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Tzvi Hirsch Schewach Glaser

May 28, 2013
Tzvi Hirsch Schewach Glaser
December 20th 2013, according to the Hebrew calendar, will mark 88 years since Tzvi Hirsch
Schewach Glaser died in Jerusalem and was buried on the Mount of Olives.
When Hirsch came to Jerusalem in 1924 to spend his last years in Jerusalem, with the intention of
being buried on the Mount of Olives, he couldn’t have dreamt that 88 years later his descendants
would be gathering at the Mount of Olives by his gravestone and honoring his memory.
The descendants of Hirsch are scattered around the globe: South Africa, Israel, the USA, England,
Germany, New Zealand, Australia, and probably many more countries. There are more than 75
direct descendants living here. He couldn’t possibly have imagined that 90 years after arriving to
Jerusalem, 75 of his descendants would be living in Israel.
Since Hirsch was buried in 1926, some, if not many people had visited the grave on the Mount of
Olives but since the Mount of Olives was under Jordanian rule from the end of the Israel War of
Independence in 1949 until the Six-Day War in 1967, no one could have visited the grave during
those years.
My family immigrated to Israel from South Africa in 1962. My parents, my sister Lesley and I
visited the Mount of Olives very soon after the Six-Day War to look for the grave. Although we had a
small picture of it, which showed someone standing near some graves holding an umbrella, we had
no idea of how to find the grave. After wondering around for a while, my mother, Meera, had a
brainwave: she remembered that Tzvi Hirsch had lived in a “Moshab Sekenim” in Jerusalem where
other South Africans had come to live with the same purpose in mind: to be buried on the Mount of
Olives. She went up to a group of workmen who were cleaning and repairing gravestones. She
asked if anyone knew where the “South African Shikun” was. One of them nodded his head, got up
and took us to a nearby group of graves where we saw Tzvi Hirsch Glaser’s grave.
In 1969 my grandmother Rosie Jacobson from Cape Town visited Israel for the first time. I
remember this visit very vaguely, as I was only eight-years-old, but nevertheless, the first visit of my
granny to Israel was certainly a definitive event in my childhood, and visiting the grave of “some old
grandfather” did leave an impact on me, only to be discovered many years later. We visited the
grave again, when my grandparents Rosie and Solly Jacobson came to Israel for my bar mitzvah in
1973, a few months before the Yom Kippur War.
I think it was in 1991, not long after my father died, that I come across the old photo of Tsvi
Hirsch Glaser at the “Moshab Sekenim” in the old city of Jerusalem taken in 1925. A close look at the
photo revealed to me an image of an old man seated in a small room in that Old Aged Home. Ever
since then I have been fascinated by this photo and immediately felt connected to the old man, my
father’s great-grandfather. Sometime later, I went with my sister Lesley and my brother Guy to see
the grave.
For some unknown reason, two months ago I started to investigate that photo and this time I
was determined to find out all I could about Hirsch. My mother reminded me that we have an old
hand- written family tree of the Glaser family, I was familiar with the family tree, but whenever I
attempted to read it, it seemed much too complicated and the handwriting was very difficult for me to
read, but nevertheless, this time I decided to take up the challenge and decipher it.
I spent many hours on it, and step-by-step the puzzle became clearer, when I saw names of
people I knew, like Herzl Zuckerman, Ezra Glaser, Jack Friedland, Ida Rothschild and Joy Marcuse,
who were all there. I had met some of them during my childhood, both in Israel and on visits to South
Africa. Of course, Solly’s parents, Martha (one of Tzvi’s daughters), and her husband Isaac
Jacobson were also there.
I started building a family tree and spent many hours searching for any background
information and possible links. Obviously I searched Google, and in one of the searches I wrote
“Jews in South Africa.” One of the search results was the Web site of the South African Jewish
Museum in Cape Town and I saw on the homepage of the museum a photo of an old man that I
immediately recognized as Tsvi Hirsch Glaser. I could hardly believe it.
Under the name “The Jews of District Six: Another Time, Another Place,” I saw the photo of Tzvi
Schewach Glaser and David Glaser.
Tzvi Schewach Glaser and David Glaser taken before leaving Cape Town for Jerusalem
The photo above from the South African Jewish Museum Web site
The photo taken at the old aged home in Jerusalem, 1925
At first I didn’t believe what I saw, I couldn’t be so lucky. I compared the two images, the one
I had in the old photo and the one on the Web site, and there was no mistake, that was my greatgreat-
grandfather! I managed to get the name of Adrienne Folb, who researched the photos for the
exhibition, and after I wrote to her, I received a warm letter of reply, with information on various
family members, including Leon Glaser, to whom I wrote and who replied to me immediately with a
great deal of interesting information about the family. He also mailed me a book he’d written a few
years earlier about the Glaser family. It was very helpful in getting more information and some sense
of the Glaser family and especially of Tzvi Hirsch. Leon had also done some research and managed
to locate the grave of Hirsch and visited it some years ago. His two daughters and grandchildren live
in Israel.
One very interesting point in the book was a letter that Hirsch wrote to his son-in-law, Hyman
Levine, referring to him as “My dear son Chaim.” The letter was written in 1925, and what touched
me was the deep concern Hirsch had for his young grandchildren, the children of his daughter Jenny
who had died young not long before writing that letter.
I felt I had to find out what happened to those children, and after some research and
investigation I managed to figure out that Jenny and Hyman Levine had four children: Samuel,
Esther, Miriam, and David. I found Jonathan Dorfan, the son of Esther née Levine and Archie Dorfan
through the Geni website, and after writing him a message I received an email confirming the
information I had, but with an addition of one more daughter of Jenny and Hyman, named Doris. On
my old family tree she does not appear. After I had located the whereabouts of at least some of the
Levine descendants, I could move on to explore the whereabouts of more of Hirsch’s descendants.
Amazingly enough, one month after I started building the tree on the MyHeritage Web site, I
received a notice that Jeffrey Levine had started building a Levine family tree and we have matches
in our trees. He is also a great-great grandson of Hirsch. After discovering Jeffrey we met, and he
introduced me to Ruth Sadowsky, Jeffrey’s aunt and a great-granddaughter of Hirsch.
After some more research I found information about Paul Zuckerman, the son of Lord Solly
Zuckerman whose parents were Rebecca née Glaser and Moses Zuckerman, and I contacted him.
Solly Zuckerman was a brother of Herzl Zuckerman, whom I remember very well from my childhood:
Herzl was my father’s cousin and had lived in Israel since 1934. Paul sent me the family tree of the
Zuckerman family, and of course the similarity of the Glaser and Zuckerman branches in both of the
trees is apparent. What is interesting is that Moses Zuckerman married Rebecca Glaser and Hessel
Glaser, Rebecca’s brother, married Sonia Zuckerman: a brother and sister married a sister and
brother. Their son Ezra Glaser married Joyce, and I knew them when I was a child.
A week ago, my second cousin Greg Marcuse, who has been in Israel for the past six years,
also a great-great grandson of Hirsch, called me from the office of the management of the Mount of
Olives, and asked for assistance in locating Hirsch’s grave, and after confirming the exact name of
Tzvi Schewach Glaser, he located the grave and visited it. I was told by Eden Zulli, the daughter of
Jack Perri (Friedland) that her father and her uncle Barney had also visited the grave several times.
I find it very interesting that during the past four decades, many people made efforts to find
the grave and had visited it and perhaps many others that I don’t know of also visited it.
There is still more work to be done and not all the families of Hirsch’s descendants have
been found. I intend to continue the research and try and locate as many of his descendants as
possible. Hirsch was married to Dvora (Doris) née Berman and I am also looking for her burial place;
after all, she had a major role in Hirsch’s life.
December 20th 2013 will mark the 88th yahrzeit of Tzvi Hirsch Glazer’s death. It will be a
great tribute to his memory if as many descendants as possible attend the service at his grave on
this date.
Motti Jacobson

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