Summary: Sam Bonar

In this chapter the reader has met the family member who would provide his surname to the Bonar Family. Although Bonar was not Merrill’s birth-name, he chose to unite the family under one name in 1943 when he legally changed his surname from Gruenberg to Bonar.

In addition we learned of Sam Bonar’s two marriages. The first was to Sylvia Block, who died at age 25 from pneumonia, deadly in her day because penicillin had not yet been invented. Sylvia left Sam with their son, Jack, who would also die young; Sam’s next marriage was to Margie Steinman, with whom he would have another son, Donald Bonar.

But perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this chapter had to do with Sam’s efforts to become a naturalized Australian citizen at a time when immigrants from Russia were highly suspect of spreading Communism. Many questions are still unanswered as regards this era in Sam’s life. Who obtained for him his birth certificate from Bessarabia, at a time when that land had become part of Romania? To what use did Sam put his land in Maitland NSW? Did he really have time to farm it as Merrill Bonar has suggested, while continuing his business as a Showman for the Circuses, Carnivals, and State Fairs which formed a significant part of Australian life? Why did Sam leave Australia after becoming an established citizen? And did he actually work his way over to San Francisco from Sydney, as Merrill has reported? These are questions which, for the time being, will remain unanswered until additional information becomes available.

Chapter 2 explores the lineage of Sandra Kantoff Bonar a descendant of the Brottman / Chaiet-Kantoff Family whose roots lie in the lands of the Pale of Settlement where Hassidim had its beginnings (now southwestern Ukraine). Indeed, the home of the Ba’al Shem Tov, himself, was not far from the very towns associated with the Brottmans and Chaiet-Kantoffs.

Baal Shem Tov Town

Map of the southern section of the Pale of Permanent Jewish Settlement showing Medzhibozh, home of the Ba’al Shem Tov near Khmel’nyts’kyy. To the northeast is Zhytomyr; to the northwest, Shepetokva and Sudilkov. The latter three towns are associated with the Brottman and Chaiet-Kantoff Families.


  1. in around the 1940’s my greatgreatgrandfather zachery bonar went missing when he split with his brothers. he was never found

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