inancy

Summary and Forward: The Kantoff and Brin Families

Fred Kantoff’s relationship with Leila Brin was permeated with problems. Indeed, he had married a woman with a considerably different historical background from his own.

Born into the southern part of the Pale of Settlement in the very lands where Hassidism had taken root, the Chaiet-Kantoff Family stood in stark contrast to the Brins of Lithuania, who were Orthodox (Rabbinic) Jews.

In keeping his own educational background (albeit completely religious via heder and yeshiva) Wolf Brin was adamant that when he got to America his children would become well educated. In fact, after graduating from high school, three of his girls attended Chicago Normal University. Of course, such a concept would have been alien to Jews of his homeland in Birtz whose women were kept in ignorance while their men studied the laws of the ancient Talmud.

It is reported that Wolf possessed a substantial library. One can only imagine that in addition to the Talmud and the Tannach, a substantial number of commentaries most probably rounded out the collection. As Wolf’s homeland in the north of the Pale of Settlement was influenced by the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) pioneered by Moses Mendelssohn, Wolf might have owned additional books in German, but none have been reported.

Sometime after the end of World War II, Wolf’s personal Sefer Torah was donated by the Brin Family to Hillel at UCLA. The very fact that Wolf owned such an expensive work (a Sefer Torah can cost as much as $30K in today’s market) is indicative of his commitment to studying his religion from source materials.

For those who knew the Brin siblings, there is one undeniable fact which immediately comes to mind, they were a proud group of women. Even in their later days, the manner in which they presented themselves emanated an extraordinary sense of self-confidence and pride.

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  1. Hi, my name is Joyce Kantoff and while surfing the web I found this site and discoveed the info on my grandfather Harry. You have some interesting info but some is wrong. I would love to talk to you and give you/ some info. Contact me if you want I qmm living in wa state near Seattle
    Please email me

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