This page follows the generations of the Drachman family, as I descend from them. The following links operate within this same page - click on the Drachman you want to see.
FIRST GENERATION: Abraham Drachman
Theodore Drachman, Abraham's great-grandson, describes the locale of his Drachman forebears as lying in the town of "Brody, in Galicia, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, fairly near the Polish border". The name of Abraham is only known to me through a five page family history done by Julian Drachman, brother to Theodore. According to Julian, Abraham had one brother, who immigrated to Brazil and amassed a great fortune, which went unclaimed. Theodore later expounded on this tale in a posthumously published semi-memoir, Family Stories and Other Writings - he describes the Drachman who acquired the fortune as being of one generation previous to Abraham. By Theodore's account, a brother of his great-great-grandmother Drachman in Brodie (she would have been Abraham's mother) left for the business opportunities in the New World, and found his riches in Argentina. However, when he died, he left no known heirs, and a legal document (in Spanish) was sent to his sister confirming his wealth and lack of heirs, and that she could make her claim in person within three years of the subject's death. It took two and a half years for them to have it translated, and when they did, it set off a 'near panic' in the household. Her husband was intent on going despite the uncertainty of such travel in the day; she was opposed. In the end, she fell to an epidemic of typhoid fever, and the estate went unclaimed, so maybe a Drachman fortune still awaits. At any rate, Abraham himself must have died young, as Julian's history indicates that he had three sons, Benjamin (see below), and two others who "stayed in Europe & were adopted by childless widows. One became Ritter, the other Finkelstein."
SECOND GENERATION: Benjamin Drachman
Working backward from his death certificate, Benjamin Drachman was born on December 16th, 1829, in Austria. The aforementioned work by Julian Drachman says that Benjamin "left Brodie about 1847, lived in France 4 years, then migrated to New York, Married Matilda Stein of vor-der-Rhon, Bavaria, Germany. Settled in Jersey City." Benjamin and Matilda had three sons and three daughters: Louis (b. ca. 1853), Betsy (b. ca. 1856), Bernard (see below), Emily (b. ca. 1863), Gustave (b. ca. 1865), and Fannie (b. ca. 1870).
After establishing his residence in Jersey City, N.J., Benjamin lived there for the last 35 years of life, succumbing on May 19th, 1906, to what can only be deciphered from his death certificate as 'pyelomphritis'. The bureaucrat in charge of this certificate also filled in the 'occupation' field of this certificate with 'widower', but didn't note what the going salary for those employed as widowers might be. At his death, Benjamin resided at 14 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey, with his son Louis and three of his grandchildren from daughter Betsy, who had died young. Benjamin died intestate, and his son Bernard assumed administration responsibilities for the estate. In Bernard's application for these letters of administration, it is noted that Benjamin died "possessed of goods, chattels, rights, and credits to the value of $4000". Benjamin was buried in the Maimonides Cemetery, N.Y.
THIRD GENERATION: Bernard Drachman
Rabbi Dr. Bernard Drachman
Bernard Drachman was born on June 27, 1861, in New York City, New York, the third of seven children of Benjamin Drachman and the former Matilda Stein. His boyhood years were spent in New Jersey, where he attended Jersey City high school and developed a love for education and his religion (his own memoirs concerning these early years and related family matters were preserved in his autobiography, "The Unfailing Light"). In 1882, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Columbia University's Yeshiva branch, and then he continued his education in Germany - he studied at the University of Breslau, the Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau (where he received his Rabbinical degree), and at the University of Heidelberg (where he received a Ph. D., Magna Cum Laude).
Upon his return to America, he served as rabbi in Newark, New Jersey, before moving and winning election to
Memories from the Zichron Ephraim and Park
Dr. Dolph Klein, 9/17/01)
As a sickly child due to chronic bronchitis, I
was not very attentive to what was going on either in cheder or whenever
the Rabbi spoke to us during assembly. If he had a stern personality, it
surely was not evident to me or my classmates. The cheder consisted of two
classrooms located on the right hand side of the synagogue's basement. To
enter the classrooms we had to open a wrought iron gate on the street side
of the building and descend a flight of wrought iron stairs to an alley
walkway where the door was located toward the rear of the building. One
could also gain entrance this way to the small social-assembly hall in the
basement, or by going through one of two doors located on either side of
the Aron Hakodesh at the back of the main sanctuary (see attached photo).
Miss Harris, a spinster of advanced years, taught the age 7-10 group. She
taught the alefbet and the reading of Hebrew words without teaching us the
meaning of the words. Mr. Rosenberg taught in an adjourning room for the
11-13 age group. We read mainly from the Pentateuch and tried to translate
the Hebrew without getting into the grammatical structure. He would also
teach us daily prayers, laying t'fillin, and prepared the boys for their
upcoming Bar Mitzvahs. I remember a large map on the wall that showed the
lands of Palestine and Trans Jordan. The one comment that stuck in my
memory of Mr. Rosenberg was regarding the location of the Middle East. He
pointed out to us that this region was at the crossroads of the civilized
world that linked the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe. He emphasized
the conflicts that had ensued and would continue to occur because of the
strategic location. Whether his reason was correct or not, we continue to
see a struggle for control of that region. Now, that struggle has
transcended sadly to our homeland in no uncertain terms.
I was never a model student and never did master Hebrew, nor understand
the prayers I was reciting by rote. Yet as a father of four sons, they all
became orthodox Sabbath observers and proficient with the language. In
fact, two of them live in Israel with their own families. Where did I go
wrong? Kidding aside, I am very proud of them.
As for Dr. Drachman, he spoke with a soft, cultured voice. Though his
sermons were lost on me, I was impressed with the dignified manner by
which he delivered those sermons. Having been raised in a neighborhood of
blue-collar Eastern European immigrants with their heavy accents, I looked
up to Dr. Drachman as someone distinctly different than the rest of us.
Other than this, I regret that I cannot add much more about Dr. Drachman.
Indeed, I must confess that I was interested more in the 19th Precinct
police station and the adjacent fire house which were situated nearby the
Synagogue than getting a religious education. As for the limp, perhaps Dr.
Drachman was suffering from gout, an ingrown-toe nail, arthritis or a bad
knee or hip for which replacement surgery had not yet been developed. What
ever the cause, he never seemed to reveal that he was in pain or
discomforted by it.
the same position at the Zichron Ephraim Congregation in New York City in 1890 (note: that web site has some before-and-after renovation pictures of the synagogue, which can be enlarged by clicking on them. It also incorrectly notes Bernard as the congregation's founder). This synagogue was founded through the largesse of Jonas Weil, in memory of his father Ephraim; Bernard's election chances were certainly not hurt by the fact that he had married Jonas Weil's daughter Sarah in New York on February 8, 1888 (the Park East Synagogue itself, at 163 East 67th Street, N.Y., was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on 8/18/1983).
Bernard Drachman was actively involved in numerous Jewish causes, mostly in leadership roles, even as he tended to the flock at Zichron Ephraim. To list a few:
Jewish Theological Seminary
The single-page memorial biography of Bernard published posthumously by the Congregation Zichron Ephraim (see link above) notes that Bernard had a hand in establishing the Seminary, and served as Dean for a nine year period at the start of the twentieth century. The Seminary was formed as a training ground for Rabbis, but its mission has expanded over the years to include education in all facets of Conservative Judaism, and to include all types of students, even non-Jews. The Seminary is still existing, at 3080 Broadway, N. Y. C., and those interested can refer to a recent book, Tradition Renewed - A History of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, edited by Jack Wertheimer (2 volumes).
Jewish Welfare Board
Bernard was an organizer of the Jewish Welfare Board in 1917, according to his 1946 biography. The Board was formed from a variety of Jewish organizations as a result of World War I, attending to needs of Jewish servicemen, and supplying funding to enlist Rabbis at military posts. Today, the Jewish Welfare Board is known as the Jewish Community Centers Association Of North America, with 275 community centers and 1,000,000 members, by their web site statistics, and are further involved with such things as scholarship awards, and the Maccabi Games for Jewish youth.
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
From their web site, this organization is "the central address and national spokesman for 1,000 synagogues; a not-for-profit educational, outreach and social service organization which serves the burgeoning North American Jewish community." The Union was one of the groups that came together in 1917 to establish the Jewish Welfare Board. Bernard served as president for a time after the founder, a Dr. Mendes, stepped down. Bernard also was chairman of a committee within the Union, the Jewish Sabbath Association (which later became the independent Jewish Sabbath Alliance), and helped spearhead a campaign for which we can all be grateful - the movement for a two-day weekend. Bernard and other Jews did not want Saturdays as part of the work week, as that day is the Jewish Sabbath, and Bernard's group worked with organized labor to bring about the five-day work week that is now commonplace (meanwhile earning for himself the enmity of such figures as Henry Ford). A recount of this fight can be found at the following web site:
Bernard and wife Sarah found time to produce eight children, 6 boys and two girls - Beatrice (b. 1890), Edgar (b. 1892), Julian (b. 1894), Albert (b. 1896), Mathilde (b. 1899), Myron (b. 1901), and Theodore (b. 1904)[see picture below]. Son Sidney was the first born, but died at the age of 6 months - his death was ascribed to the cat jumping in his crib and sucking the breath from him, according to Theodore Drachman. Bernard as a father was known as an unbending character, strict in his discipline, with a single-minded devotion to his religion sufficient to cause some amounts of rebellion in his offspring. Sarah died after their children reached maturity, in 1925, and two years later Bernard married Hadassah Levine, who would outlive him. Bernard Drachman lasted almost to his 84th birthday, dying in New York City on March 12th, 1945, of natural causes. By his death certificate, he was a resident of 245 E. 72nd Street, Manhattan, N.Y.C. at the time of death, and he was interred in the Mt. Zion Cemetery. (View text of Bernard Drachman's will).
FOURTH GENERATION: Beatrice Drachman
Beatrice Drachman was the second of Bernard and Sarah's children, born in 1890. She was later described by brother Theodore in his book as follows: "dark, gypsylike in appearance, very outgoing, artistic - she did some fairly bad painting - and had the quality of never looking back, no matter what foolish things she did. She spent money faster than she got it, always included an entire dining room or restaurant in her conversation, was physiologically incapable of keeping a secret, and dramatized everything that touched her". Beatrice married Siegfried Froehlich, a stockbroker originally from Germany, in 1914, and while 'Sieg' did well in the stock market, they had a nice house in White Plains, New York. The union also produced two children, who are living and will be unnamed in the interest of privacy, but Beatrice and Sieg were divorced in 1928. Beatrice and the children went west to California; Sieg took the same path eventually, after the Depression ruined him financially. According to Theodore Drachman's book, Sieg and his second wife ended up working as household help for silent-screen film star Pola Negri. For a total of a day and a half.
Bernard Drachman and Sarah Weil's children. Left to right: Beatrice,
Julian, Mathilde, Albert, Theodore, Edgar, Myron
PLEASE NOTE: I stopped updating the web page around 2001, but I've continued to work on my project. My family history is now in Word document format, with the goal of publishing it once I consider it to be as complete as I'm going to get it. While I'm greatly indebted to those who have assisted me in my research, I'm finding that the demands of everyday life don't allow me to consistently respond to email inquiries. So, I'm offering my most up-to-date volume for sale, at a price of $19. For those interested, it is at 118 pages right now, printed by a laser printer on 8.5x11 32-lb./98 brightness paper, and wire bound. The table of contents, revision history, and index are available at the following links. To order a copy, please email me at [email protected], and I'll send it within 3 days of payment. If you indicate the family line you are interested in, I'll send you a new bound copy if and when I update my research for that line. Thanks,
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