We always knew that our Great-Uncle Max Abramowitz came to this country first, worked hard, and saved money to bring over his 4 youngest siblings. My grandmother, Gussie, was one of them.
Growing up through the years, I met a few Abramowitz relatives, but besides Uncle Max, I never really got to know my Abramowitz aunts and uncles. This is what I remember about that side of the family:
- We were at Uncle Max’s 90th birthday party. I was only about 10 years old but I became aware that Grandma’s sister was on the other side of the room. Grandma had a sister!? I never was aware of that before, but I was excited to learn this. “Grandma”, I asked, “Don’t you want to sit near your sister?” She just shrugged, but a little later on, I did see them sitting together and a picture was snapped of the 2 of them. Did they talk on the phone and just not think it important to mention each other to their grandchildren? Were they angry with each other for some reason and didn’t talk? We will never know.
- Max’s brother, Sam, died young from a heart attack but the family kept in touch with his daughter, Bea Ames. I remember her well and even attended her wedding in the 1960’s. She often came to family events at my Aunt Lois’ and Uncle Arthur’s home.
- I remember hearing about Max’s brother, Abe, and I know the family stayed in touch with him, but I don’t remember ever meeting his family.
- My Aunt Mildred was very close to her cousin, Dorothy Sekeley, daughter of Sarah Abramowitz Freedman. Through Aunt Mildred I met Dorothy and we became pen pals for many years due to my interest in family history. However, she never spoke about her own children so I never got to know about them. However, at Aunt Mildred’s 80th birthday party, Dorothy was there with her son, Michael, so I did get to meet him briefly that one time.
My father, my Aunt Mildred, and my Uncle Arthur did keep in touch with their Abramowitz cousins through the years and because of that, my sister, Avra, and I invited them to our weddings, to honor of our father’s and Grandma Gussie’s family.
After that we totally lost touch and knew no one in our own generation. All of that changed in 2018.
After finding and connecting with my newly discovered mother’s birth family on 23andme.com, I decided to test with Ancestry.com, also, to see if there were any other cousins from my mother’s birth family that I could meet. I never expected to find my Abramowitz family, but lo and behold, that is what happened.
One day, I noticed a 2nd cousin, hsilver. On June 27, 2018, this is what I messaged him “According to Ancestry.com’s DNA matches it looks like we might be second cousins. Would you like to pursue how? I know one of my grandmother’s brothers (Abe Abramowitz) had a daughter who married a Silver. I am wondering if you could be from that family.” To my delight, Harry replied and we have been in touch ever since. I learned that he is a Vietnam Vet and that my brother, Ira, remembers being at the party his parents made in his honor when he returned home from the war. I was married and living in Milwaukee already so this event was never conveyed to me. I am now also connected with his daughter, Adrienne.
Almost a year later, a noticed a new 2nd cousin on 23andme.com, Elyse Friedman, so I messaged her. Based on who else she was closely related to in my DNA cousins list, I guessed that she was related on my Abramowitz side. I was correct! I found out she descends from Sarah Abramowitz Freedman, my grandmother’s sister. Elyse answered me right away and put me in touch with her father, Joel, who put me in touch with his sister, Helen. Through Helen, I virtually met cousins Shirley Zegun-Grana, Robin Sirota Bassin, Maggie Farkas, and more! Although most of us have not met in person yet, I feel like we are old friends already! There are so many Abramowitz cousins on Facebook that I set up an Abramowitz cousins group.
In October of 2019, when I was going to help out with my grandkids in Long Island, I arranged to meet up with Maggie Farkas, daughter of Dorothy Sekely and granddaughter of Sarah Abramowitz Freedman, who lives on the Island. We met for lunch, and Maggie’s daughter, Kathy Farkas Elfenbein, came too. What a special and emotional reunion that was! We both brought along old photos and looked through them during lunch while sharing stories about our grandmothers. In many ways, the sisters were alike. One thing that really struck me was both Maggie and I were told the same thing after our grandmothers died. That is, that they had difficult lives and could be difficult people but we should remember them fondly. And of course, we do.
I hope the coming year will bring more reunions and new discoveries about our Abramowitz ancestors. In the meantime, I think they are smiling down on us for reconnecting!