A couple of days ago, I decided to do a check of my Ancestry DNA matches to see if anyone new had been added among my 3rd to 4th cousin matches. I am 100 percent Ashkenazi Jewish (an endogamous population). As a result, I rarely look beyond those (currently) 62 matches who share 90 or more centiMorgans (cMs) of DNA with me.
Ancestry does not provide information about individual shared segments. So, I usually spend quality time only with those matches with a relatively low number of segments in common with me. The idea is to high-grade the matches by looking for those who (on average) may share at least one or more 20 cM segments with me. For the first time in many months there was a new 3rd to 4th cousin on my match list.
My match listed his full name, but it meant nothing to me (we'll call him CS). He had no tree associated with his DNA results. He shares 121 cMs of autosomal DNA and 10 segments with me. He is 51 percent Ashkenazi Jewish.
Although, due to endogamy, a search of matches in common is often more confusing that illuminating, I tried it. CS seemed to match my Liebross side and I noted that another match (JS) had the same last name as CS and 19 percent Ashkenazi Jewish. JS was below my usually threshold: 4th-6th cousin and only sharing 5o cMs and five segments.
I tentatively guessed, based on the name and the percentage of ethnicity assigned to Ashkenazi, that this might be CS's son. When I contacted JS he confirmed that to be the case.
JS has a tree of 74 people. His emphasis was quite obviously on his mother's non-Jewish family, but the three people listed on his father's side were enough to indicate this might be a match with which I could work. JS's grandmother, Heather Marie Schafer was born in Vienna, Austria.
My great grandfather, Louis Liebross. had a sister named Rifke who married Abraham Dov Ber Schaffer in Radautz, Bukovina (now in northern Romania) on 24 June 1877.
Extract: Bride: (right page) Rifke Libruss of Radautz, daughter of Mani and Zirl Libruss of Zaleszczyki.
While Heather Marie's first and middle names had been clearly Anglicized in the Ancestry family tree, her birth date was provided: 17 February 1917. I searched in Ancestry on Heather Marie Schafer and another more in-depth tree came up. This one identified Heather as Herta Marie Schaffer and indicated her parents were Raphael Schaffer and Susan Frank.
Raphael was a good hit because Rifke Liebross Schaffer's fourth or fifth child was Rafael, born on 1 April 1875 in Radautz. Yet, Rifke and Abraham Dov Ber Schaffer were married in 1877.
This situation of marriage years after children's births is not unusual in Austrian Empire Jewish marriage and birth records. The Austrian Empire government had made it costly for Jewish couple to register their marriages with the civil authorities. As a result, many Jewish couples had religious ceremonies and often did not register their marriages with the government until may years later. If the couples did not register their marriages, the state did not consider them married. Birth records for their children would often only show the mother's surname and the children would be recorded as illegitimate. Couples might register their marriages years later for several reasons including to make sure future inheritances would follow the framework from legally identified father to child.
Rafael was recorded as illegitimate. A note in the last column indicate he was legitimized by his parents marriage at a later date.
Another note on Rafael's birth record indicated he'd married Dvoira Grupp in Bucharest on 17 September 1934. For me, after that, the trail ran cold. I had no further information on Rafael or Dvoira; no indication of offspring (although by 1934 Rafael would have been 59 so there might not have been any from that union). I assumed that Rafael and Dvoira, like several of Rafael's family members had been killed during the Holocaust.
Extract: Rafael, son of Abraham Berl Schaffer and Rifke Libruss, born 1 April 1875 in Radautz, house no. 1102. Legitimized by marriage registered in vol. I, p. 64/65, entry no. 36, 24 June 1877. Rafael married Dvoira Grupp in Bucharest on 17 September 1934.
But, Herta Schaffer was supposedly born to a Rafael Schaffer and Susan Frank in 1917 in Vienna. This was new information. Did my Rafael have an earlier marriage and a child? I needed to see a copy of Herta's birth record.
I found her birth record indexed on JewishGen. The date and location in Vienna matched. The father's name matched. But the mother's name was Susie Grunwerg not Susan Frank.
Vienna Jewish community vital records have been imaged, but not completely indexed, on FamilySearch. One may find the records listed in the FamilySearch catalogue. But, these records cannot be viewed from home. They must be viewed at a Family History Center.
Record entry 282 shows Herta Schaffer, daughter of Raphael Schaffer and Susie Grunwerg, born on 19 February 1917 in Vienna. Parents married 6 September 1903, Czernowitz .
The imaged record did not provide much more than the basic information shown in the JewishGen index. The comment on the far right column, however, was excellent: Herta's parents had been married in Czernowitz on 6 September 1903.
Like the Viennese Jewish records, some Jewish Czernowitz vital records listed in the FamilySearch catalogue have not been indexed. I looked for the indexed marriage record in the GeneaSearch Czernowitz database and found it.
I then took this information to the FamilySearch catalogue to view an image of the original record. Czernowitz records may be searched and viewed on FamilySearch from one's home computer, but one may not download the images (a screen shot is not optimal, but worked for me).
Extract: Groom: Raphael Schaffer, born in Radautz, son of Abraham Schaffer and Rifke Liebross of Radautz. Born 1 April 1875. Bride: Sossie Grunwerg born in Kolomea, daughter of Berl Grunwerg and Sura, born Frank, in Czernowitz on 20 November 1880. 
Extract: Married on 6th September 1903 in Czernowitz. Rabbi Benjamin Weiss.
Evidence in this record addresses the problem of Herta's mother's name. Sossie was identified with her mother's last name (Frank), not her father's (Grunwerg). To be sure, I located Sossie's birth record via the Jewish Records Indexing- Poland database.
Extract/summary: Sossie, born in Kolomea on 18 November 1880 [her marriage record showed 20 Nov. 1880]. She is shown as illegitimate and her father's information is not included in the last column on this page. A note above the illegitimate notation indicates that her parents married in Czernowitz on 5 May 1888, thereby legitimizing her.
Extract: Mother's name was Sura Frank. Sossie's father's name, Berl Grunwerg of Kolomea is recorded in the first column under her mother's name. Sura's parents were Meier and Ester Rifka Frank of Kolomea.
She, like Rafael, was listed as illegitimate. Her parents married civilly after her birth.
I did find Sossie's parents' marriage record from 1888 among the Czernowitz Jewish marriage records, but will not include it here. It shows that her mother Rifka's surname had been Udelsman (perhaps Rifka's mother's maiden name!).
It appears I have located a new 3rd cousin (CS) and his son (JS), who is my 3rd cousin once-removed. Now, I have other record-confirmed 3rd cousins+ on this side of the family with whom I share no autosomal centiMorgans. So, these matches with CS and JS are special. I hope to get more of my clear-cut Ancestry matches' results uploaded to other websites to allow more in-depth analyses.
Mane and Tsiril had four children (that I know of). Rifke Liebross Schaffer had nine or ten. Louis had at least eight. So the family tree below just shows our direct lines from our common ancestral couple.
For those who sometimes question the value of DNA testing for one's family history, note that in this case DNA results allowed me to find a person for whom I was not previously searching. Without the initial interesting match with CS I would not have looked further. And without the availability of indices and images of European Jewish records I never could have made this connection. It takes a village of websites and organizations to build a family tree.
In addition to CS, JS and all my cousins whose curiosity and trust allow me access to their DNA test results, I think kudos are due to GeneaSearch, Edgar Hauster and Bruce Reich (who are behind the acquisition and indexing of Radauti Jewish vital records), JewishGen, Jewish Records Indexing-Poland, and FamilySearch. And of course, let's not forget the big four DNA testing companies: Ancestry, FamilyTree DNA, MyHeritage and 23andMe. With patience DNA tests are gifts that keep on giving.
1. Radauti Jewish Marriages, Abraham Ber Schaffer and Rifke Libruss, 24 June 1877, Vol. 1, p. 64, entry 36; Radauti City Archive. Indexed records searched at: https://czernowitz.geneasearch.net/
2. Radauti Jewish Births, Rafael Schaffer, 1 April 1875, vol. 1, p. 83, entry 30; Radauti City Archive. Indexed records searched at: https://www.reisch-family.net/RadautzBirthRegistersIndex/BirthsSearchForm.html
3. I have been in touch with one descendant of Rifka Liebross Schaffer who lives in Israel who has been very helpful.
4. Vienna, Jewish births 1917, no. 282, Herta Schaffer, 19 February 1917; images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org: accessed 2 October 2019), "Metrikel 1826-1943,">Geburten 1917-1918 (microfilm 1199227); citing Judische Gemeinde Wien (Niederosterreich), Stadt und Landesarchiv Wien.
5. Czernowitz, Jewish marriages 1903, Raphael Schaffer and Sossie Grunwerg, 6 September 1903; images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch,org : accessed 2 October 2019), Austria, Bukovina, Czernowitz - Jewish Records>Metrikel Books, 1856-1940>microfilm 2395731, Item 1>image 73 of 850; citing Central State Historical Archives of Ukraine, Czernowitz, vol. IX, p. 104, record 128.
6. Kolomyya, , Jewish births, Sossie [Grunwerg] Frank, 18 November 1880; images, Polish State Archives, AGAD, Stanislowow Wojewodztwo, Kolomyya, Fond 300, Signatura 395, Akta 670; accessed via Jewish Records Indexing-Poland (https://jri-poland.org/ ).