On a recent trip to Michigan, we had the good fortune to meet with several relatives for the first time. Jay (7708,Pl.A-14aa) and Elaine (7712) Iskow of West Bloomfield graciously hosted a family reunion on May 29th, Memorial Day. Barbara Charlip (7623) and her cousin Eliot Charlip (7615) were instrumental in arranging the gathering which included family members ranging from college students to seniors approaching ninety. Julius Greenberg, an 85 year-old medical doctor still in practice, remembered that his family's name was not Greenberg, but Budovitch. Budovitch was derived from Budowla and the Budowlas, in turn, were descended from the branch of the Charlop family that settled in the Slonim/Lechowicz area. Julius' father emigrated from Russia/Poland to St. John, New Brunswick because Budovitch relatives were already established there. From St. John, the Budovitch clan spread across Canada and became successful merchants, operating a string of large emporiums known as the Budd Department Stores in such cities as Kitchener, Ontario. Others stayed in the New Brunswick/Nova Scotia region. Here was a whole new branch of the family to investigate! But it was not the only one.
Eliot, and others at the reunion, recalled that Ben Sharlip (943) was a leading violinist with the renowned Philadelphia Orchestra. Whenever the symphony would play in the detroit area, Ben would visit with the family. He was the son of Israel Sharlip (Charlap) (9437), a klezmer musician who arrived in Philadelphia from the Slonim region. Subsequent to this recent reunion, Eliot did some detective work and discovered Leon Sharlip (9488), a retired Philadelphia history teacher. We have been in contact with Leon and now have several hundred new Charlap family members who stem from the branch that settled in Philadelphia. They spell the name in a variety of ways; Scharlop, Tscharlop, Sharlip, Charlip, etc. We are gathering details about the history of this branch. Leon, by the way, has engaged in his own Jewish historical research. On July 4, 1993, he published a monograph entitled Jewish Patriots of the American Revolution.
On to the Maritimes! A June visit to St. John, New Brunswick yielded still more information about the family. There is a Jewish Museum in St. John associated with Shaarei Tzedek Synagogue. Upon hearing our story, the director opened the museum's archives to us. There was a veritable gold mine about the Budovitch family. Between research in these records and at the Jewish cemetery we were beginning to put together the history of this hardy family to the north. Sadly, the St. John Jewish community is facing attrition and there are no Budovitch relatives left there. The movement of Jews is due to poor economic conditions. St. John, once a major port of eastern North America, has fallen on hard times since the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Young Jews, mostly university graduates, are seeking professional careers in such growth centers as Vancouver and Toronto. We did learn that a large group of our family moved to Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick.
In Fredericton, we met Arnold (9751) and Mitchell (9750) Budovitch and their families. They are the sons of Frank (9710), born in St. John in 1920. Frank was away from town, but Arnold and Mitch were able to provide a great deal of missing information. They also introduced us t o Rabbi David Spiro of Sgoolai Yisrael Synagogue, who knew even more about the history of the Budovitch presence in the Canadian Maritimes. The investigation continues.
The Budovitch family is a branch of the Charlaps that flourished in Minsk Guberniya in what is now Byelorussia in the nineteenth century. They lived in Slonim, Baranowicze, Nesvizh, and Lechowicze (Lachowitz). Near the beginning of the twentieth century, many Budovitch relatives emigrated from the cruel tsarist empire. A goodly number landed in Saint John, New Brunswick, then a major port on the eastern coast of North America. From Saint John the family spread to Fredericton, the capital city of New Brunswick and to other sections of Canada. This is the success story of one group of Budovitchs.
In 1926 Lou Budd (Budovitch) (9400,Pl.A-14dda), then a 25 year-old travelling salesman in the Canadian Maritimes, heard of a family clothing store for sale in Kitchener, Ontario. He packed his bags, left his native Saint John, New Brunswick, and bought out the Davis Economic Store. There are conflicting stories about how the name was shortened. The conventional wisdom is that Budovitch was a Jewish-sounding name and with anti-semitism rife, it behooved a prudent businessman to change it. Another story tells that the new store was too narrow to accommodate a sign with such a long name on it. In any event, in March of 1926 Lou sent for his younger brothers Morton (9403). Jack (9402), and Nathan (10179). The four of them had little more than a "shoestring and a prayer". But they were a closely-knit aggressive group with plenty of initiative, vision, and a good credit rating. The four brothers sat down in their little store back then in March of 1926 and formulated a policy which was destined to bring them success: offer quality, selection, and style at reasonable prices. Be scrupulously honest about advertised bargains. Bend over backwards to give friendly, personalized service. Greet the customer with a cheery hello and do it with sincerity. If the customer is not completely satisfied, refund his money quickly. The Budd brothers realized at the outset that the success of any business depends on happy, repeat customers. The policy paid off right from the start and the customers kept returning.
In 1933, during the height of the depression when business were dropping like flies, the Budd brothers decided to expand to larger quarters. They took over a former theatre and hockey greats Charlie Conacher and King Clancy, friends of Nat Budd, signed autographs. The opening specials included two pairs of socks for $.25, men's broadcloth shirts for $.59, and two-pants all wool men's suits at $ 12.95. The expansion was to be one of many over the years. In the early 1930s, a branch store was opened in Guelph and in 1937, another in Simcoe, both towns in Ontario. Today there are five stores in the Budd chain. The original quartet are now all gone but the next generation of Budds continues in the management of the business. Back in the 1970s, Lou's son Leonard (10185) was running the Guelph store. Brothers Howie (10191) and Stanley (10192), sons of Nat, have been carrying on the traditions of their father and uncles since 1976. They are ably abetted by their wives Lynda and Esther. Esther is responsible for the impressive cildren's section.
Howie mentioned, "While other family clothing stores are going by the wayside, we seem to be growing stronger". What's important to the Budds is that they are retaining customers in an era when store loyalty is disappearing, when people shop where it's convenient to park their cars. Four generations of families have been returning to the downtown Kitchener store. They include customers from London, Ontario, Syracuse, New York, and further. The most distant regular customer, a former local man, living in Van Nuys, California still buys a certain brand of underwear from Budd's. From far-off Victoria, British Columbia, a man orders his shirts by mail. An Edmonton, Alberta loyalist orders a variety of goods. And the Budds still abide by the original policies. Here are examples of their extreme devotion to customer satisfaction.
A long-time customer living in a nursing home 20 miles out of town needed a dress in a hurry. A Budd truck delivered the dress immediately. The driver was invited to stay for tea. A few years ago, Howie received a frantic call from a customer in a nearby town. He was to be married in an hour and his tie was stained. Howie picked out a tie, raced to the other town, and was asked to stay for the wedding. The bride and groom became regular customers. Howie said that "running a store is much more than bricks, mortar, and merchandise. It's sincerely caring about people and their needs."
The Kitchener store is one of the last in Ontario to use a pneumatic cash carrier system. It was installed 63 years ago. The Budds considered replacing it with electronic cash registers but abandoned the idea. "Our system is faster and we use the time saved to spend with our customers."
Louis, Jack, Mort, and Nat had ten children amoung them. All married and there are now 22 in the next generation. Stan said that, though he and his brother studied in university and had experience in other retail establishments, their father and uncles were the best teachers and it is they who instilled the work ethic. As youngsters they swept floors and packed boxes. They still do what needs to be done from greeting customers to unloading trucks. The third generation of Budds is being groomed to take over one day.
A reunion of the Ser-Charlap family was held in Kitchener, Ontario over the weekend of October 12th and 13th. It was largely organized by Esther (10202) and Lynda (10201) Budd and Revie Walman (9660,Pl.A-14dba), all of the Budovitch branch of our family. On Saturday evening, Howard and Lynda Budd hosted a family cocktail party at their home. Most of the out of town attendees were there and had a chance to meet their newly found relatives. On October 13th, over 100 of these relatives convened for brunch and a meeting at Beth Jacob Synagogue. They came from across Canada and the United States.
Arthur Menton (58,Pl.3c), a management scientist and author, from Cold Spring Harbor, New York presented his latest publication THE BOOK OF DESTINY: TOLEDOT CHARLAP, a history of the Charlap family and its descendants. Menton began research for TOLEDOT CHARLAP over a decade ago but said his interest in genealogy began when he was seventeen years old, after the passing of his grandfather. "My grandfather was one of ten children. Four left Poland and came to America. The rest stayed behind and most of them perished in the Holocaust. They would have been blotted out of history if we didn't do something," Menton said in an interview.
His research led him back to Abraham Charlap, an eighteenth century rabbi of Nowograd, Poland. "once I made a connection to the famous Charlap rabbinic clan, I was able to go back much further in history," explained Menton. Abraham descended from Eliezer Don Yahya, a Sephardic rabbi from Constantinople and Salonika, who assumed the Charlap name upon entering Poland around 1600. The name derives from a hebrew acronym meaning "Chief Sage of the Exile in Poland." the family claims descent from king David.
THE BOOK OF DESTINY: TOLEDOT CHARLAP is a narrative history which documents the lives of the Charlap family and their experiences with some of the major events in Jewish history. "The Second World War, the cataclysmic events in Europe, and the establishment of the modern nation of Israel have intensified the desire for identity amoung the Jewish people. They want to see how their families are connected to these events, " Menton said.
Acting as President of the Ser-Charlap Family Association since 1989, Menton has helped organize several family reunions across America, in Israel, and now Canada. The Kitchener gathering was the first reunion since publication of the new book.
Revie Walman learned about Menton's work a year ago while she was in Fredericton, New Brunswick doing her own genealogical research into the Budovitch family. The Budovitch's are related to the Charlap family through the marriage of two Charlap sisters to two Budowla brothers in the nineteent century. The Budowla name has since been changed to Budovitch and Budd. Walman, whose maiden name is Budovitch, and Esther Budd both reside in the Kitchener-Waterloo area and have been working together on a Budovitch family tree for over a year. They have compiled more than 600 names covering eight generations and the list continues to grow. Both say they are motivated to record their family history aslegacy for their children. "There are many questions I wanted to ask about my family. Where do we come from? What did my family do? You lose a piece of yourself if you don't answer these questions," said Esther Budd. Walman added, "I wanted something about my family's history to pass down to my three children. Had we not started to document our familytree now, it only becomes more difficult to collect information as memories fade and as members of our familes pass away."
With the melding together of the Charlap and Budovitch families, Walman and Budd have even more history to pass on to future generations - a 12,000 member family tree. In addition, to the Budovitch/Budd family, other descendants of the Charlaps include Cear, Chalip, Charloff, Danowitz, Donchin, Don Yahya, Ibn Yahya, Kiejsmacher, Kopyto, Kur, Kuropatwa, Lapin, Levine (Lew, Lewin), Mankuta, Pakciarz, Parczewski, Pasternak, Podkowa, Rosansky, Sahr, Ser, Sier, Sir, Smolarczyk, and Tama.
There is most likely an even closer relationship between the Lapin, Budowla, and Charlap families. Family lore has it that these marriages were arranged within the family and that the mates were cousins before the betrothals. The Lapin-Charlap marriages established the family presence in Grodno Guberniya. It is probable that Lapin-Charlap unions occurred earlier a little further northwest in Suwalk Guberniya and in Lithuania. Shayna Frume Lapin and Israel Moshe Fishel Lapin are believed to be children of Pinchas Lapin of Kretinga, Kovno Guberniya, Lithuania, or children of a brother Pinchas. If it is true that our known Charlap-Lapin marriages were between cousins, then Pinchas Lapin must have had Charlap ancestry or was married to a Charlap. We are now investigating these fascinating possibilities together with Louise Lapin Haines (no stranger to these pages) of Los Angeles and Bruno Carmon of Beersheva, Israel. Bruno was born in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, managed to survive the harsh years of World War II and made aliyah in 1950. He served in the Israel Air Force and later studied for his Ph.D. in chemistry at Hebrew University. He was a prominent reseacher at the Weizmann Institute and with the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission. He is married to Natalie Rahmilevitch, granddaughter of the well known dermatologist and Jewish community leader, Dr. Abel Abba Lapin of Kovno.
In genealogy, as in geography, all rivers run eventually to the sea. When Revie Walman, nee Budovitch, moved from Fredericton, New Brunswick to Kitchener, Ontario, in 1982, she met up with her cousins, the Budds, whose grandparents had left St. John, New Brunswick for Kitchener early in the century. The question was, how were the two families related?
About 18 months ago, Wlman and her cousin Esther Budd made a concerted effort to find the answer. Questioning uncles, aunts and other relatives, they ascertained that their respective great-grandfathers had been brothers from the neighboring towns towns of Lachowicze and Baranowicze, near Slonim, Poland.
As a bonus, a Fredericton cousin provided the names of their great-great-grandparents: Shmuel Bud-owla and his wife Chaya Zlata, nee Charlap. As it happened, not only did this add another generation to the tree, it connected the family to a distinguished rabbinical line reaching back into antiuity. Arthur Menton, an American genealogist, had visited Fredericton the summer before to collect details of the Charlap connection.
In remarkably short order, Walman and Budd had charted a family tree containing about 600 names. Last month, more thn 100 relatives arrived in Kutchener from as far away as Fredericton, New Jersey and Houston to attend a family reunion. Menton, who came from Long Island, used the occasionto unveil The Book of Destiny: Toledot Charlap, his newly published 700-page magnum opus on the Charlap family, of which the Canadian Budd and Budovitch families compose but a small branch.
Menton, a 63-year-old engineer and management consultant, lives in the former whaling village of Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, New York. Over the past decade, he has travelled the world seeking Charlaps with intensity and single-mindedness.
In discovering Arthur Menton, Walman and Budd found an instant link to a family tree bearing some 12,000 names, including relatives in Israel, Australia, New Zealand and most countries in eastern and central Europe, Britain and the Americas. As Menton explained, their shared lineage crosses the formidable Ashkenazi-Sephardi divide, contains historical figures from medieval Spain and Constantinople, and reaches into ancient times with a claimed desent from King David.
It took Menton some years to follow his river to the sea. At first, all he knew was that his grandfather, Max Ser, had arrived in New York in 1891 from Ciechenowiec, a town midway between Warsaw and Bialystok. From this, he traced the Ser line back to an ancester, Zebulon Ser, an innkeeper who had changed the name from Charlap about 1805. (Menton cannot explain why he close the name Sir, which means "cheese" in Polish.)
Charlap is an acronym of the Hebrew phrase, chacham rosh l'golei Polin, whih translates as "the chief sage of the exiles in Poland." The first rabbi to bear this title was Eliezer Don Yahya, the scion of a prominent Sephardi family who arrived in Tykocin, Poland, from Constantinople about 1600. Zebulon Ser's father, born about 1740, was Rabbi Abraham Charlap, a documented descendant of EliezervDon Yahya.
Menton possesses fragments of letters that his relatives wrote in the 11th and 12th centuries, and can even explain how the family reached the Iberian peninsula. "One of my ancient relatives was hung by the emperor of Persia in Pumbedita, and his son fled to Spain..."
Independent claims of the descent from King David arose repeatedly during his many interviews with farflung relatives. "These people pull out ancient scrolls and unravel them for me, to show me how they arrived at this," he said. "They lived all over the place: one family in Tblisi, Georga, another in Tykocin, Poland... They knew nothing of each other."
Many scholarly articles written on the alleged descent from King David "have concluded that this was one of the few families that could prove that it was so," said Menton, who publishes his own quarterly, B'rayshit:, The Ser-Charlap Family Newsletter. Related family names include Cear, Danowittz, Donchin, Ibn Yahya, Kiejsmacher, Kopyto, Kuhr, Kur, Kuropatwa, Lapin, Levine, Lew, Lewin, Mankuta, Packciarz, Parczewski, Pasternak, Podkowa, Rosansky, Sahr, Sharlip, Sier, Sir, Smolarcyk and Tama.
It came as a total surprise to me that our family was originally Sephardi. But after doing my research, I've learned that such distinctions don't really matter. What my research has given me is the profound understanding that all Jews around the world are part of one united family."
Herzl Kashetsky is the grandson of Moshe (10125) and Esther Budovitch (10121) Kashetsky. Born in Saint John, he is recognized as an original creative force in the art world. Walking into either of littered studios is unnerving. Children with frightened eyes clutch at their mothers' hands; dead naked bodies pile up in a tangled pit; a sad, beautiful girl stares up from a canvas, her sense of violation palpable; a dignified older woman holds your gaze with eyes that have seen too much. These images prominent from the Holocaust, real images of real people, first documented by photographers and now painted by our cousin Herzl, were unveiled at The Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, New Brunswick on March 16. The Beaverbrook, in New Brunswick's beautiful capital city, is one of the major Canadian museums. The show consists of 15 paintings and 14 drawings, yet it has taken Herzl 23 years to complete. It has been a labor of love that has both aunted and compelled him, in an effort to remind us that history will repeat itself unless we remember.
Herzl's late brother Joseph (10160) was also an artist and a major influence on him. "As a kid I was always looking over hi shoulder, but he was very private about drawing, so sometimes I'd look through the crack in his bedroom door to watch him. When our father died of a heart attack when I was a teenager, I looked up to Joe even more as a father figure. Joe any my sister Esther (10161) also died of heart attacks when they were very young. A couple of months ago, my brother Ancil (10163) had a mild attack, so it's in our family. Joe was just 33 when he died. I was so proud of his work. I sort of felt I wanted it to continue through me. He was very modest. I remember him introducing me once. Someone asked, 'Are you the artist?' Pointing to me, Joe responded, 'No, he's the artist.' I was inspired by Joe. He opened up the world of art to me."
The new Beaverbrook show is entitled A Prayer for the Dead. Herzl explains, "It's clearly about the Holocaust, but I think about Joe and the number of deaths in my family and they had an influence. I've had to deal with all that loss on emotional, hilosophic, and religious levels and I believe it led me into the Holocaust in the first place. Once you experience somehing personally, you're more sensitized to feeling other people's pain.
My first painting, Faces, goes back to 1974. It's based on Margaret Bourke White's photograph of the liberation of Buchenwald, with all the inmates standing at the fence. That photograph struck me when I saw it. Being Jewish and reading about what happened - it was always there. So I painted the photograph and included myself in the background. It made it personal. And then I put it aside. I was still very young; maturing and developing as an artist. It wasn't until 1980 that I felt redy to tackle it overtly again. This effort involved two girls in the Warsaw Ghetto. But to do the subject justice, I hadn't read enough to encounter the theme on a grand scale. Sincerity is one of the most important factors in art, whether it's a landscape or a portrait. Finally, in 1990, after searching photographs and other documents in museums in New York and Warsaw, I came to the realization that I was mature enough to begin on the project. I heard of a trip to Poland to visit the concentration camps. It was called March of the Living, and hundreds of people took part from all over the world. We converged on Auschwitz to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day. It was a turning point - a deeply moving experience on every level. I was joined with people who were survivors, or children of survivors. Everything I'd read about, all the pictures I'd seen, suddenly were real. When I saw the barracks, the barbed wire and I knew what went on there - it was like walking on holy soil. I could hear the people, see the ghosts going by. I was crying inside all the time. People were crying openly, especially in the barracks, because in Auschwitz and Majdanek you see the artifacts and belongings of the victims: shoes, baby carriages, spoons, dishes, eye glasses, clothes. And when I say spoons, they were piled from floor to ceiling. There were rooms full of women's hair and material made out of hair - canvas and linen. I thought about how many people did it take to get that hair. I was exhausted."
Herzl returned from Poland and began to work seriously on the Holocaust series. "I was paying respect to the dead. Those who were martyred wanted the world to know what happened and that they not be forgotten. Lives were extinguished, families cut off, family lines and entire communities wiped out. In a way Hitler succeeded. There were almost 200 synagogues in pre-war Warsaw. Now there's one. This exhibit is to remember our people who perished and to pay homage to them. I didn't physically experience the Holocaust and it would be pretentious of me to interpret the victims' pain and suffering. So I decided to present the facts in a documentary style, subtly injecting my feelings. In that way, the viewer would himself become a witness. The other aspect is the famous quote, 'If we forget the past, we're destined to repeat it.' I was compelled by the rise of neo-Nazism and Holocaust revisionists. There are survivors who testify that this did happen. It isn't just all photographs. I conclude the exhibit with a painting of such a survivor. It is optimistic. Imagine what this person has to deal with, yet is still able to get something out of life and go on. So long as we say a prayer for the dead there is optimism. After all, who says it but the living."
At one time St. John, New Brunswick was a major seaport on the east coast of North America. A solid Jewish community developed there and by the early 1900s a good proportion of them were members of the Budovitch branch of the Charlap family. This is a story about one of them, Battling Hymie Kashetsky, who was born in St. John in 1908.
Hymie Kashetsky would take on anybody, anywhere, any time - all 101 pounds of him. When Hymie fought in the boxing ring, he packed the fans in and made them stand throughout the fight. That's how exciting a boxer he was.
Not heavy enough to make even the flyweight division, he was forced to fight for the main part in amateur bouts. He was a product of his age - the rip-roaring-no holds-barred golden era of boxing - the flapper twenties. His amateur career spanned four years of some of the wildest scrapping in the history of St. John.
Following the massive immigration to the New World at the turn of the century, first generation sons turned to the ring carrying the banner of their cultures into battle. The ensuing clashes produced the brilliant spectrum of color that set the era ablaze. The Irish were there with Tommy Gibbons, Mike McTigue, and Mickey Walker; Italian legions numbered Tony Canzoneri, Bat Battalino, and Primo Carnera; Jewish champions included Benny Leonard, Barney Ross, Kingfish Levinski, Max Baer, and Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom; Harry Wills and Kid Chocolate stood for the Blacks; Georges carpentier for the French; Max Schmeling for the Germans; and so forth.
Though he spent a good deal of his time working out at the old Argon Athletic Club, it was by pure chance that he stepped into organized fistic competition. One day he got into a street corner fight with an elephantine antagonist. The five foot even Hymie defended himself artistically against his giant opponent. He was asked by a passer-by if he would like to box in the ring. Hymie mumbled something which the spectator interpreted as yes. The next day, Kashetsky picked up a newspaper and saw he was slated to fight at the Arena that weekend. His opponent that night was Gerry Donovan, and thus began the three bout cavacade of the most scientific pier sixers in the annals of the amateurs. Hymie was a blurred target; possessing enormous energy, he was in perpetual motion, always moving in and out, jabbing continuously, bobbing and weaving. Donovan was also exceedingly quick and possessed a wicked right. For three solid rounds the two mixed ferociously, repeatedly bringing the packed auditorium crowd to their fet. The judges called the bout a draw and required them to go another round. Hymie, who had never before fought in the ring, was unprepared. The superbly conditioned Donovan poured it on, scoring at will on Hymie, who refused to back up or go down.
George Hope, the prominent boxing trainer, was so impressed by Hymie's performance that he took him under his wing after that first fight. Kashetsky recalls his former mentor fondly, "George Hope probably contributed as much to the sport in the city as anybody before or since. He was always there, always helpful."
Under Hope's tutelage, Hymie Kashetsky started on a series of wins in the smokers, benefits for hospital patients, interclub fights, and the regular amateur outlets. He took on men up to 35 pounds heavier and battled the cream of his class. He fought Donovan twice again and each time it was exciting as the first fight though in the later bouts, Hymie was better prepared. Those fights are still remembered as fans' delights and scorers' nightmares.
Hymie Kashetsky later laid down his boxing gloves and those once pulverizing hands were used to gently handle precious relics in his antique business in the center of St. John. The attitude of the little 100 ponder towards the ring may be best summed up by the remark attributed to Bob Fitzsimmons before he took on 300 pound Ed Dunkhorst, "the bigger they are, the harder they fall."
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