|About Berdichevsky-Sokolka Families
Welcome to the BERDICHEVSKY SOKOLKA FAMILIES web site
I was never interested in my ancestors.
After we moved to the US, my children grew up without an extended family and
no one to tell them who is in our family and were they came from. As they got
older, I started to put on paper the little I know so it would not get lost.
That led me to write to my aunt and ask her to send me what she knew about
her side of the family. The information started to arrive but had to be
organized, and in English, in order to make sense.
The only way it could be done was with a genealogy program. Since I was
working with a Mac computer that my cousin Doron recommended, the only
genealogy program available for the Mac - Reunion. Once I entered
the information on the computer, it looked so neat and easy to follow up that
I wanted to know more......and from there it took a life of its own......
I have been researching our ancestors, off and on, since 1985
and still counting. It took me places I never thought I would go - and not
only taught me about our family, but also about history and the history of
Jewish families and their everyday life in the Diaspora.
In the process I have received a lot of "bonuses"... Family members that
were "lost", second and third cousins from different corners of the world that
I would have never met if not for this research, were now reconnected. It is
very intriguing and rewarding to put the whole thing together... like a big
puzzle that you have to put together without a major picture to guide you.
This tree was named after the two families that made up my nucleus family. My
mother's Rachel Lev-Berdichevsky (Bernstein)from the Ukraine, and my father's
Matitiahu Sokolka (who changed his last name to the Hebrew name Aithan) from
Lithuania and Poland. The other major families in this research are: Verzoub
of Uman Ukraine, Ramberg and Baron of Lithuania and Poland. All other families
connected to these families are still being researched. New information is
My thanks to all who contributed information and helped research,
especially to my second cousins Esther Winograd, and Zohar Levitan who's lead
made this web page posabile.
I hope that you will have as much fun looking through this family tree as I
had putting it together. With any questions or additional information
regarding the families that are in this tree please feel free to contact me.
Judy A Goldberg
Some background information about the two families who made up my nucleus
SOKOLKA: My grandfather (on my father side - Moshe Avrahm Sokolka was born in
Vistnitz, Poland in 1880 to Yitzhak Yaakov Sokolka, educated cigar merchant
and a devoted Zionist from the time of Chovevei Zion, his devotion of Zionism
prompted him to send his sons to Israel at the beginning of the 20th century
to study & settle there.
My grandfather, who was a successful young goldsmith and jeweler, arrived with
his wife, Sara Hannah Ramberg, and older child in Eretz Israel in 1907 and
settled in Jaffa where he built his business and home. His life story engulfs
the development of jewelry making in the first half of the 20th century in the
In 1938 he moved his business and home to Jerusalem where he lived and worked
until his death in 1952. He introduced the European methods of jewelry
manufacturing and was one of the founders of the city of Tel Aviv and the Diamonds
Exchange in Tel Aviv.
Among his client were the big European jewelry stores, the Royal German
Court, the Royal Jordanian, Iraqi, Syrian and Egyptian Courts of that time,
and some of the richest families of Europe and the Arab world.
As his sons grow up they joined him in the business. His younger son Matitiahu
(my father) became a jeweler and executed most of the complicated work and his
older son David help in the administration of the business. The business was
named M.A. Sokolka and Sons, and was in operation until Matitiahu's death in
For photographs of their work please turn to the album of their works in this
web page under PHOTOS. Most of the Sokolka and Ramberg's descendents are
living in Israel and some are in Europe and the USA.
BERDICHEVSKY: My great grandfather Moshe Aaron Berdichevsky was born in Zinkovich
Village near Braslve, Ukraine in 1845 to Zvi Hirsch Bernstein the Rabbi of Tranovka,
Ukraine. Moshe Aaron Berdichevsky was the last rabbi in a dynasty of 50 generations
rabbis on his father side and on his great grandmother Beila Ha'Levi Horowitz. (See
the earliest recorded event on this web page is the birth of Ha'Levi, Shlomo in 1005).
His older son Yechiel Micah Yosef Berdichevsky had a Rabbinical Smicha (ordained) and
was to continue the rabbinical dynasty.
But, his eyes were looking west to the Enlightment Movement and at age 25 he left the
Ukraine and went west. He settled in Germany and became a well known author, and
never returned to the Ukraine. His younger brother, Menachem Mendel (my grandfather,
who also had a Rabbinical Smicha) who lived with his family in Odessa, Ukraine was
the communicator between his older brother and his father.
Moshe Aaron Berdichevsky became the Rabbi of Pilba (1869-1871) near Mdzibuz at the
age of 24 and at 28 when,Rabbi Akiva Chiot of Dubova near Uman passed a way, he
became the Rabbi of Dubova and served in this position until his murder fifty years
In summer 1919 his son Menachem Mendel and his family came to Dubova to visit the
grandparents. In the Dubova's pogrom that was headed by the Cossack Petlura that
summer, on the 12 of Av 1919 (August 8), one of many pogrom in this town that summer,
my grandfather and his father, Moshe Aaron the Rabbi of the town, were murdered with
very many other Jewish citizens of Dubova. (See bellow the chapter from the book
Dubova Scroll that describ the pogrom)
By the time the pogrom was over, the Rabbi's wife Esther was beaten and was left with
a fractured skull but alive, and my grandfather left a pregnant wife with six
children,ages 12 through 2 years old.
Two years after the pogrom my grandmother Yael (Yente) Berdichevsky (Verzoub) took
her children and headed to Eretz Israel, were her late husband and her always dreamed
of going. It took her and her five children a year to reach the shores of Tel-Aviv,
on the month of Nisan 1922.
A single mother of five who raised alone her children who grow up to became well
balanced contributing adults to the Jewish society in Eretz Israel and later in the
State of Israel.
The memories of the pogrom never left them and only strengthen their belief that the
place for the Jewish people is in the State of Israel.
Most of the Berdichevsky descendents are living in Israel and some in Europe and the
Dubova Scroll by Rachel Feinberg
12th of Av (August 8, 1919)
That morning,another miracle happened at the Rabbi's home. That house saw miracles
not once. At the time of the first massacre, byt the 'Inverted First,' the
rioters/hoodlums overlooked the Rabbi's home. The dangerous hoodlums from the foreign
mob of Kazikov & his gang members also did not harm the Rabbi's house on the 20th of
These events left a great impression on the village Jews. They started to believe
that the rioters had no control over the Rabbi's house, and every person in the
community that had any valuables left brought them to the Rabbi's wife for safe
keeping in her house, so it will be close to the rabbi. All her trunks and cupboards
were filled with other people's property. They brought their expensive jewelry and
bundles & bundles of assorted paper currency that the Rabbitzin (or rabbi's wife)
from Dubova did not even know their name and value. All over her house, they were
hanging silk clothing and forma fur coats. They deposited a big fortune in her hand.
When the gang of rioters broke/stampeded the town, from child to old men, all the
Jews ran into the Rabbi's house. Whoever succeeded in getting in was assured to stay
alive on account of the rabbi. The Rabbitzin had plenty of flour in the house and she
baked bread & cakes. And she fed the crowd of people until G-d's mercy was on them
and the danger was over.
In those days of wrath, the Rabbi made a point to always be dressed up, and he lay on
the sofa in his room. That room that is called by family homeowners as the "court
room." An open book was on the table in front of him.
From time to time, he would call his wife to remind her not to forget to serve tea to
the nursing mothers and small children. Sometimes he'd call his son to change the
book that was in front of him. He would eat very little. He would just put something
in his mouth to relieve himself, and he mainly survived on different drops
(medication) to strengthen his heart.
He survived this way through the summer until Teesha Be'av (9th of Av), until the
The day after Teesha Be'Av when Kasakov's troops broke into Dubova with their swords
in the air and shining daggers, the Jews of the town as usual ran for cover to the
Rabbi's house so that the murderers could not control over them.
The Rabbitzin immediately went to work baking rolls and cakes as usual. On the table,
the Samovar was boiling to revive the nursing mothers and children with a hot drink.
The Rabbi asked his son for help in dressing. He wanted to lay down on the couch in
his court room. Every minute, men, women and children burst into the house with a
frightened look. The house became too small to contain them. All the rooms, the
kitchen and the foyer were filled with people. All the Jews of Dubova came to save
their lives under the old & sick rabbi's wings.
In this way, a few hours passed, and all of a sudden the catastrophe occurred.
A hurl (knock) from the outside shook the walls. The glass windows shattered with a
(ring) piercing vibration and into the house burst a group of
robbers/rioters/thieves. They were all young and in their hands, swords and bats.
Without hesitation, they jumped over the Rabbi who was lying quietly on the couch.
With savage screams they piled on tope of the holy man's boney, meager, frail old
body using their impure hands. Bitter and muffled screams were heard from the streets
through the open door and the stunned crowd of Jews fearfully fled the old Rabbi's
house to any place their feet could take them.
And so fell the last "fort" of the Dubova Jews. The rioters beat the rabbi savagely.
Blood poured out of his ears. They twisted his arm against his back. Besides him, the
rioters did not touch anyone. Immediately they turned to the trunks and cupboards
where they were blinded and overwhelmed by the hidden valuables of the village Jews.
The rioters were so stunned by the money and the jewelry that they forgot about the
people around them. The fortune and expensive items/treasures that the Dubova Jews
and their wives gave to the rabbi's wife for safe-keeping turned the rabbi's modest
home into a gold mine, while the other Jewish homes in the town were already
completely barren. The first thug that broke into the house came out loaded with
money and jewelry. Word spread quickly among the rioters that the small home of the
Jewish rabbi has unlimited hidden fortune! So everyone ran to that house to grab and
profit from the bundles of money, gold coins and beautiful items.
Groups of rioters all armed with axes and clubs burst into the house, the cupboards
and trunks. They broke and destroyed everything in the way.
The rabbi laid in his court room on the (made) couch against the fluffy pillows and
down comforters that cushioned his wounded body. On the table still lay the open
book. His wife sat quietly on the chair and put cold compresses on his head. The
robbers went wild. They broke tables & benches. They turned empty cupboards upside
down and shattered the furnace, but they did not touch the two old people. They
didn't look at them as though they never saw them.
This went on as long as they could find something to steal. Finally, there were no
more gold coins or jewelry to find and then they turned to the quiet old couple that
was sitting in the disheveled (rabbi's chambers) courtroom.
When the rioters came in and saw the overturned empty cupboards, they jumped on the
old man raising their wooden clubs, "Tell, Old Devil, where did you hide your money!"
They kept screaming at him while beating him with the handles of their rifles.
And the rabbi from Dubova continued to lie on his comforter now soaked in his
blood. On the table next to him lay the open book and his wife emphatically begged
and swore that she doesn't have any more money. The insistence of the old couple made
the rioters angrier and more convinced that the couple was hiding the information
Now, the torture began. Like this, they thought they could get the secret out of
them. They especially tortured the rabbi. With buckets, they began to pour all the
water from the kitchen barrel on the rabbi. Then, they dragged him from where he lay
to the floor and repeatedly kicked him in the head.
After they left the house, his wife put a pillow under his head on the floore and the
rabbi requested that his open book be placed on a chair next to him. The image of the
blood-soaked old man lying on the floor with his open book next to him sparked a wild
laugh from the incoming hoodlums. They kept on coming in groups to look for gold and
packages of money.
"Tell us, Old Devil, where is your Kike G-d now!" They screamed with a wild laugh
while endlessly stabbing him with their daggers. And the rabbi from Dubova fially
made a sound and said to his wife, "Please tell them in their language (Ukraine) that
they better shoot me in the head."
"You better shoot him with a bullet," repeated the old woman his request word for
word in the Ukraine language. Ferocious laughter muffled her quiet voice, desperate
with sorrow and tears.
"Tell us, where is you kike G-d!" they mocked.
"My G-d in Heaven I am receiving with love the torture that you have brought upon me!
but I cannot stand when your name is defiled (taken in vein)!" The rabbi's speech
was weak. He spoke in fragments an dhis wife repeated his words in a warm and soft
Ukrainian slang. He continued, "Ask them again! please, in their language! please.!"
She did as he asked while she begged and cried. She asked for a bullet for herself
But Kasakov's thugs did not fulfill their request. They did not want to kill them
with a bullet from their rifles. They tortured him from Wednesday morning until
Friday morning while she stood there on guard at all times to take care of him until
his soul returned to his creator. It seem to her that at any moment he would die
despite that he spoke all the time and his mind was clear. He did not stop praying
and his voice grew weaker.
She dressed him in white clean clothes. She prepared his talis and white robe that he
used to wear on Yom Kippur and Passover Sedar. She prepared everything ahead of time
so that she would not miss the moment he would return his pure soul to his creator,
and could run out to find 2 or 3 old Jews to help her bring him immediately to
burial. That way she would avoid shaming the dead by leaving his body out and
maintain his dignity. She did not want the murderers to contaminate his
body with their touch.
So she was thinking for herself and then she thought of another plan: Maybe with the
last of her energy, she would be able to carry his body to the garden of the farmer
nearby. When they would stop torturing him, maybe he could regain his strength. But
she couldn't move, because when she sat in her house, she guarded the attic. There
her son, her daughter-in-law and their five kids were hiding.
This was Mendel, the younger brother of Michal Yosef Berdichefsky. The Hand of G-d
was in this younger son of the rabbi from Dubova. He was already middle-aged, a man
of 37 years, a father of six children. His oldest son was already in the army, and
still the father was as handsome as was in his prime! as though he was a recently
married groom. His black eyes were burning with the flames of youth. His dark curls
emit a shiny glow like velvet. His body stood firm and erect. In those crazy-ridden
days, all these qualities made him very suspicious in the eyes of the "goyim." The
look of Mendel Berdichevsky was the look of a typical communist. Therefore, he was in
great danger that summer of 1919! much more than the rest of the Jewish Youth in
Consequently, each time there was a tumult/commotion in the village, all hurried to
hide Mendel, son of the rabbi, so that he would not attract the stares of goyim to
his shiny black hair.
He chose to hide in the attic of his father's house.
On the first day of the Big Massacre, at the time that the rioters exercised their
control over the rabbi's house, Mendel hid in the attic joined by his wife and their
five little children. With them in the attic hid a Jewish butcher, the rabbi's
They settled comfortably into the attic. They brought up their bedding, a bucket of
water, a box of sugar, bread and butter. Then they removed the ladder and the old
couple stayed downstairs by themselves so that no one would suspect that there might
be someone else in the house. However, there was a dangerous obstacle that could have
brought disaster on the hidden family.
The 7 year old Raisaleh, Medel's daughter, did not want to stay in the attic with her
parents. She wanted to be downstairs with grandma and grandpa. Out of fear that she
would cry and raise her voice to be heard from the attic, they fulfilled the little
one's wish and took her down from the attic. So the girl stayed with the old couple
all the time. When the thugs broke into the house to beat up the old man, the little
girl hid behind the furnace so no one could see her. Later, she would return and sit
on the floor with Grandma and watch her bandage Grandpa's head.
So, Raiseleh sat with the elders until Thursday night. In the later hour, after
midnight, all of a sudden, she got scared of the rioters and she asked to go upstairs
to her mother. After the old woman took her up to the attic, the girl hugged her
mother crying, "Mommy, I'm scared! the hoods gouged out Grandpa's eyes!"
It was already dawn, the rabbi laid practically dead, but still mumbled a few words
here and there. He continued to ask for a bullet. "In their language! ask! in their
His wife, the rabbitzin, didn't listen to his words. In the last moment, she had to
leave her post. She sat on the foot stoop of her house. Her head smashed, blood
pouring from her wounds, and with all her might, she hit her heart with a fist. Like
her husband, she too was saying her last prayers while at the same time, she begged
G-d to protect the rest of the chicks in the attic, "Do it for the sake of the
At that moment, another group of armed young hoodlums broke in. A farmer lady passed
the house with a bucket of water in her hands and rescued the fainting rabbitzin from
the hands of the ruffians. The gang was about to leave when a coughing sound was
heard from the attic.
It was rabbi's neighbor, Moshe the butcher. All his life, he used to cough. Three
whole days, the rabbi's daughter-in-law fed him sugar so he would not cough. But all
of a sudden, he coughed. The band of hoodlums were overjoyed. With screams and wild
laughter, they dragged everybody out of the attic. When they saw Mendel, they all
called in one voice: "Here is the Communist!"
The local farmers dressed him. Mendel Berdichevsky was always dressed in the best and
most beautiful clothes. Between the goyim, a fight started for his clothes. They
could not share between his beautiful shirt and his shoes. The conflict continued
until one shoe was left in one hood's hand and one in the hand of his rival.
And then, they killed Mendel. Because they concluded he was, in fact, a communist,
they chopped off his fingers and toes. Moshe the butcher, a simple Jew, they killed
with a gunshot.
And then the miracle happened.
At that exact moment, the church bells started to ring. It was already Friday
morning. With dawn, they called a meeting. The Dubova Farmers got tired of dragging
dead Jews to the lime pits and on the 3rd day of the massacre, they demanded Kasakov
stop killing women and men. So the rabbi's wife, with her young daughter-in-law and
the five little children were transferred to the rescue home of Dimitri Shbolinskythe
good man to watch over them.
And the church bells continued to ring. The sun came out and the local "goyim"
gathered the dead. By the Rabbi's house stood a big cart pulled by two horses. It was
filled with dead Jews of every age and gender: men, women and children. Two horsemen
threw the bodies of Moshe the butcher, the Rabbi and his son on top of the pile of
dead bodies. They shared between them the talis and the white robe of the rabbi, the
one that his wife had prepared to robe and bury him in. the cart was led to the
bottom of the hill where his body was thrown first into the bottom of the pit among
the rest of his dead community.
Translated to English by the Rabbi's Great Great granddaughter Ahdee