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A Noble Heritage: Hardcover Color Version

Jeffrey Mark Paull (Author)

ISBN: 0-7414-7047-0 ©2013
Price: $139.95
Book Size: 8.5" x 11" , 669 pages
Category/Subject: BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / General

Beautifully illustrated, meticulously documented, and embellished with hundreds of extraordinary photographs, this is a moving and compelling account of a family’s journey from the old world to the new – a truly American story of universal appeal that has been skillfully and lovingly brought to life.

This superbly researched family history takes the reader on a fascinating journey of discovery, as Dr. Jeffrey Mark Paull captures the experience of a family of ancient and noble Jewish descent, over a millennium of European, Russian, and American history. Dr. Paull crafts an enthralling narrative, as he skillfully re-creates the astonishing story of how the Polonsky family’s lost heritage, which dates back to the illustrious rabbi and biblical commentator Rashi (1040–1105) of medieval France, was rediscovered.

With a keen sense of historical insight, and a deep admiration of those who came before, Dr. Paull traces his ancestors’ millennial journey across Europe, culminating with their immigration to America from Czarist Russia.

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Customer Reviews

  A Great American Family , 03/07/2013
Reviewer: Dr Edward Gelles
A hundred years ago a Jewish family made its way to the United States from a part of the Russian Empire that is now in the Ukraine. Menachem Nahum (Nathan) Polonsky and his wife Batia (Bessie) Shapiro had connections to ancient family trees that have now been revealed. They produced three sons and five daughters whose progeny have become enduring branches of these trees. Jeffrey Mark Paull's book is primarily concerned with these branches of the Polonsky family. From their arrival at Ellis Island and gradually across the continent "from sea to shining sea" six generations have flourished, multiplied, and struck deep roots in the country that embraced them. Several hundred descendants and their spouses are lovingly recorded in text and photographs. Biographical details of the individual family units, obtained from the cousinhood and through a study of Russian censuses, ship's manifests, immigration, birth, and marriage records, tombstone inscriptions and much other material, are brought together to illustrate the growth of a family, proud of its origins, and strong through its family loyalty, and love of their country. This family has a great Jewish heritage in which different ethnic strains contributed to produce its quintessential American character. Some remarkable women have helped to shape the modern Polonsky profile, as exemplified in the author's family. Jeffrey is a descendant of Nathan Polonsky's eldest son Louis Isidore (Levi Isaac) who changed his family name to Paull. He married Mary Gelman. Their son Melvin Robert Paull and his wife Betty Cohen were Jeffrey's parents. Nathan Polonsky was a great-grandson of Rabbi Eliyahu Pinchas Polonsky and Sima Wertheim. And Eliyahu Pinchas was a grandson of Rabbi Shmuel ben Mordecai Gelles and of his wife Sarah Rachel Scheindel Shapiro. Rabbi Shmuel is given in the Russian records as Shmuel Mordkovich Polonsky. The epithet of Polonsky, derived from the town of Polonnoye, became the family name of this couple's progeny. Sarah Rachel Scheindel was the only daughter of the famus Rabbi Pinchas Shapiro of Koretz, a direct descendant of Chief Rabbi Nathan Nata Shapiro of Cracow. There is a wealth of material in this impressive tome. As a genealogist and distant cousin, I picked out two items that were of special interest to me. The first is the tombstone of Nathan Polonsky, who died in 1829. Its photograph appears on pages 43 and 114 and the clearly legible inscription confirms that Nathan was a descendant of Rabbi Pinchas Shapiro of Koretz and of the Shpoler Zeide ("the grandpa of Shpola"), who was a colourful and much loved figure in Jewish folklore. The second item is the reference on page 39 to the close Y-DNA matches between myself and Jeffrey Paull. The tombstone inscription confirms the Polonky link to the ancient Shapiro line while the DNA evidence supports Jeffrey's descent in male line from my ancestor, Rabbi Moses Gelles of the Brody Klaus. These family connections are discussed in some of my books, including "An Ancient Lineage"(Vallentine Mitchell, London 2006) and the recent paperback "Meeting my Ancestors" (Shaker Publishing, Maastricht, 2011). Jeffrey Paull's celebration of family continuity is very emotive for those familiar with the experience of immigrants and the evocative lines of Emma Lazarus on the plaque for the Statue of Liberty. The book is clearly of interest as a social history within a rather specialised field. It is an absolute "must" for every member of the Polonsky tribe, their spouses, offspring, relatives, and friends. Copyright Edward Gelles 2013

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