Ruth roots out mum's details

DOMESTIC APPEAL: Selma Plaut and, below, her daughter Ruth Bird

A PRESTWICH woman uncovered the mysteries of her mother's younger years, thanks to the Jewish Telegraph.

Ruth Bird made an appeal in our Roots Directory column for any information on her German-born mother Selma Plaut's work as a domestic for the Shlosberg family in the late 1930s.

Ruth (nee Jaffe) asked for help in tracing descendants of the Shlosbergs, who lived at 398 Bury New Road.

Days after the appeal appeared, Ruth received two phone calls.

The Heaton Park Hebrew Congregation member said: "It felt like I had won the lottery, as I didn't think I would hear from anyone as it was so long ago."

First to get in touch was Sonia Erstling, whose late father owned a dental practice next to the Shlosberg home.

"Sonia's father used to play cards with my late father, Abraham," Ruth explained.

"I remembered her from years ago and she told me if the Shlosbergs had any descendants, they would have gone to America."

And, incredibly, a few hours later, Ruth, who is married to Nigel, received a telephone call from a woman named Elaine Wolfe, who lives in New York.

Ruth recalled: "She told me that she was the daughter of Dr Jacob Shlosberg. Elaine remembered my mother arriving at their home in 1939.

"Elaine was 12 at the time my mother started working for the Shlosbergs."

Mrs Wolfe found out about Ruth's appeal after a friend in Leeds spotted the piece in the JT.

"It was lovely to hear about my mother's younger years as she never really spoke about it with me," Ruth added.

Mrs Wolfe also told Ruth that she was evacuated to St Annes in 1940, but Selma was considered an 'alien' as she was German - and was not allowed to be within 35 yards of the seaside.

Selma emigrated to England in 1939 from the town of Frankenhausen, near Essen. Her immediate family were murdered in the Holocaust.

Ruth, whose father was a friend of first Israeli president Chaim Weizmann when he studied in Manchester, was raised in Cheetham Hill.

Her interest in her mother's early years in Britain was piqued after speaking to a friend.

"He told me that during the war, when the sirens went off, he would go into a shelter which was next to the Shlosberg family home," Ruth explained. "It got me thinking.

"I volunteer at the Manchester Jewish Museum and its curator, Alexandra Cropper, suggested getting in touch with the Jewish Telegraph."

Ruth, 69, is determined to find out more about her mother's work at the Shlosbergs.

Phone 0161-798 7358 or email

To make an appeal, email MIKE COHEN at
Please include your home address and contact telephone number.

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