Eleazer (or Lazarus) Loshak was Ari’s 4x great-grandfather. We know he was born in about 1845, somewhere near Gritsev, Ukraine. The date of birth comes from this amazing papercut, handed down in the family and now in my possession, which gives the date of his bar mitzvah in Hebrew.
I found this information by uploading the image to a wonderful resource called ViewMate on the website JewishGen, where you can ask for translations. Rivka Chaya Baddiel kindly sent me this very helpful explanation:
This is a standard decoration showing the direction of ‘East’ – towards which Jews pray. The words around the edge of the semicircle are a verse in Psalms 113:3. “From the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof, the Lord’s name is to be praised” – the word used here for ‘rising’ also means ‘East’ (Mizrach). The word in the center of the semicircle says ‘Mizrach’ – ‘East’.
Below that, the center box says ‘to the year of my splendor’ which is the numerical value of the Jewish year 5619 (1858–1859). The boxes to the right and left read ‘From this side comes the spirit of Life’ – (Ab hac parte spiritus vitae – source: Compendia vocum hebraico-rabbinicarum) often put on ‘Mizrach’ signs, as these four Hebrew words begin with the letters m-z-r-ch, which spell Mizrach in Hebrew.
We know from the marriage certificate of one of his sons that Eleazer was a dealer of some kind, and we know that he and his wife Devorah (Dvossie) had eleven children.
One of his grandsons, Harry Loshak, left an autobiography that tells us a bit more:
[Eleazer] was an ultra-strict Chassid who, for religious reasons, never had his photograph taken, and underwent an operation for cataract without any anaesthetic.
I don’t know when he died, or the names of his parents or any siblings.
(Update 15 November 2018)
Since I wrote this piece I have discovered that Eleazer was the author of this postcard, sent to his son Meyer in 1912:
Courtesy of ViewMate again, I know that it is addressed to ‘My dear son Menachm Nachum’.
The letter acknowledges receipt of 14 rubles and also a letter, and another letter notifying Meyer’s change of address. Then he asks Meyer to write at least once a month. Later he writes about treatment he is receiving for a cough. He says that, on the doctor’s orders, he takes a daily walk to the forest to breathe fresh air. He mentions his daughter Rachel who is in Kasirtin (?) staying with Moshe Weinbaum and doing much better [This daughter was born in 1892, and later married Mordko Daniel Hirsz and emigrated to the US, with a daughter Dollie, born in 1921]. From Chisa and Nuta we expect … good this year, and Chisa is pregnant. From Susa we hear good, and on Passover she gave birth to a boy.
So we now know that Eleazer died some time after 1912, and before 1919, when Meyer’s third son was named after him.
Ari, this shows how you are related to Eleazer: