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Sidney and Bea Rubenstein, 1938.  Below, Sam and Yetta Rubenstein

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Who came?

Ethel's typical Sunday dinner group, from her side of the family, would be there.  That included her husband, Harry, their four children, Rose, Minnie, Sam (the president) and Arthur, each with their wives.  Those who had children tried to bring them.  The regular visitors at at Morris' home would all attend.  His oldest son, Sidney Rubenstein, who was an ardent pinochle player, was always there with his wife Bea.  Sidney's youngest brother, Sam, was a regular. After he began courting Yetta, he would bring her.  Morris' sister, Dora, and her husband, Carl, attended, as did their sons, Phil, and Artie, who had become engaged (and later married) to Shirley. Morris' brother, Jack, attended with his wife, Helen, and their sons, Alvin and Bobby.   

The Bronx contingent 

Ethel's brother, Louis, who lived in the Bronx, came with his wife Sarah.  Their son, Abe, would attend with his wife, Ceil.  "Abe went to Family Circle meetings like clockwork," Shirley said.  Then there were the Bronx Uberstines, and other descendants of Usher's brother, Aaron, about whom we knew little until lately.  

The Uberstines

Lazar Elia's descendants in America prefer Uberstine to Uberstein.  Six of his children came to America, and a seventh sent three of her children.   Israel (Isar), who was the youngest of Aaron's immigrant children, made his home in Trenton, New Jersey.  Harris (Itka) came by way of Baltimore, settled in Canton, Ohio, had 12 children including nine daughters, and on retiring in 1918, moved to Cleveland.  See The Ohio Uberstines.

Cherla and her husband, Nathan Glockner, settled in Albany. Ida, who married Harris Farberman, lived in Brooklyn.  Their youngest child, Archie, who turned 90 in 1998, doesn't remember attending Family Circle meetings, but he was a regular, according to secretary Shirley Karben.  "That's how I know who he is," she said. 

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The Gelman Branch

and her husband, Morris Gelman, stayed in Russia, but three of their children -- Ike, Lou, and Rashka -- came to America.  See The GelmansIke went to Mississippi and stayed there; Lou served in World War I, and then headed for New York City to rekindle his friendship with Minnie,  the youngest daughter of his mother's sister, Toby, and they subsequently married.  Rashka settled in Brooklyn with her husband, Shimsel Kirshner, and the couple would attend Family Circle meetings with their four children: Esther, Faye, Shirley, and Al.  Photo of Rashka and Shimsel at right was taken on their 50th anniversary. 
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Made pocketbook frames

The Kirshners shared a house with the Karbens at 601 Essex Street, just down the block from the Rubensteins at 505 Essex Street, and of course they were close with Morris.   Shimsel had lived in the basement of a pocketbook factory, where he worked at making pocketbook frames until he earned enough money to bring over his wife, Rashka.  

Mayer and Morris were close

The youngest of Mayer's children was Nathan (1901-1984), and he and his wife, Ruth, were regulars at the Family Circle.  "We always went to the Family Circle," said Ruth Uberstine, who was 91 years old when we began chatting regularly in the summer of 1998 and proved a most valuable source.  "Morris was my husband's godfather,"  she said.  So Mayer and Morris must have been close.  And according to Ruth, Morris' youngest son, Sam, served as ring bearer at her wedding in 1929.

Prohibition memories

"From New Lots Avenue in East New York, it was 90 minutes on the subway to the Uberstines of the Bronx," said my father, who remembered delivering bootleg liquor from the family business to Bronx Uberstine customers.   On one subway excursion, he dropped a bottle, which broke and splattered right in front of a policeman.  What happened next?  "The door opened, and I ran," my father said.

Largest branch

Toby Uberstine had settled in Manhattan on arrival in America, and moved to the Bronx after the marriage of her daughter, Minnie, to Lou Gelman.  There in the South Bronx not far from Yankee Stadium, most of the offspring of Toby and Aaron Kahanovich lived not far from each other, and many went to Morris' Family Circle.   Thus, the impression of the plumbers of the Bronx was born.

Mayer's Branch

Mayer and his second wife, Gitel, may well have been too elderly to attend.  All three of their living children -- Lena, Abe and Nathan -- attended Family Circle with their spouses.

Lena had married her first cousin, Meyer, another of Toby's children. Meyer and Lena would attend the Family Circle, usually with at least two of their three sons, David, Harold and Irving.    

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"Meyer had a wonderful sense of humor," Shirley Karben said.  

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You would also see Toby's other children.   Daughter Minnie would be there with her husband, Lou Gelman, and the children of Toby's oldest daughter, Lena, would also attend.  Lena's daughter, Mary, went with her husband, Dave (who at the age of 90, remembered being there), and Bessie went with her husband, Nat, who also had memories of attending.

Plumbers of the Bronx

Toby's oldest son, Barnet, was the first plumber in the family.   "He was the learned one; he went to yeshiva in Russia," said Eli Schwartz, a grandson of Barnet's sister Channa, "so he got the license."  Thereafter, other family members also got licenses, and we became a family of plumbers and numerous plumbing businesses. 

Barnet's younger brother, Meyer, went into plumbing (while his sons chose the field of office furniture).  Barnet had two sons who became plumbers, Hyman and Harry.  Harry passed away, and his son, Martin Cohen, continued in the plumbing business. 

Lou Gelman, the husband of Barnet's youngest sister, Minnie, also became a  plumber.  (Their grandson, Steven Hausman, is a plumber.)  Minnie's first cousin, Nathan Uberstine, was a licensed plumber, and his brother, Abe, worked as a plumber in his employ. 

With nearly all questions answered, the "Clues" page in our trees chapter has been discontinued.  A remaining mystery is the Metzgers, whom we understood from Shirley Karben were numerous in our Horodoker burial plot at Beth El, Paramaus, NJ.  We are largely clueless about them -- knowing at least two branches of our tree where the name appears at least one --  and, as always, input would be most welcome.

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At far right, Sarah with husband, Louis Rubenstein, Usher's youngest son to come to America, and part of the Bronx contingent that attended Family Circle meetings.   Abe Rubenstein, above left, went to Family Circle meetings "like clockwork," said secretary Shirley Karben.  The photo with his wife, Ceil, was taken at their wedding in 1927, about eight years before the Family Circle began.   His parents, Sarah and Louis Rubenstein, posed for the photo, above right, on that occasion.  See Louis' Branch: An Album for larger portraits.  

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Shirley Karben (above) served as Family Circle  secretary. 

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 "He had all kinds of schtick."

Sam Varonok (above) was experienced as a Borscht Belt social director, and served as president of the group. 

Presidential humor

"Anyone with any connection to the family came," said Shirley.   Her cousin,  Irving Sollender, who was born in 1924 and is five years younger than she, remembers her tenure as secretary, and his uncle, Sam Varonok, as president.  "Between the two of them, they ran the whole thing," he said.   However, the word is that there were a couple of additional offices held by Bronx Ubersteins.   Sam Varonok, president, regularly spent his summers working as social director of Rosenblatt's (the Borscht Belt Resort, which later became the Raleigh), and was accustomed to performing his presidential duties with ease and humor.

Announcements and pinochle

"Whatever Sam said, he would throw in some things that would make you smile," Shirley said.  "He had all kinds of schtick," said Rayla Varon, who was married to Sam's younger brother, Arthur.  Typically, Shirley would read her minutes of the previous meeting ("who was there, what births and marriages had been announced, and anything special, such as if someone had gone off to war").  Sam would ask if anyone had anything to say, "and then we'd play cards," Shirley said.  The men would play pinochle, while the women talked, and the children played.  Coffee and cake, and cookies and milk,  would be served later on, and at  9 or 10 p.m., everyone went home.

"Sam made things fun for all of us," said Rayla Varon (right, with  husband, Arthur Varon). 

In 1932 photo taken in Atlantic City, NJ (below), Arthur let Sam, his older brother, borrow his left shoulder for a balancing act on the beach. 


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"That's the Traymore Hotel," said Ronald Levine, grandson of Channa Cohen Levine. 

Ronald recognized the scene at left from the years he made his home in Atlantic City.  From 1959 through 1963, Ronald played the drums in night clubs, and taught music in the public schools there.  The grand hotels came down "in the 1970's when gambling casinos came in," he said. 

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