Navigating a person’s genealogy can be quite a difficult task.
However, if you are Rabbi Lee Moore, rabbi at the Cohn Jewish Center on campus, other people are willing to do it for you.
Moore’s ancestors traveled aboard the fateful voyage of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912. As the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking approaches, media outlets have developed a renewed interest in this tragic event. Moore said she has discovered more about her family history than ever before.
“There’s been so much that has come out because people want to know the genealogy of my family,” Moore said.
People, like People magazine.
Moore is featured with other descendants of the passengers on the Titanic in the magazine’s April 9 issue, which is on stands now.
“It was the first time I had ever met anyone else who was the descendent of a survivor,” Moore said. “The people who work for People were very welcoming. They did a really great job.”
Moore’s great-grandmother, Belia Moore, and grandfather, Meier Moore, were third class passengers aboard the Titanic.
Belia, who was originally from Romania, tried to immigrate to the United States with her son to escape the anti-Semitism in Russia at the time, Moore said.
After failed attempts, Belia moved with her seven-year-old son to England where she lived with relatives for a year. Moore said she does not know if they obtained British citizenship.
“The way I understood it,” Moore said, “They wanted to come to the states and got sent back to England.”
Moore said Belia and Meier boarded the Titanic to make their way to the United States via Canada.
Moore remembers the stories her parents told of her ancestor’s voyage.
“My grandfather, who was a little kid on the Titanic, would sneak into the first class dining room and ask people for their ‘cards,’” Moore said, referring to trading cards issued by tobacco manufacturers to stiffen cigarette packaging.
“Losing his cards,” Moore said, “was one thing he was really upset about” when the Titanic sank.
Moore also remembers hearing Belia’s story about evacuating the Titanic.
“When it was time to leave the Titanic, she was already awake,” Moore said. “That was part of the reason why they got out, because they were ready to go.”
Moore said Belia, with her son in tow, felt like she was being “lifted up” by the men in the stairwell trying to get the women and children out.
“A lot of third class passengers did not make it to the lifeboats in time,” Moore said.
Belia and Meier left the ship on lifeboat 14, Moore said. Many websites speculate that the same lifeboat went back to the Titanic to pick up survivors, but Moore said she doesn’t know if that’s true.
Upon emigrating, Belia and Meier’s names changed to Bella and Meyer, while their last name changed from Moor to Moore. They resided in Canada until Belia married a man from Chicago, Moore said. They eventually moved to El Paso, Texas where they would reside permanently.
In Texas, Moore said her grandfather worked as a “jobber,” or a tradesman buying wholesale goods and selling them to retailers. At one point, he owned a shoe store, where her great grandmother worked in her elder years.
According to the Encyclopedia Titanica’s website, Belia died January 30, 1958 of heart failure; however Moore said she is unsure of the exact date.
“My mom was just saying we can’t always trust these Titanic websites,” Moore said. “Some say she died in 1958, and some say she died in 1960.”
Moore’s grandfather, who married and had three children of his own, died April 15, 1975, 63 years to the date after the Titanic sank.
“It’s kind of ironic because he didn’t die on April 15 when he was seven years old,” Moore said. “He died on April 15 when he was 67.”
Moore and her family are also slated to be involved in an article with Forward magazine, a formerly Yiddish publication that featured Belia and Meyer with other mother and son pairs who survived the Titanic catastrophe.