Story Portfolio


Your family story collection
Seymour Rabinowitz and Harriet Berkowitz

Seymour, also called Samuel, was partly estranged from the family. He worked as a truant officer…

Abe Ratner in the seltzer business

The Ratner family became established in the Fifth Ward of Albany, N.Y. Abe bottled soda water…

Helga at the Theodor Herzl School

Amid the chaos of the Nazi period, the Zionist school in Charlottenburg taught skills and values…

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Rose Ratner's scar—the 1881 pogrom in Rostov

The Tulbowitz tavern in Novocherkassk was overrun by Cossacks during the Rostov pogrom of 1881…

Liberal values in the 1960s

From civil rights to war resistance to arms control, Ruby family members embraced liberal social…

Grad-student life in a packet of letters

Stan maintained correspondence with his closest high school and Army buddies, several of whom…

Green Valley Drive—our exurban childhood

Our years in Pittsburgh were spent in a tract house in a natural wonderland—backed up against a…

Betty Wohlgemuth's last years

Following Isaak's death in 1929, Betty lived comfortably in the cosmopolitan Bavarian Quarter—…

The corkscrew on eBay—sourcing family artifacts

Out of the files of the U.S. Patent Office and into the peculiar subculture of corkscrew…

The Rubys in Israel—1961 sabbatical

Our family’s amazing year of discovery and connection

Lisbon to New York—with a detour to Havana

The Ringel family crossed from Lisbon on the SS Guine—but their entry to the U.S. was…

The early history of the Wohlgemuth family

In 1812 in Preußisch Stargardt, an elderly Jew Moses and his sons Salomon and Herz took the…

Yichus and our relation to the famous rabbi

Walter thought he had proved the family legend of descent from the celebrated Kovno Rav, Rabbi…

Ratner family in Albany

Rearing eight children in Albany’s Third Ward

The Felensteins of Long Island

Joan Ruby married Milton Felenstein. Their life and family in Rockville Centre.

Our Israeli cousins

Ze’evs progency: a new generation of vibrant, contemporary Israelis.

The Ringel family roots in old Rzeszów

Moses Ringel and Rose Lea Reichman raised a large family in Rzeszów in the Galizianer tradition…

The Kauflers of Krakow

Our best documented family line is Feige Kaufler's ancestry among the Jewish families of…

The North American Ringel branch

When his siblings went to Berlin in the 1880s, Jakob Schia Ringel went to Hamburg, then Glasgow…

The Clerc jewelry aryanization files

The Clerc jewelry assets were seized and resold to an Aryan buyer. The Nazis kept perfect…

Stan at Brant Lake

Stan summered at a Jewish summer camp in the Adirondacks.

Hilda's fabulous lifestyle with Joe Liebman

After the war, Joe Liebman came back to Paris with a glamorous new wife. Oh, what a life they…

The Rabinowitz girls

Meta, Blossom and Sadie

1968 Democratic convention

It was a signature moment of the turbulent 1960s. Walter, 18, and Dan, 15, were there in…

Twyla's childhood

Outlooks of a pre-millennial

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Abraham Blokh came from Minsk

Before he became Abe Ratner, he was Abraham Blokh from Minsk.

Rabbi Spektor's true genealogy

Most of what we discovered about Rabbi Spektor's genealogy was entirely true. All but the myth…

The Ringels in Berlin—time of prosperity

From 1880s to the 1930s, the Ringel family prospered in the garment trade in the German capital…

The Wohlgemuths on the Woelckpromenade

In 1912, Isaak and Betty Wohlgemuth moved to the German capital and settled in Weißensee, where…

Jews in jazz—the big band era

Stan's musical idol was Benny Goodman, the King of Swing.

Tulbowitz in the USSR—an alternative history

If Sholom Tulbowitz had gone to Dvinsk instead of Rostov, as his cousin did, his Ratner…

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Adventures in Israel—Walter and Joanne

Two of the Ruby offspring went back to Israel for significant periods.

If walls could talk—75 years in a Parisian villa

Insider dealings in the French jewelry trade. Swank cocktail parties for the Nazi elite. A rough…

Margot Dränger's survival story

Helga's second cousin suffered unimaginable traumas in and around Krakow from 1939 to 1945. She…

A milliner's daughter in Long Beach

Elly worked hard to earn a living as a hat maker while Helga adapted easily at Julia Richmond…

The Klein family in the 1940s

Leon Klein continued to work for American Spirits as its upstate New York sales representative…

The Scheunenviertal in the 1880s

Schija Ringel came from Poland to seek his fortune in Berlin’s old Jewish district.

Escape from Berlin—last good chance to get out

Our reconstructed timeline: How Elly and Helga Ringel were smuggled with SS escort out of…

The physics experiment that went wrong

How and why did Stan Ruby's important post-graduate research go wrong, and what impact did…

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Sputnik in the backyard

Watching Sputnik at night from our back yard in a suburb of Pittsburgh is one of my earliest…

Walter's first draft of family history

Cherry picking the best content from our founding document written in 2006: "The Ruby…

Mel Brenner

Mel accomplished many things in life, but his life’s greatest moments happened during the Battle…

Bilingual blogging—my French collaborator

Historical blogging makes strange bedfellows. A French jewelry critic and I were both interested…

Our Brenner cousins

Janis, Leslie and Amy grew up—each a star in her own way.

The problem with anti-ballistic missiles

Stanley Ruby entered the public debate over nuclear missile technology in 1968-69.

Fourth Generation Rubys

Just a bit about Twyla, Gene, Zach and Lani.

Turning over rocks to find long-lost relatives

During the course of my genealogy work, I have discovered and connected with cousins from all my…

Ghosts of Weißensee—the cemetery played on

How did Betty Katz meet her end in February 1942?

Wild goose chase—an accident in Jersey City

A newspaper clipping placed Walter Ruby on the scene of an automobile wreck in Hudson County, N.…

Just so—how the Rubys got their name

When and why did Walter Rabinowitz take on our abbreviated last name? He may have gotten the…

The peculiar case of Pinkas Twiasschor

The estranged husband of Betty Ringel was one of the 1000 war evacuees who found safe haven in…

The Wohlgemuths in Danzig

Before moving his family to Berlin in 1912, Isaak Wohlgemuth prospered as a mover in Danzig. His…

Split decision on restored German citizenship

Both Dan and Joanne applied for reclaimed citizenship under Article 116 of the German…

Arson! The Paechter family store is targeted

In 1898, Paechter’s Kaufhaus in Tiegenhof came under repeated anti-Semitic arson attacks.  

Walter Ruby and the Carioca Cooler

The U.S. liquor industry took off after the repeal of Prohibition. Walter Ruby was the marketing…

Ratner family reunion

In 2016. we organized a reunion weekend with Brenners, Rubys and Felensteins in East Quogue,…

Musical appreciation in the Ruby household

From Mozart to swing to the Grateful Dead.

Our Ruby name—sullied in Dallas

Lee Harvey Oswald's killer Jack Ruby was not related to our family. He tarnished our family…

Ringel vs. Ruby in World War I

Herman Ringel and Walter Ruby wore opposing uniforms in the Great War

Dan's 2018 research trip to Berlin and Gdansk

Dan supplemented his attendance at a Warsaw genealogy conference with a tour of family locations…

From Rezitsa to Rostov

Sholom and Sophie Tulbowitz left their ancestral town in the 1870s to settle for 20 years in…

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On Hill Avenue

The Ruby family comes of age in a bedroom suburb west of Chicago

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Third Generation Rubys

First came Walter, then Danny and Joanne. They would carry on the Ruby-Ringel genes.

Memories of young Stan

Stan was smart and fresh, with something to say about almost anything

The Yeserskys of Volkovysk

Joseph Rabinowitz’s mother was Bertha Yesersky. Was she related to Sora Yesersky, the wife of…

Lest we forget—Ringel Holocaust testimony

Rosa Shatner, née Ringel, and her lovely daughter Margot perished in a Serbian death camp. Rosa…

Arnaud Clerc

Joe Liebman’s son made his own name in the Parisian jewelry trade—and carried on the Rue de…

The Rabinowitz family in Jewish Harlem

Joseph and Lena Rabinowitz were Russian immigrants who ran a corner grocery in Jewish Harlem.…

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An afternoon at Lake Merrit

In July 2003, Stan and Helga came to the East Bay for a golden summer outing.

Louis Katz of Kolberg

Betty’s father was a prosperous merchant who came to Pomerania from East Prussia.

Ze'ev and Penina Sharon of Kibbutz Afeq

A pioneer to Palestine in 1936, Ze’ev married Penina and they did their part to build the state…

Long Beach—taking in the Klein family

During the Depression, families helped each other out. The Kleins moved in with the Rubys in…

Mossbauer man—Stan makes his mark in physics

Stan's innovations in Mossbauer spectroscopy.

Motives for mercy—the consuls of Toulouse

In July 1940, consular officials from three nations conspired to open an escape route for Jews…

Sandy Klein

A precocious Ratner girl takes on life in midcentury America.

Family History Machine is reborn in 2020

Machinist Dan Ruby and his team members envision a new future for Family History Machine

Sidney Kessler and American Spirits

Walter Ruby's boss in the liquor business became an influential figure in Puerto Rico and…

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In the Signal Corps in New Guinea

Stan strung transmission wires in the South Pacific during World War II.

Helga in the League of Women Voters

Helga expressed a commitment to liberal values in her lifelong work for the League of Women…

Janis Brenner—a Ratner in motion

An innovator in modern dance and choreography since breaking in with the Murray Lewis Dance…

Ratner family passage to America

Abe Blokh became Abe Ratner to avoid conscription and get out of Russia. With his young wife and…

Young man on the make in the Roaring Twenties

Walter Ruby hustled his way as a traveling silver salesman, with some career side trips into…

Shtetl life in Russian Rezhitsa

Today it is Rezekne in Latvia. In the 19th century, it was the village in Vitebsk Province where…

Meeting Harriet Berkowitz

Harriet Berkowitz was doubly distanced from her Rabinowitz roots, first by her father’s partial…

Grammy — everyone’s favorite grandmother

She made each of her six grandchildren feel special

Twiasschor family in Berlin

The Twiasschors settled in Berlin in several waves from Kolomiya, Ukraine

The Zimkin line—David, Arthur and Mark

Following the descendants of the eldest Rabinowitz daughter, without a happy ending.

The family secret behind grandfather's desk calendar

A surprising artifact discovered after a parent's death leads to a series of discoveries…

Two Ringel sisters manage on their own

The Ringel sisters, Betty Twiasschor and Rosa Schattner, lived with their children in adjacent…

Joan and Ruby

Joan’s second marriage to Rueben Meyers brought her great happiness.

A surprising double marriage in London

Rosa Ringel married Pinkas Twiasschor in a borough of London in January 1911, at the same time…

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Elly’s European travels

Elly lived out her senior years in a studio apartment on the Upper West Side. But she lived for…

Tiegenhof and Elbing

After her husband's death, Frederike Wohlgemuth returned with her children to her old home town…

Hermann Ringel's German citizenship

When Hermann turned 21 in 1906, he presented documentation to secure legal German citizenship.…

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Final days in Kovno

The amazing story of the unrelated Rabinowitz family in the days before the liquidation of Kovno…

Stan finds love outside of a 20-block radius

Home from the war, Stan Ruby was a graduate student in physics at Columbia University. Helga…

Bob Felenstein's last fight

Bob struggled in his last year, supported by his loving Jane. A crew of his cousins rallied to…

Our family during the Nazi years in Berlin

During the first five years of Hitler's reign of terror, Jewish families of Berlin faced…

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