Reuven Avital’s Story

JDC Archives helps a family researcher learn more about his mother’s 1943 escape from Europe.

In May 2007, Reuven Avital from Israel contacted JDC. His mother, Marie Fanny Rosenblatt, had escaped Europe in 1943 on the Serpa Pinto, a Portuguese ship financed in large part by JDC. Avital contacted “The Joint” for information about Marie.

The JDC Archives found three historical documents citing his mother’s journey:

Passenger list for the Serpa Pinto, including Marie Rosenblatt

October 1943

A list of children on the Serpa Pinto, including Marie Rosenblatt

October 1943.

A Barcelona Refugee Case Card, indicating that JDC aid was received by Marie and her parents, Dina and Mordke


A group of French refugees children who have arrived from Marseille via Spain at the Rossio train station in Lisbon, where they will board the SS Serpa Pinto to go to the United States. Marie Rosenblat is in the back row at left.

Lisbon, 1943.

Avital was thrilled at the find! He then sent JDC a photo of his mother boarding the ship, which Marie had previously discovered on the cover of a Lisbon publication. Not only did JDC have this photo already, but the Archives also had other photos depicting the same girl. Three photographs of the young Marie had been featured prominently in a JDC Archives Newsletter from 1999, and now, with the help of Avital, we were able to correctly match the name to the person in the photo.

Piecing together the documents, along with the photos in both the Lisbon newsletter and the JDC publication—it was quite the genealogical journey, for both the JDC Archives and for Avital!