Porozovans Abroad


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Joseph Levy's Passport Application


Joseph Levy was born in Porozow in February 1863, and he emigrated to the United States via Canada in January, 1883. Between then and the year 1923, when he applied for a passport, he lived in both New York and San Francisco, working as a merchant. He was naturalized as an American citizen in 1888 before the Superior Court of the City of New York. In 1923, he applied for a passport in order to visit Palestine, Switzerland and Germany.


The Department of State issued Joseph a passport on 29 March 1923, but only after he signed an affidavit affirming that he would not "solicit or advertise for money to be used in bringing immigrants or aid any emigrant, other than members of my immediate family, to come to the United States." His original application can be seen at right. Click the thumbnail images to enlarge.

Sam Navitzky's Parents' Dream


Sam Navitzky had been living in the U.S. for 16 years before he returned to Poland. Born in Porozow on 15 September 1887, he had emigrated to America via Bremen in 1905 and had naturalized as an American citizen in 1912. He worked in a laundry on 52nd Street in Manhattan, and applied for travel documents to visit not only Poland, but also France, the British Isles and Switzerland.


One of the goals of Sam's trip was clearly to bring his parents back to America. His passport application included a translation of a letter they wrote him from Porozow in March, 1921. The letter read:

We received the two thousand marks you sent us and it came in the proper time. We envy parents that are able to get away from this country and would like you to come see us and take us both back with you as your being an American citizen will make travel easier for us.


The goal was accomplished, and Sam's parents, Gershon and Dobra emigrated to the United States in 1922.

Moshe Chaim Chmielnicki - Later Morris Hyman


Rabbi Geoffrey Hyman, currently the rabbi of London's Ilford United Synagogue, is a son of Porozow through his great-grandfather Moshe Chaim Chmielnicki, who became Morris Hyman after arriving in Belfast; his brother Kushel, who also settled there, changed the surname to Malinsky. Both were brothers of Michel Chmielnitski of Tishbi wine fame. Their father, Simcha, later joined Michel in Zichron Yaakov, Israel, and his matzeva is pictured at right.


In 2015, descendants of Sara Chmielnicki of Porozow in Liverpool, England, with help from the late Rabbi Avraham Goldberg, discovered the children of cousins their mother had assumed had perished in the Holocaust. This article tells the inspiring story.


The Shawzins of South Africa


Mowszo Szewin, son of Chono (Elchanan) - later Morris Shawsin - was a Porozow native born about 1861. On 18 Jan 1887, he married Bejla Finkelstein of Rajgrod and relocated there. Some time afterward, the family - which by then included at least three children - emigrated to what was then Southern Rhodesia. According to Victor Stone, his great-nephew by marriage, the family subsequently moved to South Africa, where Morris was a successful businessman. Other family members also made the voyage to Africa, some using the spelling Shawzin and others Shawsin. Morris himself died on a visit to England in 1914. The inscription on his tombstone translates as follows: "One of the honored men of Bialystok, amazingly learned, a lover of Zion, generous and with a gentle soul, our friend Moshe ben Reb Elhanan Shawzin, husband of Mrs Beila, daughter of Reb Yehezkel, was gathered to his forefathers at the age of 52 on the 24th day of the month of Tammuz in the year 5674. May his soul be bound up in everlasting life."

U.S. World War II Draft Registrations - The "Old Man's Draft"

After the U.S. entered World War II in December, 1941, a new selective service act required that all men between ages 18 and 65 register for the draft. Between November 1940 and October 1946, more than 10 million American men were registered. The draft records are not publicly available due to privacy laws except for the Fourth Registration, often referred to as the "old man's draft," which was conducted on 27 April 1942 and registered men born on or between 28 April 1877 and 16 February 1897 - men who were between 45 and 64 years old - and who were not already in the military. Three such men - Sam Berko Kam, Joseph Fine and Harry Lukas - named Porozow as their place of birth; their cards are pictured on this page.

A Union of Two Porozow Families - in America

When Jacob Leschinsky and Annie Feldman married in New York in 1916, it was a joining of two Porozow families more than 4,300 miles from their native town. Jakob was the son of son of Shlomo (ben Azriel) Leschinsky, whose family had been in Porozow for several generations; Azriel's father, also named Shlomo, had been born there in 1795. Annie's family had gone by the surname Felman in Porozow but had added a "d" after they emigrated. The daughters of Khaim-Leizer Felman and his wife, ne Solnitzky, Annie (Chana) and her three sisters all emigrated to the U.S.

Left: Shlomo Leschinsky and daughter Elke. The photo was taken in Porozow some time in the 1920s. Right: Marriage certificate of Jacob Leschinsky and Annie (Chana) Feldman. They were wed at 442 E. 121st Street in Manhattan on 17 December 1916.

Charlie Snyder's Declaration of Intention

Charlie Snyder was born in Porozow on 26 April 1885, and emigrated to the United States in 1906, probably with his wife Lena (Liebe). His last residence in Europe was in Bialystok, Poland, and he eventually made his way to Akron, Ohio, but not before the couple had two children in New York. Five feet seven inches tall and weighing 165 pounds, Charlie was a laborer who filed a Declaration of Intention to become a U.S. citizen, pictured at right, in 1919.

Rubin Amiel Registers for World Wars I, II

Rubin Amiel, born in Porozow on 15 January 1892, emigrated to the United States in 1912 and married a woman named Bertha Eingold, also from Russia and four years his junior. They settled in the Bronx where he found work as a bookbinder, and had at least two children. Because of his age, Rubin was forced to register for the draft twice. Once, in 1917, for World War I, and the second time in the 1942 "old man's draft" for World War II. There is no evidence he ever served in the military, however.

2004-2020  Scott D. Seligman