Contact Us

If you are connected to this family, do please contact us...

Email The Family

If you know of a family member, email them a link.



Elya Kopel - Clara's grandmother - Russia

Elya Kopel - Clara's grandmother - Russia
Photo donated by Marcia Fortas Levy ( Memphis )

"I wish to inform you that pencil inscription on the back of that photo
means "To Kopel, Mother Sura Fortes". That is, one son or grandson of
Sura gave that photo to another, Kopel Fortes." Victor Kumok - Russia

We have been contacted by Victor Kumok in Russia who found our website

'We are preparing the book "Jews of Melitopol", that possess a chapter on emigration processes. If you permitted us to use some info on the history of your family, we would be very grateful. We can send you the content of book in English if you are interested . '

'I selected now the information we have on the Fortus (so it is written in Russia) family, sons of Meyer in Melitopol.
We can detect three of them. Huna died in Melitopol in 1915, there
is info on some of his children and the biography of one of them (Grigory Naumovich Fortus, he was by his birth Gersh Hunovich) Isser is detected, his wife and children.
Solomon (Shlyoma, 1874-1941) was killed by Germans in 1941.
In 1906 in the family of Nathan Fortes the son Meyer was born named for the
remembering of his grandfather. He is known as the famous ethnologist.*

As I understand, the big part of your family didn't emigrate. The third part of our book is the stories of families. One of ideas why I reread info on your family was the nessecity to decide, if we will write a
history of it. Now the biggest problem I see is that we have no info on Kopel but have an "extra" brother Shlyoma. There may be some ways to solve this problem, the easiest is to ask the Shenkmans from Melitopol, what names had the relatives of Lidia Solomonovna.
As you understand, we will be more more enthusiastic, if the both parts of family (in Ukraine and in USA & England) will co-operate.


Descendants chart provided by Victor on PDF


Melitopol Coat of Arms

Melitopol Coat of Arms

They left Russia, of course, because of the persecution of Jews there. Some went to South Africa and some went to the UK. I'm guessing that they went where they could get in through immigration. Clara Fortes was one of nine children. Her parents, Myer Fortes (1829-1903) and Sarah Kopel (1842-1910) were born in Russia, went to South Africa, then went to Leeds, where they died. I assume they are buried in a Jewish cemetery there.

Clara Fortes's siblings were: Koppel Fortes, Isseces Fortes, Chona Fortes, Solomon Leon Fortes (1868-1930, Cape Province, S.Africa), Nathan Fortes (1870-1932, S.A.), Woolf Fortas (1873-1930, Memphis), Joseph Fortas (my grandfather, 1874-1950, Memphis), and Rebecca Fortas (1882-?, lived in Leeds).

My grandfather lived in England before coming to the US in 1895. In England (I'm not sure where) he apprenticed to a cabinetmaker, and when he came to Memphis he opened a furniture store. Several other Fortases were in the furniture business in Memphis and in South Africa. Marcia

Between 1891 and 1901 over 190,000 immigrants arrived in England via the Thames. Of these, 115,000 were of Russian or Polish nationality. Though many of them did not plan to stay in England, and would later migrate onwards to the United States, Canada or South Africa, the Thames was the primary point of entry for the majority of Jews arriving in Britain during this period. Irving's mother Clara and her family were among these. Most of those leaving Russia in the late 19th century travelled to Hamburg, Bremen, Rotterdam, Amsterdam or Antwerp. They crossed into Austria - Hungary or Germany, travelled to the nearest railway station and then journeyed across Europe by train to a North Sea port.

Irving Slome's father Solomon Slomowitz was born in Posvel, Lithuania. He died in 1952 in South Africa. He married Clara Fortes.

The movement of Jews to Johannesburg caused Cape Town's Jewish community to shrink to only a few hundred families, who mostly assimilated and intermarried. However, between 1880 and 1910, the Jewish population swelled from 4,000 to 40,000 with Yiddish speaking immigrants from Lithuania, thus revitalizing the Jewish community of Cape Town. The new arrivals were fleeing political persecution and pogroms in Europe. South Africa became known as a Lithuanian colony. Many of the Eastern European immigrants discarded their old garb and mores and adopted new Anglo-Jewish customs.

In 1930, increased feelings of anti-Semitism and the rise of Nazism in Germany sparked the passing of the Quota Act, which restricted immigration from Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Palestine. The Jewish population, however, contained a higher than usual percentage of college graduates. More than 50% of the Jews obtained degrees, compared to the average 23% in the total white population

Irving Slome's brothers included the late Professor David Slome of the Royal College of Surgeons and the late Robbie Slome, an eminent physician in Cape Town.
Cecil Slome Associate Professor of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Clara Fortes was born in 1885 in Miletople, Russia. She died in 1974 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. She married Solomon Slomowitz. The couple had nine children.
Her father was Myer Fortes and mother Sarah Kopel on the 1901 Census the family were living in Imperial Street Leeds UK. Meyer was a Tailor aged 69 he died in 1903. The family obviously fled the Ukraine in the late 1800's as the Jews were being persecuted.

"Leeds is a large dirty town. Its cheap clothing trade has given it a big Jewish colony, formally recruited, I believe, from the Polish and Russian ghettos. There is still plenty of Yiddish in Leeds, and I can see on the surface of its life traces of that restless glitter which is the gift of the Jew" JB Priestly 'An English Journey' 1933

"A town in the Government of Crimea, district of Melitopol, reports that
disturbances broke out there on the 4th (16th) of the month in a terrible
manner. Of all the houses and shops of the Jews not a remnant was left. All
the storehouses for spirits and other drinks were raided and plundered, and
streams of spirits flowed all around the city. The terrible upheaval
continued for two days, and when the armed forces arrived in the city,
there remained nothing of the Jews, save their bodies and their destroyed
and desolate houses. Fear struck all our brethren of the House of Israel
living around about that they should not also be subjected to a massacre
after all their property was plundered. In the city a large mob collected last Sunday to attack all the Jewish houses, but the police commander advised the intending perpetrators and the
mob withdrew"

Most Jews who arrived in England were restricted to working as artisans or in trade. Many were tailors, or less commonly, metal workers, cobblers and carpenters. Some worked in the food trade, as butchers or bakers, preparing food in accordance with Jewish dietary laws. Sometimes the woman was the main breadwinner, allowing the husband time for religious studies. As more and more Jews were forced into towns, there was intense competition for jobs, and wages were forced down below the poverty line.

Joseph Slomowitz was born in 1879 in Posvel, Lithuania. He died in Vereeniging, South Africa - Joseph was Solomon Slome's brother. His son Issy Slomowitz ' second marriage was to Byrnie Sidler they had three children. He was born in 1912 in South Africa. He died in 1981 in South Africa

My father was Willie George Slomowitz, son of Joseph Slomowitz of Pasvalys, Lithuania and grandson of Zundel Slomowitz of Pasvalys. Alan Slomowitz (Australia)

Link to the Zygelbaum family website

click to view website

The first significant influx of Jewish immigration to South Africa occurred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Individual Jews, mostly from England and Germany, had already been living on white settlements for two centuries and started to form their own communities in the mid-1800s. But South African Jewry, as a nation-wide community, only began to take shape with the arrival of these late-19th century immigrants. From 1880 to 1910, 40,000 Jews immigrated to South Africa, the majority from Lithuania.

Starting in 1881 and continuing off and on over the next few decades, a wave of horrifying pogroms swept across Eastern Europe where Jews had lived for centuries. Relatives and friends murdered, homes ruined, these Jews began to look abroad for a safe environment away from persecution where they could earn good lives for themselves. Most chose America and some went to Palestine, but, among Lithuanians especially, many immigrated to South Africa. South Africa was such a popular destination for these Lithuanians, or "Litvaks", that it is often described as "a colony of Lithuanian Jewry".
By 1911, the Jewish population was 46,926. Immigrants continued to arrive and by 1926 the population had reached 71,816.

Location in Ukraine

Location in Ukraine

Posvel Lithuania is Pasvalys today

Posvel Lithuania is Pasvalys today

Regional Coat of Arms

Regional Coat of Arms

PASVALYS REGION extends in the middle Lithuania lowland which is a part of large Ziemgala lowland. First settlements of the region are mentioned in the 13 th century.The area of Pasvalys district is 1289 sq. km., population - 37,2 thousand, 11 country - side districts. There are seven parks preserved by the State. The largest of them are Joniskelis park and a young one - Pasvalys park which has some ensembles of wooden sculptures and a large sports complex. On the eastern outskirts of the town there is a Kryziu Slenis (Valley of Crosses).
Much attention in the region is paid to agriculture. It was back in 1810 that a school with the teaching of agronomy rudiments was established. There is a centre of scientific research - Joniskelis experiment station, also Agricultural crops research station in Staciunai. There is a Joniskelis special agricultural school.

Dolomite exposure. One of the famous geological monuments of this region is Stipinu dolomite exposure, known as "Skaliu kalnas". Actually, it cannot even be considered a mountain or hill; it is simply a steep slope the Musa river side nearby Stipinu village in Pasvalio regional municipality. Steep dolomite rock, horizontally cracked, is 5 meters high, while the rest of the rock is hidden under a relatively thin clay layer.

Visit a website with more information and photos .... click to view


About 10-15 years ago, one of my Great-Aunts started putting a family tree together, which is pages and pages long, and lodged at the Beit Ha-Tfutsot Museum (details below), refer to genealogy #154. Attached is a copy of the 15 page document "Descendants of Zundel Slomowitz from Genia and Bella Finkelstein".
Ansel Slome - Los Angeles

Beit Ha-Tfutsot

Address: 17 Klausner St., Tel Aviv-Yafo
Phone: 03-6408000
Fax: 03-6462134

We would like to thank Ansel for donating this extensive document on pdf to the site


Click Download to view

The Slomes originated from the Krotman, Kamm & Zigelboim ( Ziegelbaum, Zygelboim ) families

Slome and Cowan History

More information on the Cowans greatly appreciated

WLS West London Synagogue St Marylebone
Where Isadore Slome married
Ray Zena Cowan on 27.02.1936