Front Cover
 The family chronicles
 Back Cover

Group Title: The Rev. Benjamin Safer Collection: Dibobes Family
Title: Dibobes Family
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00103125/00001
 Material Information
Title: Dibobes Family A history of the Dibobes, Witten, Falis, and Safer families
Series Title: The Rev. Benjamin Safer Collection: Dibobes Family
Physical Description: Typescript; soft binding; includes photographs and charts; A4 size
Language: English
Creator: Safer, Edwin
Donor: Edwin Safer ( endowment )
Publisher: Unpublished
Publication Date: 1994?
Physical Location:
Box: 1
Divider: 2
Subject: Jacksonville Jewish Community: Dibobes, Witten, Falis, Safer families
History of Dibobes Family which includes the Witten, Falis and Safer families
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States -- Florida -- Duval -- Jacksonville
Coordinates: 30.319444 x -81.66
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00103125
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Table of Contents
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    The family chronicles
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    Back Cover
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Full Text






FrAIFr Wrtrr


*rtfla S4FPqR


I would like to take this opportunity to share with you the History of the Dibobes
Family. In 1994, Cousins Bruce and Stacey Goldring, Harriet and I made a trip to
Lithuania in search of information relating to our family history. Since the entire
family of Joseph Shraga and Hinda Reiza left their home in the early 1900's, there
was very little to be expected by this experience. However with the work of a
Lithuanian Archivist who provided us with the historical documents found in this
epistle, I have been able to provide data on the family members of Joseph Shraga
born in Lithuania. But of even greater importance was to establish a link to other
members of the Dibobes family. Probably the greatest surprise was the discovery
of the Safer family of Birzh and Ponevezh who contributed to the family name
used by the brothers and sisters when they arrived in America.

So in the next 170 plus pages you will find the results of an intensive effort to
describe the Dibobes family as best as possible. Unfortunately the early history is a
mere extrapolation from stories passed on to the children of the original Seven.
Once the family reached America a more explicit recounting the events relating to
their lives were available. I would like to thank the cousins who contributed
invaluable information about their own family and I tried to incorporate as much of
this material as possible into the dialogue. Every effort was made to include
something about each of the seven families, however even with pleas and direct
contact with the family members, nothing was received.

I would like to dedicate this Family History to our Matriarchs and Patriarchs, David
Bencion and Sara Sheva, Benjamin and Freida Leah, Jacob and Ida, Chaia Reiza
and Max, Sarah and Morris, Harry and Fannie, and Max Mendel and Ethel and
Freida because without them there would not have been a story and for many of us
we may have been only a statistic.

My personal thanks to Bruce and Stacey who helped edit the material and to Harriet
who provided me with words and meaning when I went mentally blank. I hope
that the future generations of our family will read about their ancestors and thank
them for their foresight to come to America.

Cousin Edwin Safer


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------- i--- -
The article was wnitteni byCousin Stacey Goldring
on our trip to Lithuania in May, 1994. The article

TRAVEL was published in the Sun Sentinal Newspaper.
Sun-Sentinel, Sunday, April 16, 1995 Section J

American Jews tracing their roots find
only shards left in the soil of Lithuania.
The Nazis killed 240,000 Lithuanian Jews An all r ut
98 percent of the Litvaks. Today only Jewish
5,000 remain. benE
tilled field.


Special to the Sun-Sentinel

in the lobby of our Vilnlus hotel. She wa.
a young woman, an archivist whom our
cousin Edwin had secured to research
our family and be our guide in Lithuania.
Edwin had sent her a photograph of our ances.
tors standing next to an ornate headstone of the
family patriarch, Joseph Schraga Dibobes.
Regina had agreed to take us on only because of
the photograph. "I receive hundreds of requests
every year," she had written to Edwin. "But never
have I seen such a picture. Never."
Now we my husband and I, Edwin and his
wife asked about the photograph. Regina
thought it might have been taken in a cemetery in
Panevezys, about an hour's drive north of Vilnius.
Then she said:
"There is noth-
Maybe not, we
suggested. Some
numbers on the
top of the stone
might indicate a
plot number, or
area. Perhaps
with some more
research, we
naively insisted,
we could locate
it. i
"Nothing is
left," Regina
said. "The ceme-
tery is now a
municipal park.
Most of the head-
stones were van-
dalized and
stolen during
World War II.
The rest of the Family members with the
bodies were headstone in Panevezys of Safer
exhumed and family patriarch Joseph Schraga
destroyed in Dibobes.
1972, during the
Soviet regime. Certainly your headstone, so beau.
tifll, is long gone."
PloTACEY GOLDRoIN Thus began the theme of our journey.
ABOVE: Anatolijus The next day. as we walked the streets of
FainbliOVE: iasnatwholijus Vilnius, Regina told us how the city had once
Faguides isitors twho been a bustling hub ofJewish culture and learn
guides visitors to ing.
the remnants of aWhen Germany occupied Lithuania during
Jewish culture in World War II, many Lithuanians identified with
Panevezys. kneels the Nazi ideals. Germany used Lithuania as a
by a pit to show testing ground for its planned extermination of
how Jews were the Jewish people.
killed. Before the war, Jews (referred to as Litvaksi.
comprised 49 percent of the Lithuanian popula-
tion. By 1944, 240,000 of them --98 percent of the
Litvak community had been murdered.
In block after city block we looked for signs of
RIGHT: The a Jewish existence some place where the fanm-
Pocroi synagogue ly may have come to study the Torah, buy food.
is one of the few trade goods, pray. We found nothing. Since World
remaining in War II. building facades have been replastered


and Jewist:. streets r-':iJnaII
since perestroika have th
main streets in one of the f
Jewish ghettos been giver
their original names.
Before the war, the city
synagogues; today, one re
Europe's greatest with a
sanctuary seating 3,000
was destroyed. Reminders
city's two large ghettos
merely of a plaque.
There are 5.000 Jew left in
ithauani today, most of them el-
derly. The yo emigrate to Is-
rael or the United States. Tho
who stay adopt a martyr attitude
A Jewnlh group recently estab
listed a Holocaust museum.
When we visited. our guide, a
ghetto survvor, had to flip on the
lights and turn on the heat. Then
she showed us acOe charred hu-
man bone fragment and photo*
raphs of her murder family
and riends. Outside, my husband
Under the l "wish Muse-
M," someone had rbbld
flu and s Star of David. I asked
Regina f there had recently been
an Increase in nti-Semltism.
"There are no Jew left to
hate." she said.

Early the next morning we set
out in an old Russian car with
only one workIag spar plag and
no same of alipment Our deti-
untion Paneveays.
Once In town, Regina led to
the apartment of Anatolijus
Faibliuala. another guide. We
walked through a neighborhood
of mnutard colored houses st In
pretty flower gardens. Here,
aelnbllunla aidt was where
Paneverys' Jewish community
was turned into a ghetto in 194.
13,000 people were forced to live
an the two streets where we now
He pointed to an old barn:
*That's where the Jewish people
preyed." He pointed to buildln
after bulldlng, identifyin each:
Butcher, dry goods tare, houe.
school. synagope.
Then be told n how the Pane-
vezys Jews were forced to march
five mile outside of town into the
wood, where they were mur-
dered and burled it pits. It wa a
beautiful, sunny day, but I felt
like running away.
We piled back into the car and
drove downtown. Regina said
there was a movie theater here
that had been built with broken
Jewish headstones. We looked for
the family's yeshiva and the cem-
etery where we believed Jseph
was buried.
The cemetery, now park, was a
dump. How silly of us to think the
headstone in our picture could
sill be standing.
Out of tradition Harriet placed
e small stone on a recently erect-
ed memorial. It had been placed
there by the remain 4 Jews of
Panevezys. (Three of whom, we
learned, were soon emigrating to
Edwin asked about the Jewish
religious school, B'nai B'rak,
where the family taunlt and stud-
led. Falnbliunias pointed acres
the street to a brown. two-story
building. "It's a bakery now," he
said. And then he stared in the
other direction.
Outside of town we followed a
road sign that said "Jewish Geno-
cide." In tall pine woods, we halt-
ed in front of a small wooden
ate. Beyond the gate stood a
long. narrow concrete slab.
.In a stern volce, Fainbllunlas
eplained how the 13000 Jews of
anevexys and the nearby Jewish
htletis were murdered. They
were forelbly marched here, told
to kneel, then shot In the bead.
Their dying bodies rolled into
pits. Falnblunias knelt down to
illustrate, putting his index fiager
to his temple and pulling the
Getting up. e explained that
children were not deemed worthy
oe a bullet so their heads were
mashed against the trees. Be
demonstrated that tor us too.
SHe said that the mas grave
was discovered only a few years
ago when a few child witnesses,
now elderly, returned with shov-
els and found human hair. S now
there's a memorial plaque. He
pointed to a black granite slab
with candles and dead flowers

i. Unly
ie two

had 96
of the

A ,Ji1.i .sJ U t

Gates mark the way to the site of the Panevezys k

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to Vwinue Luthansa lee via MNLAMD SL
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phone: 1-617.965-8050.
a* Iisemasi Contan the
Embasy ol LlthuaniLa 2822
leth StlW, W anl O.C Before we left. a boy on a best-
20o9. "c-20a up bike pedaled past and yelled
STAC~EYOO "Jew!" at my husband.
We drove Falnblhnlas back to
unched at the base. I couldn't his apartment After he had gone,
look at my husband. Regina explained that he had
Later that afternoon, a we fouht In the Soviet army and
traveled the country7sde. I com moved to Paneversy after World
meted on ow the woods of birch War I, working as a newspaper
and pine were so deceptively editor. We wondered why he
beautiful hadn't attempted, as a Journalist,
The whol country full of to prove tht Jewish people had
mass graves," Regina said. eted here.
"Death is everywhere" "Look. be had to pro him-
Sself, his family." said.
A short while inter, we hied He couldn't do anything."
A short wohe olateodr, we hke Now reed and living on a
smnt'smrns lpcar oflandadn pedon be makes his contribu-
covered an abandoned Jewish tUo by talking to people like us.
cemetery. I caught the peasant, a a
man In his late S3s, staring at s. Near the end of our stay, we
When we made eye contact he made our way to Paneral. Just
went back to cutting his gra outside Vilnius. Here prewar pe-
with a sickle. troleum reservoirs served as
Faintbiunlas was paid 5150 by death pits for more than 70,000
a family In Atlanta to maintain Jews.
this cemetery. The gras and dan- The murders called "actions."
dellons were thih-high The bust- were very unorganized. Mayhem
ed headstones wre covered with broke out when the train doors
moe and lichens. But an attempt opened, with Lithuanian police
had been made toprop up some of and German Gestapo shooting at
-the partially Intact stones, each other as well s at the Jews.
The Jews of Paneveys had The pit filled dally with the dead
erected a memorial stone. Fal and wounded. Wen the Germans
lUnlas gave Edwin pictures to realizedtheywere long the war,
send to Atlanta to show the falm they made the remaining Jews
ily how the cemetery looked, exhume the bodies and burn
They had been taken in the win- them, to destroy evidence.
ter, so the rass and weeds were As we walked around, trains
dead. rushed by, their whistles screech
We spent hours here, feeling Ing. The sod unnerved me.
with our fingers scraping away Regna said that during Soviet
the moo, and reading the en- times there was never any men-
graved names or parts of toa of Jews dyn here. A memo-
names out load. rial was erected, but it stated that
Our last stop was Pakruojas, 50,000 "Soviet people" were mur-
where some elderly women actu- dered. Then, after Lithanian in-
allyspoketo uIsay this because dependence, a new memorial
locals were generally leery of went up. It is frequently
strangers. It was partly due to the vandalised.
year spent under Commonlom
Reaga sold that. In additi, they "It's hard for me to do this all
were concerned that we. as Jew- th time," Regina confessed one
Lsh tourists, would want to re- day. "It's so depressing. For my
claim our property. (Since g son's sake, I know I have to
Ules now live In the.haoma of the leave." Her son was 4.
murdered Litvrak) Added to this But, like the other Jews in Lth-
was their unwillingness to du na, she also felt a responsibll-
the Holocaust; after all it he ty to the pst "Thereare so few
Lithuaan who carried out the witness" she would ay over
Germa orders. "They're and over. She worried about the
ashamed," Regina sad day when the horror of this place
But these women talked. would be forgotten.
"Yes." said on "Jews were told her that people hardly
once here." know about it now. Perhaps today
"This whole area was full of t i acknowledged that 70,000
them," another said. people died in Paneral One hun-
She pointed to a boarded-up ded ya from now, historians
wooden building next to an old will say thound Then It will
stream. That had been a syna. change to simply "many."
gogue, she said. and next to It. That's how history is. As with
butcher sp. Al the hou hr persol suffering, we forget the
used to be the Jew'. pain as time moves on.
We knew that one of Joseph I
Schraga Dibobs' so Benjamin Postscript: In December, Ed-
Safer, my husband's reat-'grnd- win received a poetcrd from Re'
father, had been a rabble in Pak- ginS. She and her son were in
ruojas, before emigrated to Israel.
Jacksonville, Fla. The eldest Then in March he got a letter
member ofthe Safer family from herpostmarked Vinius.She
JV. Safer. Benamn's son had was back working on Jewish
described a synagogue that genealogies.
matched the dilapidated building
that stood in front of us. It was a Stacey Goldrin, is freelance
homeeroming of sorts irifrr w..h litre in Rw" R 1,.',.


The historical background for the Safer, Witten, and Falis families has been traced
to our ancestor Joseph Shraga Dibobes and his wife Hinda Reiza Sweetgal. Our
original thought was that the family came from Ponevezh, however we now have
evidence that the family came from the village of Birzh (Birza), a town in northern
Lithuania about 15 miles from the Latvian border.

Earliest Roots

Birzh was founded in the fifteenth century and served as the capitol for the Princess
Radzivill (ed. note: the sister of Jackie Kennedy Onasis was Lee and she is married
to a member of the Radzivill family). There was a Karaite settlement in Birzh in
1625. The Karaites originated in a region around the Black Sea called Khazar. In
the ninth century the King of Khazar and many of his subjects converted to
Judaism. After the destruction of the Khazar Empire, many of the people migrated
northward into Russia and Lithuania. Although these people claimed that their
ancestors converted to Judaism, the main stream Jews of Lithuania known as
Litvaks did not recognized them as co-religionist and for that matter the Litvaks did
not accept the Hasidic Jew either. The Karaite settlement of Birzh ended in the
eighteenth century and their synagogue was taken over by Rabbinical Jews. The
Jews of Birzh were considered Mitnagdim, a name describing the anti-Hasidic
movement that swept through Lithuania in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
There were some Hasidic Jews in Birzh and they maintained their own synagogue.

Birzh was know as a city of Torah and learning. The town was known for its great
educators. Apparently Joseph Shraga was identified as one of these great scholars
as noted on his tombstone. The number of Jews living in Birzh during the time our
family lived there represented about 57% of the general population.

A book titled Lithuanian Jewish Communities written by Nancy and Stuart
Schoenburg (Garland Publishing, 1991) is the source for information relating to the
city of Birzh as well as the other cities in which the family lived. Unfortunately the
book makes no reference to either the Dibobes, Safer, Witten or Falis family.

Before moving to Ponevezh around 1877, Joseph Shraga and family lived in a
village called Popilan. The town was a short distance from Ponevezh. Popilan was
on a rail line and the Jewish population was about 1,000 with several Cheders and a
small Yeshiva. Because of his strong Jewish educational background, Joseph
Shraga may have taken a position as a teacher at one of the Cheders in the village
before moving his family to Ponevezh.

Ponevezh, "Little Vilna"

In their book the Schenburgs describe Ponevezh as having the third largest Jewish
population in Lithuania after Vilna and Kovno. A Jewish cemetery was established
in the western suburb of the city. It was here that Joseph Shraga, his wife Hinda
Reiza and other members of the Dibobes family were buried. Unfortunately during
the Russian occupation of Lithuania after World War II most symbols of Jewish
existence that was not destroyed by Nazi Germany was methodically removed by
the Communist. In 1952 the cemetery of Ponevezh that had existed for nearly 200
years was leveled and converted into a public park. The bodies of our ancestors
remain in unmarked graves. There is only one marker in Russian and Hebrew that
states that once a Jewish Cemetery stood at this spot. The following are the pictures
of the cemetery as it appears today and the stone marker denoted its past use.

Public Park in Ponevezh, once the Jewish Cemetery Marker noting the sight of the Jewish Cemetery

All of the original tombstones were removed including that of our ancestors Joseph
Shraga and Hinda Reiza. Many of the marble stones were used to form steps and
other decorations in the new Soviet city of Ponevezh.

In 1897, just five years before our family departed Lithuania the Jewish population
of Ponevezh was over 6,000. This represented approximately 50% of the general
population. The Jews of Ponevezh lived in an area described as Slobodka. This
was a section of town between Hoifsher and Remagola streets. Most of the homes
were built of wood and some are still standing today. The two houses seen below
are examples of the homes in which our family lived at the turn of the century.


The name Dibobes along with Safer, Witten and Falis all appear on the Family
Crest. Our family has always been intrigued as well as amused by the name
Dibobes. We are thankful Benjamin, the first Safer to arrive in Jacksonville
changed the name to Safer, although it was listed as Saffer in the Jacksonville City
Directory until around 1908 and then finally the name became Safer.

Name of Unknown Origin

The name Dibobes is quite unique. It is definitely not a common name. How the
name came about is anyone's guess. Unfortunately many members of the family
had an opportunity to learn from their parents and grandparents the history of the
family while in the "Old Country". However like kids of all generations no one was
really interested They were now Americans and so who really cared about the
past? This opportunity has now been lost and all that remains are a few isolated
stories which we are not certain as to their validity. We therefore can only piece
together these fragments of the family history and hope we are close to being

David Safer, the son of Benjamin and Freida Leah, once said jokingly that the name
Dibobes came from the fact the family would go and visit their Bubbe since the
name is derived from the Yiddish name for Grandmother. Although David told the
story with a slight grin upon his face, he may not have been too far from the truth.
So who was this wonderful Grandmother to be honored in such a way?

The Edict From Moscow

In 1795, after the annexation of Lithuania by Russia, The Empress Catherine
ordered all the Jews of Russia as well as in the provinces be assigned a family
name. Some Jews had already taken family names but many still retained the
traditional use of the father's first name as the family name. Thus your name could
have been Itzak ben Meyer, or Chana bat Schmuel. This was the practice and more
than adequate for the Jews of a village since everyone knew exactly who they were
talking to or about. However this was not adequate for the governing authorities
who had the responsibility of taking the census, collecting taxes and conscripting
for the Russian Army. In order to avoid the severe decree many Jews would
merely adopt another name, maybe that of a relative who had recently died or that
of a stranger.

Historical evidence indicated that the naming of the families was the responsibility
of the local officials. There was no truly organized manner in which the naming
occurred. The official merely assigned you a name based on where you were born;
if you were born in the village of Ligum, you would then be named Ligum. If you
father came from Moscow, you may have been named Moscowitz. Witz like Mac
in Scottish, and ben in Hebrew means the "son of-----"

Who Was The Bubbe?

That's all well and good for the average person but who would select as their
family name the "Grandma or in Yiddish, Bubbe". The name Dibobes, as it
appears on the tombstone of Joseph Shraga was until recently our only document
that ever mentioned the name Dibobes. However the name on the tombstone merely
says that Joseph Shraga was from the "House of Dibobes". This could be a title
rather than the family name.

Not that we are of royalty but you are aware that the Royal House of England is the
House of Windsor. ( Although we surely don't need a Charles and Diana episode in
this family.) As previously mentioned we now have documents from the
Lithuanian Archives including births, marriages and deaths, which now identifies
that the original family name as Dibobes. So again the question to be answered is,
"Who was this Grandmother that was so honored to have an entire family named
for her?"

As most of you know that the middle name of our ancestor is Shraga. There is an
interesting story relating to the definition of this name. Not only was our ancestor
Joseph Shraga given this name but we have also located two other people who
were Dibobeses that shared this same names. The two were brothers and probably
were cousins to Joseph Shraga. One of the brothers was named Joseph and the
other called Faivish. The name Faivish or Faivel in Yiddish and Shraga in Aramaic
(spoken Hebrew) means "LIGHT". This is not the usual type of light but a light of
the future, a blessing to a special child. The name Faivel or Shraga was bestowed
upon a male child whose father had died before the child was born and the mother
having died before the circumcision and the naming of the newborn. The mother
may have died giving birth to the child. Quoting from the book called "A
HISTORY OF JEWISH NAMES" the name Faivel or Shraga was a prayer that
life be granted this orphaned child. The name is also referenced in Proverbs 20:27--
The Soul of Man is the Lamp of God---. The purpose of the name was not only to
be a safeguard for the child but to comfort him in his great bereavement. So if a
child was orphaned at birth who would be the most qualified to raise the boy, none
other than his grandmother, der Bubbe.

We can only surmise that some relative of Joseph Shraga fits this description. It is
possible that this individual may have been Joseph Shraga's grandfather and
Joseph would have been named after his grandfather which is a tradition in our
faith. Although Faivel or Faivish was rather a common name during this period, it
may have referred only to the quotation from Proverbs that the soul of man is the
lamp of God.

We now can establish the validity that Dibobes was the original family name of
Benjamin, father of Joseph Shraga and of Joseph Shraga and his children.

This still leaves a question as to why the children of Joseph Shraga changed their
name to Safer once they arrived in America. In the original set of documents
received from our Lithuanian Archivist, only once was the name Safer (spelled
Sofer) used and this was on the birth certificate of Sara (Falis), the daughter of
Joseph Shraga, son of Benjamin Sofer. Actually the birth certificate listed Sara's
name as Cipa. All the other documents listed Joseph Shraga's father as Benjamin

Whenever a conversation arose concerning the place of origin of the family, the
only city ever mentioned was Ponevezh. We now know this is incorrect. Our
documents indicate that Joseph Shraga was described as a citizen of Birzh even
after the family relocated to Ponevezh. It was here in Ponevezh that his children
grew up, and where he and his wife died and were buried.

We can assume that Joseph Shraga and his wife Hinda Reiza Sweetgal were born in
Birzh, married in Birzh, and at least their first four children David Bencion,
Benjamin, Yaakov (Jacob), and Chaia Reissa (Ida Witten) were born in Birzh.
Since we have the birth records of Cipa (Sara Falis), Chaim Girsh (Harry) and
Israel Mendel (Max), we know the three were born in Ponevezh. While in
Ponevezh David Bencion married Sara Sheva Muller, and Benjamin married Freida
Leah Ziv and Ida married Max Witten. The children of David Bencion and Sara
Sheva, Freida Vita, Louis, Chana, Dora, Hyman who were all born in Ponevezh.
They had three other children that died at an early age. Benjamin and Freida Leah's
daughter Vita Bluma and Chaim Itzhak(Eddie) were both bor in Ponevezh while
their two sons Jonah Vigor (Jacob Victor) and Yaakov Meyer (Max J) were bor in
the village of Pokroi.

Now we look at a second family name SOFER, which was later changed to Safer.
A further search of the Lithuanian archives, we found a family of Birzh by the name
of Sofer. The documents we have received places the Sofer family in Birzh at the
same time of the Dibobeses. The Sofers' may have been a family of some
prominence in Birzh since on some of the documents we have received list the
profession of an individual. This was used only with people of means. Among the
professions listed were an industrialist, an assistant to a physician, a Cantor, a tailor,
and a shoemaker.

Another interesting coincidence between the Dibobes and the Sofer families were
the similarity of first names of offspring and the closeness of the dates of birth.
Among these names were Yankel, Girsh, Israel, Mendel, Chaim, etc.

The importance of the Sofer family in our history will become evident as we piece
together the Dibobes Family Tree.


Our records indicate that our earliest known ancestor was Benjamin Dibobes, father
of Joseph Shraga. Benjamin was born around 1800 in the village of Birzh. There
is a reasonable chance that his father was named Joseph Faivel or Shraga and it was
for this person that our Joseph Shraga was named. Using the average life span of
males bor in the 18th century, the original Joseph Shraga would have been born
around 1765 and died in the 1830's. Returning to the origin of the Dibobes name, if
the first Joseph Shraga was the orphaned child that was raised in the house of his
Bubbe, he would have been around 25 years old when the edict to take a family
name was put into effect. When questioned by the authorities, Joseph may have
indicated that he lived in the home of his Grandmother and the official merely
wrote his family name as Dibobes. From the data we now have it is reasonable
certain Benjamin had several brothers, Itzak, Girsh, and Yankel. The genealogy of
these families will be presented later in the Dibobes Family Tree.

Benjamin Dibobes and his wife may have had at least four sons and a daughter.
The boys were Ynakel, Chaim, Moshe and Joseph Shraga and a daughter, Gikla.
The genealogy of the brothers will also be discussed in the Dibobes Family Tree.
We were unable to attain any documents relating to the family of Gikla. At this
point we have no indication as to the name of the wife of Benjamin Dibobes.
However since we have identified the Sofer family in Birzh, it is likely that his
wife was a Sofer. One individual named Shmuel Sofer had several sons in Birzh
and it may be from this family that the wife of Benjamin came. You will find the
Sofer Family Tree of both Birzh and Ponevezh. Note the similarity of names to the
Dibobes family. We can only assume that our matriarch was born to this family
and her maiden name was either Chana or Chaia. Chana would have been born
around 1805, married Benjamin around 1825 and died around 1875 at the age of 70.

It is now thought that once the children of Joseph Shraga left for America, they
merely adopted the name of their grandmother Chana. It was not that uncommon
for a family to use both the paternal as well as the maternal family name. It was


Our major interest lies in the life and family of Joseph Shraga Dibobes and his wife
Hinda Reiza Sweetgal who are the Patriarch and Matriarch of the Safer, Witten and
Falis families.

Joseph Shraga was born in Birzh in the year 1839. His father was Benjamin
Dibobes and his mother was Chana Sofer Dibobes. Hinda Reiza, the daughter of
Faivel and Vita Getel Sweetgal was born around 1841. Vita Getel Sweetgal, the
maternal grandmother of the Dibobes Clan must have been a very revered woman.
The name Vita meaning life may be translated into the Jewish names of Chana,
Chia, Chaim, or Ida and Annie in English. Many of the children of the Dibobes
families were named for Vita Getel. The list includes Freida Vita, and Chaim
Gutman, the children of David Bencion; Ida, daughter of Benjamin; Faye, daughter
of Jacob; Harry, son of Sarah; Annie, daughter of Harry, and Ida Getel, daughter
of Max. In addition Ida the granddaughter of Bencion and Gertrude the
granddaughter of Benjamin also shared her name.

Joseph Shraga and Hinda Reiza were married around 1860. Our recollection of
Joseph Shraga is very scant. A few stories have been passed down to us but not
enough to give a full detail of his wonderful life. Our portrait of Joseph Shraga
show him to be a very handsome man. He certainly was a learned scholar in all
aspects of the religion. For on his tombstone he is described as a writer of Torah,
Tefillin and Mezuzah. This professional title was only awarded to the most learned
and pious. He was described as a happy man with a wonderful sense of humor.
While looking at his portrait, his deep penetrating eyes look directly at you but there
appears to be a smile in them.

Miriam Rose, a granddaughter of Joseph was told by her mother Fredel of her
remembrance of this man particularly during the holidays such as Simchas Torah
when Joseph Shraga would be singing and even dancing on the tables during the
holiday celebration.

He lived a very rich and full life dying on March 6, 1912 at the age of 73. His
death certificate lists the cause of death as cancer of the urinary bladder.

A story has been passed down that Joseph Shraga predicted the time of his death.
Returning home he told his wife to prepare the shabbat dinner for he was to die that
day. Unfortunately for the story, the date of his death March 6, 1912 fell on a
Wednesday and not a Friday. But his piety is not a legend. Reading from the
translation from his tombstone:

"A marker for the soul of our Father..our Teacher, glorious crown of our head the
dear and honored blessed days.
Vay, Vay, People Sigh
The Joy of our Holidays have Ceased
Fruitfulness of Joseph Shraga who brings us Honor
Making Joyful every Heart and Sad Soul
Holy feelings did He arouse in them
He made Great our Joy and Strong our Happiness
But in the Place of our Father, He Put
As Days of a Holiday is the Place of His Coming
Only to Honor God and not for Himself
All these Blessings were Sealed Off
And Disappeared from our Eyes
His Hands and Body Labored in Holiness
Quickly in His Labor, a Holy Labor
His Day has Come, He has Passed on and is No More
God will gather His Soul into His Dwelling Place
He will remember for him his merits and righteous acts
To Resurrect Him with all the Deceased of His people
The Great Rabbinic Eagle so Well Known Fearing God in all Things
Our Teacher, Joseph Shraga ben Binyamin Shtayim (writer of Torah,
Tefillin, and Mezzuzahs)
Of the House of The Dibobes
Deceased 17 Adar, 5672 (March 6, 1912) And of the age of 73 years at
the time of his death.
May his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life

This is the photograph of the tombstone of Joseph Shraga. In the picture is his
eldest son David Bencion and his widow Hinda Reiza. The tombstone was an
impressive monument. Note that the stone towers over the head of David Bencion.
When our archivist saw this picture she said this had to be a memorial for a great
person. With the desecration and the levelingof the Ponevezh cemetery by the
Russians in 1952, this and all the other stones were lost forever.

In memory of Joseph Shraga, the following grandchildren were given his name.
The first grandchild to be named in his memory was Josephine, the daughter of
Harry as well as Harry's son Joseph G. Then in order, Benjamin named a son
Joseph, Max named a son Joseph P., Ida Witten also name a son Joseph as well as
Sarah Falis. Chana, the daughter of David Bencion named her first born, Joseph

Hinda Reiza died about 3 years later in 1915 at the age of 75. It was said that she
was killed in an accident when she was run over by a horse drawn sleigh.
The resulting Safer, Witten and Falis families are the offspring of this couple. In
order of birth, David Bencion, Benjamin, Jacob, Ida, Sarah, Harry and Max.

Early Years in Ponevezh
As previously mentioned we have little history of the life of Joseph Shraga and his
children during their early years in Lithuania. All that has been passed down are
cameos of remembrances that were told to the children and grandchildren.
David Bencion
Bencion, the eldest, and his brother Benjamin, next in age, followed in the footsteps
of their father by dedicating their lives to study of Torah and the religious principals
of Judaism. Bencion was a religious teacher and one of his last position in
Lithuania was to teach a Torah Study Group in the village of Pushalot. The brick
building that served as the house of worship still stands today but long out of use as
a holy place. There are only a few faint memories of those who prayed there. In
our visit to Lithuania, we stopped at the building and for moments thought of
Bencion and his students studying Torah. Below is the photo of the Pushalot
synagogue. It is interesting to see that there were two entrances the front door
opened to the ground floor for the men of the village to enter while the side door
was for the women who would then proceed to the balcony which was the custom
in the orthodox synagogue.

Front Entrance to Pushalot Synagogue Side Entrance of Synagogue for Women

Jewish Cemetery, Pushalot,

Bencion was the first of the family to marry. On August 10, 1888 David Bencion
married Sara Sheva Muller, the daughter of Mendel Muller in Ponevezh. The
couple had eight children, Jonah Yudel who died in 1902 at the age of thirteen,
Freida Vita, Louis (Shimcha Leib), Chana Rivka, Dora (Feiga Dvoria) and Hyman
(Chaim Gutman). The last two children a girl Mindel born in 1906 and Israel
Zalman born in 1910 both died within two days of each other. Mindel died on
December 31, 1910 and Israel Zalman, only six months of age, on January 2, 1911.

Bencion was the only brother still living in Lithuania when his father died on
March 6, 1912. The picture on page 16 shows Bencion standing with his mother by
the tombstone of Joseph Shraga.

With the two eldest children Freida and Louis leaving for America in 1909,
Bencion, Sara Sheva along with Chana, Dora, and Hyman left Lithuania in 1914
or 1915. There is a question as to the exact date. Hinda Reiza, his mother was
killed in an accident in 1915 and it may be that Bencion did not leave until after his
mother passed away. The family moved to southern Russia around the Black Sea
where Becion found a job as a shamus of a local shul. It was said life for the
family was very harsh, Sara Sheva would make and sell chalahs and wine and
Chana helped financially by buying and selling produce in the local market. The
family finally immigrated to North America in 1924, however not to the United
States but Cuba. Chana met and married Max Talpalar in Havana, and Dora
married Harry Grossman in a civil ceremony in Havana and then returned to
Jacksonville for the religious ceremony. Bencion and Sara Sheva with their son
Hyman finally reached Jacksonville in 1926.


Benjamin like his father and older brother was a student of Torah. After
completing his Yeshiva studies, Benjamin was certerfied as a Shochet, a Mohl and
a writer of Torah, Tefillin and Mezzuzah. Besides his religious life, Benjamin was
an accomplished musician, mastering both the violin and the flute. During his early
years in the military he was appointed Keipel Meister (Band Director) of the
Military Band in the District. On October 8, 1896 Benjamin married Freida Leah
Ziv the daughter if Itzhak Ziv and Pesa Feiga Yoffe of Ponevezh. The Ziv family
of Lithuania was very prominent.

In the Schoenberg's book, several members of the Ziv family are listed as
industrialists, Rabbis, grocery wholesalers etc. The Zivs resided in the cities of
Kelme,Kaunus (Kovna) and Ponevezh. Itzhak Ziv, father of Freida Leah, was a
lawyer in Ponevezh.

In 1897 Benjamin and Freida Leah's first child Vita Bluma was born. Bluma's first
name "Vita" was given to her in memory of her paternal great grandmother Vita
Getel Sweetgal. In 1898 Benjamin was offered a position in the village of Pokroi
to serve as its butcher, mohl, and chazan at the local synagogue. The Jewish
population of Pokroi at that time was about 300 families. The village was near
Posevol, Linkova, and Pushalot. These were some of the villages where the
Lithuanian Jews of Jacksonville came from in the early 1900's. Ponevezh was only
20 miles south of Pokroi.

The synagogue of Pokroi like the one in Pushalot has long been in disuse. The fact
that the building still remains intact is a miracle in itself. The synagogue was of
wooden construction. This was the typical way of building Houses of Worship in
the 18th and 19th centuries. The structure is one of only a few of the wooden
synagogues that is still standing today in Eastern Europe..

As we approached the building a strange sensation fell over the group because we
were the first of the Safer family to stand at the entrance of this building since
Benjamin and his family left here in 1902.

Pokroi Synagogue, 1994 Home where Benajmin and Family may have lived

About fifty yards from the synagogue were a group of wooden houses. The one
pictured above was typical of the house where Benjamin and family may have

When the family moved to Pokroi, Freida Leah was pregnant with her second child
Jacob V. who was born in December, 1898 lin October, 1900 their second son Max
J. (Makey) was born. The house was too small to for the growing family, so
Bluma was sent to live with her maternal grandmother, Pesa Feiga Ziv in Ponevezh.
Benjamin, Freida Leah, and their two sons remained in Pokroi until 1902 when
Benjamin was offered a Rabbinical position for the newly formed Congregation
B'nai Israel of Jacksonville, Florida.

In a recent interview with Jacob V., who passed away in April, 1996 at the age of
97, I asked him if he had any recollections of his first four years in Pokroi or for
that matter anything about his grandparents or relatives that he remembered
meeting. Unfortunately the answer was no. However he did remember that one
time his father took him by the hand to a river where he saw a group of old men
standing along the embankment throwing things into the water. He said it was very
cold and that one of the men put a coat around his shoulder. But nothing more. A
clue, but to what?

As we were driving through the countryside between Ponevezh and Pokroi I
searched for J.V.'s river but saw nothing. We arrived in Pokroi and as we were
walking down a dirt street toward the once proud wooden synagogue I shouted to
the others, "Oh no", there's J. V.'s river. Sure enough at the bottom of the hill there
was a stream no more than six feet across and probably no more than six to eight
inches deep flowing gently pass the synagogue. What J. V. remembered was the
Tashlich ceremony that takes place during Rosh Hashanah. To a lad of three years
old this stream was surely the largest river he had ever seen.

Freida Leah was now pregnant with her fourth child, Edward Herman(Eddie),
when Benjamin left for Jacksonville. Freida Leah and the children remained in
Ponevezh living with her mother (her father Itzhak Ziv had recently passed away)
until Eddie was born. Eddie actually was born December 25 and his Bris was
January 1, however he grew up saying he was a New Year's Baby and celebrated
his birthday on that day. We assume that the family remained in Ponevezh until
after Passover before they left for America. J.V. recalls that the trip was horrible.
He said his mother was sea sick the entire voyage and he was assigned to the top
bunk in the cabin. He remembers that the ship rocked so much that he was
constantly falling out of the bunk onto the floor of the cabin.

Jacob, Harry, & Max

In 1896 after the marriage of Benjamin and Freida Leah, the three younger brothers
Jacob, was age 20, Harry, age 15 and Max, age 13 had a decision to make
concerning their future. Life in Lithuania for young Jewish men was very bleak.
Not only was it difficult to find employment but they were always concerned on
being drafted into the Russian Army. In those days a draftee could spend up to 20
or more years in the army. So those of draft age if they could leave the country did
so as rapidly as possible.

Jacob was the first of the brothers to leave and he went to Johannesburg, South
Africa. Some of the Sweetgal "mishpocheh" had already immigrated to
Johannesburg and it was there Jacob found an Aunt and Uncle and cousins from
his mother's side of the family. We have very little information about Jacob while
in South Africa. However it was said that he was a cutter in a clothes factory.

The younger brothers Harry and Max also decided to leave Lithuania. They left in
1899, Harry being 18 years old and Max Mendel only 16. The two brothers along
with their brother-in-law Max Witten the husband of Ida made their way to South
Africa to join up with Jacob. I interviewed Miriam Rose, Max's daughter, to see if
she remembers any stories her dad may have told the family of his life in
Johannesburg. Max would always talk of his "MehMah" but never designated who
the person was. Recently I asked Rabbi Gary Perres of Beth Shalom Synagogue in
Jacksonville, if he was familiar with this word and he explained that in Germanic
Yiddish an Aunt would be called a "Tante" but in Russian the Aunt was call
"MehMah". So Max and Harry along with Jacob remained in South Africa with
their Aunt and Uncle Sweetgal. Life in South Africa was very difficult for the
boys. Although they had avoided the Russian Army, it was difficult to find work
especially for the 16 year old Max. Miriam said her Dad worked in restaurants
waiting on tables, working at the sink and even cooking.
Harry on the other hand learned to be a tailor. From his apprentice days in
Johannesburg he continued this profession once he reached Jacksonville. In a
recent interview with Harry Grossman, he told me a story that Harry would make
vests for the natives. Apparently they did not like to wear coats but would wear
vest as part of their attire.
The three brothers and their brother-in-law left for America in 1901 joining Ida and
Sara who arrived in New York in late 1900.

Ida and Sarah

Ida was the first daughter to be born to Joseph Shraga and Hinda Reiza and was
named for her Grandmother Chanah Sofer Dibobes. Although we have not found
the registration of her birth it is likely that she was born in 1877 or 1878. The
second Dibobes daughter was Sarah whose Hebrew name was Cipa. She was born
in Ponevezh on April 11, 1879.

We have no information relating to the early years of Ida and Sarah in Lithuania.
We have recently heard about a Witten (spelled Vitten) family from Pushalot and
Max Witten may have been born there. Pushalot was only 18 miles north of
Ponevezh and a very active "Matchmaker" may have found the right girl for Max in
the metropolis of Ponevezh. Max and Ida were married in Ponevezh in 1898. They
had a daughter who was born in 1899. For some reason Max left Ida and their baby
and went to Johannesburg. It is possible he stayed with his three brother-in-laws
who were also there. According to Joe Witten, Max's youngest son, his father made
a considerable amount of money buying milk, as Joe describes it, from the "Local
Arabs" and selling it to the White population of Johannesburg. Max was a shrewd
businessman and he deposited his earnings in a branch of the Bank of England
rather than the local bank. I am sure he had more confidence in the stability of
England than he did for the local bankers.

In 1900 Ida, with her daughter and her sister Sarah, left Ponevezh for America.
Max left South Africa and met his wife in New York. Soon after their arrival the
little girl died of Summer Cholera Complaint, a dysentery of infants. Joe Witten
said his father got a job rolling cigars in a factory. Max being quite an
entrepreneur felt there was a lot of money to be made in South Africa for an
enterprising person. On arriving in New York he became fascinated with the soda
shops that abounded in the Jewish Shetel known as the Lower East Side. He
decided that he would invest the savings he acquired in Johannesburg and buy
marble counter tops that adorned the sweetshops. He then sent them by ship to
Johannesburg with the intention of opening soda shops throughout the country. So
Max with the marble counter tops boarded a ship bound across the Atlantic to his
new found fortune to be in Africa.
He arrived in relatively good shape after the long voyage but not so for the marble
counter tops. They did not take the trip too well and very little remained of the
original fixtures on arrival.

However Max did insure his precious cargo before sailing but according to his son,
the Insurance Company failed and Max returned to New York a little poorer but not
discouraged as we will see after the family reaches Jacksonville. Max and Ida's
first son Louis was born in New York in 1901 and their son Ike was born in 1903
while they still resided there.

As mentioned earlier Jacob, Harry and Max came back to New York when their
brother-in-law Max Witten returned in 1901. Exactly what type of employment
they found there is unknown but it is likely they remained in New York until 1905.
At that time Max and Ida and their two children along with Sarah, Harry and Max
(Mendel) decided to join their brother Benjamin in Jacksonville.

Jacob met Ida Bloom and they were married in New York on December 15, 1903.
Their daughter Celia was born in 1904 and their son Moe was bor in May, 1908.
Moe was just six weeks old when Jacob and Ida decided to join the rest of the
family in Jacksonville. They were the last to arrive except for Bencion who would
reach Jacksonville in 1926.

Jacksonville: Wanted Orthodox Rabbi
B'nai Israel Congregation
Corner of Duval & Jefferson Streets
Built 1908


By the beginning of the 20th century, the influx of Eastern European Jews to the
United States increased dramatically. The earliest recorded history of Jews in
Jacksonville was around the time of the Civil War. The Jews that settled in
Jacksonville at that time came mostly from Western Europe primarily from
Germany. The first House of Worship was Orthodox, but as Reformism swept
through Western Europe, the Jews of Jacksonville decided to follow the trend and
changed to a Reform Congregation. This left those East European Jews who were
raised in Orthodox Judaism without a synagogue or a spiritual leader.

By 1901 the Orthodox Jewish population of Jacksonville had grown large enough
to warrant the hiring of a Rabbi who could fulfill all their religious requirements
including teaching the young, a kosher butcher, and a mohl. It was in this year that
the Congregation B'nai Israel was established.

A large group of the Orthodox Jews of Jacksonville came from the villages of
Pushalot, Linkova, Posvel and Ponevezh in Lithuania. Some of them knew Joseph
Shraga Dibobes either by name or by reputation and some knew his son Benjamin.

A story was told that Congregation B'nai Israel first offered the Rabbinate to Joseph
Shraga. It was said he refused it stating that at his age, now 62 years old, he was
unwilling to leave his home in Lithuania and start anew in the "goysha" United
States. He did recommend his son Benjamin who he felt met all of the religious
requirements of the congregation.

Thus in 1902 the first of the Dibobes family, Benjamin (Dibobes) Safer arrived in
Jacksonville. He immediately assumed his duties as the spiritual leader of this new

The Jacksonville City Directory listed the following information concerning the
Congregation B'nai Israel in its 1902 edition. The congregation met at the Masonic
Temple and the following people served as its leaders.

Rabbi: Benjamin Saffer (note spelling of last name)
President: Max Frank
V. Pres: T. H. Pelton
Treasurer: Frank Bandel

The congregation did not have an official residence until 1908 when the
cornerstone for their synagogue was placed at the corner of Jefferson and Duval
Benjamin continued as Rabbi for ten years but in 1912 he was replaced by
Rev. J. B. Menkes as Rabbi. In 1914, Menkes was replaced by A.H. Zeligsohn but
Benjamin returned as Rabbi of the congregation in 1917. About every other year a
new Rabbi was hired only to be replaced by Benjamin.

On June 5, 1922 the following announcement was reported in the Florida Times

"Plans have been formulated for the organization of a new Jewish
congregation among the orthodox Jews of Springfield and a committee has
been appointed, J. Safer chairman, to complete all arrangements. The name
of the organization will be the Congregation Kneses Israel under the rules
and regulations of the committee which has been selected. The congregation will
be in charge of Rabbi Benjamin Safer who for many years has been connected with
the Congregation B'nai Israel.

At present services are being held in the residence of Chairman Safer, 149 West
Third St. Rabbi Safer, during the past week, conducted the services there in
connection with the observance of Shabouth (sic) or the Feast of Weeks."

At last the Safer family had there own synagogue. Joe P. Safer said he had his Bar
Mitzvah in 1927 at Kneses Israel. The house that served as the synagogue was at
corer of Fourth and Pearl Street.

The B'nai Israel Congregation remained active until the late 1920's when the
Jewish population of Jacksonville had left its Ghetto in the LaVilla District and
moved to the new neighborhoods surrounding the downtown area. Many of the
Jews from LaVilla settled in Springfield. In fact all of the Safer brothers and their
sister Sarah Falis relocated to the Springfield area. Only Ida and Max Witten
moved to Riverside.

Congregation B'nai Israel barely remained active in the early 1930's but finally
merged with the new Conservative Congregation that was established in 1928 at
205 W. 3rd Street in Springfield. Ironically the first Jacksonville Jewish Center
was directly across the street from Jacob Safer and only a few doors down from
Harry Safer.

America the Beautiful
Jacksonville, 1902-1934

At the turn of the century the Dibobes family scattered here and yonder. Bencion
and his family was in Ponevezh and his brother Benjamin was in Pokroi serving
the synagogue there. Jacob, Harry and Max Mendel were living in Johannesburg
and the sisters Ida and Sarah had immigrated to New York.

1902, just one year after the fire that swept over a greater part of downtown
Jacksonville the Dibobes family formerly of Ponevezh, Lithuania started to arrive
in Jacksonville, Florida. Benjamin was the first of the family to arrive here having
already been hired by Congregation B'nai Israel to serve as their religious leader.
Benjamin left Lithuania in the early summer. I recall a story that he spent several
weeks with his brothers and sisters in New York before coming to Jacksonville.

Benjamin was already hired by Congregation B'nai Israel and according to his son
David he received a contract paying him $35.00 a week as a starting salary.
Norman Moss of Jacksonville, whose father David Moss was an early leader and a
founder of the Jacksonville Jewish Center, said that Rabbi Safer initially received
$500.00 from the congregation and a certain percent for each person he could enroll
as a new member. Norman also mentioned that Rabbi Safer married his parents
but somehow he failed to record the event in the civil records. However in the eyes
of the Almighty they remained married forever.

For some reason when Benjamin was listed in the City Directory of 1902, his last
name was recorded as Saffer and not Safer. It was not until 1908 after the arrival of
Jacob that the spelling of the last name was changed to Safer and subsequently
after that year all of the brothers were identified as Safer.

[NOTE: Much of the following information was found in the official Directories
of the City of Jacksonville from 1902 to 1939. Please note that some of the
addresses mentioned may not be the same as those remembered by various family
members however, this was the information recorded in these documents.]

In 1903, Benjamin's wife Freida Leah and their four children arrived in
Jacksonville. This was the first time Benjamin saw his newest son Eddie who was
born December 25, 1902. In the 1905 City Directory, Benjamin and his family
lived at 632 West Adams Street.

One of the most famous Jewish Landmarks in Jacksonville was Finkelstein's
Boarding House located at 717 West Adams Street. The Finkelstein family also
came from Lithuania and had run a boarding house along the coach road to Latvia.
Many of the Jews that had business in the north of Lithuania would stop at the
Finkelstein Inn. Virtually every Jewish newcomer to Jacksonville boarded at
Finkelstein's. Also many marriages of the young singles were arranged under this
same roof.

By 1905 Benjamin's family had grown to 7 children with the arrival of the twins
Abba and Israel in 1904 and the next year nearly to the date, David was born. With
the increase in number, the family moved to 1207 West Adams Street. It was this
same year that the brothers and sisters arrived from New York. Ida and Max Witten
decided to move South due to the fact that Ida could no longer stand the cold
winters of New York. After the family arrived, Sarah met Morris Falis and they
were married a year later on May 13, 1906. Harry and Max Mendel were still
single when they reached Jacksonville. Harry moved in with Benjamin and Freida
Leah and the kids and he was hired as a clerk at N. Finkelstein's Pawn Shop at 601
West Bay Street.

After their marriage Sarah and Morris opened a Dry Goods Store at 702 Davis
Street. Like so many of the new Americans, they moved their residence to the
store. The store stayed in the family for many years with their sons running the
business after Morris died in 1937.

The 1907 Directory list Max Mendel's residence at 315 Bridge Street. Max married
Ethel Baker in 1908 and their daughter Eva was born December 2, 1909. Ethel died
in 1911 and Mendel married his eldest niece Freida Vita, the daughter of Bencion
and Sara Sheva. The wedding took place in Providence R.I. in 1912.

In 1908 Jacob, Ida and their children arrived in Jacksonville. Six of the family of
Joseph Shraga were now together again. Bencion would not arrive until 1926.

The Next Generation

With the arrival of Jacob and his family in 1908, six of the seven families now lived
in Jacksonville.

{ed. note: Each family has a unique story to tell. In this portion of the Family
Chronicles I will identify all of the children born into the Dibobes/Safer Family.
This section will include the marriages of the second generation and the children
born into the third generation. Family history is an ongoing process and as the
Safer, Witten, and Falis family grew into the fourth and fifth generations our
numbers have increased to well over five hundred. In the genealogy of the families
all of the individuals will be noted. However our story will only include the first
two generations. Please note that in some instances the information concerning an
individual may be limited. I have made every effort to tell our family history. I
can only record what I received. After the children of the second generation are
identified, our story will again be directed toward the original families and their
lives in Jacksonville from 1902 to 1934.}

The Family of Bencion and Sara Sheva


Bencion and Sara Sheva remained in Lithuania after all his brothers and sisters
had left. In 1909 their two older children, Freida Vita then eighteen, and Louis,
sixteen, left for America. They arrived in Jacksonville and moved in with their
Aunt Ida and Uncle Max Witten at 320 Jefferson Street. Freida would marry her
Uncle Max Mendel Safer in 1912 who was widowed when his first wife Ethel
passed away in 1911. The story of their family will be discussed in order with
Max Mendel being the youngest member of the Dibobes/ Safer family.
Louis, while only 16 years old got a job as a clerk at Finkelstein's Pawn Shop at
601 West Bay Street. Louis met another newcomer to Jacksonville Marsha Kwart
who arrived here with an aunt and her family. Marsha was an excellent seamstress.
During the early 1900's Jacksonville competed with Hollywood in movie making.
Marsha's expertise in dressmaking was known amongst the movie stars here in
Jacksonville and she designed many of the dresses worn by the actresses. Louis
and Marsha were married in 1914.

Louis and Marsha's first child, a daughter, was born in Jacksonville in 1915. Their
daughter Ida was probably named for Chana Safer Dibobes wife of Benjamin

In 1919 Louis and Marsha's second child, Charles was born. By 1922 Louis had
worked for Neal Finkelstein for 13 years and the Finkelsteins were about to expand
their business ventures into a new boom town in South Florida called Miami. It
was this year that Finkelstein's opened a luggage shop in Miami and asked Louis to
run the operation. So the family relocated to South Florida. Paul, their last child
was born in 1925.
Ida married Paul Black in 1940. Paul is a retired contractor. Charles married
Helene Bernes in 1958. Charles loved art and turned this into his profession
working for Film Art at Wometco in Miami. Paul married Johanna Frank in 1949.
He attended the University of Miami and after passing his CPA boards, opened an
accounting firm. Louis passed away in 1950 and Marsha passed away in 1971.

Picture taken in Jacksonville, Fl circa 1922
Ida Black, Miriam Safer Rose, Hannah Biscow, Ida Biscow Cohen
Charles Safer

Marsha, Ida, Charles and Paul
at Jacksonville Beach, circa 1927 "' .
** *t;'*

The Family of Louis and Marsha Safer, 1985
Celebrates the 70th Birthday of Ida Safer Black

Top Row: Leslie Safer, Paul Safer, David Safer, Charles Safer, Melvin Black
2nd Row: Kay Safer, Trish Safer, Johanna Safer, Scott, Deborah, and David Sarbey
1st Row: Katie & Joni Black, Ida and Paul Black, Hedy Sarbey, Miles Black

Chana: After the death of Joseph Shraga, Bencion along with his wife and the
younger children Chana, Dora, and Hyman left Lithuania for the Ukraine. Bencion
served the religious community where they lived but conditions were unbearable.
Sara Sheva would bake Chalahs and make wine to sell in order to help ends meet.
Chana also contributed by selling vegetables in the local street markets. It was
1923 when Bencion and the family were able to immigrate to Cuba.

About this same time a young man from Rumania by the name of Max Talpalar was
living in Havana. According to his son Ben, Max's family name was Vasser but he
was about to be drafted into the Rumanian army and in order to avoid the draft he
assumed the family name of a recently deceased person. He escaped the military
and tried to come to America. However like so many Jews leaving Europe at this
time the door was shut to Jewish Immigration and so the next best place was Cuba.
Being a personable individual Max became a member of the Welcoming committee
for the Jewish congregation in Havana and it was here that he met the Dibobes
family and his bride to be Chana Dibobes. Bencion unlike his brothers did not
change his name to Safer so on his arrival to Cuba he and his family maintained the
family name Dibobes.

Chana and Max were married in 1924 and they opened the first Jewish-American
Grocery and Deli in Havana called the "La Cubana".

All of their children were born in Cuba, Jose in 1925, Rosita in 1928, Ben in 1929
and Bertica in 1935.

The Depression of the nineteen thirties also reached Havana and the family fell on
hard times. Max took the family to Venezuela and then to Colombia to find a
better life but a few years later he and the family returned to Havana where he
started a family restaurant. The oldest child Jose came to Jacksonville in 1937 and
stayed with Uncle Max Mendel and Tante Fredel, his mother's sister. In 1942
Rosita was able to enter the United States and finally in 1949, Max, Chana, Ben
and Bertica were able to enter the United States permanently. Max opened a fruit
stand and later he and his son Ben operated newspaper and magazine store.
Jose married Esther Fine, who was also Cuban in 1946. He later married Susan
Grove in 1982. Jose started working for his Uncle Max Mendel at Duval Barrel
later to become Duval Container Co. After the retirement of his cousin Joe P. Safer
from the business, Jose became a managing partner. Rosita married Ben Levine in
1951. He retired from the U.S. Navy. Ben married Joan Glickman in 1954. Ben
opened a Beauty Supply Wholesalers. and he brought his three children into the
business Elyse along with the twins Mark and Sharon. Joan taught in the
elementary schools in Jacksonville. Bertica married Daniel Hubsch in 1956.
Bertica completed her nursing degree while her husband Daniel is a practicing
attorney in Jacksonville. They have two children Charles an engineer and Claire
who also entered the nursing profession. Max passed away in 1972 and Chana
died in 1992 at the age of ninety six.
David Bencion & Family, 1925 in Havana, Cuba

Standing: Dora (Grossman), Hyman Safer, Chana (Talpalar)
Seated: David Bencion, Sara Sheva, Max Talpalar, son Jose

Dora: In 1926 Dora was living with her parents and brother Hyman in Havana.
Her Uncle Max and her older sister Fredel arranged for her to meet a young man
who was living in Jacksonville by the name of Harry Grossman. Harry was
employed by the U. S. Government and frequently traveled to Cuba on official
business. So the Mendel and Fredel asked him to look up their family in Havana
and possibly meet Dora. Harry did just that and he also married her. His brother-
in-law to be Max Talpalar arranged for them to be married in a Civil Ceremony in a
small village outside of Havana. Unfortunately after the marriage Harry could not
bring his new bride home with him because she had no visa to enter the country.
Harry returned to Jacksonville and somehow arranged with the Immigration
Department a way to bring Dora to Jacksonville. Once in Jacksonville, the couple
were remarried this time under a Chupah at the home of her Uncle Benjamin who
performed the ceremony. Harry and Dora had three children David
BenZion(named for Bencion who died just four months before his birth) in 1927.
Their daughter Ilene was born in 1931 and Sheldon their youngest was born in
David married Sylvia Haber in 1952, Ilene married Arthur Servos in 1952 and
Sheldon married Gail Pullar in 1988. Dora passed away in 1988 and Harry died in

In 1926, shortly after Dora and Harry arrived in Jacksonville Bencion, Sara Sheva
and Hyman finally arrived. At last, after over 25 years the entire family was
together again. Bencion, Sara Sheva and Hyman moved in with his Mendel and
Fredel along with their children Ida, Joseph and Miriam.

In a interview shortly before Harry Grossman passed away, I asked him to share
his memories of his father -in-law .He remembered him to be a very pious man.
He also remembered their conversations in Yiddish in which he was affectionately
addressed as Hershell by Bencion. Harry said that by the time Bencion reached
Jacksonville he was in ill health and in fact he had a very severe heart condition.
Bencion felt that he would soon die and he wished he could go to Israel so that
when he passed away he would be buried there. However he was to weak to travel
and in July, 1927 Bencion, the eldest of the Dibobes children passed away. Harry
said he was present in the room and Bencion asked him for a glass of water. When
he returned to the bedroom he lifted Bencion's head and at that moment he died.

Sara Sheva lived with Dora and Harry for a short time but later returned to Fredel's
home where she died in 1944.

Hyman: the youngest of Bencion's children was twenty two when he arrived in
Jacksonville in 1926. Along with his parents he moved in with Uncle Mendel and
Tante Fredel and their children on Laura Street. In the downstairs duplex lived the
Levin family and their daughter Bessie who was then nineteen. Five years later, in
1931, Hyman and Bessie were married and their daughter Beverly was born in
1932. Hyman was employed by Setzer's Groceries but later opened his own
business as a broker of vegetable crates and packaging. Beverly married Melvin
Kreuger of Live Oak, Florida in 1952. Melvin practiced law in Macon Georgia
and is currently a building contractor. Beverly, a graduate of the University of
Florida, is a synagogue administrator in Macon. Hyman died in 1973.

The Family of Benjamin and Freida Leah

L. k

The family of Benjamin and Freida Leah included eight 8 boys and four girls. The
first four children were born in Lithuania. Bluma and Eddie were born in
Ponevezh, and Jacob V. and Max J. were born in Pokroi where Benjamin served the
community as its religious leader. The remaining eight children were born in
Bluma: was born in 1897 in Ponevezh. Her Hebrew name was Vita Bluma being
named after her paternal great grandmother Vita Gettel Sweetgal. Bluma married
Abe Haimowitz in 1918 and moved to Orlando, Florida. Their first store was a
Five and Dime on Church Street. For those familiar with Orlando it was located on
the site where Rosie O'Grady now stands. A few years later they moved their
business to Winter Garden and opened the Leader Department Store. Gertrude,
their first child was born in 1919 and married Mosie Cooper of Savannah, Ga.
Mosie was the brother of Gertrude who was the wife of Israel and also the cousin of
Eunice who was the wife of Abba. Pearl their second daughter was born in 1924
and passed away in 1942. Abe passed away in 1969 and Bluma in 1980.
The First Eight Children, 1909

Top Row: Eddie, Jake, Bluma, Makey and Cat unnamed
2nd.Row: David, Israel, Perry, Abba

Jacob V. was born in Pokroi in 1898. J.V. was also the only one of the twelve
children to attend college. He originally got a certificate to be a pharmacist and
bought Reyno Pharmacy on Davis Street. However his life's ambition was to be a
surgeon. So in 1923, J.V. enrolled at the University of Florida for his pre-med
studies. While there he was one of the founding brothers of Tau Epsilon Phi
Fraternity at Gainesville. He completed his medical studies at the University of
Maryland and returned to Jacksonville to open his practice. Besides his medical
abilities, Jake learned the Morse Code in his early teens and actually got a job as a
telegrapher while still in public school. He told a story how he and Mackey would
"sucker people into betting on the World Series game. It seems J.V. would
receive the details of the game via the telegraph and would signal Mackey what
would be happening next. Mackey would then find someone to bet and he would
tell them what the next pitch or play would be. Apparently it was a successful scam
since no one caught on and everyone thought Mackey could see into the future.
During World War II, J. V. enlisted in the Army Medical Corps and was in the
African, Sicily, and Italian invasions. It was in Italy that he was injured and was
sent home. Jake was also an avid fisherman. It seems that he alone knew where all
the fish were biting and he named this fishing paradise, Johnson's Creek. People
still remember that if you went fishing with J.V. he would blind fold you so that
you could never find his fishing utopia. One day his brother-in-law Dave Davis
caught a large fish which pulled him into the water; J.V wasn't sure if he wanted to
save Dave or the fish. Jake passed away in 1996 at the age of 97. He was the last
of the last of children born in Lithuania to pass away.

Max J: was named Yaakav Meyer at his bris however he had to resort to the name
of Mayer Yaakav after his older brother Jonah Vigdor decided he like the sound of
Jakob rather than Jonah. It was Freida Leah who added the sound of "key" to most
of her children's name, it was a sound of endearment and in some instances the
name stuck in the case of Max who became known as Mackey. The other children
were referred to as Blumkey, Jakey, Abkey, Davkey, and Yuskey. Mackey as the
third child born into the family was destined to work in the family business since
Jake was already designated as the son to attend college. Makey left school in the
fourth grade and started cutting meat in the butcher market. Although his formal
schooling was over, he was a mathematical wizzard and could figure the winnings
of a three team parley quicker than you could put the figures into a calculator.

Mackey left the family business and moved to Miami where he opened Max's Deli
on Flagler Street. The photo below is a picture in front of the Deli with Mackey
being second from the left. Next to him on the right was Perry Kantor, his closest
friend and best man at his wedding and to the far right was his brother-in-law Abe

In 1926 Mackey married Mary Friedman of St. Augustine. According to all that
attended, it was the biggest Jewish wedding ever experienced in St. Augustine to
that time. Mackey and Mary moved to Orlando and opened a Kosher Market and
Deli on Church Street just a few doors away from his sister and brother-in-law
Bluma and Abe Haimowitz. In 1929, their son Edwin (yours truly) was born.
Naturally I was the pride of the family since I was the first grandson for Benjamin
and Freida Leah after two granddaughters. Our family returned to Jacksonville in
1938 where Mackey went into business with Abba to run Safer's Kosher Market at
614 W. Adams. In 1950 Mackey and Mary started a Kosher Catering Service and
Mary continued the catering business after Mackey passed away in 1966. I married
Harriet Tanner of Ft. Myers, Fl and our children are Steven and Marcia, both born
in Jacksonville.

Wedding Party of Mary and Mackey in St. Augustine, May 2, 1926
Best Man was Perry Kantor and Maid of Honor was Ida Fagen Strauss
Family members in Wedding Party were Brothers Perry and David, Sister Ida
Sister-in-law Pearl Safer Englander and Flower Girl Gertrude Haimowitz Cooper

Edward Herman: Eddie was the fourth child to be born into the family. He was
born on Christmas Day in 1902 according to the Archive Records of Lithuania.
His bris was eight days later, January 1 and that was the date he decided to use for
his birthday. Eddie was given the name Chaim Itzhak. It is likely that the Chaim
was in memory of his paternal great grandmother Vita Gettel Sweetgal.
(Ed's note: Again the name Vita mean life and the name Chaim or Chai is life), and
Itzhak in memory of his maternal grandfather, Itzhak Ziv who had died in 1901.
Eddie was the last of the family to be born in Lithuania and he was born in
Ponevezh since Benjamin had already left for America and Freida Leah returned to
Ponevezh to await the birth of her child before leaving for America. The name
Chaim Itzhak did not fit the future life of this young man so before long he was
Eddie Safer to Jacksonville and as far as he was concerned to the whole world.
Eddie Safer was described as the best Ball Room Dancer in Jacksonville. At
dances the girls would wait in line to sign Eddie's dance card. If it was a dance
contest, the judges would just give the trophy to Eddie to save time because he
never lost.

Eddie married Sarah Schneider of Lakeland in June, 1934. They moved to
Wauchula where they opened a dress shop. Sarah ran the business and Eddie lured
the customers into the store by promising to teach them how to dance. They later
moved to Miami where daughters Barbara and Jane were born.

Sarah and Eddie opened a dress shop on Coral Way in South Miami and they called
the shop "Barbara Jane's". Some years later they closed the business and Sarah
returned to teaching. Eddie spent his retirement years winning bowling trophies
instead of dance trophies. After many years in Miami, the two decided to move to
Cocoa Beach where their daughter Jane and her husband Malcolm Kirshenbaum
lived with their two children. Eddie died in 1978 and Sarah is residing in Cocca
Abba & Israel: The next child or I should say children were born were Abba and
Israel born in January, 1905. This was the first set of twins born in the
Safer/Dibobes family. Abba and Israel were so identical that their mother Freida
Leah couldn't tell them apart. There was a joke that when it came time to feeding
them she was never sure who she had fed and she was afraid she fed one of them
twice and the other went hungry. This problem was resolved when the maid tied a
ribbon on one of them. The pictures below is Israel to the left and Abba to the
right. The first picture was taken in 1909 when the boys were four years old. The
next picture was taken some 80 years later. Israel is still to the left and Abba to the
right (I think).

It was not until Israel burned himself on the arm when he fell into the fire place
that the family had a way of identifying the twins. At their 90th birthday
celebration I asked Israel exactly how he ended up in the fire. He claims he was
walking down the stairs when Abba stepped on his night shirt and he fell forward
into the open hearth. His Bluma came running and put a rug over him to smother
the fire..

Safer's Kosher Market and Delicatessin
127 W. Broad St. circa 1921

From left to right: Benjamin, Mr. Weiss, Jacob, Israel, Wheel Boy

If they confused everyone when they were young they continued it later in life
when they both married first cousins. Abba married Eunice Cooper and Israel
married Gertrude Cooper. Now not only were they brothers but also first cousins.
When they were about sixteen years old their father Benjamin and his brother Jacob
merged their two stores and opened Safer's Kosher Market and Delicatessen. Abba
worked in the market and Israel worked for his Uncle Jake in the delicatessen.
When they used to go to the dances at the YMHA the girls would ask them who
was the butcher boy and who was the Deli boy. Israel married Betty Berman and
their daughter Allyn was born in 1932. Abba married Eunice Cooper of Savannah
in 1933. Israel divorced Betty and moved to Savannah where he married Eunice's
first cousin Gertrude Cooper. Their two children were Irwin and Sheri. To add
further confusion to the family, Gertrude's brother Mosie Cooper married Gertrude
Haimowitz who was the niece of Abba and Israel. Now the new Gertrude (nee
Haimowitz) Cooper was both a niece and a sister-in-law and she became an Aunt
and a first cousin to Irwin and Sheri the children of Israel and Gertrude. Israel
retired after working for the City of Savannah but he also was the top salesman for
the famous ? department store Yochum and Yochum. Gertrude passed away in
January, 1996.

Abba and Eunice operated Safer's Kosher Market with his brother and sister-in-
law, Mackey and Mary who returned to Jacksonville in 1938. Abba moved to
Savannah for a few years but returned to Jacksonville in the late 1940's. Abba and
Eunice's family included three daughters Sandra, Maxine, and Eleanor.

Abba and Israel inherited their father's musical ability. Similar to the Von Trapp
Family Singers, Abba, Israel with their father Benjamin was the Choir for the High
Holy Days Service for the Orthodox Service at the Jacksonville Jewish Center.
Other congregations had larger choirs but none so sweet as the Safer trio.

David: The seventh child and the sixth male to be born in the family was David.
Many stories abound about how frugal David was He himself will admit that this
trait developed at an early age. Having five older bothers did not help matters when
it came to preserving one's own turf. As carefree as the group was, no one could
ever lay claim to their own personal property particularly clothes. Virtually who
got their first ended up being the best dressed and the one in last place got what was
left. It was said that Abba never moved too swiftly and by the time he finished
eating and went to get dress he only found the left overs. However with David it
was another story. As soon as the maid finished ironing the boys' clothes, David
went and picked out what was his went immediately to his room and placed his
belongings in a steamer trunk in which he was the sole keeper of the only key.
Humor always filled the Safer home. A hush would fall upon the house when they
heard the top of the steamer trunk open and then close. Laughter broke out because
they knew brother Dave either had made a deposit or withdrawal. David always
said that he too wanted to go to college but with the family growing, his father
could ill afford to help two sons through college much less one. So David followed
in the tradition of the family and entered the food business.

David met and married Sally Pearlman and moved to Daytona Beach where they
opened a delicatessen. He decided that Daytona was not the place for him because
he was unable to observe the Sabbath and remain close on Saturday particularly at
the beach resort. David and Sally returned to Jacksonville and opened Safer's
Kosher Delicatessen in the same store with his brothers Abba and Mackey. David
and Sally's first child was Marilyn and followed by another daughter Abigail (Gail)
and their son Michael was born in 1946. Sally passed away in 1979. David has
remained active during his retired years by selling Passover foods to some devoted
customers and well as participating in the religious activities at Beth Shalom

Perry: The eighth child to be born into the family was another boy. Peretz was
his Hebrew name. In tradition of Americanizing one's name he became known as
Perry. Being the seventh son he felt he was sure to have luck. Probably learning
from his older brothers Mackey and Jake, Perry was pretty sharp in parlaying a bet.
Perry married Pearl Weiss in 1931 and his son Sollie was born in 1936 and
daughter Marlene was born in 1940. In his early adult years Perry was a deputy
sheriff for Duval County. His arrest records were few but he did carry a badge and
a pistol. In the 1950's Perry joined Dovoe Reynolds Paint Co. and moved the
family to Louisville Kentucky. After several years away from the family, he and
Pearl decided to return to Jacksonville. He reopened Safer's Kosher Market and
Delicatessen after the death of his brother Mackey and the retirement of his brother
David. Perry died in 1972 and his wife Pearl then married Al Englander in 1978.
Al Englander passed away in 1994.

Ida: At last after seven boys, Benjamin and Freida Leah's next child was a
daughter. I think the one most thrilled with the birth of Ida was the family maid
who dubbed the new princess "Missy" and the nickname stuck. Ida's eyes caught a
glimpse of a handsome young gentleman from Baltimore, Md. Louis Goldberg
better known as Dewey came to Jacksonville to go to work for his uncle Morris
Wolfson who founded Florida Pipe and Supply Co. along with his sons. Dewey
advanced in the company and after World War II his cousin Louis Wolfson
acquired Merritt Chapman Scott and Dewey was offered a position in New York.
Dewey and Ida with their son Larry, bom in 1934 and daughter Cynthia, born in
1938 moved to the "Big Apple" Ida and Dewey were gracious hosts for all the
family. Any visitor would always find the Welcome Mat out front at the Goldberg's
Hideaway in Kew Gardens. While in New York a little bundle of joy arrived at the
Goldberg doorsteps and it was named DeDe Goldberg. DeDe was always the first
to greet you with a few choice words when you entered their home. By the way, I
forgot to mention that De De was a parakeet, however no one ever mentioned that
word in front of DeDe who thought of itself as the child of Ida and Dewey.

After retiring, Dewey and Ida returned to Jacksonville. Ida passed away in
December, 1992 and Dewey passed away in October, 1995. Larry is married to
Iris Rubinstein of Massechusetts and Cynthia married David Goldring and now
resides in Jacksonville.

Ethel: With child number nine being such a beautiful girl, Benjamin and Freida
Leah tried again and sure enough this time they had a queen. In fact they named
her Elka Malka, Ethel the Queen. But the same maid that named Ida "Missy"
named Ethel "Doll" and she has remained a "Doll" ever since. The only way to
describe Doll was she was the female version of her brother Eddie. She bubbled
with enthusiasm and made every one around her feel the same. Ethel married
David Davis, a Canadian, who moved with his family to Jacksonville. Dave
worked many years for Joe Bartley as a Recycling Engineer, better known as a
"Junkman". Dave became known as one of the best scaleman in the industry. His
deftness put him near the top of the trade.

Orlando, 1927: (left to right) Ethel, Friend of Family holding Pearl Haimowitz, Pearl(Safer)Kramer
Front Row: Gertrude (Haimowitz) Cooper

Dave loved fishing and it was with his brother-in-law Jacob. They would take off
in the wee hours of Sunday morning to the famous Johnson's Creek. ( Unfortunately
the exact location of Johnson Creek will never be known because Jacob carried the
secret Fisherman's Shangri La with him to the grave) According to J.V., Dave
couldn't catch a thing but that he would always share his catch so Dave would be
able to tell everyone the next day about the big one he pulled in. In the later years
he became an avid golfer and now on Saturday you could find him on the course
with another brother-in-law Dewey Goldberg. He said golf was more in tune with
his lifestyle. He could drive the cart and he only needed to avoid one or two water
holes. Doll and Dave's children were Linda and Henry Paul. Linda passed away in

Joseph: Trying now to equal our Patriarch Jacob, Benjamin and Freida Leah had
child number eleven. He was born in 1913 and according to the story told he was
born on the evening of his sister Bluma's Sweet Sixteen Birthday Party. Since
Joseph Shraga died the year before and in reverence to him, each of his children
named a child in his memory and so child number 11 was named Joseph but he was
always identified as Yoshke (another of Freida Leah's "Key"). Since Joseph Shraga
had seven children you could expect that to name a child after him by each of his
children would be somewhat confusing. So in order to separate five grandchildren
name Joseph and one grand daughter Josephine, each had a distinguishing
identification so Yoshke was designated as "Rabbi Joe" after his father's profession.

Early photograph of Yoshke at age five years, 1918

To some outsiders, Yoske was described as the "Black Sheep" of the family. I
always felt that if there were more black sheep like him we would all be a happier
lot. To Joe, his family was first and foremost in his heart. He idolized his parents
and held the same feeling towards his brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. In a
period of doom and gloom you always knew would have a story that would
brighten everyone's heart. People including family did not realize that Joe loved
music and especially opera. He could tell you something about each opera he
heard. Joseph died in 1979.

Pearl: The last of the twelve children of Benjamin and Freida Leah was born in
1918. Her Hebrew name was Pesa Hinda, being named after her two grandmothers,
Pesa Feiga Ziv and Hinda Reiza Dibobes. Pearl was truly the "All American Girl".
She attended public school in Orlando where Benjamin and Freida Leah moved in
1933. Benjamin was named Rabbi of Congregation Ohav Shalom in Orlando. Two
of his other children Bluma and Mackey and their families were already there. In
1935 Benjamin returned to Jacksonville and Pearl again joined the Jewish Social
Groups of the city. One young man in the group was Irvin Kramer. Irvin's family
like the Safer's came from Lithuania. They were from the village of Pushalot.

Pearl and Irvin were married in 1941. After returning from military service the two
moved to Green Cove Springs where they opened Kramer's Department Store. In
later years they returned to Jacksonville to continue the business operation of Irvin's
father, Dave Kramer. Kramer's Department Store on Broad Street was the training
ground for Pearlie and Irvin's nieces and nephews. There was always a Saturday
job available at Kramer's.

Pearl and Irvin had two children Marsha born in 1943 and Sheila in 1947. Of all
the children of Benjamin and Freida Leah, Pearl comes closest in looks, personality
and humor of her mother. Freida Leah never could understand football( Pearl is an
avid Gator Fan and one thing the family knows is not to call her after a Gator loss)
but Freida Leah was a staunch wrestling fan. She would sit for hours in front of the
television yelling for one wrestler or the other. Benjamin would come into the
house, look at his wife, shake his head and say "mishuganah".

Outwardly Irvin appeared to be very shy and a man of few words but he was held in
high esteem by the entire family and was recognized as a leader in the Orthodox
Jewish community of Jacksonville. Irvin passed away in 1988.
The twelve children of Benjamin and Freida Leah has always remained as a nuclear

family. No estrangements and at no time did one family member not speak to
another. As each of the grandchildren were born into the family and there were 22,
each and every cousin became a brother or sister. You were not blessed with only
your parents but each aunt and uncle became a parent too. This tradition has carried
on to this day.

The Family of Ida and Max Witten

Ida was the first daughter bom to Joseph Shraga and Hinda Reiza. Although we
have no documentation as to the date of her birth, it is likely she was born in
Ponevezh in 1877. Ida's Hebrew name was Chaia Reissa and she probably was
named for her paternal grandmother Ida Sofer Dibobes. I estimate the death of Ida
Sofer Dibobes in the early 1870's.

Ida married Max Witten of Pushalot in 1898 and their first child, a daughter, was
bom in 1899. Max left his wife and child the same year and went to South Africa
along with his brother-in-laws Harry and Max Mendel. A year later, 1900 Ida with
her infant and sister Sarah left Ponevezh for America. Shortly after their arrival,
Max Witten, Harry, Jacob and Max Mendel left Johannesburg for New York. Max
found a job in a factory hand rolling cigars.

Max and Ida lost their daughter in 1901 to Summer Complaint Disease a form of
infant dysentery. Ida was pregnant at the time and her son Louis was bom in
October of 1901. Their second son Ike was also bom in New York in 1903. By
1905, Ida, Max and the rest of the family was tired of the ghetto life of New York.
Ida could not tolerate the weather so the group decided to settle in Jacksonville
where their brother Benjamin and Freida Leah had already set up their home.

Shortly after there arrival they moved to their home at 320 Jefferson Street. Like
many new immigrants, Max had no professional training. So he decided to become
a peddler, buying and selling bottles and other used cartons.

Ida also contributed to the family income by converting some of the rooms in their
home so they could be rented to boarders. Max was still intrigued with the soda
shops of New York and somewhat dismayed with the peddling of bottles as a future
livelihood. Since he already had a considerable inventory of bottles he decided he
would make a drinking soda that he could offer for sale from his cart. The Jewish
people always have had an affinity for seltzer water so Max decided to added a little
sweetener to the seltzer along with some caramel coloring and Eureka a Witten
Soda Pop. Now one problem existed in that Max had a very limited amount of
capital to invest. Bottles he had, Seltzer Water could be made very easily, and even
food coloring was available at a reasonable price. The main ingredient of the
mixture was the sweetener. Obviously the most common sweetener known at this
time was sugar. However sugar brought a premium price and at a cost that Max
could ill afford. A chemical substance called saccharin had recently been
introduced to the American Market as a artificial sweetener. Although Max was not
a Graduate Chemist, it was easy for him to figure out that if he added all the
components he would have produced a new and hopefully popular soda drink that
would adorn every Jewish table in LaVilla, Jacksonville. In fact it might be said
that Max Witten was the first to create a true "Diet Soda". At last he was on his
way to fame and fortune. Unfortunately, a Federal Regulatory Agency felt that
what Max was producing was an adulteration of a known product. Little did they
realize that about 50 years later, this same product without Max's sanction sweep
the Cola markets of the world. But in the early 1900's it was a no-no.

Max was discouraged with the government decision but not beaten. He had a large
investment in used bottles which were necessary in his marketing plan to sell his
new cola. So the next best plan was to open up Standard Bottle Works which he
did in 1913. Max ran Standard Bottle Works until 1918, the last years as a sideline
since he ventured into another marketing area dealing with livestock. There was a
story that Max kept some dairy cows in a shed behind his home on Jefferson Street.
His home actually backed up to the Y.M.H.A. He tried to train his eldest son Louie
how to milk the cow but Louie would have nothing to do with the bovine son the
responsibility fell on Son Number 2, Ike. So Ike milked the cow, Chia Reissa
would make butter and cheese and Louie had the responsibility to deliver the dairy
products in the neighborhood. Now with the livestock trading, the dairy products
and the Boarding House, the Wittens had established a foothold in America.
Talking to Joe Witten about what he remembered of the old days he said that he
always had to check his bedroom before going to bed because his mother would
rent it out before he got home and he had to find another place to sleep. Ida and

Max always had room for family and the family did move around in Jacksonville.
When Bencion's two eldest children Fredel and Louis arrived in Jacksonville, they
stayed with their Aunt Ida and Uncle Max. In fact Louis lived with the Witten
family until his marriage to Marsha Kwart.

The cattle business became very lucrative for Max. He would buy dairy cows from
one farmer and sell it to another. If by chance the dairy cow delivered a calf before
the sale could be made, Max's profit increased because he could now sell the calf to
his brother-in-law Benjamin the Kosher butcher. As the years passed the older
three sons had no desire to enter their father's business. Louie wanted to be a
musician, Ike definitely did not want to spend the rest of his life on a milk stool and
Sam decided at a very early age that he wanted to go to college.

In 1918 the livestock business was the only thing that interested Max so he decided
to divest himself of Standard Bottle Works by selling his inventory to his brother-
in-law Max Mend and his own brother Ben Witten. Max Mendel owned a shoe
store on Davis Street at the time but felt he would be better off financially in the
bottle business. Max Mendel Safer and Ben Witten opened the Southern Barrel and
Bottle Company.

In 1924 at the age of seven, the youngest of the Witten boys, Joe decided it was
time that he started working for his father who by now owned Max Witten Dairy.
Joe's description of his father was that he was a shrewd businessman knowing
exactly what was necessary to" turn a buck". However, Joe continued, his father
had one slight flaw that would have defeated most individuals except Max Witten.
His flaw was that he never learned to read or write English. So seven year old Joe
Witten was promoted to Secretary and Treasurer of the Max Witten Dairy. Sophie
Witten, Joe's wife, said that Joe actually had to write the checks for the business.

Louis: was bor in New York in October of 1901. When the family relocated to
Jacksonville in 1905, Lou found his new cousins Jake, Mackey and Eddie waiting
for him. They were easy to find since Benjamin and Freida Leah lived right around
the corer from the Witten house. At a early age, Lou had an "ear" for music, but
not to the pleasure of his mother. It appears that the instrument that Lou picked for
his future profession was the drums.

Louie wanted to be a professional drummer and he started by beating on anything
and everything in his house that would not beat back. Lou would drive his mother
crazy so she would send him to Tante Freida Leah. Once in the home of his
favorite Aunt he would sit at the kitchen table with two sticks and try to entertain
her. He got a poor reception and Freida Leah would take him by the ear and out the
door Louie sent. Feeling his musical talents were not appreciated Lou decided he
could excel in athletics. Being a well built young man Louis Witten decided to
become a wrestler. That's not the worse thing that could happen to a Jewish boy
from Jacksonville but he selected as his opponents Bears. This was not a good
decisions. It was not long after this that Lou decided that music would be his life.
In his early 20's, Louie was hired as a musician for the Imperial theater on Forsyth
Street which offered vaudeville. Max Witten decided his son needed something
more stable than a set of drums to feed him so he opened him a clothing store on
Davis Street not too far from his Uncles Harry Safer and Morris Falis. Although he
remained in the business, his heart was always turned to music. In later years Lou
formed his own band and virtually every Jewish Wedding had music from Louis
Witten and his Orchestra with the Maestro on the drums.

Lou married Rose Magrill who was a cousin to Sally Pearlman who married Lou's
cousin David Safer. Lou and Rose had three children Helen, Harriet and Edward.
Lou passed away in 1963 and Rose passed away in 1993.

Ike: the second son in the Witten family was named Itzhak but was known as Ike.
Ike was also born in New York in 1903. Although a Northerner by birth Ike always
felt he was a native Floridian. Like all of the children in the Safer/Dibobes family
every child had an assigned chore and Ike was no different. As mentioned above,
Ike became the milker of the family cow at the age of 9 years. Not one to complain,
Ike did not relish this position. Across the street from the Wittens lived the Biscow
family. Sam Biscow was the cousin of Ida Witten on the Sweetgal side of the
family. Sam had four beautiful daughters one of which was Gertrude who may
have been named for Sam's aunt Vita Gettel Sweetgal the mother ofHinda Reiza.
Ike took a fancy to his distant cousin and not having too far to travel in order to
date, the two were married in 1924. Gert's father passed away from food poisoning
having eaten some contaminated oysters. Mrs. Biscow continued the family
business, Bell Department Store after Sam's death. Ike had some secretarial
training but after his marriage to Gert he entered her family's business. Ike and
Gert opened their own business called Witten's Smart Shop at 302 Main Street.
Ike and Gert had two sons, Samuel Biscow, named after his grandfather and Paul

Jerry. Samuel become a prominent doctor in Jacksonville and Jerry graduated in
dentistry and joined his Uncle Sam's dental practice. After Sam's retirement, Jerry's
son Andrew joined with his father in the family practice. Ike passed away in 1988
and his son Samuel died suddenly in January, 1995.

Sam: the third son was the first to be born in Jacksonville, the year 1907. At the
time Sam was the baby of the family, his brother Joe would not be born for another
ten years. If chores were to be done by the children they were assigned to the older
two. Lou received the assignment and passed it down to Ike. Sam was the first of
the family to attend college entering the Dental program at Vandebilt University.
Upon graduation, he returned to Jacksonville to open his practice.

Sam married Jean Stein in 1931 and they had two daughters Ina and Barbara. Ina
married Larry Richter who passed away in 1993 and Barbara is married to Gerald
Glickstein. Sam was the Family Master of Ceremonies. We had our own family
Myron Cohen. Sam did not need to tell any jokes he merely told of the happenings
in his family and the families of his aunts and uncles and their children. He could
capture his audience and they never wanted him to stop. We lost Sam in 1990.
Ida and Son Joseph,

Joseph: When Joseph Shraga died all of his children except Bencion were living in
Jacksonville. In memory of their father the family ended up with five named Joseph
and one named Josephine. I have already discussed how Joe became a very
important in the operation of his father's businesses. When Joe graduated from Lee
High School he intended to enroll at the University of Florida.
But the family decided it would be best for Joe to enter Veterinary School and learn
how to treat the bread and butter of the family business. So Joe entered the

Veterinary College at Auburn University. This was not an easy task for a Jewish
boy to try and enter the Veterinary school in Alabama. Joe was an outstanding
student and he graduated at the top of the class. Upon returning to Jacksonville, Joe
combined his veterinary practice with the operation of the family dairy. Joe and
Sophie Spiwak were married in 1940. Their son Bruce is practicing medicine in
St. Augustine and their daughter Maxine is married to Judge Jerry Funk.

Max Witten and his Sons

front row: Joe, Max, Ike
standing: Louie and Sam

The Family of Jacob and Ida

Jacob was the first of the Dibobes children to leave Ponevezh. The year was 1896
when only twenty years old, Jacob left his home and traveled alone to
Johannesburg, South Africa. Relatives of his mother's family had already relocated
there and at least he had family to turn to when he arrived. Jacob found
employment as a cutter in a clothing firm. Several years later his brothers Harry
and Max Mendel and his brother-in-law Max Witten joined him. The four
remained in Johannesburg about a year before they joined their sisters Ida and
Sarah who had already arrived in New York.

Jacob met Ida Bloom in New York. Ida and her family came from Russia when she
was sixteen years old. Jacob found work in New York as a cutter in the garment
district. Jacob and Ida were married in 1903 and their first child Celia was born the
next year. In 1908 Ida gave birth to her second child a son who was named Moe
Benjamin. Moe was only two months old when his parents decided to join the rest
of the family in Jacksonville. In July of 1908 Jacob his wife and children arrived in
Jacksonville and moved to 763 W. Duval Street which was around the corner from
his brothers and sisters.

His brother Benjamin was not only the Rabbi for the B'nai Israel Congregation but
he also ran the kosher butcher shop. So when Jacob arrived he opened a kosher
delicatessen at 705 West Adams Street.

He operated the delicatessen until the early 1920's when he moved the family to
Springfield and devoted most of his energies in the Real Estate Market.

Jacob, Ida, Celia, and Moe in Jacksonville, circa 1910

Ida played a major role in the success of both businesses. Not only did she have the
responsibility of raising the children which now included Faye, born in 1912 and
Rose in 1916 but she also made delicious pickles, pickled herring and gefilte fish
and also fresh cottage cheese which Jacob sold in the deli. Jacob and Ida's las child
Louis was born in 1924. The family was living in their home at Third and Silver
Streets when Lou arrived.

Jacob knew the only way to succeed in his new adopted country was by education
and he dedicated his life in seeing that all his children received the best education
possible even if he and Ida had to make their own personal sacrifices. Celia, the
eldest graduated from Duval High School and became a secretary in a government
office. Celia, being the oldest, helped her mother at home caring for her younger
brother and sisters since Ida spent many hours working in the store with Jacob. Her
sister Faye related that Celia would have to take her and baby sister Rose even if
she went on a date. Celia married Dr. David Schneider and relocated to Baltimore.
Celia and David's children were Leonard and Jerome. David died in 1974 and Celia
passed away in 1980.

The Jacob Safer Family
circa 1920

front row: Faye, Mr Bloom, Rose
standing: Ida, Celia, Jacob, Moe

Moe attended the University of Florida where he completed his undergraduate
studies and then continued receiving a law degree. Moe was not just dedicated to
study. He was in fact an excellent student but he also excelled in sports making the
university's tennis team. After his graduation he returned to Jacksonville and
opened his law office. He helped form the Law Firm of Mahan and Safer. After
his brother Louis graduated from law school, he too joined the firm. Moe married
Rubye Lipschitz in 1937 and had three children; Sharon, Judith and Jay Gerald.
Both of the daughters married attorneys, Sharon married Morton Kesler and Judy,
Herman Paul.

The home at Third and Silver Streets became known as Safer's Hotel. With first
Moe away at college you could expect a mob of college kids spending the weekend
in Jacksonville particularly with parties at the YMHA and other socials. Word also
spread amongst the traveling Jewish Pious that if you got off the train in
Jacksonville, you could always find a meal and a little charity at the Safer home.

The Jacob Safer pantry was never low on food. His children described their parent
is a little frugal but when it came to food he was known to fill the pantry. If Ida
sent him for a can of peas he would return with a case. Jacob and Ida were not only
man and wife but they were partners in all their adventures. Ida was not the typical
Jewish housewife of that era. She was a woman with a keen sense of business
Jacob watched in amazement the growth of Jacksonville and he decided the road to
success was in real estate. This was atypical for a young man born and raised in
Ponevezh, Lithuania where it was unheard of for a Jew to own property. Their
venture into real estate was very successful.

In the 1920's a sign of a successful businessman was to own an automobile. Jacob
bought an auto and his children name the vehicle the "Big Jordan Car". Actually
Ida was the first to learn how to drive but once Jacob got behind the wheel he
became Lord and Master of the Big Jordan and only he was allowed to be the
official driver.

In 1923 Jacob and B'nai Israel Congregation had a parting of the ways. It seemed
his brother Benjamin who had served the Jewish Community for over twenty years
was no longer acceptable as a Rabbi of the congregation. The family was very
upset and in typical Jewish tradition, if you don't like the synagogue you belong to,
you start your own and that is exactly what Jacob did. The Congregation Keneses
Israel celebrated its first Sabbath at the home of Jacob and Ida Safer with Rabbi
Benjamin Safer officiating.

The Jews of the European ghettos developed strong bonds with their Jewish
neighbors in the shettel in which they lived. They recognized the importance of
helping their co-religionist in whatever way possible because the Christian
population could care less about the survival of the Jews. Once Jacob reached
Jacksonville he felt it was necessary for the Jews of Jacksonville to start a Jewish
Loan Society. He was instrumental in the founding of the first Gamala Chesed
Society in Jacksonville. It was here that the local Jews who fell on hard times
particularly during the depression could get low interest loans with minimum
payback plans till they could recover financially. The Jacksonville Gamala Chesed
organization evolved into the Progressive Credit Union in which Jacob's son Moe
and Moe's son-in-law Herman Paul served as presidents.

Jacob and Ida were very progressive for their time concerning the education of their
children. It was always a foregone conclusion that the son of a Jewish family had
to go to college and earn a professional degree. Both Moe and Louis accomplished
this. however both of the younger daughters Faye and Rose also attended college
and both earned a degrees in Education. Faye returned to Jacksonville and taught
two years at Fishwier Elementary before marrying Joe Silverman and moving to
Gainesville and opening Silverman's Department Store. Faye was very active in
many community projects including serving on the State Tuberculosis board. She
was instrumental in the formation of the Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority at Gainesville.
Faye and Joe's children include Carol, Gene, Susan, and Irene. Joe passed away in

Rose also a teacher returned to Jacksonville and taught at Beaulah Beal Elementary
at 9th and Perry. Rose married Rob Miller and their family included Helen, Lee
and Jeffrey. The family relocated to Baltimore where Rose continued in the field of
Education receiving a Master's Degree.

Louis the last of the children was born in 1924. Lou was not only an outstanding
student both at public school and college but he was recognized as one of the
outstanding leader of both the Jewish community as well as the community at large.
Lou entered the University of Florida at the age of sixteen having skipped two
grades in elementary school. At the University of Florida he was an outstanding
tennis play for the university and also served as president of his fraternity Pi Lamda
Phi and was President of the Student Body of the University. While at the
university he was instrumental in the formation of the Ad Litem program and in
later years was honored as one of the University's Outstanding Alumnus. Once Lou
returned to Jacksonville, he redirected his attention to the Jewish community and
was elected President of the Jacksonville Jewish Center. Lou left active practice
and was elected Judge of the Circuit Court of Jacksonville. He always achieved the
highest rating as a Judge from the Attorneys of the city. He preferred working with
juveniles and felt proud of many of the youth, he helped to lead active lives in the
community. Lou married Marilyn Soclof of Pensacola and their children included
Eliot, Cynthia, Deena and Shana. Louis passed away in 1988 and Marilyn in 1995.

Jacob and Ida's legacy to their children and future generations was the importance
of education and also the need to share ones good fortune with the less fortunate.
Jacob and Ida felt this gave a person "Character"

Max Mendel and Fredel Vita

Max Mendel was the youngest of the children born to Joseph Shraga and Ginda
Reiza. Mendel was born in Ponevezh November 5, 1883 and was given the
Hebrew name Israel Mendel. As with all of the Dibobes children very little is
known about the early childhood of Mendel. However in 1898 at the age of fifteen,
Mendel and his brother Harry only two years his senior left the family home and
travel to Johannesburg where they joined their brother Jacob and members of their
mother's family, the Sweetgals.

At the age of fifteen, Mendel had very little training in any trade thus he was limited
to the number of jobs available for a boy of his age. In later years he told his
children that times were very difficult and he would take odd jobs like waiting on
tables in a restaurant for tips and he even became a cook in one of the
establishments. The other two brothers were not much better off financially but
whatever the three made a certain amount was sent home to their parents each

Mendel along with his brothers Harry and Jacob barely made ends meet but they
were determined to save enough money to buy passage to the United States and join
with their sisters Ida and Sarah who had arrived in New York. In the mean time,
Ida's husband Max Witten also left Lithuania and joined his brothers-in law in
Johannesburg. Eventually they saved enough and they were on their way to
America. The four arrived in New York in late 1901. In true family tradition the
four along with Sarah and Ida probably had a two or three room cold water flat in
the East Side of New York. Again very little is known about the life of Mendel or
for that matter of the rest of the family while they lived in New York. In 1902,
their brother Benjamin who had been hired to be the Religious Leader for the
Orthodox community in Jacksonville arrived alone in New York before going to
Jacksonville. Faded memories recall that Benjamin spent only several weeks with
his brothers and sisters before making the trip South.

By 1905, Mendel along with Harry, Sarah, Ida and her husband Max decided to
join Benjamin and relocate to Jacksonville. Jacob had married Ida Bloom and was
a cutter in the garment district and apparently was satisfied to remain in New York
for the time being. Mendel's first address recorded in the Jacksonville City
Directory was at 315 Bridge Street. In all likelihood, Mendel became a clerk at
Finkelstein's along with his brother Harry and brother-in-law Max. Mendel met
Ethel Baker and in 1908, the two were married. Their daughter Eva was born in
1909 and was a pre-mature birth. The story was told that Eva was so small at birth
that her parents placed her in a shoe box and put the box on top of the radiator for
warmth, thus providing an incubator for their newborn. Mendel, Ethel and Eva
moved their residence to Mendel's place of business, a shoe store at 814 Davis

Z .


In 1911, Ethel died suddenly leaving Mendel and their eighteen month old daughter
Eva. A year earlier Fredel Vita the daughter of BenZion and Sheva arrived in
Jacksonville from Ponevezh along with her brother Louis. The two found residence
with their Aunt Chiarisa(Ida) and Uncle Max. After Ethel's death, Fredel would
spend time caring for Eva and soon Mendel and Fredel fell in love. Under Jewish
law, an uncle could marry a niece but an aunt could not marry a nephew. However
the laws of Florida and for that matter most of the states did not permit the marriage
of close relatives. However the State of Rhode Island allowed such a union so
Mendel and Fredel boarded a train for Rhode Island where the two were married on
March 3, 1912. In the meantime, Dora Berman the sister of Ethel was childless and
she and her husband asked Mendel if they could raise Eva. And so Eva, a little over
two years of age was raised as the child of the Berman's.

Fredel, Ida, and Sarah
circa 1914 Fredel, Freida Leah, and Ida
circa 1915

Mendel and Fredel first child was a daughter, Ida Gertrude, named for her maternal
great grandmother Getel Sweetgal. Their second child Joseph Philip was born in
1914 and in the tradition of the family was named for his grandfather Joseph Shraga
who had died two years earlier. Miriam, their youngest was born the next year in
Mendel and Fredel took up residence at 316 Jefferson St., the apartment next to Ida
and Max Witten while still running the shoe store on Davis Street.

It is interesting to note that three of the family opened stores on Davis Street and in
the same block. Sarah and Morris had a clothing store, Mendel and Fredel a shoe
store and Harry and Fannie a tailor shop.

Mendel tired of the shoe business so he opened a five and dime store for a short
time but in 1917 his brother-in-law Max Witten sold Mendel and Ben Witten,
Max's brother his bottle business. In 1918 Mendel and Ben opened Southern Barrel
and Bottle Co. and in 1920 the two ventured into a business called Jax Auto Parts.
They expended their bottle business to include barrels and they changed the name to
Duval Barrel and Junk Co. By 1927 the City Directory listed two separate business
enterprises, one Duval Bottle and Can Supply at 515-25 Davis Street and the other
The Bottle and Can Supply co. at 1104 Davis Street with Max Safer as President,
Ben Witten, Vice President and M. Cohen, Secretary and Treasurer. The business
continued to grow and eventually was renamed Duval Barrel Co. and relocated to
Myrtle Avenue By this time Mendel's son Joe P entered the business. The
expansion of the business with Joe P. as President made another name change
necessary, this time to Duval Container Co. After Mendel retired from the active
business Joe P. was joined by his cousin Jose Talpalar, son of Max and Chana.

With the members of the family relocating to Springfield first Jacob and Ida and
then Harry and Fanny, Mendel and Fredel bought a duplex on Laura Street. The
year was 1926. It was this year that Mendel's oldest brother who was also Fredel's
father finally reached Jacksonville and at last the entire family was reunited.
Bencion, Sara Sheva and their youngest son Hyman moved in with Mendel and
Fredel and their children.

In 1927 Joe P. now thirteen celebrated his Bar Mitzvah at the Congregation
Keneses Israel Synagogue at Fourth and Pearl Streets. This is the synagogue found
by his Uncle Jacob and his other uncle Benjamin was the Rabbi. It was this same
year that Bencion died at Mendel's home and the following year Mendel and
Fredel's oldest daughter Ida Gertrude died at the age of fifteen

The Briss of Joe P. Safer, 1914

from left to right: Eva, Ida Safer, Fannie Safer, Ida Witten, Ida Gertrude Safer,
Sarah Falis and Fredel Safer in the bed

The Briss of Joe P. Safer, 1914
Family in Attendance

I Fan I Sar
Ida W~4n In

F\.''**'S -
lfA.J^ ;A- I

Mendel's oldest daughter Eva married Ben Chepnik whose family was in the
produce business in Jacksonville. Eva was very active in Jewish community
activities and Ben served as Scout Master of Troop 14. They had six children that
included Ethel Rose, Marcus, Barney, Samuel, Shva and Iris. Sheva and Iris now
reside in Israel with their families. In later years Ben and Eva moved to Pittsburgh
where Ben died in 1968. Eva then moved to Baltimore where her children Ethel
Rose and her family as well as Samuel and his family. When Ethel and Morris
Goodmark her husband moved to Orlando, Eva decided to return South as well.
Eva passed away in 1992.

Joseph P. was another of the Safer children named for his grandfather. In fact his
Hebrew name is Yosef Shraga the same as our patriarch. Joe P. was very active in
the youth groups of Jacksonville as a teenager. He was a member of Scout Troop
14. He attended the University of Florida and graduated with a degree in Business.
Unfortunately his graduation took the height of the depression and their were few
jobs available for a business major.

So he turned his sights toward teaching in the public schools. His first assignment
was in Greenwood, Florida in the middle of the Panhandle. Not discouraged, he did
an excellent job and he was rewarded by finding a job a little closer to home in
Callahan. Although at first his father did not want his son to come into the family
business. Mendel felt this was not a job for an educator. But Joe did enter the
business and the business grew beyond Mendel's wildest dreams. Besides his own
business Joe dedicated his life to his second love after his wife Ruth, his children
and family and that was the Jewish Community at large. Joe was one of the
founding fathers of Beth Shalom Synagogue. He worked diligently for the good of
the Jewish Federation and was one of the most influential participants in the
formation of the Jewish Community Alliance. Many honors have been bestowed
upon him both from local organizations including the Brotherhood of Christian and
Jews, as well as national organizations such as Israel Bonds, UJA, JNF and many
more. This book could be filled with his accomplishments but he did it for the good
of others. Our own family is fortunate to have Joe P. because of him, his wife Ruth,
his sister Miriam and his brother-in-law the late Frank Rose that we have been able
to have a family that has gathered together each year for over a quarter of a century
without missing a year. Quite an accomplishment and we can all thank Joe P and
Frank Ruth and Miriam for this. In 1940, Joe P. married Ruth Bograd of
Baltimore, Md and their two sons Howard, a CPA and Donald who owns a Health
Food Store both reside in Nashville with their families.

Miriam, the youngest of Mendel's children probably was the feistiest. She told me
that she would drive her father bonkers after he returned home from a hard day's
labor. One year Mendel was happy to send Fredel to Cuba to visit her mother and
father as long as she took Mickey along with her. Mickey also married a citizen of
Baltimore, Frank Rose. Frank was in the Financial Loan business and was finally
relocated to Miami, Florida. Their three sons Stanley, Alan and Stuart have all led
active lives, Stanley and Alan in the hotel business and Stuart as a business
consultant in the State. Miriam and Frank left Miami and moved to Jacksonville
where Frank joined with Joe P. in the operation of Duval Container Co. Frank and
Mickey like Joe P and Ruth were the driving force in the formation of the Family
Reunion. It was Frank's insistence that the family needed to meet together so that
we would not forget who we were. It was Frank that put the Dibobes I.D. number
to each member of the family and the original chart listing everyone was presented
at the first reunion. Frank passed away in 1994 and he has been sorely missed by
all his kin.

The Family of Sarah and Morris Falis

Sarah the second daughter of Joseph and Hinda was born in Ponevezh in 1879.
She was given the Hebrew name of Cipa. Sarah left home with her sister Ida in
1900 to go to America. Her brothers Jacob, Harry and Mendel and Ida's husband
Max Witten will meet them in New York a month or so after.

By 1905, the family decided to come to Jacksonville and join Benjamin and Freida
Leah. They all left except for Jacob and his wife Ida Bloom who remained in New
York until 1908 when they too made the transfer to Jacksonville. Once the family
reached Jacksonville, Sarah was introduced to Morris Falis and they were married
the following year. There are conflicting stories as to where they met and when
they married, one is they met and married in New York and the other was in
Jacksonville. Which ever is correct is that they did marry in 1906 and opened a dry
goods store at 702 Davis Street. As was typical of the times, the two took up
housekeeping in the back of the store. Morris ran the store until his passing in
1937. Each of his sons were conscripted to work in the store but it was Alex who
eventually took over the business and changed the name to the Star Department
Store after his father passed away. Alex passed away in 1977.

Harry was the first of four sons born to the couple and in the 1920 City Directory he
was listed as a clerk in his parent's store at the tender age of thirteen.


' ~~
~~r .- ~-

Harry, Simon, Alex, Joseph P.

During the early years of their marriage Sarah and Morris frequently moved their
residence. In 1910 now with their two sons Harry and Simon they moved in with
her sister and brother-in-law Ida and Max and their three sons, Louie Ike, and Sam
at 320 Jefferson Street. A year later they moved to 1021 W. Monroe St and it was
this year that their third son Alex was born. In 1913 they again returned to
Jefferson Street this time moving next door to Ida and Max at 316 Jefferson. As
each of the boys reached the age where they could wait on trade they worked at the
family store. Even the youngest brother Joseph who by the way was named for his
paternal grandfather did his apprenticeship in the dry goods business.

By 1932 most of the Jews of LaVilla had relocated mostly to Springfield since the
Congregation B'nai Israel had been incorporated into the new conservative
synagogue the Jacksonville Jewish Center now located at Third and Silver Streets.
The synagogue was directly across the street from Jacob and Ida's home. Morris
and Sarah bought a duplex at 1815 Perry Street and it was here that they would
spend the rest of their lives. Morris died in 1937 at the age of 59 and Sarah passed
away in 1953.

Harry married Celia Engler in 1928 and their daughter Jacqueline was born in 1931.
In 1932 Harry became an agent for the Prudential Insurance Co. in Jacksonville and
Celia was a secretary in the Federal Building. Celia was also an accomplished
musician, playing violin for the Jacksonville Symphony for over forty years.
During the depression with jobs scarce Harry found work at the local Western
Union office. After several years he was made manager of the office. Harry later

joined the Multi-Clean Office of St. Paul Minn. and became their Southern
Representative. Jacqueline married Dr. Sorrell Wolfson. Harry died in 1974 and
Celia in 1989.

After his father's death, Alex took over the responsibility of running the family
business. Although he changed the name of the store it was still located at its
original site on Davis Street. The business was closed after over seventy years in
operation after the death of Alex in 1977. Alex married Rita Zaslow in 1937 and
their two children were Marsha who recently married Melvin Jawitz formerly of
Brooklyn, N.Y. Melvin is a cousin of Mary Friedman Safer of the Benjamin Safer
group. Marvin, Alex's son married Shirley Byrd and they reside in Tampa with
their family.

Simon married Alice Woronow in 1946 and relocated to South Florida. Their
children include Karen who is married to Bruce Roth and Joseph, married to
Cecelia Hornick. Simon passed away in 1986.

Joseph Philip the last of the Falis sons was nicknamed "Nachas" which in Hebrew
means joy. Nachas also worked in the family business but soon got a job with the
Setzer Grocery Chain Stores. After completing his military service during World
War II, Joe went to work for Florida Pipe and Supply a company owned by the
Wolfson family of Jacksonville. Joe married Joan Attmayer and their children
included Michael, Marilyn, and Sarah. Joe died in 1957 and Joan later remarried
Bernie Maron of Jacksonville.

The Family of Harry and Fannie

Harry was the next to the youngest child born in the Dibobes family. Like the rest
of the children little is known about his early childhood. We do know that he and
his younger brother Mendel left their home in Ponevezh in 1899 at the age of
eighteen to go to Johannesburg where his brother Jacob had already immigrated.
Being two years older than Mendel Harry was able to find employment in a clothes
factory where he would be able to learn a trade. When his sisters left for America
from Lithuania, Harry, Mendel, Jacob and their brother-in-law Max Witten also
made the trip to join them in New York.

Harry along with the rest of the family arrived in Jacksonville in 1905. He took up
residence with Benjamin and Freida Leah and immediately got a clerk's job at
Finkelstein's Pawn Shop on West Bay Street. In 1908 Harry married Fannie Rosen
and the following year he opened a shoe store on Davis Street not to far from the
Falis's store. In 1909, Harry and Fannie's first child, a daughter, Annie was born.
As was the custom, Annie was named for her paternal grandmother Chana Sofer
Dibobes. In fact all of Harry's children were named for his father and grandparents.
His next child was Benjamin who was named for Joseph Shraga's father and then
the next two children Josephine and Joseph G were both named in memory of
Joseph Shraga.

The Briss of Joseph G
November 30, 1914

The family members attending the Briss was #1 Benjamin who was also the Mohl,
#2 Max Witten, #3 Harry, #4 Jacob, #5 Mendel. The other gentlemen were not

By 1912 after the birth of Josephine, Harry and his family moved to 1103 W. Duval
Street only a couple of blocks down the street from the rest of the family.

By 1916 Harry's shoe business was enlarging and he decided to utilize the trade he
learned while in South Africa so he added a Tailor shop to the store. According to
members of the family, Harry was considered one of the finest tailors in

The Women at the Briss of Joseph G.

Most of the women in the picture could not be identified. On the first row left is
Ida Witten; the second row the second from the left is Sarah Falis; Fannie is in the
bed and next to her on the third row is Ida Safer. This was the bedroom at 1103
Davis Street.

It was typical at least in this family of seven brothers and sisters that when a niece
or nephew was old enough to work most of them could find a job after school at
one of the businesses. David Safer son of Benjamin went to work in his Uncle
Harry's shoe store. David is no slouch as a business man but Uncle Harry out did
him. Harry would offer his star salesman spiff money(a little extra on the side)if he
could sell off the old merchandise that was out of style or the wrong color.
Naturally David took advantage of the idea of extra money and always tried to push
the merchandise that would bring him the greatest return. J.V. another son of
Benjamin remembers his Uncle Harry as a regular guy that Americanized very
quickly. J.V. said Harry always wore the best of clothes and during the off hours
when he wasn't in the shop, he loved to fish. After many years of success in both
the shoe as well as the tailor shop, Harry followed his brother Jacob into investing
in Real Estate.

In 1925 Harry became the second Safer family to leave LaVilla when he and Fannie
bought a home in Springfield on Silver Street just a few doors away from his
brother Jacob. Their home at 1346 Silver was where Fannie and Harry spent their
latter years. Harry passed away in 1947 at the age of 66 and Fannie died in 1952.

Annie and Josephine remained single both working in office management for
various companies in Jacksonville. Annie excelled in typing. In her first year as a
student at Florida Business College she won the novice typing championship and
the State Accuracy title by typing 73 net words a minute with only two errors. For
her effort she received a trip to California and represented Florida in an
international typing contest. Josephine also did secretarial work and she passed
away in 1981.

Benjamin married Mary Leibowitz of Jacksonville and their two daughters are
Carole and Arlene. Carole is married to Charles Cherry formerly of Jacksonville.
Ben was an executive for Florida Pipe and Supply and he and Mary reside in

Joe G. the youngest of the family entered the military during World World II and
remained in the service till his retirement. He is married to Loretta Ludlam and
they also have two daughters, JoAnne and Kathryn. Joe and Loretta are living in

The Safer, Witten, and Falis Chronology
From 1902 to 1940

Rev. Benjamin Safer was the first of the family to arrive in Jacksonville in 1902
accepting the position as Rabbi, Mohl, Shachet, for the Orthodox Jewish
community. The following data is the chronology of the family as they arrived in
Jacksonville listing their residences and their businesses. This information was
compiled from the Jacksonville City Directories from the year 1902 until 1940 and
covers both the first and second generations of the Safer, Falis and Witten families
in Jacksonville.


Congregation B'nai Israel met at the Masonic Temple on Broad Street. The
following were listed as the administrators of the Congregation
Benjamin Saffer Rabbi (note spelling of last name)
Max Frank President
I.H. Pelton Vice President
Frank Bandel Treasurer


Freida Leah Safer, ,wife of Benjamin arrives in Jacksonville with Bluma, Jacob,
Max J.(Makey) and Eddie.


Congregation B'nai Israel
Benjamin Saffer Rabbi
H. Hammerman President
M. Wexler Vice President
I.H. Pelton Treasurer
H. Goldman Secretary
Rabbi Benjamin Safer and his family resides at 632 W. Adams Street


Rabbi Benjamin Saffer and family now resides at 1207 W. Adams Street.
Harry Saffer is a clerk at Finkelstein's, 601 W. Bay Street and lives with brother
Benjamin and family at 1207 W. Adams St.


Morris and Sarah Falls is operating a dry goods store at 712 Davis Street and also
resides at the same address.
Max Mendel Saffer is a clerk and resides at 315 Bridge Street.
In 1907, the American Jewish Yearbook published by Jewish Publication Society of
America, Henrietta Zold publisher, list the following information concerning B'nai
Israel Congregation:
Benjamin Saffer Cantor
Isaac Davis President
Morris Glickstein Treasurer
H. Bandell Secretary
The congregation had 75 member families with assets of $1200.00. It conducted
daily services, had a cheddar with 1 teacher and 30 pupils.


B'nai Israel Congregation establishes a Jewish cemetery on Rock Road.


Jacob Safer* runs Safer's Delicatessen and groceries at 703-05 W. Adams St and
resides at 1028 W. Monroe St with his wife and children Celia and Moe.. Harry
Safer is a clerk at Finkelstein's and resides with brother Jacob at 1028 W. Monroe
St. Benjamin Safer has moved and now resides with his family at 352 Madison St.
(*The Safer brothers have now changed their names by dropping one of the fs and
spells the name Safer)


Congregation B'nai Israel had completed its synagogue at 701 W. Duval Street.
Benjamin Safer is still serving as Rabbi of the Congregation but has opened Safer's
Kosher Market at 609 W. Adams St. and now resides at 831 W. Duval St.
Harry and Fannie Safer have opened a shoe store at 720 Davis St. and they reside at
the same address. Max Mendel Safer has also opened a shoe store at 814 Davis St.
and he and his wife Ethel Baker and daughter Eva live at the same address. Sarah
and Morris Falis now operates a clothing store at 702 Davis St. and have moved
into an apartment with her sister and brother-in-law Ida and Max Witten. Ida and
Max are living at 320 Jefferson St and Max is also a clerk at Finkelstein's. This
same year nephew Louis and niece Fredel have arrived from Lithuania and moved
in with their Aunt and Uncle Ida and Max Witten. Louis becomes a clerk at


Harry and Fannie move into 1028 W. Monroe St. the former residence of brother
Jacob. Sarah and Morris now lives at 1021 W. Monroe St.


Congregation B'nai Israel hires Rev. J. B. Menkes as its Rabbi. Benjamin and
family has moved to 1229 W. Monroe St. Harry and Fannie now lives at 1103 W.
Duval St. and Jacob and Ida lives at 763 W. Duval St. Max Mendel's wife Ethel
died the previous year and Mendel marries his niece Fredel in Rhode Island. The
two moves in with his sister Ida and her husband Max at 320 Jefferson St. Their
nephew Louis still lives in the apartment along with Ida's three sons Louie, Ike and
(Joseph Shraga Dibobes dies in Ponevezh, Lithuania)

Sarah and Morris have moved to 316 Jefferson St. and Mendel and Fredel move in
with them. Ida and Max Witten are now running Standard Bottle Works at their
residence at 320 Jefferson St.


Congregation B'nai Israel hires Rev. A. H. Zeligsohn as Rabbi. Benjamin moves
the kosher market to 825 W. Adams St. Nephew Louis has married Marsha Kwart.
Louis still is working at Finkelstein's


Louis and Marsha live at 21 E. Union St.


Harry has now opened a tailor shop at 720 Davis St. J.V. the eldest son of
Benjamin becomes a clerk for Laser Klepper. Louis and Marsha have moved to
617 Hogan St. Mendel moves his shoe store to 1003 Davis St and now resides at
311 Jefferson St. with Fredel and children Ida, Joe P. and Miriam.


Benjamin has again been appointed as Rabbi of Congregation B'nai Israel and has
combined his kosher market in with Jacob and the delicatessen at 703 W. Adams St.
J. V. has become a clerk at Red Cross Pharmacy. Mendel again moves his shoe
store to 839 Kings Road and is now living with his family at 711 W. Duval St.


Benjamin and Freida Leah and their twelve children have move to 414 Jefferson St.
which is next to the synagogue on the Jefferson St. side. Eddie, Benjamin's son is
now clerking at Finkelstein's Mendel and Ben Witten brother of Max Witten opens
Southern Barrel and Bottle co. at 1556 Kings Rd. and Mendel now resides at 312
Jefferson St. Louis and Marsha have moved into 316 Jefferson St.


Congregation B'nai Israel hires a new Rabbi for one year Rev. Salostein. Benjamin
and Jacob move the market and delicatessen to 127 Broad St.


Benjamin is reappointed Rabbi of B'nai Israel. Harry the eldest son of Sarah and
Morris joins the family business as a clerk. J.V. is now a pharmacist for J.E.
Wilson. Mendel and Ben Witten now open Jax Auto Parts at 515 Davis St. Louis,
eldest son of Ida and Max becomes a clerk for his Uncle Harry in his tailor shop.
Harry and Fannie have now moved to 1036 W. Monroe St.


Benjamin's twin sons Abba and Israel enter into the business, Israel working in the
delicatessen and Abba in the market. Ike, Ida and Max's second son is listed as a
stenographer. Mendel and Ben Witten have now opened Duval Barrel and Junk at
515 Davis St. and Mendel has now move his family to 751 Duval St. Max and Ida
are still living at 320 Jefferson St. and Max has now become a cattleman.


Israel is now a clerk for J. Goldstein while J. V. is running Reyno Pharmacy on
Davis St. Louis and Marsha have moved to 742 W. Duval St. Makey who has
been working in the kosher market since 1910 is now listed as employed in his
father's business. Jacob and Ida and their family are the first of the family to leave
LaVilla when he buys a home in Springfield at 149 W. 3rd St. He has left the
delicatessen business and is now listed as dealing in the real estate market. Mendel
and Fredel have moved again to 703 W. Duval St. next to the synagogue. On
June 5th Jacob along with his family break with Congregation B'nai Israel because
his brother Benjamin is again removed as Rabbi of the congregation. So Jacob and
some of the congregation form Congregation Keneses Israel. The first service was
held on Shavot at Jacob's home on W. 3rd Street. with Benjamin serving as Rabbi
of the new congregation.


Congregation B'nai Israel hires C. A. Press as its Rabbi. Sarah and Morris Falis
moves to 753 W. Duval St. Benjamin, Freida Leah and eleven of the twelve
children move to the big Colonial Style home at 725 W. Monroe St. Their eldest
daughter Bluma had married Abe Haimowitz and was living in Orlando. J. V. Safer
is manager of Standard Drug Co.
Max Mendel and Fredel with their 3 children move into the former residence of
brother Jacob at 763 W. Duval St. Louis and Marsha moves into the former
residence of his Uncle Benjamin at 414 Jefferson St. Ike Witten worked as a
stenographer for PRG Sjostrom.


Benjamin moves the Kosher Market and Delicatessen back to 703 W. Adams Street
from 127 Broad St.
Harry and Fannie move to 1736 Silver Street in Springfield. Israel is now a clerk
for I. Goldstein and his brother Eddie is now a clerk at Finkelstein's Luggage Shop.
Ike Witten becomes a clerk for Annie Biscow his future mother-in-law at the Bell
Department Store and his older brother Louie is now registered as a musician at the
Imperial Theater on Forsyth St.


Congregation B'nai Israel rehires Benjamin as Rabbi. Ike and his cousin Gert
Biscow are married and moves to 638 W. Monroe St. Harry Falis is now a clerk for
the Western Union while his brother Simon is working at his parents department
store on Davis St. Moe Safer son of Jacob is listed as a student at the University of
Florida and his cousin J.V. is completing his pre-med studies at Gainesville. J.V.
also becomes a charter member and a founder of the TEP fraternity at Florida.


Harry and Fannie moves to 1522 Silver St. Max Mendel and Fredel also relocates
to Springfield buying a duplex at 2262 Laura St. Max Witten, still living at 320
Jefferson St., is now doing business as a Real Estate Broker. Ben Zion the eldest
brother of the family and his wife Sara Sheva are able to leave Cuba and arrive in
Jacksonville. Ben Zion is not in the best of health and he, Sheva and their youngest
son Hyman move in with Max Mendel and Fredel who is also their oldest daughter.
Annie the eldest daughter of Harry and Sam the son of Ida and Max are listed as


Benjamin again becomes Rabbi at Knesses Israel now located at 1553 Pearl St. His
nephew Joe P. son of Max Mendel has his bar mitzvah at Knesses Israel. Harry
Falis returns to work in his parents business while brother Simon becomes manager
of Universal Film Exchange. Celia, daughter of Jacob is a typist for the Internal
Revenue Service. Perry, a son of Benjamin is running a confectionery store at 715
W. Adams St. while his brother David is his clerk. Benjamin the son of Harry is
now listed as a student. Ike and Gert move to 2055 College St. and his brother
Louie is clerking for him at the Bell Department Store. Max Mendel and Ben
Witten's business is now listed as Duval Bottle and Can Co. with Max Mendel as
president, Ben Witten, vice president, and M. Cohen, secretary and treasurer.
Ben Zion the eldest brother passes away at the age of 64.


Ida and Max finally move from Jefferson St and relocate to 2051 College St. in
Riverside where they will remain the rest of their lives. Max Mendel sells the bottle
and can co. to Mayer Cohen and reopens with his long time partner Ben Witten
under the name of Duval Barrel and Junk at 515 Davis St.
Congregation B'nai Israel purchases property at 205 W. 3rd St in Springfield and
hires Rev. Samuel Benjamin as Rabbi. Louie Witten moves into his parent's home
at 2051 College St.


David becomes a clerk for his father Benjamin at the kosher market and
delicatessen. Louie moves back to 738 Monroe St, his brother Sam opens his
dentist office at 206 W. Forsyth St. Room 30. Congregation B'nai Israel is listed at
both the Duval St. address as well as at 3rd and Silver Sts.

Nothing is reported relating to members of the family.


Morris and his son Harry changes the name of their store on Davis St to F & F
Department Store and Harry's brother Alex joins the business and is listed as a clerk
in the store. Benjamin is again appointed Rabbi of Congregation B'nai Israel.
Annie the daughter of Harry is a stenographer for the IRS. Faye, the daughter of
Jacob is now listed as a college student. Hyman is a salesman and Ida, the daughter
of Benjamin is a bookkeeper for her father at the kosher market. Moe opens his law
office in Jacksonville and Sam moves his dental practice to 117 W. Duval St.
Room. 424.


Bessie Levin Safer the wife of Hyman is a salesperson for French Novelty Shop run
by the Mizrahi family while Hyman is a clerk for Setzer's Groceries. The kosher
market and delicatessen become known as Safer Bros. Kosher and Market and
Delicatessen and move to 614 W. Adams St. where it will remain until the 1950's
when it relocates to 1501 San Marco in the Southside. David is now working for
Denmark Produce Co. Joe G, the youngest son of Harry is now a college student
and his sister Josephine is a stenographer for Peters Cartridge Co. Moe opens a
law office at 108 W. Forsyth St. Room 625. Perry becomes a clerk at the kosher
market. Jean Stein Witten, wife of Sam is a private secretary for South East Toro
Co. and the two now live at 2737 College St. Harry has entered the Real Estate
market like his brother Jacob and brother-in-law Max Witten.
Louie has opened a dry goods store at 902 Davis St.


Sarah and Morris leaves La Villa and moves near the rest of the family in
Springfield at 2015 Perry St. Their son Harry has joined the Prudential Insurance
Co. as an agent. Benjamin and Freida Leah also relocates to Springfield moving to
1756 Pearl St. and is still listed as Rabbi for the Jacksonville Jewish Center at 3rd
and Silver Sts. Faye has become a teacher at Fishweir Elementary School and her
cousin Josephine is a secretary for the Hajoca Corp. Pearl Weiss Safer, the wife of
Perry is a secretary for her brother Harry Katz at his law office. Perry and Pearl
live at 2223 College St. Apt. 4. Perry has become a clerk at the Setzer Grocery
Store and Hyman is now a manager of one of the Setzer stores.


Harry Falis becomes a salesman for the Setzer Store #5. Jacob has ventured into a
new business after over 12 years away from the delicatessen. The business is listed
as Nation Dye Works. Rubye, Moe's wife is also employed by Setzer's Stores. Ike
and Gert open Witten's Smart Shop on Main St. Louie and Rose Witten are still
running a dry goods store at 902 Davis St. and live at 1113 Gilmore St. Sam and
Jean have moved to 2829 Hershell St. Apt. 13.


Safer Bros. Kosher Market and Delicatessen is now being run by Abba and David.
Their brother J.V. returns to Jacksonville after graduating from Medical School at
the University of Maryland and opens his practice at 117 W. Duval St. Room 449.
Perry becomes an assistant jailer for the Duval Co. Sheriffs Dept, Rex Sweat
Sheriff. Harry Falis is now a clerk for the Western Union. Joe P. Safer is a student
at the University of Florida. Abba and Eunice and David and Sally now reside at
1115 Gilmore St. and Josephine is a clerk for the U.S. Engineers.


Joe Falis the youngest of the Falis brothers becomes a clerk in the family business
on Davis St. Abba and Eunice move to 126 1/2 W 6th St. Apt. 2. and David and
Sally now live at 2842 Park St. Apt. 1. Hyman is now selling electrical supplies at
321 W. Duval St. Dr. J. V. now resides at 348 W. 6th St. Louie and Rose have
moved to 2922 Selma St.


Celia Falis, wife of Harry is a typist for the U. S. Treasury. David and Sally have
relocated to 2891 Selma St. Rose, the daughter of Jacob is a teacher at
Mattie V. Rutherford Elementary School in Springfield. Makey and Mary and son
Edwin returns from Orlando to join Abba in the operation of Safer's Kosher
Market. They are now living at 2704 Dellwood Ave.


Alex Falis is now running the family business and changes the name to the Star
Department Store. Joe Falis is now working for the Setzer Stores. Benjamin and
Freida Leah along with Doll, Joe and Pearl move into 1905 Silver St. Joe P. is
listed as a teacher before entering into his father's business. Pearl, the youngest
daughter of Benjamin is a clerk at the Grand Department Store. Sam and Jean now
reside at 2632 College St.


Harry Falis has become manager at the Western Union while his brother Joe is
employed at Florida Pipe and Supply Co. owned by the Wolfson family. Max
Witten is listed as the proprietor of Witten's Dairy on Edgewood Avenue.
In 1939 the War begins in Europe and the families of the original seven brothers
and sisters are increasing in number. This chronology covers over a third of a
century of the family history in Jacksonville. The information in these pages was
gleaned from the Registry of the City of Jacksonville. The names of family
members not mentioned was not intentional but was do to the fact that they were
not listed.

E1i.m---- -


The 50th Anniversary of Benjamin and Freida Leah
November, 1946

kc. *

Seated left: Eddie, Bluma, Benjamin, Freida Leah, Jacob, Mackey
Second Row: Israel, Abba
Third Row: David, Ethel, Perry, Pearl, Joe, Ida

Front Row: Larry Goldberg, Barbara Rabin, Marilyn Wolfson, Sandra Weiss, Maxine Goldberg, Irwin Safer,
Linda Bressler, Gail Greenfield, Marsha Fish, Cynthia Goldring, Sollie Safer
Second Row: Henry Davis, Jane Kirshenbaum, Marlene Bossen, Susan Signer
Third Row: Ethel (Doll) Davis, Eddie Safer, Bluma Haimowitz, Benjamin, Freida Leah, Jacob V Safer
Makey Safer,Ida Goldberg, Pearl Kramer
Fourth Row: Sally Safer, Michael Safer, David Safer, David Davis, Abe Haimowitz, Abba Safer,
Gertrude Cooper, Mosie Cooper, Israel Safer, Gertrude Safer, Mary Safer, Edwin Safer
Fifth Row: Perry Safer, Pearl Safer, Sarah Safer, Eunice Safer, Joe Safer, Irvin Kramer, Dewey Goldberg
(Not born grandchildren: Elanor Safer, Sheilia Baruch, Sherie Warsaw)

Family Photos of The Family of Benjamin and Freida Leah

Front Row: Mouser, the Cat, Sollie Safer, Sandra Weiss, Larry Goldberg
Back Row: Marilyn Wolfson, Marlene Bossen, Barbara Rabin, Maxine Goldberg, Linda Bressler, Cynthia Goldring
(Picture taken in 1942 by Cousin Edwin Safer, at 1905 Silver Street)

The Son-In- Laws The Daughters

Dewey Goldberg, David Davis, Irvin Kramer, Abe Haimowitz Ida Goldberg, Pearl Kramer, Bluma Haimowitz,
Doll Davis

1 4**
. ~ ~ ~ .? "- ^ ^ ^it

Benjamin on Steam Ship in Haifa, Israel, June, 1926

Bena i

Benjamin prepares for Briss "Next"

Freida Leah and son Dr. J.V., 1957

Society Page, 1912, Ida Witten, Mendel and Fredel Safer

By the Beautiful Sea

w Ie~

Ida Witten, Bluma Safer Haimowitz
and Freida Leah Safer

Ida Witten and Fredel Safer

Passover Safer Family Style

Seder at Benjamin and Freida Leah's, 1944 Other half of group not in picture
Seder at Benjamin and Freida Leah's, 1944 Other half of group not in picture

Passover Preparation at the Frank Rose Home, Miami, 1960

The Rose Family from left: Frank, Stuart, Alan, Stanley, and Mickey

The Wedding of Ina Witten and Larry Richter, 1954

Standing left to right: Mr. & Mrs Witten, Mr. & Mrs Richter, Fredel and Max Safer
Sophie and Joe Witten, Harriet Witten Seldes, Louie and Rose Witten, Gert and Ike Witten
Seated left to right: Sam and Jean Witten, Ina and Larry Richter, Barbara Witten Glickstein, Paul Witten,
Carole Dwoskin Witten

Ida and Max Witten in their Retirement Years

On The Streets

Where The

Families Lived

The Homes of Benjamin and Freida Leah

831 W. Duval Street

725 W. Monroe Street

1556 Pearl Street 1905 Silver Street

The Homes of Jacob and Ida

1029 W. Monroe Street

763 W. Duval Street

149 West Third Street

The Homes of Ida and Max

320 Jefferson Street

2051 College Street

The Homes of Sarah and Morris

1021 West Monroe Street

316 Jefferson Street

753 West Duval Street

IR~kllliL~~~~ ~1

1815 Perry Street

The Home of Harry and Fannie

1346 Silver Street

The Homes of Mendel and Fredel

751 West Duval Street

2062 Laura Street

Jewish Places of Interest in Jacksonville in Early 1900's

Benjamin and Jacob's Store at 127 Broad Street

-- japr ~ _L~-r
B'nai Israel Synagogue at Jefferson and
Duval Streets. House to right 414 Jefferson
One of the homes of Benajmin & Freida Leah

Y.M.H.A. located on Duval Street across from B'nai Isreal

Keneset Israel Synagogue at 4th and
Pearl St founded by Jacob with Benjamin
as Rabbi, 1922

Abe Weiss opened a Jewish Bakery in Jacksonville
in the early 1930's. First location on Madison St.
Building was owned by Jacob Safer.


Workman's Circle located at Duval and Madison Sts.
A Jewish Loan Society for the new Jewish Immigrants coming
to Jacksonville who needed financial support to survive. Jacob
Safer was instrumental in the formation and continuation of this


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