena Gross. Arthur and Lena had Moishe in 1832.

My other great great great grandfather was Abraham Zalmanowitz; my other great great great grandmother was Pearl Cohen. Abraham and Pearl had Faiga or Faigie sometime around 1852.

Moishe and Faigie were married sometime before 1880. Faigie was Moishe’s second wife; his first wife had died.

Moishe and Faigie had five kids. Their youngest was Pauline, who was born in 1892 in Rymanów. Their second eldest was Rebecca, who was born in 1882; we don’t know where.

Moishe, Faigie, and their five children—including Rebecca—emigrated to the States not long after Pauline was born, in the 1890s. I don’t know if Rymanów was the town they had been living in or was simply the town in which Pauline was born. But it’s the only specific location we have for this side of my family.

Rebecca, or Becky, had a daughter, also named Pauline (my Grandma Pauline), and two other children: my Aunt Bea and my Uncle Leo.

Pauline had my mom, who had me.

With my daughter Carol, that makes seven generations. From Galicia to Brooklyn.


  1. mariapalestina January 4, 2015 at 8:42 pm | #

    Thanks for sharing your family’s journey, Corey. One note: Did you mean Abraham and Pearl?

    “Abraham and Lena had Faiga or Faigie sometime around 1852.”

    • Corey Robin January 4, 2015 at 8:50 pm | #

      Yikes! Thanks, just fixed it.

      On Sun, Jan 4, 2015 at 8:42 PM, Corey Robin wrote:


  2. Reza January 4, 2015 at 9:28 pm | #

    Thank you for sharing this. The luckiest of all is perhaps your daughter Carol.

  3. xenon2 January 4, 2015 at 10:02 pm | #

    I can trace my ancestry back to my parents, period.
    You are so fortunate to go back seven generations.

  4. Philip Eismann January 5, 2015 at 6:35 pm | #

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