SHLOMO GEFFEN – ANOTHER BRANCH OF OUR FAMILY
Shlomo Geffen was a Zionist activist in Lithuania before and after WW II, enduring imprisonment in the Soviet Union before finally being allowed to emigrate to Israel in 1971. He lived in Holon and died in 2005.
Shlomo was born in Kovno, Lithuania, in 1913. He is number 21 in the Geffen Family Tree in the "Our Family Story" website. He shares a common great-great-great grandfather (Tzvi Hirsch Geffen, number 3) with the grandchildren of Rabbi Tobias Geffen, making him their fourth cousin. Shlomo's father married Hennia Intriligator, a cousin, so he is also related from another direction.
Shlomo was a Beitar activist before WWII. When the Nazis invaded Lithuania he and his wife, Rivka Sachs, fled east to Uzbekistan, where his daughter, Yael, was born. Other members of the family also escaped into the Soviet Union- his brother Tuvia served in the Lithuanian Division in the Red Army and his brother-in-law Benyamin Robinson (married to Shlomo's sister Sarah), another Revisionist activist, served in the Lithuanian Division as an artillery officer. After the Red Army liberated Lithuania from the Nazis, Shlomo returned with his family to Vilna. He was an activist in the "Bricha", the underground movement of Jews from Europe after the Holocaust to Israel, helping to organize transportation and false documents that enabled Jews to cross the Soviet Union-Polish border. An instance of his assistance is recounted by Shalom Eilati in his book "Crossing the River", who as a boy of 12 was helped by Shlomo to join a group of refugees leaving Vilna for Poland. For this activity Shlomo was arrested by the Soviet security police in 1946 and sent to labor camps of the Gulag. Beni Robinson was arrested in 1950 and sent to work in mines. Shlomo was a hospital laboratory chemist by profession so he was able to work in this role in the camps and survive. After Stalin's death, and after spending 9 years in the Gulag and another year in exile in Siberia, Shlomo returned to Vilna in 1956. He continued to work as a hospital chemist but applied for permission to emigrate to Israel for himself, Rivka, and Yael. It was only when large numbers of Soviet Jews were allowed out of the Soviet Union that they were allowed to leave, arriving in Israel in 1971. Beni and Sarah arrived with their daughter Shulamit in 1972.
Shlomo worked for many years as the head of the laboratories at Wolfson Hospital and was also active in organizations of Soviet Jews in Israel. He died in 2005. His daughter Yael is married to Leonid Shchokin, they have 3 children and several grandchildren. The Robinsons are survived by two daughters, both doctors, and their children and grandchildren. Shulamit is married to Serg Polonetzky and they live in Kiryat Ono. Another interesting detail they relate is that Shlomo's aunt Nadia Kotrin (Hennia's sister) was a dentist in the Kremlin and treated Stalin.
On August 17, 2014, at the special evening honoring Prof. Dov Levin in Jerusalem, Leonid and Yael attended, reuniting with many of the Geffen family in Israel.
20/8/14 Robert Geffen
Yael Geffen Shchoken and her husband Leonid Shchoken...2014