This story begins with the Germans storming into the Soviet Union in June 1941 and ends nearly seven decades later with a celebration in Brooklyn — with stops in war-torn Leningrad, a Catskills summer camp and a Chestnut Hill chabad in between.

It is a tale of bitter hardship, narrow escapes, and fortuitous coincidences. It is the story of the six siblings of the Duchman family and their scores of descendants.

Let’s start with Shaina. When the Nazis invaded, she was practically on the front lines, attending to the birth of a granddaughter. She was in Bialystok, then part of Soviet-controlled Poland and one of the first cities the Germans invaded. The baby’s father, an army officer, was killed early in the fighting.

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created at: 2010-03-12


Grunie Uminer, the rebbetzin at the Chestnut Hill chabad and Ella Vorovitch, the rebbetzin at a Toronto chabad, met at a chabad conference last month, seven decades after their families were separated by the war. This 1925 family photo shows Uminer’s great-grandfather Zalman and Vorovitch’s great-grandmother Shaina. At bottom are Rochel (center left), Uminer’s grandmother, and Mania (center right), Vorovitch’s grandmother.