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THE FREIDIN FAMILY OF ZELVA

 

Freidin Geneology

Tanhum Yitzhak Freidin (1790-1875)

We know a number of things about our earliest recorded ancestor. He was a butcher, and slaughterer of cattle (a shokhet), and also was a menaker. This was a specialist role in the butchering of cattle. There is a biblical injunction forbidding Jews from eating the hindquarters of a kosher animal, even if it has been slaughtered correctly. This is traced to the tale in Genesis, where Jacob wrestled with God's angel, and was made lame from a blow to the hip. Jewish law enables the hindquarters to be made fit for consumption, if the proper veins and sinews are removed, that according to tradition correspond to Jacob's injury. That is the skill of a menaker. It was said of Tanhum Yitzhak Freidin, that his knowledge of the laws of ritual slaughter and kashruth were so thorough, that he ruled on these matters without recourse to rabbinical authority.

My grandfather, Benjamin Freed, tells that Tanneh Itcheh -- his grandfather -- died at the age of 95, when Benjamin was five years old. That is the basis on which we fix his life span. My grandfather told me one one occasion, that Tanhum Yitzhak had described the Naploeon's invasion of Russia to him. This is entirely possible, since  Tanhum Yitzhak would have been a man in his thirties at the time. Historical maps verify that the French army fought extensive skirmishes with Russian troops in the area between Volkovysk and Slonim, thereby providing local residents with ample opportunity to view their passage through the region, both going to Moscow and then subsequently in retreat.
 

Aharon  Freidin  (c.1820 - 1916)

Aharon Freidin carried on his father's occupation as a butcher. Times were hard, and within the memory of our older family members, Aharon Freidin had difficulty in making a living. My great-uncle Morris Freed once recalled that "if he had a calf a day, he was lucky." "Zaydeh Ahareh," as he is remembered in Yiddish, also had a large garden from which he was able to derive some sustenance. My great-uncle Isidore Freed had recounted childhood memories of plucking vegetables from that garden and eating them.

Our best current information is that Aharon Freidin lived to a ripe old age, and passed away in the vicinity of 1910-1916. My uncle Joshua Freed says that Benjamin, his father, said that Aharon lived to the age of 96. He begat eight children, of which five were sons and three were daughters:

Jonah Freidin
Boruch Freidin
Abraham Freidin
Haya Beileh
Zvi Hirsch Freidin
Liebeh
Etta
Benjamin Freed

All known surviving generations of Aharon Freidin are descended from the three sons, Jonah, Boruch and Benjamin.

My grandmother, Hannah Freed, told me that the entire families of Abraham and Zvi Hirsch Freidin were destroyed in the Holocaust, though how she came by this knowledge is uncertain.

Aharon's wife died in post-natal confinement after giving birth to her youngest son. This child was named Benjamin, in keeping with the biblical tradition started by Jacob when his favored wife Rachel died in childbirth (Genesis 35:16-19). Family legend has it that divine intervention was sought to pass the sentence of death from mother to newborn child, but to no avail. My grandfather Benjamin received a good part of his upbringing by his older sisters, especially Liebecheh. We have been unable to establish the married name of the two older sisters, who did have their own families in Zelva. We are aware that the sister Etchinka may have been something of a rebel or an eccentric. She never married, and was notorious for bathing 'naked in the snow.' It is not clear whether this is an early harbinger of women's lib, or some manifestation of taking a sauna bath.
 

Yehoshua Freidin  (c.1827 - 1919)

 

Yehoshua Freidin ranks as the pre-eminent religious scholar of our family. His birth is dated from two sources. His granddaughter, Thelma Mednick, dates his passing in 1919. My uncle, Joshua Freed, who is named for him, recalls being told by his father, Benjamin Freed, that Yehoshua Freidin lived to be 92. We deduce that he was born about 1827.

His marriage to Chaya Sarah Sedletsky produced five children, all of whom reached maturity and had families of their own. These chilren are:

Eliezer Freidin
Reuven Jonah Rubinowitz
Hasia Fagel Futritzky
Rachel Beileh Pomerantz
Esther Leah Mednick

Descendants have been identified for all of these families with the exception of the families of  Eliezer Freidin.  These latter families are presumed to have been lost either to anti-Semitic pogroms in the late 1930's or in the Holocaust.

We believe the different surname for Reuven Jonah stems from an effort to confound the Czarist authorities of the time, who forcibly conscripted every third Jewish male child into a 25-year term of service in the Russian Army. Even though a third son was not born into this family, it appears that the name change remained. The Rubin Family, centered about Pittsburgh, PA are his descendants.

Yehoshua Freidin was an ordained Rabbi of considerable  scholarly reputation. Although he held a modest pulpit, in the tiny village of Ozernitsa, he was well-known as the author of two collections of sermons. These are the books, Evven Yehoshua and Beyt Yehoshua.

The esteem for this man extended not only deeply into own family, but his brother's family as well, where two descendants were given his name: Joshua Freed in the United States, and the late Yehoshua Freidin of Tel Aviv.