My Grandmother Gussie’s father was Hirsch Leib HaLevy Abramowitz.
What does Hirsch’s name signify? Hirsch would be his first name. Leib would be his middle name. Most Jewish men had 2 names: a Yiddish one used by the family and a Hebrew one used in the synagogue. Leib would be his Hebrew name. HaLevy or HaLevi would be inherited from his father’s side of the family. It would designate an unbroken line from the Levites of ancient Israel. This status would give Hirsch privileges and responsibilities in synagogue rituals. What we don’t know is if he used that as his last name or was just called that as a sign of respect.
Based on the passport for found for Hirsch, we assume his father’s name was Isak, and that Hirsch was born in Bauska on May 27, 1844. (1), (2)
We also learn that the passport was issued in Riga, and that he was married and Jewish.
Since the passport was turned into the Riga police on May 19, 1920, we assume that he died before then.
From the JewishGen.org listing of his passport, we learn his address at the time. If you look at the passport numbers, it appears he had two passports. One could have been for internal travel within Latvia, and one for external travel to other countries.
Hirsh married Etel Smarkovitch. There are three reasons I believe they were living, at least for a time, in Jelgava (Mitau).
- The registration of one son’s birth record was recorded in Mitau.
- There are many Smarkovitchs’ listed in JewishGen.org in Mitau so it is likely that is where Etel was from.
- Two of their sons listed their last residence as Mitau on their ship manifest when immigrating to the United States.
Hirsch and Etel had 10 children. All but 2 emigrated to the United States and South Africa.
Based on a birth record of one of his sons and also on family stories, we know Hirsch was a butcher for the Tzar. I was also told he raised cattle but do not have any proof for this part of the story.
- Passport from the YadVaShem Central DB of Shoah Victims Names
- Translations of passport from various people from the Facebook Group, Tracing The Tribe