The Goldstein-Rozensumen (Ben-Dov) Reunion in the Motor City

Cousins of the Goldstein and Ben-Dov branches of the Rozensumen family met, for the first time in more than 100 years, on April 25 in Detroit, during Passover.   As a reminder, ROZENSUMEN was the maiden name of Sol Goldstein’s mother, Yachet (aka Yocheved/Yetta).  Yosi Ben-Dov, who had found me through MyHeritage is the head of the Reali School in Haifa, Israel, and was bringing 30 high school seniors to compete in an international robotics competition in Detroit.  Since Detroit is a mere eight-hour drive from Madison, Bruce and I drove in to spend time with my sister Frannie and to meet Yosi and his wife, Nitza.

Neta Ben-Dov, Matan Ben-Nun, Louise Goldstein, Carmel Ben-Nun, Yosi Ben-Dov, Frannie Goldstein, Bruce Thomadsen

We gathered in the Motor City Casino Hotel’s Lodge Diner (with a box of matzoh) and were joined by two of the Ben-Dov’s grandchildren, Matan and Carmel Ben-Nun, whose parents are working in New York for a couple of years.  This summer the kids will spend a couple of weeks at Camp Chi, a well-known Jewish camp – in Wisconsin.

It did not feel like 100 years had passed since our great-great grandfathers, brothers Berko and Avram Rozensumen, were together as family!  The conversation flowed easily, and we all liked each other.  We discovered some connections – Nitza knows an Israeli friend of ours in Madison – and learned more about the family.  For example, I now know that “Rozensumen” means “Rosehips” (rose seed).

Yosi’s uncle Jacob Rozensumen left Poland in the early 1920’s and went to Palestine, to scope things out.  He returned a few years later and the entire family, parents and siblings, returned there with him.  As a result, no one in their immediate family was lost in the Holocaust and the Ben-Dov’s have numerous cousins in Israel today.  In the 1930’s the brothers changed their last name to Ben-Dov, honoring their father Berko (Berko and Dov both mean “bear”).

One question I have, and maybe Yosi can answer it, is how it was that this branch of the Rozensumen’s had the good sense to leave Poland when they did.  It seems to me that it was not usual for an entire family to leave en masse like that.  Were they ardent Zionists?  Were there no opportunities for the children in Poland?  What was the impetus?

Yosi told us this poignant story:  Berko died in 1940 and was buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.  By the time their mother Leah died in 1950, the Mount of Olives was in Jordanian hands and inaccessible to Jews, so she could not be buried next to her husband.  Traditional Jewish burial does not include a coffin; the body is wrapped in a shroud and placed directly in the earth.  But her son Natan, Yosi’s father, got special permission to have her buried in a coffin with the hope that someday she could be moved to the grave next to her husband.  In 1967, with the Mount of Olives again in Israeli hands, the family was able to have Leah moved there to lie next to her husband Natan throughout eternity.

To remind people of what the relationship is between the Goldstein’s and the Ben-Dov’s:

  1. Our forebears Yudko (1781-1831) and Beyla Rozensumen (1784-1831) lived in Miedzyrzec Podlaski, Poland, and had several children. Among the children were BERKO and AVRAM.
  2. BERKO ROZENSUMEN married Hindy Hirschenfeld and moved to Terespol, where she lived.
  3. Their daughter Yocheved Rozensumen married Berl Fayvel Goldstern.
  4. Their son Sol Goldstein married Mollie Challov
  5. Their son Isadore Goldstein married Ethel Battalen
  6. Louise Goldstein married Gary Maier and Bruce Thomadsen
  1. Yudko and Beyla Rozensumen
  2. AVRAM ROZENSUMEN married Rayzli Waga
  3. Their son Yankiel Rozensumen married Ruchli Rozenblum
  4. Their son Berko  Rozensumen married Leah Kirszenberg
  5. Their son Natan Rozensumen (Ben-Dov) married Oshrit Bonde
  6. Yosi Ben-Dov married Nitza Fruchtman

We hope to someday visit our Ben-Dov/Rozensumen cousins in Haifa and meet more of the family.