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  • Writer's pictureJessica Feinstein

Chiena (Annie) from Novogrud

Updated: Apr 27, 2022

I know very little about Annie, who was Ari’s 4x great-grandmother. She was born in about 1850 in Lithuania, and must have died before 30 July 1909, when her husband Movsha Nison Gurvich married Annie’s younger sister, Khana Beila. (He was 64 at the time and she was 50. The marriage record shows that she was from Novogrud, but I am not sure which town this is as there are several with this name, and none that seem to be anywhere near Vilnius.)

The record shows that the father of Annie and Khana was called Yokhono, but I don’t know if Khana Beila was a widow at the time of the marriage, so can’t be sure who the surname Tzimerman belongs to.

The original marriage record (No. 277) in Russian and Hebrew.

Annie must have married Movsha in about 1868. I have not found records for the births of their children in Svencionys (Svintsyan). Leja or Leah was born in 1870, Gittel (Gertrude) in 1872, Leib Koppel (Louis) in 1873, Sorel (Sara) in 1877, and Chasia (Charlotte) in 1881.

The children all went to South Africa except for Leah, who married Moshe Michelson and was killed in the Holocaust, along with at least three of her children. A Page of Testimony was submitted to Yad Vashem by her grandson:

“The Svintsyan Ghetto was finally completely liquidated in April 1943, when remaining Jews were packed into boxcars and told they were being relocated to Kovno. The train stopped instead at Ponary, the site of the mass slaughter of Jews from Vilna. At least one of the guards opened the door of a car and told the occupants to run, but then guards shot at the fleeing Jews. Only a handful made it to the forests.” (

See more about Leah here.

I looked at the records for Annie’s children, to see if they give us any more information. Her second daughter, Gittel, married Morris Wainstein and died in Johannesburg in 1953. Her death record just says “Deceased” in the space for her parents’ names. Louis’ death record gives her name as Ann. Sorel married Ephraim Sheinuk in Lithuania, and died in Johannesburg in 1945. Her death record gives her mother’s name as Chienne.

The fact that Leah named after first daughter Chiena in 1898 suggests that Annie had died before that date. Sara also named a daughter Chejene in 1906.

The name is a variant of Khane, pronounced almost like Hannah.

I hope to discover some records for Annie and her parents one day!

Ari, this is how you are related to Annie:

Update 27 April 2022: I now know that Annie's sister was a widow, so Tzimerman was her husband's name and not Annie's surname. Working on a theory that Novogrud is now Navahrudak in Minsk, Belarus.

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