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Zev-Wolf  came from the town of Vishniveh.  He and his wife, Basha-Ita

Danishevsky had four children: Max, Philip, Libby-Duska and Rivka-Baila.

Zev-Wolf was a teacher, and all of the children were raised Orthodox and

steeped in Torah learning and Yiddishkeit -- in the true "Litvak" tradition.

Basha-Ita died when Rivka was only a year and a half old. Zev-Wolf married

Esther Genya, who was a wonderful stepmother to the children.

By 1916, all of the family but Zev-Wolf, Esther Genya and youngest daughter

Rivka-Baila had emigrated to America. The three older children worked in

upstate New York to save enough money to bring the rest of the family to the

New World. During this time, Zev-Wolf wrote many letters to his children in

America, all written in his beautiful Yiddish script.

Yiddish letters written by Zev-Wolf, c. 1910

While waiting for passage, Zev, Esther and Rivka were caught in World War I

and the Russian Revolution. Four years passed with no contact from their

family in America.

With much of the population in the war torn cities starving, Esther Genya

traveled alone to her family farm to bring back milk and provisions. Caught

in the ravages of war, she disappeared and was never heard from again.

Rivka-Baila and her father became refugees and were moved from place to place

as the wars progressed.

Zev-Wolf Podbereski and daughter Rivka-Baila Ilya, Lithuania, Vilna Gebarnia

c. 1915While at an armory where they sought shelter, Zev-Wolf became

seriously ill and his condition continued to worsen. Rivka-Baila knew he

needed a doctor and went to a neighboring village to get help. When she

returned a few days later, her father was gone. She searched a makeshift

morgue where she found his body amid hundreds of others who had died from

disease and starvation during the long Russian winter. She buried her beloved

father in the snow. Terrified and now alone, Rivka-Baila had only one thought

" to get to America. Hearing about a Jewish Delegation in the free port of

Danzig, she began her journey across Poland on foot. Rifka-Baila had no

passport. As a war refugee, she was stateless. She learned of a family in

Wizen who had room on their family passport for one more person. Rivka joined

this family and together with a brother and sister who were also travelling

alone (Laike and Joseph Sherman), she crossed Poland, working occasionally on

farms and sleeping outdoors or in barns.Arriving in Danzig, they waited along

with hundreds of other refugees for their names to be called from lists of

relatives providing passage to America.

Rivka-Baila in DanzigIn 1920,

Rikva-Baila Podbereski trade;s name was called and she boarded the Susquehanna --

the ship that would take her to the New World. Along with thousands of Jewish

refugees, Rivka-Baila made the long ocean voyage in the cramped,

claustrophobic conditions of Steerage Class.

The Voyage to the New World

Aboard Ship Rivka-Baila arrived in America on Yom Kipper, 1920. Reluctant to

travel on Yom Kippur, she nonetheless boarded a train to join her brothers

and sister in Rochester, New York. Although fluent in Russian, Polish and

Yiddish and excelling in mathematics, the only work Rivka could find was in a

coat factory, sewing buttons. One day at work, a co-worker, admonishing her

for being old fashioned and Orthodox, spilled milk on her lunch making it

un-kosher, and therefore not edible. A young man named Joseph Martin Schuster

kindly offered her an orange. They were married in 1922.

Wedding of

Rivka-Baila Podbereski & Joseph Martin Schuster, June 4, 1922.

Engagement of Rivka-Baila Podbereski & Joseph Martin Schuster, 1921.In 1924,

their first child was born: Basha-Ita (Beatrice Edith), named after Rivka’s

mother. They had 3 other children, Burton Gordon, William (named after her

father, Zev-Wolf) who died in infancy, and Alan Herbert. 


Beatrice Edith Burton Gordon Alan Herbert