HomeFeaturesConnecting two sisters through their great-great-grandsons

Connecting two sisters through their great-great-grandsons

By GERRY POSNER I am guessing there are two women somewhere who had a moment of joy recently. The two women I speak of are my grandmother, Anna Shulman, and her sister, Minnie Wolfe. They are, of course, long gone. But recently, on a cold day in Waterloo, Ontario, they came to life – if only for a couple hours.
By a matter of luck or perhaps by some other force not visible to me, the two women have been close to one another for several months now. As it turns out, both of these women, born as Minnie and Anna Markovitz in Belarus (then White Russia) in the early 1880s, have great-great-grandsons studying in Waterloo. Zachary Posner is at Wilfred Laurier University and his cousin, Jeremy Chizewer, is at the University of Waterloo.
How did this happen? It was not an accident. Last summer, I chatted by phone with a cousin of mine, a woman who is five months older than me. I have known her for over 75 years. This woman is Linda Chizewer, grandmother to Jeremy. The connection is Linda’s grandmother, Minnie Markovitz Wolf, who was a sister to my grandmother, Anna Markovitz Shulman. To look at it another way, my mother, Rhea Shulman Posner, was a first cousin to Ruth Wolf Silverstein, the mother of Linda. With all of that, what was important was that some four generations removed from the original sisters in the old country, later in Iowa City, Iowa and Chicago, Illinois, their respective great-great-grandsons reunited in Waterloo, Ontario in Canada. I did not realize this turn of events was feasible until my cousin Linda mentioned her grandson would be doing advanced mathematics at the U of Waterloo the next year and I added that my grandson would be at Laurier. It was then a plan was hatched.
My wife and I drove to Waterloo, about an hour away from Toronto in early February. The fact that we met in Waterloo was in itself a telling sign. Both of these sisters had relatives in common who lived in Waterloo, only it was Waterloo, Iowa. How coincidental was that fact. After a visit with Zac, now 18, at his dorm, off we went to meet his cousin, a young man of 22, as in Jeremy Chizewer. He had turned down Stanford, Princeton, and other big named colleges to continue in his field of advanced mathematics because of the prominence of the department at Waterloo. I thought he might have selected this university in Waterloo because he could meet his Canadian cousin, but that would be a stretch, even for me.
Zac is in the business program at Laurier. Over a sushi lunch ( something the two sisters Minnie and Anna, could not possibly have envisioned, not even knowing what sushi was) we reviewed the family history and the two women who started the story. In fact, we added another generation as in the mother of these two women: Dina Leah Markovitz. That my sister and Jeremy’s grandmother are both named Linda, named in fact for Dina Leah, is no fluke.
So what to make of this reunion? Initially I thought this time with two boys meeting would only be a satisfying time for me, but I was wrong. The two boys seemed to grasp the historical significance of this rather rare connection of descendants four times removed. And, they hit it off as well. My Baba Anna Shulman and her sister Minnie would have savoured this moment as would have my mother and her first cousin Ruth – with whom she was very close. They were not physically present to do so. My cousin Linda was overjoyed at the meeting as was I ,and so we made up for the absent generations.
One of my sons likes to chide me about searching out family and trying to get answers to all of my questions about our family ancestry. He says even if I had all the answers, how would any of that advance his career? All true, and yet this meeting of descendants of generations past made me sleep better that night.

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