Henry Rendall's Czernowitz Family Album

The Family History of Henry Rendall


My name is Henry Rendall and I am the proud son of two wonderful Czernowitz parents. I have been part of the fascinated but "silence is golden" minority on this site for many years.

I would like to now share my parents' stories of their lives in Czernowitz. I am doing so because a/I feel it is important to pass on their history and stories; and b/ on the outside chance that there are gaps that can be filled in and new stories that can be told, related to both my parents and their families, from others in this group.

So let me begin.

I joined the Czernowitz-L list in late 2009, shortly after the death of my 89 year old father, Carol Rendall, originally Rendel.  

Carol, was named after King Carol of Romania, but was also known as Karol, Carl and Karl. He loved changing the spelling of his name just to confuse people. He was born June 6, 1920 in Falticeni but grew up in Czernowitz. His father, Sigmund Rendel, abandoned his family around 1926, when my dad was only six years old, and moved to Rio de Janeiro and then Pernambuco, Brazil. My father never saw or spoke to him again, and unfairly and unfortunately, had to become the man of the house, at such a young age, to his mother, Lotti Rendel nee Hochman, and his younger sister, Jenny.  My father heard through aunts and uncles, and his sister, who had all moved to South America in the late 1940’s, that Sigmund ended up marrying a Brazilian woman and had many children, in essence half-brothers and sisters to my father, who never met them either.  I am trying to track down any info on Sigmund, his life and new family.
Jenny was married during the war to Nunia Coga(n), also from Czernowitz, and moved to Caracas, Venezuela in 1947 with 3 of Sigmund’s seven surviving brothers and sisters (Josef and Rosa Rendel had 14 children in total).  These uncles and aunts were Max (and wife Fanny) Rendell (their daughter is Renee Sabo, who lives in Florida); Helene “Helly” (and husband Israel “Bubi”) Schaerf; and Clara (and husband Israel “Isiu”) Weiner (their daughter is Rosita Weiner of Caracas and Florida). There were 3 other brothers: Nathan (New York), Adolph (California) and Mikael (Israel). Nunia, a prince of a man, passed away 5-6 years ago but Jenny still resides in Caracas. Their 2 daughters are Shirley Abbo, an architect in Caracas with two grown children and I believe 4 grandchildren, and Lydia Liberman, a researcher in Israel, with a teenage daughter.

My mother, Sally (Sali) Rosenberg, was born in Czernowitz on November 25, 1921. Her mother was Bertha Kurtz and her father was Hershel Benjumin Laufer-Rosenberg, after whom I was named, (Henry Benjamin), but never met. Hershel was a pious man, who went to New York City in 1910 with his equally religious brother-in-law, Srul Kurtz to join his other brother-in-law, Yankel Kurtz.  Hershel stayed in the U.S. for 10 years to earn money to send home but grew homesick for his family and dream to one day own a garden.  He returned to Czernowitz in 1920 and my mother was born the following year, disappointingly not the boy that Hershel had so desperately wanted after having two other daughters. My mother says he wanted a son to say Kaddish over him one day, and, in obvious denial, dressed my mother like a boy for the first six years of her life.

Her eldest sister, Clara, was born in 1908.  She was a wonderful but very over-protective "tante", and like a second mother to me and my sisters.  She was first married in Romania in the 1930’s to David Katz and they had a child who everyone adored named Romi. Both David and Romi sadly died during the war; her husband of complications from a savage beating by the Romanian police, and her son, Romi, tragically at the age of two, of influenza and malnutrition. Clara remarried around 1948 to Berish Lobel, who also passed away 15 years later in Montreal. And finally, she was married to David Nudelman, originally from Romania, from 1966-97, when she passed away. David Nudelman was a remarkable man who lived until 2008 and the ripe old age of 102, in spite of the fact that he still smoked cigarettes and had at least one shot of vodka every day.

My mother's other sister, Betti, was born in 1911, and lived in Jerusalem with her husband, Schmerl Hendel, until her death in 1981. I had the pleasure of meeting them and many other since deceased relatives in January of 1979, on my only trip to Israel. Their son, Benny, is a retired scholar and former radio talk show host, who speaks many languages fluently and whose distinctive voice can be heard at Yad Vashem.  Benny translates for and accompanies many visiting dignitaries; has 2 married sons, Ori and Shachar, with families of their own; lives in Jerusalem with his wife Nira; and frequently keeps in touch with my mother, sisters and I.

My very short but very tough father, whose aggressive and protective character was shaped when his father left him at such an early age, met my mother, Sally Rosenberg, in Czernowitz in 1936. After he and his “gang" intimidated her then boyfriend, (I heard they beat him up), my parents were never apart.  They were together throughout the war, enduring many hardships including 3 brutal years in Transnistria. Having courageously survived most of the war on guts and ingenuity, Carol and Sally were married in a simple ceremony on October 22, 1944.

After an equally difficult life in Romania after the war, my parents and my dad's mother, Lotti, were finally able to 'escape' to Italy in early 1948. They lived frugally in Cinecitta, Rome for almost 9 months, (my mother talks about how the three of them shared one banana every day), until a Canadian furrier delegation (they’d never seen a fur let alone worked on one), generously agreed to send my parents on The General Sturgis, for a long boat trek to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in September 1948. From there, they boarded a train for Montreal, where they disembarked for the rest of their lives.

Not speaking much English, let alone French, my father took the first job offered him the next day by the Jewish Vocational Services, as a stock boy working for Montreal Draperies, a chain of stores. Had he arrived a day later, he might have been a jeweler, an electrician or even a furrier.  My dad, like many immigrants at that time, worked long, hard hours and saved his money, so that just 7 years later, after quickly moving up to sales and buying, he went out on his own and opened up Rendall Draperies in 1955.  He and my mother successfully ran that store, and subsequently three more, for the next 50 years. "Le petit jeuf', or “The Little Jew”, as my dad was affectionately called in the mainly French-Canadian town of St. Jean, Quebec, was loved and admired by his staff, loyal customers and suppliers, although he was often also feared by the latter, as he never took no for an answer.

My sister, Beatrice was born in August 1949, lives in Montreal with her husband, Hershie Schachter, where they are actively involved in the Jewish community. They have a journalist son, Leslie, in Montreal; and as well as a daughter, Elana Kanee, an online editor; and a son, Robbie Schachter, an IT expert, in Toronto. Elana and her husband, Richard have two adorable redheaded daughters, Mia and Charlotte, and Robbie’s wife Mara, is expecting their first child in July 2012.

My sister Josephine was born in May 1952. Jessy, no one’s called her Josephine in 55 years, has lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband Jay Stein, since 1978. They have two daughters: Dena, a teacher who lives in Israel with her rabbi husband, Yonathan Udren, two happy-happy toddler daughters, Zahava Bracha and Sara Temima, and newborn son, Amichai Amir, who was named after my father; and Erica, a bright young doctor married to another bright young doctor, Lee Rabinowitz, and who lives and practices medicine in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  

I was born in June 1953, only 13 months after Jessy, and was the son my dad so desperately wanted, as some things never change. My father, who was working on the days my sisters were born, was able to be at the hospital for my birth, as it was June 24th, St. Jean Baptiste Day, a popular Quebec holiday. Science and common sense be damned, my father always insisted that was why I turned out to be a boy. And no one ever argued with my dad.

As the only son, I was also the heir apparent to Rendall Draperies, whether I liked it or not.  I ended up working with my father for 10 tumultuous years; summers, evenings, part-time and then full time, from 1968-78.  Unfortunately, my father was an extremely difficult man to work for/with, so I "ran away" to Vancouver, B.C. in 1979 to "escape" from my dad, sidewalk sales and salvage our relationship.  It turned out to be was the smartest move I ever made and allowed me to have a much better, calmer relationship with my dad.
I am married to my McGill University sweetheart, Catherine Sachs-Rendall, a brilliant watercolor artist. We have 3 tall, talented and independent sons: Matthew, an entrepreneurial Mechatronics engineer who heads up his own start-up robotics company, Clearpath Robotics, in Waterloo, Ontario; David, an accomplished artist, writer, editor, actor and filmmaker living in Toronto; and Mark, a successful child actor for many years who is now taking time off to build guitars, flutes and other musical instruments on his 4 acre century old farmhouse outside of Toronto.

I have been running my own one-man ad agency in Toronto for over 25 years, having inherited my entrepreneurship and desire to be my own boss from my dad, who always told me to “it’s better to work for yourself.”  He was right … as always.

As mentioned earlier, my father tragically died in September 2009, after fighting a short, losing battle with prostate cancer.  We all miss him very much.

My beautiful mother Sally is 90 years young; has 8 grandchildren and 5, soon to be 6, great-children. She thankfully and miraculously lives on her own in Cote St. Luc, a suburb of Montreal; has many wonderful friends in the area; plays cards most Saturday nights (I jokingly tell her that she has a “gambling problem” as she has been known to lose up to 80¢ a night); has been going to a seniors’ camp in the Laurentians the past few summers, which she absolutely loves; still bakes the best “mun”/poppy seed and chocolate chip cookies; occasionally “sits in the dark”; and is, kenahora, in great physical health, with a heart of gold, a sharp active mind and lots of vivid memories of the "old country" of Czernowitz.

I thank you for your patience in reading this long, yet abridged story of my parents’ lives, hope you enjoy the photos and look forward to not being so silent any more.

Henry Rendall
Toronto, Ontario