In 1997 Lauren Judelman (now Naama Goldberg), was towards the end of high school in Johannesburg, South Africa. She embarked on a small project of creating a family tree in order to familiarize herself with her father’s twenty one cousins, some of whom were visiting from overseas for a family wedding. She could never have imagined that 20 years and almost 2000 cousins later she would still be working on the project!
Initially, she was given hand drawn, old and tattered family trees and lists of family members, many of which Lazar Judelman had hand drawn. This was the beginning of a long, laborious and ongoing task which culminated in the present family tree.
The nucleus of the present family tree accompanied her when she went on Aliya to Israel, in 2001.
In Israel she continued with this project, finding and making contact with the Israeli branch of the family in the north of Israel. This family had until then only existed as names on a paper she was given and vague stories from her father from his childhood.
Her research continued with intervals, through five births, spending each maternity leave updating the information.
While initially she focused on creating a tree filled with names and dates of the family, later on she extended the research to life stories and photos of the people to understand who they where and how they came to be where they were.
She published the first printed version of the family tree in 2001. She is working on completing and distributing the next extended version soon.
THE JUDELMAN FAMILY
It has been established with certainty that the Judelman family came from the small town of Skud, Lithuania, north of Salant very close to the Latvian border. The ‘Y’udelmans are mainly descendants from Yitschak Judelman while the ‘J’udelmans are descendants from his brother: Emanuel Manne Judelman.
It is important to note that according to Sydney Judelman who was interviewed in 1993, some of the Judelmans from Skud are not family relatives. I have come across a family of Judelmans in Johannesburg, South Africa which I cannot connect to this family tree.
Yitschak Judelman travelled to South Africa in 1901 with his children and is buried in South Africa.
Emanuel Manne had five children. Their descendants left Lithuania between the years of 1888 and 1930 and made their way to three different countries.
The oldest, Jane Sheva Judelman, married Nathan Phillips and moved to New Zealand in 1888.
Yehuda Leib Judelman’s descendants made Aliya to Northern Israel around 1933.
The descendants of Bentzion, Ressa (married to Leftin) and Hirsch Tzvi Judelman travelled to South Africa and Rhodesia between the years 1898-1930.
Today Judelman family members can be found predominantly in South Africa, America, Australia, Israel, England, Canada and New Zealand. See a map here.
THE CONNECTION TO THE VILNA GAON
The Judelmans were known to be descendants of the Vilna Gaon – Elijah Ben Solomon Zalman (1720-1797) and through him to Moses Rivkes Ben Naphtali Hirsch who died in 1672 and was a famous Lithuanian Talmudist. The exact connection though has not been confirmed.
According to Leo Phillips “Philips family History”- see Appendix, Emanuel Judelman was a direct descendant of the Vilna Gaon.
According to an interview with Sydney and Mannie Judelman in 1993, Sydney said that Agnes Judelman said both Ella and Hirsch Judelman were descendant from the Vilna Gaon but from different sides. Mannie also said the family comes from the Vilna Gaon.
In the book “Eliyahu’s Branches – the Descendants of the Vilna Gaon and His Family” on page 567 by Chaim Freedman, he mentions that the Judelman family is known to be related but the connection is not known.
The first four generations of the Gaon can be viewed here.