Chapter 1 Tsinne and Leib Efron of Amdur


The descendents of Tsinne and Leib Effron of Amdur is by far the largest of the Efron family trees, and is the subject of all of Volume I of the Efron Family History. The earliest ancestors of this family are identified in two family histories. First, in Sam Effron’s “The Saga of the Effron Family,” a brief, a genealogy of the descendants of Motte (Mordecai) Effron. Motte’s mother was Tsinne of Amdur, according to this account. [GEN029-SD]


In the chapter “My Family,” in Yedidia Effron’s book, Amdur, Mayn Geboyrn Shtetl (Amdur, my Hometown) he also identifies Motte, son of Tsinne, as his ancestor.. In both of these sources there are mentions of other Efron families and relations, sometimes elucidating the larger picture of this branch of Effrons and usually just a hint that beckons the family historian to dig in deeper.


This is how Sam Effron of Poughkeepsie introduced his “Saga of the Effron Family:


During the beginning of the reign of Alexander I, the czar of Russia, there was a small town in the government (gubernie) of Grodno called Amdur.


The population of this town was mostly Jewish, and surrounding it were many villages.  The Peasants, who lived on the farms on the outskirts of the town, would come into the town to trade, to see what was for sale and to buy what they needed.


There was in that town of Amdur, a man by the name of Motte -- his mother's name was Tsine.  Tsine, mother of Motte, had three more sons, namely, Cheikel, Chaim Lozer and Afraim.  (It is possible that the three sons at the census taking adopted different family names instead of Efron, as we do not know much about them).


About that time, in the beginning of the 19th century, the Jewish people had no family names, but they were called after the father's or the mother's or the wife's name; therefore Motte was known as Motte Tsine's, after his mother.  But during that period, the government decided that every family should have a second name on record.  So I imagine a census was taken and each family was given a name (this is the census referred to above).  I suppose the person who answered the questionnaire of the census taker was called Efraim (his first name), so they shortened it and called the family Efron, and that is the beginning of the large EFFRON family. [GEN029-SD]


Sam Effron’s genealogy has been an inspiration and established the earliest generations of the Amdur Effron’s family tree.  This was written in the 1950s, however, and he did not have access to the sources now available for research. That genealogy is used in the next several chapters as an outline for the family history of the Efron family of Amdur. It has been enlarged upon and clarified when necessary.


In Sam Effron’s genealogy the head of the family is a woman named Tsine (also spelled Tsinne, Tzina, Cina, etc.) and her husband is not even mentioned. That his name is Leib was determined from a 1784 census entry and an 1818 Revision List entry for their son, Ephraim (more below). Another thing worth noting is the introductory line which says that two of the sons seem to have the same name: Chaim and Cheikel Lazar. Cheikel is a nickname for Chaim, and therefore it appears that two brothers have the same name. Since there is no definite documentation for this Lazar, there is no verification of Sam’s information. The existence of Chaim, on the other hand, is well documented.


Leib of Amdur, b. approx 1767, d. after 1791, but before 1809, married Tsinne Tsinowitsis of Amdur, b. approx. 1767. They are listed in the 1784 Polish census for Indura, with one child, Chaim. [CENMISC007] Some of their descendants took the name Efron, and some apparently took the family name “Tsinnes.” She Came from the family “Tsinowitsis,” according to the book about Amdur. There is a family in the Grodno area by the name of Tsinowitz, which lived in the town of Jedwabne. So this may be her place of origin.


In Yedidia Efron’s book, Amdur, Mayn Geboyrn Shtetl, he says that Tsinne came from the family Tsinowitsis, who lived in or around Bialystok.  A well-known family is that of Tsinowitz (Cinowitz, etc.), with origins in the town of Yedwabne (Jedwabne) -- near Bialystok.  One descendant of that family was a Tsinne Tsinowitz who was born long after the Efron matriarch of that name. Tsinne Tsinowitz of Yedwabne married Moshe Goelman. One of their children, Irving, married Aneis Effron of Kentucky – see page –. More information about the Goelman family can be found in the translation of the Jedwabne Yizkor book on .


In an email from a member of the Goelman family, Ty Rogers, I learned that the father of Tzina Rochel (TZINOWTIZ) GOELMAN, b. 1863 in Yedwabne, was Yankel. Yankel’s mother was Malke, and her second husband (the given name of the first husband, TZINOWITZ, is unknown), Nachum RADZIK, was Ty’s ancestor. According to Ty, Moshe and Tzina Rochel had eight children, and Izzy (Irving) was one of them. Another child was Hersh Tzinowitz (Cynowicz), who was born in Jedwabne, became a lawyer in Vilna, and was one of the recipients of a visa, in 1940, from the Japanese counsel, Chiune Sugihara. Hersh wrote an article in the Jedwabne yizkor book that traces the family tree. According to him, the Tzinowitz family originated in Tykocin, near Bialystok.  


Goelman family of Yedwabne: Moshe, Zina (nee Tzinowitz), son Gershon and his wife, and grandson Eliezer (Courtesy Ty Rogers, from the Jedwabne Yiskor book)



“Besides the Tzinowitzes who went to Jedwabne, there was also a cluster of Tzinowitzes in Zambrow.  The two groups are probably related to each other but I am probably related only to the Jedwabne ones who were descendants of my g-g-g grandmother Malka.  (As I mentioned, I am descended from Malka and her second husband, not her first husband who was a Tzinowitz.)” (Ty Rogers) The Tzinowitz family is also discussed in Chapter 14, in the context of Aneis Effron’s marriage to Irving Goelman.


No oral history or documentation make clear the name of Tsinne’s husband, but the 1818 Revision List (census) record for Ephraim Efron, son of Leib [CENRS001] appears to be referring to this Leib. In September, 2003, I received copies of the 1784 census of the town of Amdur.  There was only one Tsinne in that list, and her husband’s name was Leib This made sense, since many of Tsinne’s descendant’s had the name Leib, its Hebrew equivalent, “Aryeh,’ or the formal Hebrew name from which Leib is a nickname, “Yehuda.”


Why would one person have three names? The three names Yehuda (Hebrew) Aryeh (Hebrew for Lion) and Leib (German for Lion) are all equivalent and are often used together.  Yehuda was one of the sons of the Biblical Patriarch Jacob.  Like Jacob’s other sons, Yehuda is given a blessing where he is compared to an animal. For Yehuda, it is a lion.  The Hebrew word for Lion is Aryeh, and the Yiddish word is Leib.


According to Jewish tradition, children are often named after recently deceased direct ancestors.  To see if this makes sense for Leib and his offspring, an analysis of Tsinne’s grandchildren named Leib shows the prevalence of the name:


Yudel, b. 1837, son of Ephraim

Leyba, b. 1809, son of Chaim

Ephraim-Leibel, a grandson of Motte

Leyba, son of Elya


The above list also gives a range of years, prior to which Leib must have died. Children were not named after living ancestors. Therefore, Leib probably died: prior to 1809, when Leyba, son of Chaim was born. Leib lived until at least 1791, when his son Motte was born.


Tsinne was born approximately 1767, based on the known birth dates of her grandchildren The earliest was born in 1808  and the latest in 1856. It is interesting that there are so few descendants named Tsinne.  She must have lived at least a moderately full life; at least long enough for her children to be known as “Tsinne’s.”



According to Sam Effron, there are four known children of Leib and Tsinne:


CHAIM CHEIKEL TSINNE’S. See Chapter ---  According to the letter written by Harmon Ephron [GEN022­-SD], Chaim Cheikel Ephron, his father, “was named after an uncle who was a famous rabbi and a great biblical and Hebrew scholar.”  This suggests that this Chaim Cheikel Ephron might be named after Chaim Cheikel of Amdur, a famous Hasidic leader.  Cheikel of Amdur was b. 1730, and d. 1787. However, that is unlikely. For one, he was a Hasid, and the Efrons were Mitnagidim – two opposing schools of Judaism. More likely, Harmon Ephron’s father was almost certainly named after Chaim Cheikel Tsinne’s. Hermann Efron of Frankfurt was born in 1855, was a great-grandson of Chaim Cheikel Tsinn’es and was probably named for him; Harmon Ephron’s father was born right around the same time.


LEIZER TSINNE’S.  b. approx. 1786, based on his other siblings’ birth dates. He was not listed in the 1784 census, so probably he was born after that date. Nothing is known about him.  Sam Effron indicates in his genealogy that there was a “Chaim Lozar.”  But Sam Effron also says that there is a son named Cheikel. [GEN029-SD] Cheikel and Chaim are the same name (like James and Jim), so somewhere there may be an error in the oral history of the family.  There are many descendants named Leizer from various Efron family trees, and so many in the earliest generations that I would venture to guess that there was a Leizer who was an ancestor of Leib or Tsinne of Amdur, progenitors of this family tree.. Leizer Tsinne’s children are not known, but there are many descendants with the name Leizer so it is very possible that he is the ancestor of many Efron descendants.


EPHRAIM TSINNE’S.  See Chapter --Very little information is known about his family, although there are probably many missing branches.


Ephraim Efron , b. 1790, married Ghenya, b. 1790. In 1818 he is registered to Amdur. [RS001] I believe that he may be the source of some of the Bialystok and Amdur area Efron families which have not yet been tied into the Tsinne’s family.


>          Yehuda Efron, b. 1827. In 1840 he is registered to Amdur. [RS003] This may be the same individual as Leib Efron of Grodno, whose children came to the US (the names Leib and Yehuda are equivalent). See page ---.


MOTTE TSINNE’S. See Chapter --. This family is very well known, thanks primarily to the efforts of Sam Effron, Ed Effron, Julio Mazo and others.


Motte Efron, b. 1791 [RS012; RS013; RS082; RS085].


Motte had five sons and three daughters.  The sons were Mashe, Yankel, David, Gdalie and Shevach; the daughters were Shifre, Etche, and Cunne. [GEN029-SD]


The hand drawn family tree done by Max Effron of Arizona [GEN013-SD] agrees with the names of the children of Motte Tsinne’s listed by Sam Effron [GEN029-SD], but it is not known whether either received the information from the other. It seems likely that there was communication between the two.


The Lowenstein Genealogy says that Motte Tsinne’s was born in 1791, but no source of that information is known.  Bill Lowenstein (see . --) also shows that Etchee is the daughter to whom Avrom Ezra, the Rabbi, was married.  Likewise, Lowenstein shows that Shifre was a granddaughter, not a daughter of Motte Tsinne’s. Based on the ages of his sons, and the earliest grandchild to bear the name of Motte (Mordecai) [RS012; RS013; RS082; RS085], Motte Tsinne’s birth date is likely between 1785 and 1826.


The daughters [of Motte Tsinne’s] were Shifre, Eche and Cunne. [GEN029-SD] The family trees of Eche (Haiche) and Cunne (Kuna) are known (see below), but nothing is known about Motte’s daughter Shifre. An analysis of women named “Shifre” could lead to her family if there was a marriage between a known branch and Shifre’s (unknown) branch.  There are some entries in the Amdur Revision List of 1858 for Shifre, but it would be conjecture to guess which one is the same as this Shifre.


>  SHIFRE, b. Amdur, approximately 1815.


Sources: Samuel Effron’s “Saga of the Effron Family”; Yedidia Effron’s “Amdur, Mayn Geboyrn Shtetl”; Bill Lowenstein, Famly Tree; Max Effron, Family Tree; Revision List of Amdur (cite references); source of Goelman/Tsinne Tsinowitz connection.


Other Families with the name of EFRON (or similar)


Other families with the name EFRON, regardless of spelling, may or may not be related to this family. Those other families, who are identified in Volume II of this genealogy, can fit into one of the following categories, though we don’t know which category is correct for any given Efron family:


  1. The family is unrelated, and whatever the source of the name EFRON might be, this family acquired the name for the same reason
  2. The family is unrelated, and acquired the name EFRON for a reason other than the reason the name was acquired by the Amdur Efrons.
  3. The family is related, but the name was acquired through a wife, so there is no common male ancestor between that family and the Amdur Efron branch
  4. The family is related, and the family in question has a common male ancestor as the Amdur Efron family.


A family that probably fits into category four was identified in the 1858 Revision List for the City of Grodno. They are almost certainly related because they lived very close to the family of Chaim Efron, son of Ephraim Tsinne’s, based on their proximity to that family in the revision list enumeration. Their connection to the other Amdur families is unknown. In fact, the given names are unusual, or just plain unknown, in the Amdur Efron constellation


Girsh Efron, b. approx. 1770


>          David, b. 1795, married to Khana, b. abt. 1795


>          Tsoduk, b. 1818, married Dvora Breina, b. abt. 1819


>          >          Girsh Abram, b. 1842

>          >          Slava Leah, b. 1853