Arie E. Pelta

The Pelta Story (Chapter 2)

Pelta Family Kinsk. Back left to right: Dovid, Leja, Icek, Manja,  Grandpa Leon age 25. Bottom left to right: Yakov Savitsky, Golda and Mordechai, Gitla (Hulak), Yakov Pelta (1932).
Pelta Family Kinsk. Back left to right: Dovid, Leja, Icek, Manja, Grandpa Leon age 25. Bottom left to right: Yakov Savitsky, Golda and Mordechai, Gitla (Hulak), Yakov Pelta (1932).


The Pelta Family of Konskie

Based on oral family tradition the “Pelta” family name originated in Cordoba Spain. Since that time, all the men in our family (until 1945) were tailors, specializing in fur coats or “pelts” (piel is fur in Spanish).  We could be from the generation of Jews exiled from Israel after the destruction of the Second Beis Hamikdash and are thus survivors or Pe-ley-ta .פליטה Currently we spell our name פלטא, however in the original Yiddish it’s spelled   פעלטא or פעלטע. Some, in Israel, have grossly misspelled our name as פלטה (an electric hot plate!).

We are possibly descended from Spain, probably Anusim (pejoratively called Maranos or pigs by the Catholics). Some members settled in the Netherlands at the end of the 15th century and assimilated. They frequently took to the Protestantism of their Dutch consorts. They were shipbuilders, millers, and cattle farmers in the neighborhood of Delft and Rotterdam. The younger sons went to the sea frequently.

These above described groups of people named “PELTA” flourished over the years, but were later decimated by the plague. In an old document dated 1670 two “de-Peltas” are awarded as skippers of “brigs”, who had sailed with Michel de Ruyter, probably as privateers, named Jan & Jon[athan] de-Pelta. Adam Paulus Pelta [dropped the “de”]  and he is mentioned as scholar at the Leyden University around 1750 as chirurgus (surgeon?) and landowner. One of his youngest sons Wilhem Paulus Pelta was sent to the University of Breslau in 1812, to the famous medical faculty. Wilhelm Pelta volunteered when the “War of Liberation” broke out in 1812 and was decorated. He was made a 2nd lieutenant in the Prussian Liegnitz Fureliers of Bluechers Landwehr.


The Pelta’s of Kinsk

My Great-Grandfather Jankiel (Yakov) Pelta was born in Koinskie in 1875.  Jankiel Pelta was one of seven children born to Icek Pelta and Golda Mira (nee Waxman) who got married in 1862. Icek Pelta died in 1881 and Golda died in 1888; both are buried in the Konskie cemetery (which is now destroyed and obliterated by the local Polish population). Golda was from Gowarczow. Grandpa Leon had a step-grandmother named Ester Frumeta who died in 1859.

Grandpa Leon’s parents were named Jankiel (Yakov) and Gitla Pelta (nee Hulak). My Great-Grandmother Gitla, was the daughter of Mordka (Mordechai) and Rojza Kapelusznik. Gitla’s father, Mordechai, was a Shochet by trade.

My great-grandparents died one month apart. Jankiel was born in 1875 and died on February 11 1937, at the age of 62. Gitla (nee Hulak) was born in August 13, 1872 (in Paris France) and died on March 22 1937, at the age of 65 in Konskie.

Grandpa Leon Pelta was from a family of six children: three sisters and three brothers.

  1. Yitzchak Pelta (Uncle Icek, Itche) – Born April 28, 1904. He received a tailoring diploma from ORT (Óbchestvo Reméslenava Trudá– “Association for Vocational Crafts”) in Lodz. The only sibling to survive the Holocaust was Grandpa Leon’s brother “Izek”. He served twice in the Polish Army. After World War II, he moved to Taunton Massachusetts with his wife Sarah. Sara had an only surviving brother named Elie, who was a chicken farmer living in Taunton. Later on they made Aliyah to Tel Aviv Israel; they had no children. He died on the 19th of Tamuz 5743 (1983). He is buried in the Konskie section of the Holon cemetery in Israel (block 11, area 8, row 18, plot 25). I never met him or his wife.
  2. Golda (Savitsky) – Was born in Konskie in July 29, 1903. She was married to Yakov Savicka and she lived in Tomaszow prior to the war. She and her sons Moniac (Mordechai) age five and Yitzchak, were murdered in the Treblinka concentration camp. Her husband Yakov Savitsky survived and lived in Pasadena California USA.  He refused all family contacts after the war.
  3. Lejbush Pelta (Grandpa Leon, Yehuda Leib) – My grandfather was born in Konskie June 12, 1907. He was an expert custom tailor and furrier before and after World War II. In San Francisco his store was located in Geary Ave. in the Richmond District and was called “Leonard’s”. He died at the age 77 from a heart attack at his home in San Francisco on Friday July 20, 1984 (20th of Tamuz). Interestingly, he died almost to the day, one year after his brother Izek. The evening prior to his death, I (Arie Pelta at the age of 10) underwent an emergency surgery for acute appendicitis in Los Angeles. I was the only family member unable to attend his funeral.
  1. Duvtche (Dovid) Pelta – Was born in Konskie on November 8, 1909. He was married to Regina and was murdered during the war. During World War II he lived in Konskie, Poland.
  2. Laja (Leah) Pelta – Was born in Konskie on February 12, 1911. She was engaged prior to World War II and was killed during the war.
  3. Machla (Manya/Machla) Pelta – Born on July 5, 1913. She is responsible for being the match-maker “shadchan” for Grandpa Leon and Grandma Shyfra. During the war she lived in Piotrkow Poland. She was shot dead by the Germans in Poland, while attempting to save her sister Golda and her boys.

Grandpa Leon had a cousin named Rywka (Rivka) Pelta, who lived with them and worked in their home. In 1925, she married Moshe Matz and moved to British Mandate of Palestine (Eretz Yisrael). Eventually, they were one of the founders of Kfar Bilu in 1933; located on the edge of the city of Rehovot. They had three children: Yehuda Matz, (name?), and Rina Matz who married Chaim Margolin of Moshav Tel Adashim. They were referred to, at the time, as “Palestinians” (i.e. Jews).

Rina Margolin and Chaim were neighbors with “Raful” Eitan. Former General of the IDF on the Tel Adashim farm in Northern Israel. This farming town, is located north of Afula in the Jezreel valley. Rina was a fighter in the Palmach Galilee Battalion of the Yiftach Brigade. Her unit liberated Tzefat in the 1948 war. Her husband Chaim was one of the founding fighters of Shayetet 13 – the Israeli “Navy Seals”. He served many years including reserve duty up until 1980s. He died in December 17, 2019 and is buried in Tel Adashim. Rina is still living on the Moshav.



About the Author
Arie E. Pelta, M.D., a Board Certified General and Colorectal Surgeon from the USA, made Aliyah with his wife and 7 children in 2013. He received his Rabbinical ordination in 1997. He is also an active Medical Corps Officer holding the rank of Captain in the IDF Reserves. Dr. Pelta is currently a full time Senior Surgeon practicing in Laniado Hospital (Netanya); specializing in the surgical care of all colorectal diseases.
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