“Seeking descendants of Meyer (Ida Nerenbaim) and Shimon (Gittel, divorced) Goldstein from Terespol/Brest, Poland, my grandfather Sol (Szojel) Goldstein’s older brothers. Both arrived in New York between 1900-1906 and lived variously in the Bronx, Newark NJ and Manhattan…”
So began a notice that I posted on JewishGen.org on October 29, 2019, as I got serious about finding the Goldstein branch of my family in the US. It continued…
“Meyer’s children were Ann (Al Simmons), b. 1908, Jack (Helen), b. 1910, Paula/Pauline (Herbie Eager), b. 1913 and Marsha (Nathan Whitman), b. 1919. Jack’s children were Iris, b. 1936 and Barry (Judy Mittman, divorced), b. 1939. Marsha’s were Sheila (Norman Greif), Stanley and Elaine. Shimon’s children were Frieda and Sol; there may have been two more children.”
The very next day I heard from someone named Renee Steinig, a genealogist who enjoys helping others with their research. She had found an obituary for Norman Greif, the ex-husband of Sheila Wittman Greif; Sheila was a granddaughter of Meyer Goldstein, one of the three Goldstein brothers in the US. Through that obituary, along with other research, I eventually found a reference to an article by Iris Goldstein Fodor that was published in the journal, “Women & Therapy,” in 2010. It was titled, “On Being and Not Being Jewish: From Pink Diapers to Social Activist/Feminist.” Given my grandfather’s leftist tendencies, this sounded promising; maybe being a leftie was a family characteristic?
I couldn’t find the journal online, so I turned to my friend Phyllis Holman Weisbard, Women’s Studies Librarian Emerita for the UW-Madison, who seems to know how to find anything. Sure enough, she located the article and sent me a link to the PDF, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02703149.2010.480927
Information in Iris’ article confirmed that she was one of the Goldstein’s I sought: her parents were Jack and Helen, they lived in the Bronx and were progressive. Again, the Internet worked its magic and produced an email address for Iris. I wrote on November 9, 2019; the message began:
Please forgive this out-of-the-blue message: my grandfather Sol Goldstein had a brother, Meyer Goldstein, who I believe was your grandfather…
I very much hope that you will want to connect!
Iris did indeed want to connect and the next day I got an email expressing her interest and providing her phone number. When I called, we had a delightful conversation that flowed easily; it felt like I’d known Iris forever. She talked about her family and gave me contact information for her brother, Barry, and her first cousins Sheila and Elaine Wittman (their brother Stanley is deceased), all of whom are grandchildren of Meyer Goldstein and his wife, Ida. She also sent a precious gift: a photo of the entire family, taken at Barry’s Bar Mitzvah, ca 1950. I had never seen a photo of my grandfather’s brothers, but here was Meyer, Ida, their children, spouses and grandchildren.
I got in touch with Barry, Sheila and Elaine, who were also very welcoming and willing to talk and share family stories. Iris, Sheila and Elaine had never met my grandfather Sol, nor even heard of him or the other brother, Shimon and they recall absolutely no contact with those families. And yet, Sol and my father Isadore had stayed for a few months with both Shimon and Meyer’s families, after Mollie Challov Goldstein killed herself in 1926, so their parents must have known them. My siblings and I always knew that our father had two uncles in New York, we knew their names and had even heard of “Tante Chaike,” Meyer’s wife Ida. However, we never, ever met them or talked with them.
When I spoke with Barry, who now lives in Las Vegas, he remembered knowing my father when he lived in the Detroit area, said they’d had a “little friendship” and had socialized together a bit. He related that he had taken my father on a road trip to Woodstock, NY to meet Iris at her country home there. My father never mentioned this to me – why not? Go know.
Iris Goldstein Fodor has two children: Anthony Fodor, a professor of Biometrics in Charlotte, NC, who is married with two daughters, and Jodi Sperling, a dancer, choreographer and founder of Time Lapse Dance in New York. She is married to Doug Fox and they have a daughter.
Barry was married to Judy Mittman with whom he had two children, Steven and Amy Goldstein, who both live in the DC area. Steven is married to Betsy Feder and they have two sons; Amy is married to Glenn Salomon and they have two sons and a daughter. Barry also had a son named Justin with his second wife, LaDonna; they are divorced.
Sheila and Elaine are the daughters of Marsha (aka Mollie) Goldstein and Nathan Wittman. Their brother Stanley, who was married to Carol Holland, died in Arizona in 2010. Elaine is married to Bob Reimers and they have a daughter, Lisa; they live in Middle Island, NY. Sheila was married to Norman Greif, whose obituary started me down the correct path. They had a son, Randy, and an adopted daughter, Shari; they later divorced. She then married Bob Epstein, deceased, and now resides in a nursing home in Commack, New York.
About Shimon Goldstein and his family, I have found remarkably little. Sol Goldstein told me that Shimon had four children but could only name Frieda and Solly, and that Shimon divorced his wife Gittel late in life. And while I found Shimon and Gittel in the 1905 New York State Census and located both of their ship manifests, the only other document I have is a Record of Inquiry when Shimon arrived in New York. It shows that he was held at Ellis Island for four days as being a “Likely Public Charge” because he arrived with no money. Nevertheless, he was admitted. I have yet to find subsequent state or US censuses, draft registrations or other documents that I can confirm as being Shimon’s. The search continues.