Max brought 4 of his siblings to the USA around the turn of the century, but was he able to get the rest of his family out of Latvia or did they perish in the Holocaust?

Gussie Abramowitz Blieden was the daughter of Hirsch (Harry) Lev HaLevy and Yetta (Jetta) Shmarkovich (aka Etel Smekovitz). She had 9 siblings: Max, Sarah, Samuel, Abraham, Anne Marie, Leiser, and 3 other brothers. Below is a little bit about each one of them.


Max – never married,b, abt 1866, d. 04/03/1958, buried in Mt. Lebanon Cemetery, Glendale, Queens, NY

Max, the oldest child of Etel Smetkovitz and Hirsch Lev HaLevy, left Latvia rather than be conscripted in the Czar’s army.  He came to the United States and took a job peddling ice and coal door to door, carrying the ice on his back.  He saved enough money to send for four of his brothers and sisters to join him: Sarah, Gussie, Samuel, and Abe.  During WWII, he tried to get his 2 remaining brothers and their families out of Latvia, but to no avail. (I can still remember the crying and screaming that occurred when we all found out they had perished.)  When he was in his 50’s, the doctors told him he had to stop working. For exercise, he would walk to the stock market where he started to invest. He was thus able to live comfortably.

Towards the end of his life, he needed someone to take care of him, so he bought his nephew Bernie a house knowing he would live with them. The house was in Teaneck, NJ.  He moved in with us.  He walked so slowly and stooped over.  On Shabbat he walked several blocks to attend Synagogue.  I always worried about him crossing the busy Queen Anne Road since he walked so slowly.  I remember my mother making boiled potatoes and herring for him for Sunday dinner as that is what he enjoyed.

He went to spend the winter in FL as was his usual custom.  While there, he had a heart attack and died.  He was 92 when he died.  He is buried in Mt. Lebanon Cemetery in Glendale, Queens, NY.


Sarah Abramowitz Freedman (left) and her sister, Gussie Abramowitz Blieden

Sarah (Sora) left Russia at age 19 with her sister, Gussie (Gutte), and sailed to Ellis Island from Copenhagen on the ship named “Island.”

Sarah married Charles Freedman.  They had 4 children:

  • Henry (Friedman—from uncorrected misspelling on birth certificate) who married Cecelia and settled in Rome, NY, and had 3 children: Helen, Elliott, and Joel
  • Dorothy who married Kal Sekely.  They had 3 children: Carole, Muriel, and Mike
  • Fraternal twin daughters:
    • Hellen Hertz –  (11/18/1917 – 06/15/2011) who married and divorced Herman Hertz. They had 2 daughters:  Melodie and Bonnie
    • Edith Zegun –  (11/18/1917 – 04/24/2011) who married David Zegun. They had 2 daughters: Elaine and Shirley


Samuel who married Sarah Gefen.  They had one daughter

  • Bea Ames

Samuel died from a heart attack after police raided a poker game he was in.  Their daughter Bea Ames took care of her mother and married Larry White late in life.  Aunt Lois Blieden and I attended the wedding. Not long after getting married, Bea suffered a massive stoke and eventually passed away.


Abe Abramowitz

Abe married Eva.  They had 6 children:

  • Sarah who had a son
  • Francis who married Abe Silver.  They had 2 sons.
  • Morris (Sol)
  • Nettie who married Harry Goldkrantz and had 3 children.
  • Lee who married Mr. Brown.  They had one son
  • Ethel who married Chuck Unger.  They had 4 children.

Abe is buried in Mt. Zion Cemetary in Plot 13.

Abr Abramowitz Burial Note
Note found in old prayer book belonging to Gussie (Abramowitz) and Harvey Blieden

Anne Marie

Anne Marie (Hannah Mary) – settled in the Ukraine and had twins, a boy and a girl and died young.

Brother– who emigrated to South Africa

Another brother who emigrated to South Africa


Leiser and another brother stayed in the Riga, Latvia,  area and they and their families were killed in the holocaust.

In 1935, Sarah and Charles Friedman, visited Riga and always talked about how well-off her brother was. One brother had five children.  One brother ran a grocery store and one was very wealthy and had an apartment house with 4 elevators.  He even sent Sarah’s daughter, Dorothy Sekeley, a wedding gift of six very heavy sterling serving spoons.

Leiser  was born in Salaspils, Latvia in 1883 to Hirsch.  He was a merchant.  Leiser was married to Mera Hait, born 04/21/1899 in Riga, Latvia.  During the war they lived in the Riga Ghetto.  She was the daughter of Gershon and was a housewife. They had the following chilren: Itzak (b. 1922), Abram (b. 1924), Peisach (b. 1927),  Eta (b. 1929)

Another brother who perished with his family in the holocaust. A little about him is mentioned about in the section on Leiser.

Additional Research:

  • There was a son, Leib, born to Jetta Smarkovich and Hirsch on 8/10/1874.  What happened to this son?
    Leib Amramowitz Birth Record

Leib Amramowitz Birth Record
From, the Latvian Births Database