Roizen-Diamant Family Gallery of Old Photos

These old photos came from an unorganized collection of items in a cardboard box I "inherited" after my father, Joseph Roizen, passed away in 1989.  In making some effort to identify the people in the pictures it occurred to me that seeing groups of photos presented together would allow for a stronger analysis.  Offered as groups, for example, it might be possible to trace a single individuals through a series of photos over time, thus also improving the prospects for identifying them and others.  With that in mind, the following photos are presented with my brief commentaries.  Lisa Baumann, Helio Diamant, and Molly Tiss have identified people in pictures and offered valuable comments.  Other family members are welcome to contribute comments to this page as well -- just email me at  Thanks! 

Ron Roizen, June, 2012

April 18, 2017:  Miriam Diamant Brenner has sent some comments on four pictures -- 11f, 12f, 26f, & 27f -- which I've posted at each.  Thanks Miriam!


This photo is mounted on a solid cardboard backing with some impressive iconography and a blue official-looking stamp on the back (see frame below left).  It appears to be a family studio shot but maybe it was also some sort of official identification picture as well.  Note the place name in the lower right corner of the picture.  It offers yet another spelling of the Roizen-Diamant family's hometown -- this time, "Mohileff, Podolski."  The back side clearly shows "1908" inscribed vertically, presumably the date the picture was taken.  My aunt Molly sent an email (6/24/12) identifying the girl on the right (I believe) as Jenny.  Molly wrote of her:  "She was a school teacher and had no children but she was married and was close to her pupils so some of the kids may be students."  This comports with my transcripiton of the account Aaron gave my father.  Molly's comment also implies that any photo that includes Jenny was taken in the Old World.  Molly "thinks" the boy is "Yasha."  The littlest girl is, I suspect, Reva -- whom we'll see in several photos below.
What can be said about the back side of this photo?  The iconography and Cyrillic alphabet certainly make it look Russian.  It's interesting incidentally that the back side is in Cyrillic and the front side lettering is not.  The blue stamp looks awfully imperfect, as such stamps go -- and if it is a stamp.  The upper portion of the card seems to be commemorating perhaps some medals that somebody or some instution won for something.  Maybe a reader of Cyrillic script will chance upon this page and enlighten us as to what's going on.

This photo has light pencil Cyrillic writing on the back and I can see the year "1936"  there.  I believe Molly's email says the woman on the left is Jenny.  The boys remain unidentified -- perhaps a couple of her students.
Jenny is on the right.  But who are the others pictured?  The back has more inscrutable Cyrillic writing.  A "1936" can be made out on this back side too.
Now a seeming date on the back of this shot says "1927."  The woman is Jenny, although she arguably looks rather older than the roughly 27 years-old this picture would make her.  The pretty little girl with the white bow in her hair is unidentified. 
There were two prints of 4f in the box, each with its own text on the back side.  The inscribed date appears to be September 12, 1927.
This time, October 15, 1927.  The difference suggests these were dates when the picture was inscribed or sent, and not necessarily when taken.
Berl, baby Joseph, and Brana's Russian passport photo, taken in 1924.  This photo is a pivotal one in that the identities of those pictured are clearly established. 

Molly adds regarding Berl: "...there was another brother of Berl in Philadelphia, name of Joseph, with a wife named Edith.  He had children, but I don’t know specifics.  He was the one who started the use of the Rosen spelling for the last name." 

Molly identifies Brana on the right and Reva with the braid.  Molly did not venture to identify the two standing girls.
Molly identifies Brana in the middle (looking a little like Mia Farrow in this shot, I might add) and Reva with the braid on the left.  Molly does not identify the girl on the right.  If she were the third sister, of course, then she'd be Jenny, but she bears no resemblance to Jenny as identified above. 
Thanks to a web-based key for the Cyrillic alphabet (although, truth be told, I guessed it beforehand), it can be established that the placename in the lower right is "Odessa" -- or, more transliterally, "Odyssa."  The baby is a cute little guy, looks quite happy.  Mother, a little more severe though.

Molly writes, "I...wonder if the woman with the baby in her lap could be my grandmother Sara with her first baby, Yasha.  The story went that she delivered 10 babies but only 5 survived infancy to adulthood."
I've oriented the back of the card sideways so that the hand written script might be more easily decoded.  Once again, the back of the card seems to celebrate a string of medals or awards -- but for what?  Perhaps these are symbols of royalty or the royal family, back in pre-revolutionary czarist Russia.  The big letters, written diagonally across the middle of the back, transliterate to "K. Mulbmang" -- or in other words an exchange of one meanless set of letters for another!  Sigh.
Lisa Braumann has (perceptively) pointed out that this man may be the shorter boy in 14f.  The back side of this photo card (see right side, below on 9b) seems to offer a date including a year, "927" -- which I read as plausibly 1927.  I would put 14f's date at about 1915, in which case the boy in 14f, perhaps about 8-years-old, would now be about 20 in the 9f portrait.  He could be about 20.  Incidentally, his hands look like the hands of a man who works with them for a living.  Thank you, Lisa, for this nice cross-link!
Below (9b): 
The inscription on this card is dark and legible.  The printed or stamped text at the top is interesting.  "Union Universal De Correos" seems Spanish to me, which would make the picture hard to place in Canada.  Is this therefore possibly a South American relative with some similarity of face with Berl?  Once again, we need a Cyrillic reader to make sense of the text.

In its physical form, this picture is quite different from the others so far.  It's very small and it has serrated edges all around.  The paper edges, moreover, are whiter rather than the cepia color of the earlier shots.  Molly suggests this is the South American Luisa "and her kids."  Molly recalls they had three children.  This leaves an extra unidentified person in the photo. 
Molly says this is Yiddish or Hebrew and she will try to translate. 

Miriam Diamant Brenner writes (4/18/2017):
I am quite positive that is not Aaron Diamant (my grandfather). Have seen pictures of him young and don't think that man matches his appearance.

Molly wrote, "my guess Aaron in Brazil."  I'm struck by how well attired he is -- with his hat, his probably leather case and gloves, and his substantial looking overcoat.  The image strikes me as 1930-ish.  The case may symbolize education or that he's currently in some form of higher education.  This picture, along with most of the others, suggests our family was not impoverished or could put up a good front. 
The back side of this shot is inscribed with lovely bold writing.  I'm not sure in this case whether this is Cyrillic or our alphabet.  The first word in the third line, "amerzga" looks like "america" -- but who can say?

Miriam Diamant Brenner writes (4/18/2017):
I have to check at my parents home. I think my father has a picture of that woman as one of my grandfather's sisters, but I am not sure. Will check and get back to you.

Ron:  There is a family resemblace between this woman and the woman with toddler in 8f.  But they don't appear to be the same person to me.  For one thing, I would date 12f to about 1930 and 8f looks like a picture out of 1910, perhaps.  If they were the same woman, therefore, the woman in 8f would be rather older than the woman in 12f by 1930.  But both dates and both faces, for that matter, are not easily identified.  There is a solemn seriousness in this woman's gaze, and, if I'm not mistaken, no little strength of character. 
It's tempting to speculate that the bottom word in this inscription is a name, Rebecca maybe.  But my fledgling Cyrillic transliteration skills don't sustain that conclusion at the moment.
Molly identifies these two as Esther (nee Roizen) and Abe Shaffer.  Back side of this photo is blank.  Esther is presumably one of Berl's two sisters.  I'd date the shot, once again, to about 1930.  The man still bears a resemblance to my father, even though he's not the related one in the picture.  Molly writes that they had no children and Esther was a diabetic.
Reva to the right and the two boys unidentified.  Once again, and unfortunately, nothing on the back of this photo.  If we assume that the uniforms are not merely mimicking costumes for purposes of this picture, then probably these boys attended military school. 
Molly identifies as Reva.  The nice thing about this picture, aside from the pleasing image, is that the back of the card offers at least two interesting clues.  First, it says "1918" -- presumably the date of the shot.  Second, the card has a girlish, quite possibly romantic doodle on the back, featuring the outline of a heart and small flowers gracing that outline.  This suggests the photo may have been employed as a romantic message or keepsake.  This is a nice possibility.
(Discussed in 15a.)
Different girl but same lace collar and bowtie.  This one, too, offers an interesting back side, with very readable Cyrillic writing.  We get a very clear date, "1916," and some sort of text that it is hoped Heidi's Russian friend can translate for us.
(Discussed above.)
Lisa Braumann has identified him as Jose' Diamant, patriarch of the Daimant family.  Jose' fathered Joseph (or "Yasha"), whose son was Julius, whose daughter was Lisa.  If 25 years is assigned to a generation's span, then Jose' might have been born around 1875.  I'd guess his age in this photo to be 50-60, perhaps older but probably not younger.  If he were, say, 55 in the photo, then the portrait dates to about 1930.  Molly refers to him as "Joseph Diamant," both Joe's and Julius's namesakes, she adds.  He died just before Joe was born, according to Molly.  Recall that according to Aaron's account, he would have died of starvation.
This is a lovely portrait, and we get the bonus of some very legible writing on the back (18b).  The date is apparently 1916 (yes?).  Goodness, they had a lot of ways to write the date back then.  My guess is that this one is June 20, 1916, according to how I'm reading how it was written.  Is this one of the girls in 6f?  I rather think so.  Comment?

Molly identifies this shot as Aaron Diamant.  Helio Diamant thinks so also.  He writes, "by the eyes, I would say it is really Aaron, even if I cannot recognize him at this age." 

Now we switch continents, to South America.  The inscription on the back side of this photo (left, 20f) gives us a clear date, October, 1944, and two names, Luisa and Janette.  We also get a location:  "Rio de Janeiro, Brasil."  Luisa is sitting, Janette standing behind her.  Luisa is Aaron's wife and Janette is their first daughter, according to Helio Diamant.  The two also appeared in this family group shot (below) taken in Brazil in 1977. 

Family photo, above right:  Helio Diamant has kindly provided a key to this photo.  He writes:  "Luiza (Aaron's wife) is the second from the right, and Jannete is the third from the right....Rightmost is Bella (Solomon) Welczer, Luiza's sister. After Jannette you can find, on the top, from right to left: Luis Fishenfeld (Janette's husband), Suzette (Fishenfeld Kishinievsky, Jannete's first daughter), Aaron Diamant, Joe Roizen's wife [Donna Foster Roizen], Joe Roizen, Adolfo Kishinievsky (Suzette's husband), Jose Diamant (my father) and Freidy Diamant (my mother). In the bottom, from right to left: Rejane (Fishenfeld) Spitz (Jannete's second daughter), Andre Kishinievsky (Suzette's son), Andre Spitz (Rejane's husband) and Miriam Diamant (my sister)."  Thanks, Helio!

Molly identifies these folks as family friends in Montreal -- there names, "Rubalsky," later changed to "Rubell."  She recalls the names of the individuals in the shot.
Jenny with unknown boy, perhaps student.
Reva (left) and Jennie (right), according to Mollie.
Guesses, anyone?  This is another of those smaller format snapshots with a serrated edge.  South American venue?  Kids being taken to a sort of petting-zoo-equivalent experience? 
Molly identifies the script as Yiddish and will try to translate.
Molly writes:  "Hoffman family in Long Island grandkids of Clara Hoffman (nee Roizen); she was also diabetic."  Maggie, who is often very good at this sort of thing, estimates the shot was taken in 1948-1950.  The boy's haircut suggests to me the slight possibility it might be later -- say, any year through the 1950s.  Cute kids. 
Molly identifies the children as Sylvia and Martin.  She adds: "They are the children of May, one of the Hoffman girls.  I don't recall her married name but her husband's name was Harry.  By the way, Clara (Kroina) Hoffman, nee Roizen, and her husband Isaac had either 5 or 6 children.  Sonia was the eldest and married to Al Tucker.  They had 2 children, Muriel and Bobby.  Both Muriel and I were named after Berl's mother, Mutel.  Then there was Ira Hoffman, also married but I don't recall her name. Couple of kids, one named Paul. Then there was May,
married to Harry, Rose married to Joe, and Robert, who was deaf and he was  married to a deaf woman.  Isaac ran a 

butcher shop and his family helped him.  My mind keeps coming up with the name Jack, so I don't know if this was the possible 6th child.  Muriel and I communicated for a while during our 20's and 30's but then we lost touch.  She married a guy named Jay Hertan and they had 3 or 4 kids.  They all lived in Long Island when I knew them in a town called Maspeth.  They probably all belong on the family tree."

It may be recalled that my transcription of Aaron's narrative offered nothing about Berl's sister, Kroina (or Clara).  Hence, Molly's contribution, above, tells us that a pretty substantial family tree segment derives from Kroina and her husband, Isaac -- with their "five or six children" and subsequent grandchildren.  We're going to need a bigger boat!
Miriam Diamant Brenner writes (4/18/2017):
I think that it is my grandmother Luiza Diamant (Aaron's wife). Have seen similar pictures of her before. Check the resemblance with picture 33f.

Ron:  Both Maggie and I would guesstimate this one as shot in about 1930.  The back side (below) looks readable and promising.


Miriam Diamant Brenner writes (4/18/2017):  Appears to me that those are:  Janette and Bella, both Aaron and Luiza's daughters (my father's sisters – my aunts).

Ron:  I've manipulated this shot (27f, above) in order to bring out the script the girl on the right appears to be practicing -- or perhaps the story she is writing.  Note as well the heavy duty blotter and inkwell in the foreground.  I like this shot a lot.  Molly identifies these girls as Janette and Charlotte in Brazil.
Molly writes this is Berl in T.B. hospital in Prefontaine, Que.  Molly will try to translate the Yiddish text. 


This photo (above, 29f) was also in the box.  A Canadian Jewish historical web page I looked at said the hotel was owned by the Greenbergs.  Maybe Dad had some connection to this hotel while his family lived in Ste. Agathe.
I've placed 30f and 31f next to each other for an obvious reason.  Here we have quite similar shots of Jenny, the teacher, and presumably her husband separated by more than a few years.  But how many years?  31f's back side (see below) offers the date, November 24, 1958.  The box held two prints of 30f, each with text on their back sides (see below), but neither offering dates.  My estimate is that 30f was taken about 25 years earlier than 31f, or 1933.  Incidentally, the warm, fur-collared coats in 30f also suggest wintertime shots.
It's notable, perhaps, how unchanging Jenny's expression was from photo to photo and over a great many years.  Also notable, perhaps, is that we have shots of her separated by 50 years -- 1f, taken in 1908, and 31f, in 1958.  This shot would have been taken months before my father's visit to Moscow as part of the Ampex contingent at an American exhibition or trade fair.  The transcript of Aaron's conversation with my father says Joe tried to visit Jenny but the Soviets would not allow it.  "They said," Joe reported, "she lived too near the border."  Incidentally, the change in hats is also notable in 30f and 31f, no?

Molly translates:  "To my mother and sister a small rememberance. (signed) Jennie and Abraham Burdman."  This, then, gives us Jennie's husband's name and her married name.
Molly translates:  "To my dear sister and brother and nephew Joseph (in Yiddish Yosel) as a rememberence from Jennie & Abraham Burdman 11/24/1958."

(I should point out that I've darkened the color of the background to bring out the text as sharply as possible.)
This is a new group?  Unfortunately nothing on the back side of this shot.  Molly writes that the young woman in the dotted dress is Reva.  This, of course, supplies some connection to our family even though the other three subjects remain unidentified.
Helio Diamant writes:  "DEFINITELY Luiza and Aaron."  Molly agrees.  This is a tiny little photo, blown up considerably for a better look.  The touching of the heads suggests a romantic connection of course.  The young woman's extreme cupid's bow lips and the shape of the young man's collar suggest a shot taken in the 1920s, perhaps the late '20s.  She, especially, looks very young.  Yet, Helio's confirmation of the identities creates a problem for my suggested dating of the picture.  The Geni family tree says Luiza was born in 1915, Aaron in 1906.  If she were, say, 18-years-old in this picture, then it would have been taken about 1933 -- or a little later than I suggested.