The Langsam – Spira – Fischel Family
~ A Narrative by Suzan G. Wynne ~
The LANGSAM Family
Menachem Mendel Langsam (b.c. 1830-d.c.1915) was the son of Chaim Leib Langsam and Chana from Bircza. Known as “Roiter Mendel”
because of his red hair or just Mendel, he was the only one of his siblings to live in Bukowsko. He arrived there, most likely to marry, in about 1950.
His cousin Shabsi Yitzchak Miller arrived in Bukowsko about the same time. Mendel had a total of 13 known children with three wives and lived
out his days in Bukowsko. He was said to have been relatively wealthy from making wine from grapes grown in Hungary (perhaps by one of the Millers) and operating a tavern and inn. He may have held a “propinator” license in the Bukowsk district for a time.
From his first wife, Ita (surname unknown), he had Gittel in 1851. She married Ephraim Elezar/Luzer Fischel from Wroblik Szlacheki near Rymanow and they had 11 children (7 survived childhood) in Bukowsko before moving to Przemysl in about 1894. After Luzer died in 1898, Gittel and all 7 of her children began leaving Galicia, first for Berlin, and then the U.S. By late, 1913, the whole family was in the U.S.
1) Sara Fischel (1869-1916) married Sinai Rand from Bukowsk, son of Tuvia and Miriam (Langsam). Tuvia was the son of the well known scholar, Mendel Rand. Most of Sara and Sinai’s 8 children were born in Bukowsk. The family joined Sara’s mother and siblings in the U.S., where the Rand family developed a successful chain of dairy stores in New York.
2) David Fischel/Fischer (1874-1957) married Frimet Steinbach from Kanczuga. They had 3 children in Kanczuga. David helped manage his brother Paul’s chain of grocery stores in Hoboken, NJ. David travelled back and forth. While in Kanczuga at the outbreak of WWI, he was drafted by the Austrian Army. He spent much of the war as a POW. David brought Frimet and the children to New York after the war.
3) Zvi Elimelech/Herman Fischel/Fischer (1876-1940) married Chaya Sara Metzger from Przemysl. They had 4 children, the last born in Hoboken, NJ.
Herman started his own egg and dairy store in Richmond Hill, Queens and founded a congregation there.
3) Pesach/Paul Fischel/Fischer (1878-1943) changed the family name after coming to the U.S. in 1901. In the U.S., he married, Ester Grumet,
a cousin from Sanok. They had no children. Paul owned a chain of grocery stores in Hoboken. Early heart disease led to reducing his work.
He and Ester owned a Viennese-style restaurant in NY until his death.
4) Mendel Emanuel Fischel/Fischer (1881-1951) married in the U.S. He had three sons who became estranged from their father and his family
due to their parents’ divorce.
6) Jacob Josef “Joseph” Fischel/Fischer (1884-1951) married Elsie Nobleman in the U.S. and had two sons.
7) Chaya Golda/Clara Fischel/Fischer (1890-1959) married her brother-in-law Herman Nobleman in the U.S. and had 1 son, Eli. Herman died
when Eli was 2. Clara remarried but had no other children.
Mendel remarried soon after Ita’s death to Perl Lien. Abraham was born in Bukowsk in 1853. Perl did not live long after his birth. Abraham moved to Przemysl at about age 20. He died there in 1930. He first married a widow, Miriam Scheindel Reich/Rosenbach (1847-1887). After her death, Abraham married her sister, Chana Mindel (1859-?). Both women were the daughters of Isaac Rosenbach and Chawa Reich from Przemysl. With Miriam, Abraham had 7 children, some of whom died in childhood. One of their grandchildren emigrated to Palestine. Most other of Scheindel’s descendants were killed in the Shoah. With Chana Mindel, Abraham had 4 sons, one of whom, Nehemiah/Emil, went to England. Most of the other descendants from Chana Mindel were killed in the Shoah.
Mendel’s third wife, Sara, had 11 children in Bukowsk between 1855-1879, some of whom married into Bukowsk families. A small number of their
descendants had emigrated to Palestine or the U.S. before the war. A few survived in Siberia or in hiding.
1) Ester married Lippe Frank. Some descendants of their 9 children live in Israel.
2) Ita (1861-1938) married Berl Roth from Sanok and they lived there. They had 7 known children. The entire family perished.
3) Jacov Josef (1864-?) married Chaya Sara Seitelbach from Kanczuga. Of their 8 children, three emigrated to the U.S. prewar. Only 1 of the children married and had children. Of the remaining 5 children, there was only survivor, a young granddaughter who settled in Israel after the war.
4) Chana Mindel ritually married Chaim Stern of Bukowsk. They had 8 children. Some of the children were known by Stern and some by Langsam.
Two sons died during WWI; Simcha, Eliezer, Sara, Gittel and a son all perished. Pesach Stern-Langsam and his wife, Sima Horowitz also perished,
along with two of their six children: Golda (married to Chaskel Goldberg, who survived) and Asher Yeshaya. The other four of Pesach and Sima’s
children, Naftali Zvi, Shlomo, Meyer Yehuda and Meilach/Herman, survived either by fleeing to Russia or making aliyah before the war.
Surviving descendants are in the U.S. and Israel. Meyer and Herman used the name Langsam, while Naftali Zvi’s descendants are known by Stern.
5) Pessia married Itzhak Gunzberg who was probably from Bukowsk. She and their daughter, Clara, emigrated to the U.S. Clara married Robert Walkinshaw and had two sons.
6) Chaim Leib (b.c. 1866-1942) was known to have married. He had 2 knowns daughters: Mirel and Naomi. Naomi married Betzalel Rapaport. All perished.
7) Hinde and Arye Leib Fisch from Bukowsk were said to have been living in Przemysl when the Shoah began. They and their 3 children were killed.
8) Chaya married Isak Gottlieb from Pruchnik. They and their children were killed.
9) Miriam married Tuvia Rand from Bukowsk. Their son, Sinai, was the husband of his cousin, Sara Fischel (daughter of Gittel Langsam
and Luzer Fischel). A daughter married Solomon Leiblich, from a wealthy family in Krakow. She and Solomon were killed in an early
Nazi “action” in Krakow. Their only child, Tuvia/Ted, survived by hiding in a wardrobe. At only 11, he wandered Europe alone.
After the war, he was able to emigrate to the U.S. under the sponsorship of his uncle, Sinai Rand. He eventually married but had no children.
He died in1982 of cancer in New Jersey. Miriam and Tuvia’s other child, a daughter, married Menashe Erom/Arom of Bukowsk.
They and their children were killed.
Ted recalled that his grandparents lived in a huge house just outside of Bukowsk and that the family story was that Franz Josef had used
the house for a hunting party just before WWI.
10) Yosef (1867-1943) sold iron works. He married Chana Wieczner from Dukla. They had 8 children in Bukowsk where they lived for most
of their lives. Yosef and Chana apparently died in the Shoah in Dukla. The children: Bracha, Mirla, Nechama, Chaya, Mendel, David,
Yeshayahu/Szaye and Hersch Meilach. Information about some of their children is sparse
Bracha and Mirla married and moved to Przemysl. Nechama married and moved to Sambor. Chaya may not have married.
All of these women and their descendants were killed.
Mendel married Freide Scheinfeld, who may have been his cousin through the Spiras from Czechoslovakia. They lived in Bukowsk
where their 5 known children were born: Mordechai; Shlomo (1915-1942); Akiva; Rivka; and Sara. All perished.
Yeshayahu/Szaye was in Bukowsk in 1934. He married someone from Bukowsk and they had two children there. They were living in
Przemysl in 1939. One son survived and died, unmarried, in Poland after the war.
Hersch Meilach married Manya Berger in Sanok in 1927. Manya was from a Jaslo family. They had 2 daughters and lived in Sanok. All perished.
David (1888-1942) was married in Gorlice in 1914 to Henya Siewel. They had 5 known children: Ephraim (1915-), Moshe, Nathan, Chaim Leib
Ephraim fled to Russia when the war broke out. He married Pessia Zaretsky there. They and their two children went to Israel postwar. Everyone
else in the family perished.
11. David (1879-1956) married Beila Arom/Erom and they had 2 sons and 2 daughters. David and Beila died in Israel. One of their daughters,
Brona, married Pinchas Helfman. They never had children. They lived in Buenos Aires. Eliyah, Clara (married Reuven Toder) and
Menachem Mendel all have descendants in Israel.
The first member of the Spira family to arrive in Bukowsk was Meir Yehuda (-1908; Or l’Meir)) ben David (1804-1874 Tzemach David). He undertood the task of creating a community of Dynower Chassidim in Bukowsk. Meir Yehuda’s grandfather, Zvi Elimelech (1783-1841; B’nei Yissachar)), was the last of many children born to Pesach and Ita Langsam in Jawornik Polski.
Zvi Elimelech was living in Dynow when he began his life-long effort to develop a following of Chassidim. He changed his surname to Spira and sent his sons, sons-in-law, and grandsons to various communities to organize followers. Meir Yehuda was one of his grandchildren. Meir Yehuda, a short round man, was known for his musical talent. He did not live in Bukowsko in his early adult years but was living there no later than 1890.
He married twice. His first wife, Scheindel Ruchel Hager died while giving birth to their daughter who was given her name. She married her mother’s relaative, Chaim Zeide Hager. Their daughter, Leah married a cousin, Eleazar Spira of Bircza.
Meir Yehuda’s second wife was Miriam Fessner, daughter of Israel ben Chaim of Kossow. They had children, some of whom had no association with Bukowsk. Those most notably associated with Bukowsk: David (1868-1924); Chaya Toba (b.c. 1875); and Mindel. David will be discussed below.
Chaya Toba married her cousin, David Spira of Sanok who led the Dynower community there. Of the two known children I know about: Luzer, born in Bukowsk in 1901, married Nechuma Horowitz in 1923; Chana, born in 1913, in 1933, married Baruch Halberstam. I believe all perished.
Mindel married Pinchas Josef Kanner from Zagorz. They and their children perished. One of their daughters married Moshe Teitelbaum from Bukowsk. Moshe was the last Chassidic rebbe in Bukowsk. Another daughter, Henya, married her cousin, Alter Reuben Spira.
David was his father’s successor as the leader of the Dynower community in Bukowsk after Meir Yehuda’s death in 1908. David was living in Bukowsk when WWI broke out and they, along with the rest of the Jewish community, became refugees. After the war, the family returned briefly to Bukowsk but found that it was so heavily damaged that they opted to move to Sanok. David was already suffering from the heart problems that were so common among the men in the Langsam-Spira family and he knew that he would require frequent medical attention not available in Bukowsk. David’s cousin, also named David Spira, was the leader of Sanok’s Dynower community. Nevertheless, many members of the Bukowsk Dynowers followed their leader to Sanok, forming a separate group there. Though not as energetic as he once was, his followers remained loyal to him until his death in 1924. The Bukowsk section of the Sanok yizkor book describes the dramatic events surrounding his mid winter burial.
David married twice. From his first wife, Bina bat Yehoshua Horowitz from Tarnobrzeg, where David was born. All of the children may have been born in Tarnobrzeg: Rochel Mina; the twins: Zvi Elimelech (1904-1942) and Alter Reuben (1904-1942); Chaim; Chaya,. Rochel Mina married Eliezer Presser. They had 2 children and their family lives in Brooklyn. Chaim and Chaya perished.
When David died in 1924, the Bukowsk Dynowers looked to the twins for continuing leadership. Zvi Elimelech, was the older twin but he saw his brother as a stronger leader and opted for him to assume leadership. They both returned to live in Bukowsk with their families.
Alter Reuben married Henya Kanner (1906-1942), his cousin and daughter of Pinchas Joseph Kanner and Mindel Spira (bat Meir Yehuda and Miriam) from Zagorz. They and their 4 children, David, Bina, Pincha Josef and Meir Yehuda all perished. When WWII broke out, Alter Reuben took his family to Felstyn where he established a small yeshiva. His wife and 2 of their children were killed. He and the other two children were sent to Sambor’s ghetto. He died at Bergen Belsen.
Zvi Elimelech married Genana/Genandel Diller, born 1901 in Bukowsk. The yizkor book says that Genana was surnamed Spatz. This may have been her father’s name but she was known as Diller. Zvi Elimelech and Genana’s daughter, Chaya was born in 1924. Chaya and her husband Zvi Presser and their two children, Bina and David, went to the U.S. Descendants who lived in Brooklyn.
David’s second marriage to Sara bat Hanania Yom Tov Lipa Teitelbaum of Sighet resulted in the births of 4 more children: Moishe, Shulem, Chana and Miriam. The first three perished in the Shoah. Miriam, born in 1919 died in a household accident in Sanok in 1920.
Ephraim Eleazar “Luzer” Fischel was the husband of Gittel bat Menachem Mendel and Ita Langsam and the father of their 11 children born in Bukowsk. Luzer was born in Wroblik Szlacheki, a rail stop near Rymanow, to Berko and Rivka Rachel in 1851. Nothing is known about his siblings or if he was related to the other Fischels in Bukowsk. Luzer had many ways of making a living. He sold hardware, made barrels, brewed alcoholic beverages, operated a tavern and later, in Przemysl, where he died in 1898, he probably worked for his wife’s half brother, Abraham Langsam.
Rabbi Shmuel Gorr interviewed Pesach/Paul Fischel, a member of the Bukowsk Fischel family in Ramat Gan in 1982, in an effort to determine a connection to Luzer. Paul assisted Rabbi Gorr with what he could recall of his family tree. Paul recalled his earliest known ancestor as Avraham Eliyahu but did not recall the name of his wife. Avraham died when his three children were young. The children were: Yitzhak born Bukowsk in about 1883, Kalman and Rachel.
Yitzhak married Scheindel Feibush. He recalled that Scheindel’s sister, Nenna, married Zvi Hersch Meller/Miller born in Bukowsk in 1898. Scheindel and Yitzhak had 3 sons: Avraham Eliyahu in 1905; Tzvi Hersch in 1911; and Paul in 1916. Avraham Eliyahu, his wife, Sarah Schlitzler bat Yitzhak of Wola Michowa, and their three children perished. Tzvi Hersch survived in Russian territory but his wife and four children perished. Paul’s wife Sarah and son, Yitzhak also perished. Tzvi Hersch went to Montevideo, Uruguay after the war, while Paul made aliyah.
Paul could not remember the name of Kalman Fischel ‘s wife. They both perished. Their son, Shimon died in the War of Independence in Israel in 1948 and their daughter, Ettel died in Israel in 1982.
Paul could not recall Rachel’s husband’s name. They had 2 children. All four perished.