10 February 2015

Tombstone Tuesday: Morris Halpern, Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY

The First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association, a New York City landsmanshaft group for immigrants from the town of Lubin (Yiddish name), also known as Labun, Russian Empire, purchased two burial plots in Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY and one in Beth Moses Cemetery, Pinelawn, NY.

Because many of these people constituted my Lubin relatives' friends, acquaintances and neighbors, I have recorded these burials and submitted them to JewishGen where they are online in the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry. In posts about burials in these plots, I will provide additional information about those interred.
Here lies
our dear beloved father
an honest and upright man
who walked on the wholesome path and worked justly
God-fearing all his days
our teacher and rabbi
Moshe son of Yisrael
9 Tevet 5698
May his soul be bound in eternal life
Morris Halpern's (or Alperin or Alpern) epitaph surprised me.[1]  Considering what I'd heard about him from his family, I did not think I'd see such a glowing remembrance. He has also been difficult to track in records likely to yield genealogically relevant information. Sometimes I think this was by his design. I have not been able to locate any census records enumerating Morris or a marriage record for him and his wife, Esther.

Morris was one of those immigrants who came to the United States with intentions to send for his family and then did not do so. His son, Jack, paid his own way and arrived in the United States in 1911.[2] Jack then paid for a ticket for his mother. Rebeka arrived in the United States on 22 September 1913 and was met at the dock by her son.[3]  

Jack and his mother were from Staro Konstyatinyiv. His father, Morris and Morris' brother Jacob Alperin were originally from the community of Labun, Volhynia Gubernia, Russian Empire, about 20 miles to the north northeast. After some time in the United States, Jack decided that his mother, unhappy with her husband's philandering ways, would be happier if sent back to the Old Country. He sent her back to Russia and, I am told, regreted doing so for the rest of his life.

So, much of Morris' epitaph must be deemed hyperbole. Was he a beloved father? Perhaps. The text seems to indicate the possibility that he was father to more than one person. I do not yet have information about any additional children. And then, the epitaph identifies Morris as a father, but not as a husband. Interesting.

Morris was not a rabbi. "Walking the wholesome path" doesn't seem to track with Jack's stories about his father. It makes one wonder who wrote this and if they protest too much. 

Morris Halpern's death certificate was informed by his wife at the time, Esther.[4] Traditionally in the United States, tombstones on Jewish graves are installed 30 days to one year after death. So, we do not know who paid for the stone or provided guidance for the epitaph. The cemetery might be able to provide some clues in this regard.

Morris is buried in Montefiore Cemetery's First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plot, block 5, gate 567W, line 1R, grave 4. 

1. This translation and its interpretation have benefited from input from Lara Diamond, Robin Meltzer, Elan Caspi and Deb Morgen Stern on Tracing the Tribe FaceBook page. I own all mistakes.
2. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 26 May 2011), manifest, S.S. Berlin, Bermen to New York, arriving 5 September 1911, list 6 (handwritten), line 25, Jakow Galperin, citing NARA microfilm publication T715, roll 1732.
3. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 20 January 2014), manifest, S.S. Nieuw Amsterdam, Rotterdam to New York, arriving 22 September 1913, list 14 [handwritten], list 72 [stamped], line 29, Rebeka Halpern, citing NARA microfilm publication T715, roll 2181.
4. Kings County, New York, death certificate no. 24804 (12 December 1937), Morris Halpern, Municipal Archives, New York City.

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