They provided me with a number of identity papers, some with photos, but the most exciting find was the file from 1823 when Jews took last names. Clearly written in one column was the patronymic. In the next was the name they assumed. Among them was Berek Herszkowicz (1774-1839), my great-great-great grandfather who assumed the name Rubinstazjn. I had already conjectured that was his name based on a number of sources. I had found marriage records of his daughters that named their parents as Berek and Chaia Rubinsztajn. I then found a patronymic record from 1811, the birth and death of a son to Berek Herszkowicz and Chaia Herszkowicz. As they were the only Berek and Chaia I assumed they must be the same people as the later Berek and Chaia Rubinsztajn. What made me fairly sure of this was the fact that Berek died in 1839 and his first grandson was named Herszek Berek in 1942. The typical naming pattern for an Ashkenazic Jew is after a deceased grandparent or great-grandparent. If my theory was correct this name captured both the grandfather and great-grandfather’s names. Still it was only well-founded conjecture. The discovery of this file confirmed it without a doubt.
As the file was not lengthy I asked if they could copy the entire file so I could share it on the Shtetlink website with other researchers. I also asked for a complete copy of a file that listed contributors to the synagogue from 1892. There I found my great-grandfather’s name. Other finds included a listing of Jews who owned property which identified a family name and family members who lived in a particular home. I was also provided with a number of Russian documents that I will review on my return visit to the archives. I need to review my Russian in order to quickly recognize information with family names.
It was difficult to pull myself away from the wealth of information that was available, but we needed to head out for the next portion of our day in Lublin and Madjanek. First we stopped at a restaurant in route where we had a meal of pierogies. The waitress spoke no English so we attempted the phrase from our phrasebook requesting vegetarian food which narrowed the selection sufficiently. Pointing at what we would like seems to get us through the basic language limitations when it comes to food. It doesn’t allow for the questions I usually ask, but it suffices.