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From the coming book of the Leiteses genealogy
8E. The branch of Shmaya Leites (Simon Laties)
In 1990 I got by post the next hand-written letter in Russian from A.M.Leites:
“April 11, 1990.
Dear Leonid Veniaminovich, I fddress to you about a strange cause, but I hope you will reply
to me.
My son Dmitry Leites lives in Sweeden and works for Stockholm University. He is a
mathematician – an expert of algebraic topology. March 27, 1990 he got a letter from some Alan D
Leitas, MD, professor – a head of ophthalmology researches in medical center of Pennsylvania
University in the USA/
This Alan Leitas writes that in a science handbook he had seen references to articles of D
Leites and decided that if D Leites came from Russia, it may be (happen), that they are relatives.
Alan’s father came to the USA from Moscow in 1923. He was born in 1896 in Gomel.
My son gave me this letter with hope that I will be able to know something sensible from
relatives. One of my the late aunts told always, that all the Leiteses are relatives. The generation of our
parents (and their siblings) has died. My cousins know nothing about their descendants. But one of far
relatives (he seems a second cousin) Boris Nasonovich Leitas, married my first cousin Tsetsiliya
Yakovlevna Leites, gave me a way to find you. He remembered that you had a hobby – search of the
Leitases (Leiteses, Leitises), and that about 10 – 15 years ago you visited his brother Semen at
Pervomaiskaya Street and told him about this search. Such passions stay long time usually. Seemingly
you are the only person who can help to answer something to our namesake and, may be, a relative
from the USA – to Alan Leitas. Boris saved the phone number you had 10 – 15 years ago (251 8135).
When I called I was given phone number of Galina Aleksandrovna, and she informed me about your
patronymic and year of birth. After this I got your address in Moscow inquiries office. Your phone
number I could not find. So I mail to you.
I am Aleksandr Moiseevich Leites, I was born 1927 in Moscow.
My father Moisej Isaakovich Leites (in an old photo for a document was written MovshaLejba Itskovich Leites) was born in 1889 in Tolochin … в местечке Толочин неподалеку от Орши.
His brother Yakov and sisters Fruma, Sonya, and Basya were born in the same town. My grandfather
was a small trader and a very religious man. I know nothing more about my grandparents. …”.
Then information about Moisej Isaakovich Leites and Aleksandr Moiseevich Leites was
written. Moisej was a journalist; he was lost in Kolyma in 1938. Aleksandr was a geologist, PhD. His
phone number and address were written.
Of course I called at once.
At the meeting Aleksandr showed me Dmitry’s letter and confirmed that the name of Alan’s
father was absent in Alan’s letter.
There was the Alan’s office address in his letter. I knew that Alan’s last name spelling was
Laties. I could not suppose such spelling that time, so if I tried to search for my relatives, my attempt
could not be successful.
On the other hand Alan’s appeal to Dmitry would not give a success if twenty years before I
would not find Natan (Nason) Solomonovich (Sholomovich) Leites (he was born in 1893), if I would
not urged him to allow me visited him in his apartment, if at the end of conversation I would not ask
his son Semen to call by phone to his older brother Boris Nasonovich Leitas and ask Boris to inform
all his relatives about me and my phone number. Later Aleksandr Moiseevich knew about me from
Boris Nasonovich.
So, because of recalcitrance (persistency, insistency, contrariness, contumacy, insistence,
obduracy, obstinacy, patience, perseverance, persistence, pertinacity, perversity, recalcitrance,
refractoriness, stubbornness, urgency, rebelliousness, rebelliousness, rebelliousness, steadfastness,
60
unyieldingness = благодаря настойчивости) of Aleksandr Moiseevich the information from Alan
Laties had reached me. It happened 22 years later I began to study my family tree. It happened the
same days when my son Gregory entered into the USA and I could give his address and phone number.
April 30 I mailed the next hand-written letter (4 years later I got a copy of it):
“Dr. Alan Laties
Dear Alan,
I am writing to You as a reply to your letter to your letter to Dmitry Laties (Stockholm).
My name is Leonid Veniaminovich Leites. I was born in Moscow in 1932. I am an electric
engineer, a scientist. My father was born in Homel in 1902.
May be You are my cousin. I hope it is true.
My father’s brother Shmaja = Sjoma = Semjon = …? was born near Homel in 1897. He studied
in Moscow to become leather technology engineer. He went to the USA about (near) in 1923.
His first wife was Mura Grushanok, had son David (1920, Sevastopol), and his second wife’s
name was Rimma. They had 3 sons (1925 ?, …, Leonid-?).
Shmaja had brothers Ruvim-Mojsey, Lev, Veniamin = Hjoma [slip of my pen – must be
written Nyoma]; sisters Galja = Galina and Bella; father Gershen = Gregory (1860, Mstislavl – 1947,
Moscow), mother Elena = Alke Malev (1867 – 1925), grandfather Smugel = Samuil = Shmuel (1811,
Mstislavl – 1906), …, … great-great-greatfather Monos (XVIII, Mstislavl), – see my enclosed letter
in Russian.
Since 1968 I am collecting all the information concerning the families Leites = Laties = Leytes,
Leitis, Leitas, Leitus and so on.
My son Grisha = Gregory has a copy of the matherials. He has just arrived as a refugee to the
USA. He is a computer programmer. He lives now with his friend, his address: Anatily Rozowsky, 25
Allen str, Arlington, MA, 02174, USA. tel. (617) 643 4050.
I would appreciate getting an answer from You.
In any case I will be glad to see You in Moscow.
Please, excuse me for my very bad English.
With my best wishes, sincerely yours, [signature].
1990, 04, 30. Moscow.
My address: USSR, 107078, Москва, Садовая Спасская, 21, кв.239, Лейтес Л.В. Тел. 262-65-78.”
In the enclosed hand-written letter in Russian was written the next:
“Dr. Alan Laties
Harold G. Scheie / University of Pennsylvania
Myrin Circle, 51 North 39th Street,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19104, USA
(215) 662-8692
Dear Alan!
I am Leonid Veniaminovich Leites. I got a letter from Aleksandr Moiseevich Leites who lives
in Moscow. He is a PhD in geology- mineralogy sciences. He is a father of mathematician Dmitry
Leites, to whom you mailed in March 1990 your address. I got only the next information about you:
“Alan’s father arrived to the USA in 1923 from Moscow. He born 1896 in Gomel”.
I was born in 1932 in Moscow. I am an expert in transformers, doctor of sciences. I am an
author of articles and books in Russian. I collect data about the Leiteses (Leitases, …) since 1968.
I have an authentic (reliable, trustworthy positive) family tree from the middle of XVIII
century:
Monos, a notary of town Mstislavl (not far from Gomel),
his sons Sholom (see below) and Nosn (I do not have any data),
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Sholom’s son Movsha,
Movsha’s sons Lejba and Smugel’ = Shmuel = Samuil (1811 – 1905, Mstislavl’),
Lejba’s great-grandson Zhenya and great-great-grandson Lev live in the USA (Los
Angeles and close to San Francisco),
Smugel’s sons:
Solomon-Alter (1845 – 1913), his grandson Nathan and great-grandsons live in
the USA and in other countries,
Nosn,
Gereshen = Grigorij (1860 – 1947, Mstislavl’ – Moscow),
wife Elke = Elena Maleva (1867 – 1925), she had 16 siblings.
Children:
Galya (1888 – 1984),
Ruvim-Moisej (1891 – 1954),
Bela (1896 – 1978),
Shmaya = Syoma = Semyon (1897 - ),
Lev (1899 – 1977),
Veniamin = Nyoma (1902 -1968).
All they except Shmaya died in Moscow. Their descendants except my
son Grrisha live in Moscow.
Syoma was born in 1897 in Chechersk about 60 km from Gomel (Gomel and different year
may be written in his documents), in his childhood and youth age he lived in Gomel. He studied in
Moscow in the People's Economy Institute named after Plekhanov. He was a leather technology
engineer. He moved to the USA in 1922 or 1923. He had a wife Mura Grushanok and son David
(1920, Sevastopol’), and in the second marriage he had a wife Rimma and 3 sons. If you are one of
them, then I am your first cousin*.
I return to Leites genealogy. Almost a half of the Leiteses I met in Russia are from the
Sholom’s clan. May be that they are descendants of Nosn, but they do not know their ancestors before
the middle of XIX century.
A German historian von Leitis supposed that Monos is Mickhael Gregory Leitis who married a
Jewess in XVIII century, got Judaism and emigrated to Russia. Leitis clan is watched to XII century –
in 1158 Gregorius Leitis died at Upper Dvina River, in XIII century his descendant … adopted
Christianity, …, two branches, ….
My son Gregory has a copy of some branches of the Leiteses family tree. He was born 1959, he
is a programmer, he leaved from Moscow 1989, he lives at his friend … in Boston now. His address
and phone is in enclosed my letter in pure English.
In any case I ask you very much to confirm you received this letter and inform me about you
and your extended family.
I will be glad to see you in Moscow.
* - My mother Sima Izrailevna Plisetskaya also supposes that you are Syoma’s son. She was
born in Gomel too, but she did not know Syoma directly.
Truly yours, with best wishes [signature]. 30.04.90”.
Extractions from these letters I mailed to my son in Boston and Aleksandr Moiseevich mailed or
read by phone to his son in Stockholm.
Later I knew about the next mistakes in my letters: Shmaya’s first wife surname was Glushanok
instead of Grushanok, David is name of the fourth son instead of the first son, Gregorij von Leitis was
not a historian, he did not suppose that Monos was Mickael, the family tree was not reliable, 3 years
later I had to change it (see section 7).
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June 1 and 7 I got two big envelops containing letters from Alan’s brother Victor Laties, dated
May 15 and 16. The listed materials, showed in Enclosure E2 in the second book, were there.
(1) Letters from Victor to me dated May 15 and to his 3 brothers dated May 14. Later I knew
that the first version of this letter (see page 529) was finished and mailed to Victor’s brothers April 20,
in the same day, when I dot the first information from Alan.
The most impressive for me in this letter was hand-written addition at the beginning of Victor’s
letter: “5/15/90. 4:00 P.M. Yes! I just received a copy of your letter. Vic
Yes!” (page 543).
When I read these words I almost saw the author jumping as a child, and I told to my mother
and wife about my vision (mirage). Later at our meeting Victor confirmed that he had jumped.
Information about Simon’s parents and relatives, and comments to the list of Leites and Malev
who have published articles or books, are written in this letter (pages 543 - 544). Victor made this list
to find relatives in Russia, and he did it! You can see this list in pages 530 – 542. Names of 62 Leites
and 19 Malev are there. Victor marked all 3 brothers and one Simon’s niece in the list. He did not
meet publications of Bela Leites. He could not recognize Veniamin (leather chemistry) in Beniamin G
Leites (food technology) and had a light doubt that Simon could have 4 brothers instead of 3. He was
lucky that he did not meet Nyoma’s books in plywood and match production, in metallurgy and in
veterinary science – it would be difficult to make a choice. Nobody could think that all these authors
were the same one person.
There were 18 authors in Victor’s list, who were absent in the library named after Lenin (where
I looked for Leites), but only eight of them who presented in this library were absent in Victor’s list.
The only Leites, who at first published in Russian, and whose address Victor could find, was
Dmitry Leites – he moved to Sweeden.
After our meeting, in the late 1990, Victor added articles of student S. Leites and other relatives
in the list, included some resume and so on. I made 10 copies of this version as a little book (36
pages). Six pages of this book are shown in pages 549 -554.
(2) A copy of Victor’s letter to Gregory (shown in page 545), dated May 16, was in the second
envelope. It contained short biographies of Simon and his sons, and list of his grandchildren and greatgrandchildren.
At the beginning of the letter the next is written by hand: “Leonid, I spoke to Grisha and we
may meet at my daughter’s home in New Haven this Saturday. V”. This meeting had place May 19
and the second one had place a month later (June 16 – 17) – now with almost the whole Victor’s
family (12 persons). You can see in the pictures in Section 67, that all participants liked this meeting. I
would like to pay your attention to two similarly bearded second cousins (Andy and Gregory), who
were born Sept. 23 and 21, 1959.
A copy of 6 photos (pages 546-547) with a remark “Nyoma is in at least one of these old
photographs!” was enclosed to the letter. I answered to this task the next (from my copy):
1 – “Nyoma bearded, 1925”.
2 – “Mirra with a doll, “Photographer's studio Levite in Gomel’” must be written on the back”.
3 – “Lev, Dora, Finna”.
4 – “Nyoma in turban, Febr. 1927, I have slightly different picture – with a chair”.
5 – “Three students – I do not know them”. Later I knew that Victor did not know them too.
6 – “Bela, Ruvim, Lev, Gershen, Nyoma, Galya, Dec.22, 1929”.
About June 20 Gregory told me by phone “You can meet Victor July 31 and Alan with Jane
Aug.1 in Moscow airport. They come for a week”. We met them, became friends, acquainted them
with all relatives from Leites and Malev sides, with Aleksandr Moiseevich Leites, with my closest
63
friends, we showed them Moscow and vicinity, to crematorium, … Victor shouted a lot of photos.
Alan visited eye institute named after Helmgolts.
The first morning in Moscow Victor went to the main Soviet library (named after Lenin) with
me and our cousin Lev Fokin. We found out there two publications where a student S. Leites (Victor’s
father) participated and ordered copies of these articles. Victor was very happy.
We knew unbelievable date’s coincidences:
Victor began to interest by family history 1968 autumn, when I activated my search;
Alan told with Victor about looking for relatives in Russia when Grisha went out of Russia;
Victor worked in citation indexes when Grisha tried to get USA entry visa;
Information about Alan’s letter reached me when Grisha entered in the USA (April 20).
In the next years the next relatives visited us:
1991 – Victor, his wife Martha, his brother David, and his daughter Nancy;
1992 – Victor, his brother David, and his daughter Clairt with her husband Tyler Davis;
1993 – Victor and his son Andy with wife Chris;
1994 – Victor and his daughter Nancy (they visited S-Petersburg too).
During all their five visits hot water supply was repaired in our home (we lived in a very
prestigious building – “high-rise house at Red Gate”), and our guests could have a shower only in our
dacha from firewood heater, or at visit to other relatives.
In 1994 Victor and his brothers invited me and my wife Bella to visit the USA. We saw all
Simons’s sons (we met George - the oldest of them – and his wife Betsy too), families of Andy and
Nancy.
Victor and Alan at finance participation David and George actively and initiatively helped
relatives who emigrated to the USA, namely Lana Jakobi (daughter of second cousin once removed
down Larisa Leites) and Iren Yurovska (daughter of the late first cousin Finna Leites). Alan organized
and sponsored a voyage of Anna Ryzhenskaya (my wife’s daughter) to summer mathematician courses
in Philadelphia. In the winter 1992, which was the hardest for Moscowers, Victor sent to them about
80 humanitarian parcels.
I knew that there were many scientists among our relatives - Leiteses, but 3 of 4 Simon’s sons
are full professors! The fourth Simon’s son is a strong expert in money signs history. Victor and Alan
guessed to look for relatives through their publications!
To the point all three Simon’s brothers, who lived in Moscow, corresponded to the level of
Doctor of sciences. Nyoma two times defense his thesis successfully, but did not received the
document. Lev had prepared his thesis, but did not go to defense. I asked him about the reason. He
answered the next: - “It is better to be an alive PhD, then a late ScD”. Bella for getting the degree ScD
went from Russia to the Caucasus for some years. I have a lot of examples of long (many years) delays
of defenses for Jews, whom I knew.
A funny episode had place in 1991. At walking around Kratovo Lake Victor and me discussed
that many of Leites studied excellently and reached high positions in science. After this we returned to
our cousin Lev’s dacha. Our old close friend with his wife came. I introduce him:
- Our friend Boris Summ. He studied excellently always, chess-player, ScD, professor, head of
colloid chemistry chair (department / sub-faculty) in the Moscow State University, an outstanding
scientist …
Victor: - So is he Leites?
I: - No, he is a friend of Lev and me from school, Lev’s neighbor …
Victor: - But he is excellent pupil, scientist - is he a relative of the Leiteses?
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Suddenly I roared with laughter and could not stop a few minutes. When I stopped, I explained:
- I had to wait more then 30 years for coming an American cousin with such question for I understand
that Boris is my and Lev’s relative. His daughter Lyuba is our Aunt Bela’s great-granddaughter. His
first wife Olga is Bela’s granddaughter.
So, thanks to a wish of Simon’s sons to help their relatives in Russia on one hand and thanks to
my genealogy activity on the other hand we have found each other. Shmaya’s branch beautified our
clan (made our clan more interesting). Sometimes I think, how would be arranged my cousin’s life and
life of their children and grandchildren if Shmaya did not leave Russia? I do not find an answer. I see
that they differ from us, who have grown up in the USSR – they are free, independent, relaxed,
uninhibited.
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3.6.5 Leiteses Genealogy Book