Holiday Greetings from the Northwest

From Diane & Ken Yankelevitz

Ken & Diane Yankelevitz

Click on the photo for a larger version with ID’s
It’s snowing a lot as I write this letter. The other three snows since October have melted in the valley, but remained on the mountaintops. Ski resorts are open and snowbirds have flown – to Arizona mostly. The senior center is having a snowshoe program this year, so I’m going to try it. Supposedly one doesn’t slip and slide on snowshoes. I tried cross country skiing a couple years ago and Ken made me promise not to do that again – too many falls and ouches, requiring many visits to the chiropractor.

We’ve had a few big changes this year. My mother died in September after a long decline, so now my sisters and I (mostly Adele, who lives near Baltimore) are looking after my aunt, who will be 89 in February and is still living in the condo. Ken and I joined a reformed Jewish temple after being away from religion for 40 years. It’s a nice group of people and we’re enjoying the learning opportunities and the more inclusive and non-restrictive aspects of the reformed (much less traditional) faction of the religion. We sold one of our properties and we now have no mortgages, which is a nice feeling in this economy. We have a house up for rent, and thankfully can easily afford its upkeep even when it isn’t rented.

Ken’s summer has been full of horses – riding in the back country every week and volunteering at a facility that provides therapeutic riding for people who are disabled. He also took a 5-day ride into Yellowstone Park with an outfitter. Ken reads a lot (I don’t seem to have as much time), and almost every day we take a walk through the woods on the trails by our house. I attend exercise class three days a week at the senior center year round, join their hiking group in the summer, and go on day trips around the state. I went with them on an overnight float down the Snake River in Idaho in July. I’m also active in the Newcomer’s Club and we have a lot of fun and organize an auction every December and give the proceeds to several local charities. I’m training for the AARP tax assistance program for the 3rd year. I’m also doing a Money Management class for Adult Ed this winter, and from time to time I have clients for Past Life Regressions, Hypnotherapy, Family Constellations and Astrology.

We’re spending the holidays in Florida with Ken’s cousins and uncle Leon, who is 91. We will celebrate our 45th anniversary in February. Our kids and grandkids are doing well. Kelsey is 14, Riley is 4. Jessica’s 8, Chloe is 6, and my baby just turned 40. We get to see them once or twice a year – not often enough, of course. Recent photos of our family are attached.

Hope you all get through the economic crisis in 2009 with your financial security intact, and have an abundance of good health, many friends, and lots of love.

Hilda Miller – 1918-2008

It is with great sadness we tell you that Hilda Miller, of blessed memory, died on September 12, 2008. In tribute to Hilda, the following poem was written by son-in-law Bernie Taube’s father, Herman Taube.

Hilda Miller - 1918-2008

Hilda Miller – 1918-2008

PAUL and HILDA – A Love Story

Paul and Hilda were our neighbors,
they lived across the street from us,
we saw them frequently on Sundays,
the only day we were all at home.

Paul and Hilda were humble people,
soft-spoken, modest and respectful,
the only thing they did brag-about,
were their charming, young daughters.

Paul was a good provider for his kids,
Hilda personified the ‘Jewish mother’,
establishing a close relationship with
her daughters and her intimate family.

Years passed, the children left home,
moved-on to build their own brood,
Paul and Hilda, with her sister Isabel,
lived together uncomplicated lives.

Children and grandchildren visited on
holidays, Shabbat dinners and special
occasions, life was good and tranquil,
finally Paul got ill and passed away.

With Paul gone, Hilda’s health failed,
an important part of her life was gone,
her children protected and comforted her,
but nothing could replace Paul, her life.

Hilda passed away Friday evening.
Souls are immortal, spirits continue,
Paul and Hilda are both now together,
Their souls will live on in their children.

Yehi Zichrom Baruch!

Herman Taube

Welcome – Eliana Sarah Pell

Congratulations to Harry and Lisa Pell (and the new grandparents Marci Mitnick Pell and Steve Pell) on the birth of a new baby girl, Eliana Sarah on July 29, 2008 in White Plains, NY.

Harry & Lisa Pell Family

Harry & Lisa Pell with their new daughter, Eliana Sarah (7 pounds 11 ounces, 19 inches long)

More photos, click here.

Justin Alexander Bar Mitzvah – Nashua, New Hampshire

Justin Alexander, grandson of Areve and Steven Alexander, celebrated his Bar Mitzvah in grand style Memorial Day Weekend. Reading from the Torah, participating in the service, and speaking of this ‘journey’ to the congregation, Justin was in perfect control and his natural leadership, sense of humor and compassion was apparent.

At a luncheon reception at the Nashua Club, Meiselman family representatives from the Washington, DC area (Alyson Meiselman, Gail and Dean Osgood, Sandy and John Walter and Sharon Kolstad) enjoyed sitting with the Boston crew, (Sandy Deiner, Mel Lurie and Marilyn Brachman Hoffman). While catching up on family comings and going at our table, Mel Lurie told us the success his daughter Joelle is having in New York. We viewed a video of her singing talent!

It was great to see Areve’s brother, our cousin Merom Brachman from Columbus Ohio, in Boston for this wonderful family event. Saturday evening the family, neighbors and Justin’s friends gathered at the family’s home for a very warm evening of family stories and fun.

See You in Baltimore in June

The Annual Rachel Looban Family Group Father’s Day Picnic will be on Sunday June 15th at the home of Myra and Buzzy Hettleman.

Rachel Looban Family Group Picnic

If you are planning a summer trip to Baltimore, it would be great to see you at the picnic. Invitations have gone out, so now is the time to plan to join us. This year we are hoping everyone will bring the picture of a family member or a family event that they treasure. We will display them in the Library and read and tell the associated stories during the entertainment portion of the picnic. John and Sandy will scan the pictures on the spot and add them to the Website with narratives supplied through the stories so those unable to attend can share the rich history of the family.

Passover with the Pivar’s

The entire family at dinner.

The Pivar family at their 2008 Seder.

We use this holiday as an opportunity for our whole family to spend time together at least once a year. Since some of us live in different areas of the country, it’s rare that we are all in the same place at the same time too often anymore.

Al and Mary have been celebrating Passover at their home every year since my grandmother, Minnie Pivar passed away. About 6 years ago, attending Passover dinner together was considered optional, but then my dad, Alvin Pivar made the decision that “optional” would no longer be the case, so here we are, every year, sharing Passover at the Pivars’ house and enjoy a reunion that provides plenty of time to catch up with each other’s lives. It was the best decision he could have made for the good of all of us. There’s nothing like spending time with your family and the fact that it’s Passover makes it that much more special.

Mary goes out of her way to make sure that nothing is overlooked and that the family traditions which began many years ago at Minnie and Edward Pivar’s Passovers dinners remain true to form. She makes sure we use the same yamakas, dishes, silverware, books and afikomen routine dating from back to when I was just a little girl, and probably much further for those that had the pleasure of sharing the holiday with them before I was even born, I’m sure.

Mary and Gertie Shear, (Gertie is Donald’s wife of more than 50 years, and Donald is dad’s first cousin on my Grandfather’s side. He is the son of Edward Pivar’s sister, Blunky) do their best so that the recipes for each dish are as close to Minnie’s as possible and equally, if not more so, delicious.

By looking through the many photographs on the web site so generously provided by other family members, I noticed many that were taken inside both residences I remember of my grandmother and grandfather. So, I know that many of you had the pleasure of sharing holidays with them too.

Every year, Alvin, his first cousin, Donald Shear (check out the photos, they look more like brothers) get together to decide who will handle what, as we go through the ceremony. They huddle together determining whose responsibility it will be to keep a close eye on the afikomen to ensure that it will absolutely, positively, NOT disappear. As everyone knows, it’s necessary for the completion of service. With the kids watching with the same intensity, well, you know the rest!

Once the all important negotiations for retrieval finally commence and finally, the singing of Chad Gadya, another Pivar Passover comes to a close until next year.

I know I can speak for all of us when I say we feel blessed to be able to make this happen every year.

I have included photographs for you to become familiar with the family members you may not have met yet and some of us that I know you haven’t seen for a while.

We hope you enjoyed hearing just a bit about how we celebrate and now we look forward to hearing about you too. Happy Holiday!

New Officers Elected

At the March Business Meeting in Baltimore, the family group elected new officers. Congratulations to Adele Taube – President; Cheryl Mitnick – Vice President; Ron Mitnick – Treasurer; Lenny Taube – Corresponding Secretary; Sandy Walter – Recording Secretary.

In other news, a committee will look at the RLFG Constitution. And the annual charity contributions we made.

Of interest was the reading of minutes from 1968.

Fradkin’s Visit Israel

Fradkin's Visit Israel

Rabbi Josh Shapiro with Carol & Gary Fradkin

I just spent time on the website and…WOW, what a great job, and what a service to all of us. It even helped me figure out the relationship to the cousins I spent time with in the last 2 weeks.

Let me explain:

Gary and I just returned this morning from our first trip to Israel. Right before we left, I printed out the RLFG address list which Adele had compiled. On the plane, I went through the list and circled everyone who lives in Israel….and was astounded at how many cousins are there! When we were visiting with cousins of Gary’s, they looked at the list and found a number of people they knew, including Avi, who lived right around the corner! He was nice enough to come over, and later in the trip we also spent time with Carmi and his family, and Rabbi Josh, as well. We talked with David Klein’s wife Esther when we were in Safat, only to find out that David was on his way to Baltimore for a visit, so we missed getting to see him.

The genealogy links on the website has made it easy to determine that Avi and Carmi are my second cousins….a fact we all thought was right, but weren’t exactly sure.

So, thanks to you and to Adele for doing the work to help keep our huge family connected.

Fradkin's Visit Israel

Gary & Carol Fradkin with Debbie & Carmi Shapiro & their children

Update from Chaya Mindel Vershook Line

My family falls under the Chaya Mindle Vershook branch. Her children includes Dora Brachman Ginsberg, Sol Brachman, Abe Brachman, Eli Brachman, and Lillian Brachman Raimey. Lillian Raimey was my grandmother and the youngest of nine children. Four died before she was born. The whole Brachman family settled in Marietta, Ohio after coming to the U.S. from Latvia, Russia.

They eventually migrated to Fort Worth, Texas where many of their descendants still live including my mother, Karen Raimey Kaplan. Al Kaplan, my father, passed away on Christmas 2007. Karen is doing fine. Mom is an only child.

My husband and I live in Plano, Texas (about 20 miles north of Dallas) with our daughter (14), two sons (9 and almost 5) and a dog. Paul works as an IT manager for Retalix while I’m the freelance writer behind We just had our first Bat Mitzvah last year and you can see plenty of pictures of the family.

My sister, Elisa, lives in Dallas with her husband and dogs. Elisa works as an information architect and usability expert for a contract company. My brother, Michael, lives a few miles from me in Plano with his wife and daughter who is in 4th grade, and a dog. Michael has his own business as a computer consultant who installs and repairs computers.

You can see us in two photos (below) in the Photo Galleries, “Photos from 50’s, 60’s & 70’s”


This picture shows from left, Miriam Lurie, Sidney and Lillian Raimey, and Goldie Lurie.


And below is my mom (Karen Kaplan), me, and my dad (Al Kaplan) from when we visited Baltimore and Washington, DC around 1979-80.

Feel free to drop us a line through my contact form (don’t want spambots getting my email address).

The Cousins Check it Out and Check In

Everyone (from California to Israel to Boston) is enjoying the new RLFG website and many have provided good ideas.

    1.  We are working on the identification of everyone in the pictures.  If you send in any new pictures, be sure to identify them.
    2.  Yes, anyone can read what is on the site but the only way to comment is to register.
3.  We are happy to post articles from you .
4.  Coming soon is a page for minutes old and new.  If you like the pictures you will love reading the minutes from 1952.
5.  We are thinking about the My Space or Facebook links several people mentioned.  In fact, working on this site can be a full time job which neither John nor I can devote to it.  So, it will come in good time.   We hope you will comment on the site and send us the pictures and comings and goings of your family.

From Bernice Luskey

I enjoyed, especially, all the pictures. I am going to look through them again–and again. Then I will figure out if I can print some–I’m sure there is a way. I am doing fine here in Savannah and hope you are all well also.

From: Yomi Rosenblum

Margalit is in Canada now, they went to make an American citizen ship for there children in North America ( In Vermont. It was easier to land first in Toronto). They should be back this week so I’ll ask her then (I only know the Hebrew dates).

I looked at the web site and found my grandmother in the “pictures from the 50’s”. It is done very well, and I enjoyed it! It’s a very good idea (and I bet also a lot of work). It would be nice if names were written underneath so that I would know who they are. Is the site accessible to who ever wants to or only to family members?

What a good idea! This is the only practical way for me keeping in touch! I liked the pictures!

From Roz (Greenspon) Cohen

The site is terrific! I enjoyed those nice pictures of my Bubby and Zaidy Looban! What a lot of work you put into it! As we say here in Israel, Kol Hakavod!

From Carol Luskey

I’m in South Dakota!!! I’ll try to write up something to update everyone on our whereabouts…I can also fill in some of the holes on the family tree – does that go to you as well??? I LOVE this site…oh my gosh!!! It is so much fun to look at the pictures and to have the entire geneology…wow!! Thanks. It will definitely be bookmarked by me and many others I’m sure. I just love the pictures. So much fun. Sandy, your mom and dad visited us when we lived in Wagner, SD!!!! Not too many people came to visit us there but we were so delighted to have them. Even remember that we had deli when they came! (It was an event!!)

From Lenny Taube

What do you think about incorporating that somewhere on the front page of the website near the logo/name so as to pay homage to the woman who the group is named after? Greetings! My grandmother is looking for a photo of Rachel Looban & will provide details on what she was like soon.

From Sandy Deiner

Thanks Sandy! Once again I got lost in some of those old photos. Happy Purim!

From Lisa Pivar

Thank you so much for including me in this announcement! I am anxious to check out the site and get involved! I look forward to checking it out this evening when I get home and have the time to explore it all!

And again from Lisa Pivar

I know I said I was going to wait until tonight to take a look at the site, but I was so excited I just couldn’t wait! So, I took just a peek for now. I absolutely love the photos from the 50’s and later! Unbelievable, just a flood of memories! I believe I may have some photos to send you to add if you like?

From Estelle Cohen

Thank you so much for all your work, it is greatly appreciated.

From Bob Diener

Have a Hamentashen for me, and thanks for keeping in touch. Happy Purim to you and yours. Life is good here in the Bay Area. I thank Sandy for sending this email and respecting our privacy. However, I would be happy to hear from all/any of you, so now you have my email and other contact information.

From Diane Yankelevitz

I didn’t get the email you sent everyone – Adele fwd it to me. I checked and you have my email address spelled incorrectly. You put an ‘n’ instead of an ‘m’ in the middle. Please change it in your address book. So far I could only see the photos on the website. That alone is neat. I’ll try the rest again another time. Thank you and John for putting it up. It’s essential for us to keep in touch since we’re so spread out.

From Zachary Diener

I got a link to this website from my dad, Bob Diener, and wanted to make sure that you had my email. Just, you know, to keep in touch.

Currently in my life: I Am a performing acrobat in Portland, Oregon and I will be moving soon to Cambridge, MA to attend classes in Human Computer Interaction at Tufts.