by Joshua M. Sklare
This book was written in loving memory of my ancestors Nachman and Liba Sklar, Israel and Molly Mordell Lippman, Chatzkell and Sarah Gruzd. May the deeds of their descendants bring them great merit and let their endless sacrifices and timeless values inspire us to follow in their ways.
In my distant childhood memories, I remember trekking from our Brooklyn home on a summertime Sunday to visit my father’s second cousin Arnold Sklare, who resided in Easthampton, Long Island. Arnie had developed a friendship with my father in their childhood years; that friendship was reignited during the years we spent in New York. I once asked the late Harry Sklare, Arnie’s first cousin, about the summertime family gatherings on a Wisconsin lake and whether my father had participated in the various recreational activities that took place there. “Marshall would spend his time talking to Beryl (Arnie’s middle name).” Indeed the two men had a good deal in common. Both became men of letters, interested in literature and ideas. As is well known, their respective parents, Irving and Bee Sklare and Harry and Ida Sklare, were very close and shared much in common. Neither father had been formally educated nor did either encourage book learning. It was on their own that both sons found their callings.
The Lippmans are very much a Kovno family and it is in that Lithuanian city where that family’s patriarch Matys Libnik, son of Shevek, was born in 1767. That year may be familiar to students of American history as it marked the beginning of what would become known as the Townshend Acts, a series of laws leading to the Boston Tea Party and the Revolutionary War. We are indeed fortunate that we can trace our family back to such an early time. What we know of Matys is that his wife was named Chaya and they had a son Yonkel Yossel, born in 1810. Yonkel married Rivka and beginning in 1833, they had three children, Liba, Israel, and Matys. Liba settled in nearby Dov lego vichy with her family; Israel married Malka (Molly Mordell), our most direct progenitors; and Matys married Rochel Esther. Each son had six children. What we know of Yonkel Yossel comes from his grandson, Meir Velvel Lippman, who described him as a tall, strong man who was known for his dedication to Talmudic learning.