Berman family history

One of the important components of family research is piecing together a narrative that describes the family and its changes throughout time. This is a living document, so I will continue to update this page as I discover and learn more about the family.

I’ve traced the family of my mother, the Bermans, back to Wolf Berman, who was born in Russia. He married Feige Slawitz (Fanny) about 1890, before she immigrated to the United States. Feige first appears in the U.S. federal census in 1910, by which time she is a widow, living in Brooklyn. She arrived in the United States in 1907 or 1908, and she had eight children, only one of whom, Samuel Wolf(e) Berman, had survived by 1910. Feige’s parents were named Joseph Slawitz and Malke (Molly) Ginsburg.

Seymour Berman, Vivian Klein Berman via Shari Berman Landes
Seymour Berman, Vivian Klein Berman
via Shari Berman Landes

Samuel Wolf Berman was born in Odessa (present day Ukraine) on 26 Mar 1899. He left for Boston, Massacusetts from Liverpool, England, in July 1907. He appears to have traveled with Aaron Labunsky, under the name Schmuel Berman. Aaron and Samuel were listed in the ship manifest as cousins. Both were expected to be received by Odella Labunsky, Aaron’s sister. At the time of his immigration, Feige was still living in Slawuta, Wolinien (present day Ukraine). I haven’t found any convincing evidence of Odella or Aaron in Boston.

By 1910, Samuel was living with his mother in Brooklyn.

Samuel Berman, Petition for Naturalization, 1916

Samuel declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States in 1912, and the process completed with his naturalization in 1916. He married Anna Nachamin (Neckameyer), the daughter of Wolf Nachamin and Rebecca Kashowitz, on 22 Mar 1919.

Continuing their residence in Brooklyn, Samuel and Anna had three children: Seymour (Cye) born in 1923, and Rita born in 1928. Samuel passed away on 26 Apr 1938.

Aaron married Estelle Amanda (Pat) Lovejoy, and later passed away in November 1983. They had three children.

Seymour Berman and Vivian Klein Berman, Affidavit for License to Marry, 1946

Seymour, my grandfather, married Vivian Klein, daughter of Jacob (Jack) Klein and Lillian Herman, on 19 May 1946. Seymour passed away on 16 Jul 1978 in Suffolk County, New York. They had two children.

Rita Berman married Lawrence Abrams, and later passed away on 17 Jun 2010. They also had two children.

After Samuel Berman passed away, Anna Nachamin Berman remarried several times. She married Benjamin Rich, who appears alongside her in some of these home movies. After Ben died, she married Max Vogelfanger. Max later passed away, and Anna moved to Florida before passing away herself.






14 responses to “Berman family history”

  1. Nancy Rotkowitz Avatar

    Harlan, Aunt Rita passed away in June 2010. Is Wolf spelled Wolfe? Nancy (Estelle’sgrand daughter).

    1. Marlene Goldberger Avatar
      Marlene Goldberger

      Dear Nancy Rotkowitz,
      Your last name is similar ro my morger’s. Her family is from Austria. It I could never find out the name’s derivation. I was a friend of Judy Bergman from Bergenfield, NJ.we have lost touch for many years. If you have any information, please let me k ow.
      My email is

  2. Harlan Landes Avatar
    Harlan Landes

    Hi, Nancy! Thanks for the info! I’ve seen lots of variations of the “Wolf” spelling on the Berman side, from Wolff to Wolf to Wolfe. I don’t have a lot of first-hand accounts, though. With the Bermans still around today, it’s easy to see how they spell their names, but for those who have passed, I’ve been relying on documents like death records and census records, and you can never be too sure if the person taking the information was spelling the names the same way they spelled them in the family. Wolf as a name came to English through Yiddish, and there was no uniform way of spelling Yiddish words in English. Even though wolf is an English word, there was a lot of freedom in the way names were spelled, and until the late 19th century, European Jews just weren’t too concerned about name spellings, whether in Yiddish, English, or their town’s language.

    If you have any old documents where Samuel Berman or Aaron Berman signed or spelled their full names, those would help to confirm how they spelled their middle names.

  3. Nancy Rotkowitz Avatar
    Nancy Rotkowitz

    Harlan, Wolfe is spelled with an ‘E’. Samuel (Uncle Sammy) has three children. David Wolfe, Aaron Wolfe, and Katelynn. David has a son Michael Wolfe. I am hoping the name does not die out. It is such a strong name.

    1. Harlan Landes Avatar
      Harlan Landes

      Thanks, Nancy! I’ll update the spellings.

  4. Vicki Adelson Avatar
    Vicki Adelson

    Harlan, I was searching for Schmuel Berman (unrelated to yours) and came across your website. This is amazing work. I love the way you have put it all together. Vicki

  5. Tina Camp Avatar
    Tina Camp

    Hi Harlan, I think we’ve messaged via ancestry…just came across this blog…how did you determine you Wolf traveled under the name Shmuel? I’m searching for my Wolf Berman whose father was also Shmuel, or his name could have been Wolf Shmuel. On a birth cert for one of his children he’s listed as Vol’ko. Wolf married an Anna as well. DOB around 1860ish. Where are your Bermans from?

    1. Harlan Landes Avatar
      Harlan Landes

      Hi Tina! It was Samuel who was listed as Schmuel in the ship manifest. Fannie was possibly living in Slavuta before immigrating to the United States. Samuel might have been born in Odessa.

  6. Tina Camp Avatar
    Tina Camp

    Also I posted a pic in TTT of a Feige Berman and son Sam Berman. Check to see if its yours.

  7. Samuel Wolfe Berman Avatar
    Samuel Wolfe Berman

    Hi Harlan
    My father was Aaron Wolfe Berman. His Father who I am named after is Samuel Wolfe Berman
    What I have in the Samuel’s bible is Anna’s father’s name was Wolf Neckameyer Was named Wolf no (e).
    My son David was named after him Wolf no (e).

  8. Sheri Avatar

    Hello. I am trying to find some answers as my family has been quite enegmatic.
    My father was adopted by his mothers 2nd husband (who was Christian) and there was little discussion about my “Jew” ancestry. My Grandmothers maiden name was Dobozin (first name Helen). All I have heard about my fathers background was that his birth name was Berman. He was born in Buffalo. Being that he was adopted – I cannot research much further.
    Since I have no details, I am hoping that others who have searched can help me fill in the gaps. I’d love to know more about my roots and be able to offer a history to my children and grandchildren one day.
    I thank you.

    1. Sheri Avatar

      Just to add: my fathers name was (at birth)
      Samuel Benjamin Berman.

  9. Nancy Rotkowitz Avatar
    Nancy Rotkowitz

    Harlan, do you have any insight into how Fiege’s children died. Possible Tay Sachs?

    1. Harlan Landes Avatar

      Hi Nancy! Unfortunately, no. I have no information at all, other than that by 1910, the census says that she had a total of 8 children, with 1 currently (at that time) living, and was a widow. I can’t imagine what she must have gone through.

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