I had an unexpected call today (Monday, September 27 1999) from a Mr David Saville, a complete stranger to me. The surname rang a bell; my late uncle, Sam Pearlman, had relations of that name although I never knew them. I believe he was from South Shields. He was the manager of a large furniture store in Leeds called The Civil Service Furnishing Depot, or something close to that. The name puzzled me for years since it did not appear to have any connection with the Civil Service. Much later it occurred to me that the Civil part may have been a pun on the family name, Saville, or it may just have been another word for polite.
The reason Mr Saville called me from Jerusalem was that he is gathering information from people here in Israel who have connections with the Yorkshire town of Middlesbrough where my mother was born. I myself was born in Redcar, a small coastal town not far from Middlesbrough, but I do not recall ever having been there. My parents may have taken me there as a very small child but of that I have no memory. I believe our kosher meat and groceries came from there, or they may have come from Newcastle. Nothing kosher was available in Redcar and we always kept a strictly kosher home, as I continue to do today. If I write all I can recall about my mother’s family that ought to help in telling what happened to just a few of the Middlesbrough Jews.
My grandfather, Shabtai Aharon Schneider (changed to Harry Harris Taylor), was from Miadziol, not far from Vilna, and my grandmother, Shaynah (Jenny) nee Lopiansky, was from Yanova, near Kovno. Their first child, Fanny, was born in Leeds in 1894. She had a twin brother who did not survive. They soon moved to Middlesbrough where my grandfather opened a paint and wallpaper store. The rest of their children were born there. They had nine children, six girls and three boy. The ninth birth was twins again and, as with the first, the girl, Ruth, was healthy but the boy did not survive. Today only the two youngest girls remain, both well in their eighties, and both in Leeds.
Before his marriage to my mother, my father, Len Wiseman, born in Dublin and raised in London, served as an officer on the P & 0 Line and sailed regularly between Middlesbrough and Sydney, Australia, carrying parts from the Dorman Long factory in Middlesbrough to build Sydney Harbour Bridge. He courted my mother, Leah (Lil) Taylor, when he had shore leave. When he told my grandfather he wanted to marry her he agreed on condition he gave up the sea and found himself work ashore. He had some experience with wireless, as radio was then known, which became his choice of work. My birth certificate says he was an electrical engineer. During World War II he was a radio officer in the RAF and also worked on radar. His career there ended when his plane crashed and he was injured by being catapulted violently into the radio. After lengthy hospital treatment he was ‘invalided out’ and spent the rest of his working days as a commercial traveller.
My parents were married in Middlesbrough and went to live in Redcar. My father opened a wireless shop near the railway, at 15, Birdsall Row. I was born over that shop two years later. There were three Jewish families in Redcar at that time. One of those families I never knew and I believe they left England. The other was the Payman family who were great friends of ours. Mr Payman was a builder and I remember him as a chain-smoker. I only recall Mrs Payman very vaguely, but their three daughters I remember well. They are Sadie, Lillian (Lal), and the youngest, Betty, has remained a good friend to this day. She was born less than three weeks before me and for our earliest years we grew up together. I see her every time I am in London where she has lived since her marriage. She has visited us in Israel and was at our son’s wedding with her husband and son.
By the time my sister, Heather, was born we had moved to a semi-detached house at 29, Greenlands Road, in a pleasant residential area. It was a corner house with a lovely garden all the way round where my father spent all his leisure time. He was a keen gardener for the rest of his life. Chrysanthemums were his speciality and he even had one named after him. I remember the hollyhocks growing at the bottom of the garden next to our garage. By then he had rented a shop in the middle of town. I remember a Picture House across the road where there was a Shirley Temple picture showing. I even remember that film with the song "On the good ship Lollipop."
Sometimes we went down to the beach to smell the sea air and watch children riding donkeys. In 1961 I took my first two children to England and we all went to Redcar for the day with my mother’s youngest brother, Barney, and his family. It was cold and damp and we were all bundled up in our overcoats and headscarves. The children enjoyed it though! That was the last time I saw Redcar.
I was enrolled at the Zetland Road School just before my sister was born and I have some memories of my time there. The school was a big old building with a low wall topped by high iron railings at the front and was quite a long walk from home. The Payman girls went to a different school in a quiet residential area. I can still see it in my mind’s eye, surrounded by a white fence with lawns and trees inside, quite unlike my school.
The night my sister was born I remember being sent next door to sleep with our neighbours. She was intended as a present, a real live doll, for my fifth birthday, but she arrived five days too soon. Two months after her birth I caught the whooping cough at school, and needless to say she caught it from me. There were five years between us and we were brought up quite separately, and I don’t recall ever being allowed to play with her. She qualified as a nurse at the Leeds General Infirmary, and became a head sister there.
The reason we moved to Leeds was simply because my grandparents moved backthere, where they had lived when they first arrived in England from Lithuania after their marriage in 1882 or 83. Needless to say, my mother soon persuaded my father to follow them. She never did understand how I could have left them to go to Israel, and certainly never forgave me for it. They did, however, visit me in Israel many times.
After I had gone to live in Israel Heather married a Leeds boy, Dennis Cowen, a pharmacist, and produced two daughters, Julie and Tracey. Julie, a teacher, lives in Leeds and is married to David Shaw, a surgeon whose mother trained as a nurse with Heather. They were the only two Jewish nurses there at that time. They have two small children, a girl and a boy. Sadly, Heather died shortly after her 6Oth birthday, just when she had the joy of the birth of her first grandchild. Their second daughter, Tracey, studied Hotel Management and went to work in the United States and married an American but has no children.
My father was always sorry he had not taken my mother with him to live in Australia, but she refused to go far away from her parents, which is how they happened to live in Redcar. One of my mother’s sisters opened a cafe there and I remember the electric fan on the wall which always fascinated me. I think it was the business of the sister who married Sam Pearhnan the year I was born but of that I’m unsure because there were always so many members of the family there. Before long the cafe closed and they all moved to Leeds.
After some years in Leeds the Pearlmans moved first to Keighley, where they lived during the Second World War, then to Bishop Auckland, where they lived when I was at college in Sunderland. My uncle managed a furniture shop wherever they lived. When he retired they returned to Leeds, but Gerald had preceded them there to study law and lived with my grandfather, Uncle Alf and Aunt Ruth and her husband. The latter was a printer, Joe Saltman, from Hull. They were unfortunately unable to have children of their own so they enjoyed having Gerald with them. Gerald (Jerry), the Pearlmans’ only child, is a solicitor in Leeds. He is two years my junior and we were very close, almost like brother and sister. Gerald and his wife Bernice have two daughters and a grandson. Ruth is at present residing at Donisthorpe Hall, a Jewish retirement home in Leeds.
I don’t know when Fanny, the eldest, married Sidney Manson, but the cafe couldn’t have been theirs because they lived in Leeds after their marriage and their two Sons are both my seniors. David, the first, became a well-known Dental Surgeon, specializing in Orthodontics. His textbook is still the standard work on the subject and he has given lectures all over the world. Louis, his brother, became a lawyer after serving as an officer in the Black Watch in Karachi during the war. After that he completed in one year a three year course in Law at Cambridge University. Their sister, Joyce, a year and a half my junior, first qualified as a pharmacist, but after her marriage and the birth of a daughter she turned to politics, and was close to Harold Wilson when he was Prime Minister. As a reward for the valuable work she did for him, and especially on women’s issues, she gained a peerage and became Baroness Gould of Potternewton and still works in theHouse of Lords. All three of the Manson children have lived in London for many years.
The eldest Taylor son, Nat, their second child, married a Leeds woman, Gertie Alexander, and they produced two children. Their son, Dennis, went to the United States and had a small part in the film "No Orchids for Miss Blandish". Apart from that I know nothing about him and I’m almost certain I never met him. His sister, Beulah, married a doctor in London and they visited us once here in Israel. However, I don’t know if they had any children. Nat and his wife were the only ones who, although they lived in Leeds, didn’t keep close to the rest of the family. Nat had a shop in town called "Stop and Shop" and I remember going there once with my father. It was opposite the Scala Cinema which, like the shop, no longer exists.
Another sister, Marie, had a sweet and tobacco shop in town at the top of Merrion Street and we, the young ones, used to go there and get chewing gum from her. That little shop was demolished years ago. She married a widower, Benny Gaftarnik (Gaff), in 1947, shortly after her mother, my grandmother, died. Benny had three children by his first wife, but Marie never had any.
In Leeds my mother’s middle brother, Abraham (Alf), permanently worked in his father’s shop as he bad done in Middlesbrough. His marriage to a Leeds woman was short-lived and his daughter, Corinrie, then still a baby, remained with her mother. She married Leslie Rothwell in Leeds and they have two sons. They came to Israel and live in Nes Ziona. She is a pharmacist but has now retired from her post in Kupat Holim there. Simon, their elder son, married an Israeli girl and they have two children. Mark, the younger son, has been travelling abroad for some time. Although Corinne and I attended the same High School in Leeds we didn’t get to know each other well until we met up again in Israel.
The youngest Taylor son, Barney had a shop called Allen’s Radio, near the wallpaper store, and Saltman’ s Printers was across the road. They were all on Chapeltown Road, near Sheepscar Library. Except for the latter building almost everything there has since been demolished to make way for a network of roads. Barney married May Zuck, a Leeds woman, and their first child, Edwina. is married to Mason Glass, a dealer in fabrics. She has a number of boutiques and spends a lot of time travelling to Paris and London to buy the latest fashions. Their only son, Rikki, paid us a short visit this summer, after I had spent the first half of Pesach with them in Leeds before moving on to stay with my aunt Kitty. Anthony, Edwina’s brother, moved with his wife and two children to Key West, Florida, U.S.A. some years ago.
I think there was no further link between the Taylors and Middlesbrough after they settled in Leeds, and, except for my mother and Kitty, the other children all married Leeds residents. Kitty left Leeds to train as a nurse at the London Jewish Hospital and married Jack Howard (Jacob Horowitz), a London doctor. They were married in Leeds but after Jack had served overseas as an army doctor and Kitty had served as a surgical sister at a military hospital, they went to live in Bradford where my uncle opened a private practice. They lived there until his retirement, at which time they returned to Leeds. Their only child, Russell, an accountant in Leeds, married Margaret Green, the daughter of our next door neighbours, and they have two sons.
Three of my grandfather’s brothers followed him to England. Two of them, Philip and Ben, settled at first in Middlesbrough and became partners in the North Eastern Gasfitting Company, at 1 Zetland Road. Philip’s son, Irving, in the United States, who supplied me with some of this information, still has their account book for the Season 1907-08. Most of the Schneiders in the States have been working on the family genealogy for years now and I received most of what I know from them. The Taylors in South Africa have been doing the same and also gave me some additional information when I visited them in Johannesburg. I stayed then with a cousin on my father’s side who is a rabbi there. I only started working on the genealogy at the request of my twins when they had an assignment on the subject at school.
The other brother, Morris, a rabbi, settled in Leeds where his closest friend was the renowned Rabbi Herzog. Next Herzog was a rabbi in Belfast then afterwards (1936) in Dublin. Later he became Chief Rabbi of Israel. His son Chaim attained high office too, heading the Israel Military Intelligence and was military attache in Washington. His greatest and final achievement was to become President of the State of Israel. Chaim’s brother Jacob became a rabbi and was a lawyer and doctor of international law. His other accomplishments included being advisor to Ben Gurion, Israel minister plenipotentiary in Washington and Israel ambassador to Canada.
Of the Schneider brothers only my grandfather remained in England, Rabbi Morris went to South Africa as did other brothers and sisters, all changing their name to Taylor, and others, including Philip and Ben, moved to the United States and changed their name back to Schneider.
Sadie Hepburn and, her twin sister, Ann, were also from Middlesbrough. Sadie’s husband, Joe, was an upholsterer and they lived near us in Leeds and I was their baby-sitter. She and Joe were living in Kiriat Gat when arrived in Israel. Here in Israel I also met Sadie’s twin sister, Ann Maskill, who visited us often and we became good friends. Their name in Middlesbrough was Greenberg. Ann and her husband, Ben, and their two daughters then lived in Kadimah, but they moved to Nahariah, then to Acco, then to Netania before finally returning to England. I don’t know where their daughters are now. Somewhere along the way we lost touch, as also happened with Sadie. Their son was living in Ra’ananah where Sadie went after Joe’s sudden death at Manchester airport. I can’t remember what her name was changed to in Israel.
I used to have friends from Middlesbrough living in Petach Tiqvah. One was Harold Jaffa who had a dress shop in Allenby Street in Tel Aviv. He went to Cheder with my mother. His sister, Gertie, became a close friend and her husband was an Egged bus driver. They had no children and Gertie died just before my fifth child was born, almost 31 years ago. For a long time I missed her regular visits to me in Kfar Saba.
In the Kelly’s Directories for Middlesbrough, 1929 and 1933, which I found in the Leeds Reference Library, there was more information. My grandfather’s shop, The Taylor’s Wallpaper Co., was at 46, Grange Road at the corner of Head Street, and one aunt told me they first lived in Grange Road. Another shop was at 34 Middlesbrough Road, Normanby, South Bank. As soon as my mother, the middle child, was old enough she was taken out of school to go and work in the shop there, where she was employed until her marriage.
In the same directory there was also The Wallpaper Stores Ltd. at 31 Newport Road, Linthorpe with a Miss D. Robinson as manageress. I’m not sure if that was one of my grandfrther’s shops or if they were just friends in the same trade. Miss Amy Robinson, who lived in Redcar and sometimes visited us, may have been related to the manageress. I also remember two Robinson sisters in Leeds whose sister, Netta Solk, I visited some years ago in Israel. Since my mother was so friendly with the sisters, and considering that she didn’t easily mix with Leeds people, I suspect they were also from Middlesbrough. My mother’s other friend from Middlesbrough was Ray Moss, who married a Dr. Christie. The Taylors finally lived in a house at 11, Cornfield Road. They left Middlesbrough for Leeds after 1935.
We caught up with them in 1937 or 38 and lived with the Pearlmans until my father found a job and a house to rent which was near enough to a Shul. On October 14, 1939, Gerald and I were evacuated together to Branston, a village near Lincoln. Gerald did not stay there for long but I stayed until bombs were dropped in the fields behind the house, which were all there was between us and Waddington aerodrome, just one mile away. Leeds was very lucky during the war, escaping enemy action.
Within a short time of arriving in Israel I met Eliahu (Eli) Hefetz of Kfar Saba. My late grandmother’s relations, the Lopianskys, made inquiries about him and approved of his family, so in a very short time we were married at the Tel Aviv Rabbinate. Rabbi Lapin (Lopiansky), my grandmother’s first cousin, and his wife took my parents’ place when they couldn’t come to the wedding. Eli worked with his mother and eldest brother in the family business, wholesale provisions.
After taking Eli to meet my family I had my first child, a boy, ten months after our marriage, in Kfar Saba. My grandfather had died in Leeds the month before our marriage, so we named our son Shabtai after him. Strangely enough, when I visited his brother Philip’s son, Irving, in New York in 1983, I saw a sepia-coloured photograph on the wall which was the image of Shabtai.
Shabtai is ‘ginger’ (more correctly, copper coloured) like my grandfather and Eli’s mother had been, and had grown a beard into the bargain. That photograph was of my great-grandfather, Irving’s grandfather! When I visited one of Irving’s sisters in Bethesda, Maryland, I found a son of hers closely resembled my son.
Just a year after Shabtai’s birth and, like him, a week before Rosh Hashanah, our daughter Esther was born, with the same colouring as Shabtai. After an interval of almost four years our twin daughters. Zipporah and Hadassah, arrived, followed after another five and a half years by Pazit, our youngest daughter. I was truly house-bound during those years so I went back to my studies and ended up with an external degree from London University. Since then I have continued doing research into the history (and prehistory) of the Ancient Near East, partly based on the Bible. At Tel Aviv University, where I attended some courses, it was recommended that I continue to a Doctorate, but we had our children’s education to finance at that time so I was unable to do so.
Shabtai is an engineer and a naval officer. His wife, Judith is from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and by coincidence was also born ten months after her parent’s marriage. They have three children, a girl and two boys. Judith has taken a page out of my book and returned to her studies in addition to working. I hope she won’t let anything stand in the way of advancing further.
Esther qualified as a nurse after the army, married a Yeshiva Bocher, lives in Jerusalem and has five children, including twins. Except for occasional visits to us in Kfar Saba we see very little of them so don’t have her children on our hands like the ones near home. It is difficult for us to get to Jerusalem very often because the grandchildren here in Kfar Saba require so much of our attention whilst their mothers are at work.
Zipporah, named for my mother’s sister, Fanny, studied at Amanah, the Bnei Akivah school in Kfar Saba, then worked in the dialysis unit at the Sha’arei Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem where she went to do her service for religious girls instead of doing regular military service. She married an American boy who was studying at a religious seminary in Jerusalem and went with him to the United States, to Schenectady, New York, the home of General Electric. They have four children and were divorced a few years ago. He went into nursing and she worked for a while in dialysis, but due to a change in her work schedule, involving impossible hours for attending to her children’s needs, she had to find a job with more suitable hours and is now teaching Hebrew for a living. We are looking forward to a visit from her and the children in December.
Her identical twin sister, Hadassah, whilst observant, did her regular military service then went on a journey through the United States and visited Zipporah there. From there she went to England, ended up working in a Leeds office, met Ian Grant, a chartered accountant, and brought him to Israel where they were married on their third visit to us. After three years in Leeds they made Aliyah with Ian’s father, Ronnie, and their baby daughter. She was the only one of their children born in Leeds; the others are all Sabras. She is expecting their fifth child shortly.
In addition to spells of teaching I also spent ten years employed by Eli, working as a truck driver! I did much of my studying sitting behind the wheel of a truck whilst my brother-in-law did the loading and unloading. It was amusing to see the surprise on peoples’ faces when they saw a woman driving a truck. unlike today when there are many women driving trucks and buses.
To return to Middlesbrough: in the 1929 directory they also listed the Jews’ Synagogue in Brentnall Street, the Rev. Jacob Silverston (Jewish Cantor) at 130, Marton Road, and at the same address a Bernard Silverston, LDS RCS Edinburgh. Was there only one synagogue in Middlesbrough? If so, that was where my parents were married.
There was also a Samuel Myerson, an outfitter, who may have been the father-in law of two of my grandmother’s sisters. One of them, Chaya, married an Abraham Myerson and one of their sons was called Sam, and the other, Pesha, married Abraham’s brother, Harry Zvi, and they also called one of their sons Sam. The latter family moved to South Africa, had eight children and, the last I heard, two are still alive there. Ronald, a son of their youngest son, Dr. Cecil, lives in Israel at Ephrat with his wife and young children. Chaya’s son, Barney, died only last year in Leeds, aged 102. He left a son, Arthur, who is a High Court Judge in Leeds and has two sons. I have a photograph of the three Lopiansky sisters taken in Middlesbrough more than eighty years ago with Kitty and Ruth and a neighbour’s daughter who I think Kitty said was a Wiseman.
There were only two others mentioned in the directory who were of immediate interest to me. One was a Hyman Payman, a credit draper, who may have been my friend Betty’s grandfather. I hope to be able to ask her, either when she visits us in Israel again, or if I manage another trip to England. I had completely forgotten about it when I visited her in London in March this year. I even had all that information with me because I spent much of my time in the Family Records Centre because the British Library, the reason for my visit there, was strikebound.
The last name of interest to me was Abraham Wiseman, a boot and shoe dealer. The reason I wondered about him was that on my paternal grandfather’s marriage certificate it said that his father, Jacob Wiseman, a bootmaker, was deceased by that date, November 14th 1904. On the death certificate of my father’s grandmother it said she was the widow of Myer Wiseman, a bootmaker. That means he had two names, as did my grandfather, Benjamin Morris. He was Ben on his marriage certificate and Morris on his death certificate. I haven’t been able to locate his birth certificate.
The mystery deepens because none of my father’s family could tell me anything about them. My paternal grandrmother had died, aged 21, when my father was still a baby, shortly after she had given birth to a second son who died the following year. My father’s grandmother, who had many years before arrived in England from Hungary, was left to bring him up. Several years later my grandfather remarried and had three more children. What happened to Jacob Myer (or Myer Jacob) Wiseman? Who was he and where did he come from? Could that Abraham Wiseman in Middlesbrough be a lead? Could my father have visited him in Middlesbrough and through him been introduced to my mother? That is pure speculation and I have no idea if anyone of that family has any relevant information.
When I was on my way from a college reunion in Sunderland and travelling by rail to Edinburgh in June 1996 I changed trains at Middlesbrough. I almost broke my journey there— the temptation was strong—but I was pressed for time because after Edinburgh I needed to be in London to get a visa for my visit to Russia in July. So I missed the opportunity to go and see if there was anything left of the Middlesbrough my mother and her family had known. I only bought some picture postcards at the station including one of the Albert Park which I’m sure I remember my mother speaking about.
Having learned from Mr. Saville that the Middlesbrough Jewish Community Centre is no more, there seems no point in making a visit. Maybe there are still some Jewish families there who could act as guides if I was to make that long overdue visit. It will have to be soon because I’m not getting any younger! My family here in Israel continues to grow, demanding more and more of my time and energy. I sometimes feel that I’ll never get away again, but the Taylors were always very close and as long as any of them remain in England that is enough to draw me there. "Where there’s a will there’s a way." Now I’m eagerly awaiting the newsletter Mr. Saville promised to send.
Cynthia B. Hefetz, 16, Bilu Street, Kfar Saba 44447.
Tuesday, December 7th 1999
A number of weeks after Pazit printed this article for me the newsletter finally arrived. Thank you very much. It was very interesting and I’m only sorry I missed the previous three issues. I noticed at once that it was published by Donald Wiseman. Was Abraham Wiseman his grandfather or great-grandfather? If he was, maybe he can tell me all he knows about his family.
I also learned that one of my grandmother’s sisters had a grocery shop! It’s strange how many things the family never told me. I learned from my Aunt Kitty’s letter to you that my parents were married at the Brentnall Street Shul. I also learned from the correction on page 3 that Sadie Hepburn’s name in Israel became Ramati. Thank you!
An interesting piece of information was that Vivian Hurwitz had married a Middlesbrough woman. His sister, Enid, and I were the closest of friends during our High School and Bnei Akivah years. We lost touch when I went away to College. I did visit her once in Bradford during a visit to my aunt there. When she came to live in Netania I saw her at a Leeds reunion in Ra’ananah but haven’t heard from her since. I imagine she is just as tied up with her family as I am with mine.
When I had finished reading the newsletter I realised that my article was far too long and needed extensive editing. Since I have no idea what you want to publish and what to cut out, I have decided to leave most that to you. I have deleted several paragraphs that seemed irrelevant. Sorry to give you so much work!
Incidentally Hadassab had another son, her third, on Shabbat, November 27thZipporah’s two daughters arrived this Monday morning and she herself is expected next Sunday after a stopover in England. Neither of her sons are coming because they don’t want to miss school. I expect they’ll come in the summer instead.