‘A swab of spit’ reunites family for the first time in century

The Pincus family has been separated through time and space, but thanks to DNA testing, they have found each other.

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July 22, 2019 05:56
2 minute read.
‘A swab of spit’ reunites family for the first time in century

Boxes of Ancestry.com DNA kits sit in a box ready for sale at the 2019 RootsTech annual genealogical event in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., February 28, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/GEORGE FREY)

For almost a century, two sides of the Pincus family had been separated by time and space.


Each side suspected that there were family members living in some far off place, but could never be sure of who they were or how to find them.
Recently, however, two members of the family living in the United States separately took DNA tests, which finally answered the question of the long-lost other side of the Pincus family’s whereabouts.


The family was originally from the shtetl of Puchavicy, Belarus, near Minsk. Some 900 Jews were living there in the 1920s, making up nearly half of the village population.


Growing up in South Africa with her five siblings, Rebecca “Bex” Kroser had just one aunt and her immediate family, but her father, Isaac Pincus, had no other immediate family.


Morris Pincus, Isaac’s father, moved with him to South Africa in the early 1900s. But Morris moved to America in 1920, leaving 19-year-old Isaac behind.


Bex knew there was some family in the US, but didn’t know where they were or even their names.


Prior to this, two of Isaac’s siblings had immigrated to America with their aunt and uncle. And in 1923, four of Isaac’s siblings headed to the “New World” with their mother.


Now Richard Pincus knew his father Irving had a brother that his grandfather Morris had taken with him to South Africa, while his father remained in Belarus with his mother and other siblings.


It was Irving and his three siblings who then headed to America with his mother in 1923.


Richard’s grandfather, Morris, came to America three years earlier, but his great-uncle remained in South Africa.


Over time, more aunts and uncles were born in America. Richard knew there was some contact between family members in South Africa and America during the 1930s, but then it stopped.


For years, Richard and his cousins knew they had an uncle and cousins in South Africa, but didn’t know how to find them.


Then late last year, Richard, living in Chicago, and Bex’s son Steve, now living in Pittsburgh, coincidentally took separate DNA tests, hoping to learn more about their ancestry. And that is how they found a match.


“I never imagined I would find my grandfather’s family,” said Steve in a statement. “It’s a dream come true. I immediately called my mother [Bex] and siblings [who now live] in Israel. It’s overwhelming.”


Bex and the rest of her children met one grandson of Isaac’s sister, who is also in Israel, and have spoken to Richard and other cousins living in America. Bex, her husband, Eddie Kroser, and their four children made aliyah in the mid-1970s, while Steven moved to the US in 1990.he discovery. “It is overwhelming to suddenly discover an entire clan. I never thought this day would come.”


Richard said he had grown up “with several aunts, uncles and cousins, but we also knew that my father had a brother and we had cousins that we couldn’t find. It’s amazing, even after all these years, that – thanks to a swab of spit – we could be reunited after so many years,” he said.


The Pincus family is planning a reunion in Silver Spring, Maryland, on August 4, where three generations of Pincuses – from Israel, Chicago, Minnesota and Washington – plan to meet.


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