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ALEXANDER TISH'S "AUTOBIOGRAPHY"

 

 

 

Alex Tish (n Eliasz Tyszkowski), 1897-1998

 

 

AUTOBIOGRAPHY

 

 

My parents were born in Poland of Ashkenazic Jews who lived there for centuries.

 

Boruch Ick Bejnsztejn

(1835-1910)

Dayan of Radzilow

 
   

My mother was born in Radzilow, Poland, in 1874, and her father was a famous dayan, Boruch Itzchok Beinstock.1 She had several brothers, torah scribes (sforim) and one step-sister Dora Cash.

 

My mother was married in 1896 to my father, Max (Mordechai), who was born in the town of Jedwabne in 1870. This town is 21 kilometers from the city of Lomza, Poland, and was founded in 1455. In 1494, it had 20 families and, in 1910, 2,929 inhabitants.

 

See maps of the region (coming soon)

 

It should be noted that the Jewish population of East Poland, prior to World War II was 2,750,000. At present, the population has dwindled to 35,000. The Poles are a Slavic people, who first established a kingdom in 963 AD and 90% are Catholic.

 

My father served in the Russian Army for 4 years, prior to his marriage, and his father's name was Meyer Chaim Tishkofsky, who had 3 sons, my father Max, Daniel and Morris (Moshe), and one daughter, Zelda.2

 

My father remembers he had a grandfather who lived to be 103 years. When my father was 15 years of age, he recalls his grandfather telling him he met Napoleon Bonaparte on his famous march through Poland on his way to Moscow, and showed him the direction in which to go to Warsaw.3

 

 

Alex's uncle Dawid Tyszkowski (Daniel Tiskofsky) and his family, who preceded his parents to London, in 1900-1901

   

I was born in Jedwabne on April 12, 18984 and was brought to London, England, in 1900, when I was 2 years old and my brother Sol was 1 year old. Having a brother in England, a clothing manufacturer, my father came to London, hoping to go into the same business.5

 

My first recollection of London was when I witnessed, in 1901, the funeral procession of Queen Victoria, who ruled England for 63 years.

 

In 1903, I entered Lower Chapman Grammar School in the East End of London, at age 6, and continued in attendance at this school until June 1909, when I graduated from the 7th Standard (grade).

 

In June 1907, I was awarded a present of "Captain Cook's Voyages" by the London County Council for the best handwriting in the school. Our grandson, Steven, still has this book in his library.

 

Alex's parents Max & Fannie Tish

(Mortchaj Tyszkowski &

Chaja Fejga Bejnsztejn)

 
   

My father was not happy with his tailoring work in London, and so, in 1907, he left for New York City, leaving his family behind. In New York City, he contacted cousins of his,6 and soon found employment as a tailor and finisher of men's clothing for a large clothing manufacturer.

 

On August 4, 1909, he sent for his family, and we landed in New York City on the East Side in a tenement house at #5 Hester Street, a street full of pushcarts and peddlers.

 

See the family's immigration listings on the Ellis Island database

 

I enrolled at PS 75 Grammar School, Norfolk & Hester Sts., then went of Educational Alliance and, finally, to PS 62, from which I graduated in June 1912.

 

1

In fact, this was the dayan Boruch Ick Bejnsztejn (1835-1910).

2 There was actually another sister, called Nechama, who descendants live in Israel.

3

The location of Jedwabne in relation to Moscow and Warsaw makes this a highly unlikely story. If Napoleon was marching to Moscow, travelling north-east, by the time his army reached the Jedwabne area, Warsaw would be to his south-west, and many miles from his route to Moscow. If the event occurred in or around Jedwabne, it is more likely to have occurred on Napoleon's subsequent retreat from Russia, the route of which is known to have passed through towns relatively close to the west of Jedwabne and Szczyczyn.

4

He was actually born in April 1897 in Radzilow. Although it seems absurd these days not to know one's own date or place of birth, many people in bygone times did not know such precise details about their early lives, as there was no reason to do so.

5 Actually, there is evidence to suggest that Max and his brother, Daniel, arrived in London together in May 1899.

6

This was probably the Raczkowski family.

 

Autobiography donated by the late Franklin Tish. Published by permission of Raphael Tish. Photos from the Jedwabne Yizkor Book, donated by Jos Gutstein.

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