12 February 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Max Liebross

Max Liebross grave stone, Mount Richmond Cemetery, Staten Island, New York, Grave 34, Row 6, Section 3-36, Hebrew Free Burial Association, photograph acquired by author on 19 January 2009

Here lies
1889 - 1959
May his soul be bound in the bonds of the living

Gambling may have been Max Liebross' downfall, but it was a gamble that led me to his grave. Max was, unfortunately, the Black Sheep of the family. He'd married, had four children and then left his wife and his children to fend for themselves. He'd come around to his brothers and sisters asking for money. Ultimately, those who were left wanted nothing to do with him. The family was close-mouthed about him and his troubles. One unconfirmed thought is that he had a problem with gambling.

So, when I contacted Mt. Lebanon Cemetery in 2008 and found that he was not among the Liebrosses buried there, I was unsure of where to look. I tried the online indices at several New York Jewish cemeteries, but did not find his grave. I thought about New York City's potter's field: Hart Island. But then I recalled that Jewish people in New York City have their own organization for handling burials for the indigent and those who cannot afford burial: the Hebrew Free Burial Association.

They were the only other cemetery I contacted, and they answered in the affirmative: Max Liebross was buried in their Mount Richmond Cemetery on Staten Island. I asked them to take a photograph of his stone, they did, and I sent them a donation.

Max Liebross was the third child and the eldest son of Louis and Bertha Liebross. He was born about 1889 in Radautz, Austro-Hungarian Empire (today Radauti, Romania).


  1. When I first started looking for Liebross relatives, we jokingly said "I am the Lost Liebross". Max was my grandfather. I am the daughter of Harold Liebross, Max's second child.(as I knew at that time)(Since then I have found out that a older child Rose, died when she was 15.) I never knew his name, all we were told was that my father's father left his wife alone to take care of children who were 6,4 and 3 years old. This rift and pain caused my father to never have any contact with any of Max's family. I understand his feelings and saw his hurt in bits and pieces as I grew up. My Dad would get upset if we left the lights on in a room. He once started to explain, he said I grew up with one light bulb. but knowingly he stopped talking and left the room because the memory was too painful. I wish I had a photo of Max. I have a photo of the 5 Liebross brothers, but we are not sure that Max is the one holding the ukulele
    in a photo in which they were in a row boat. Could have been at Coney Island or some amusement park. Thank you Emily for finding the answers. Diana Steinman

  2. I grew up believing my father was the oldest child. (not the second, like I wrote earlier.)
    I have mixed feelings about my parents decision not to talk about Max. Sad that my father and his siblings suffered during their childhood, but also disappointed that there were so many more cousins,and family that were mine but kept from me. Diana

  3. Well, we may never really know what happened with the families. I often wonder why the rest of the Liebrosses didn't step in, keep in touch and try to help Anna, Max's wife. Perhaps they never offered. Or, perhaps they did and she spurned their help. At this point it's hard to know. It's too bad Max's demons (whatever they were) caused so much hardship.

    It certainly could not have been easy for Anna and Max to lose their eldest child, Rose, in 1928 at the age of 15. I imagine that had a devastating effect on everyone.

  4. What is the meaning of the "bonds of the living"? Does it refer to memory?

    Will you visit Romania as well as Ukraine?

  5. The last Hebrew line is actually an abbreviation of a verse from the Bible, the first book of Samuel, 25:29. Perhaps a better translation would be: "May his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life".


    I'd like to, but not this time. I understand that crossing the border can be challenging. And, I'll have plenty to do in Ukraine.


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