My Ancestors

The Harmelin family, my father’s family, comes from Brody, a small town in Galicia. Before WWI Brody was the Eastern tip of the Austro-Hungarian empire; after WWI it became part of Poland; and after WWII, it was annexed by Stalin into Ukraine.


An old book about the Brody Jewish community mentions that the Harmelin family members were either merchants or rabbis (these were pretty much the only occupations Jews could have at that time).

The Scheinmann and Scheneider families, my mother’s ancestors, also came from Galicia. There were a number of rabbis in this side of the family as well. The picture to the right shows two generations of my maternal line: my grandparents in the back (Hanna and Yeshaiahu Scheinmann), and their fathers, who were both rabbis, in the front (Rabbi Moshe Scheinmann, my grandfather’s father, on the left; Rabbi Moshe Schneider, my grandmother’s father, on the right).

I have never met any of my ancestors beyond my parents, as they all perished in the holocaust.

In the Jewish tradition it is customary to commemorate deceased relatives with a ner neshama, “a soul candle.” May this blog serve as a ner neshama for the many relatives of mine that perished in Europe during the that period.

תהא נפשם צרורה בצרור החיים

Copyright © 2014 Igal Harmelin-Moria

4 Responses

  1. Jean
    at · Reply

    This is very interesting, Igal, sad as it is that so many in your family perished in the holocaust. I’ll post your Elephant Journal on my fb page. Good hearing from you.

    Warm wishes,

  2. Hanna
    at · Reply

    Igal, it is very moving to light with you your Ner Neshama, and not only because I am a Harmelin too… Same Brody, same names: Zvi Harmelin was my paternal grandfather’s name, Sara Aksler was his wife’s; my late father was called Shalom Harmelin. The Rabbi and publisher of Hebrew books in Brody – Moses Arye-Leib Harmelin, and his wife Reisel – the daughter of his uncle Shaye Harmelin, were the ancestors of many Harmelins who live now in Australia, USA and Israel (the descendants of his sons Shalom, Shaye, Shimon, Shlomo and Yosef-David). The Kabbalistic Sefer HaZohar – which he printed about 150 years ago – dwells now at the national library in Jerusalem.
    Like you, I have never met my Harmelin grandparents (and I had Harmelins on both sides, maternal and paternal); but since visiting Galicia, including Brody, few years ago, I find it a bit easier to miss them.
    And yes, the fact that some of them were fur traders (hence the furry surname Harmelin which in German means ermine – the miserable weasel whose beautiful white winter fur was his terrible misfortune) doesn’t make me happy either :). But on the other hand, some other Harmelins said (according to the family lore): “We’d better sell yeast”; my grandfather did that, which explains my addiction to the smell of any yeast-driven dough and its fluffy incarnations…

    I would like to wish you and your wife-to-be Mazal Tov and much happiness!
    Hanna (from Mevaseret, near Yerushalayim)

  3. Harmelin
    at · Reply

    My name is Harmelin and I’m living in France.
    My father was born in Brody.
    Please tell me what is the ‘old book about the Brody Jewish community which mentions that the Harmelin family members…’

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