Sam and Ira Kinel

Sam and Ira Kinel were raised as twins. They were born one year apart, Sam, originally known as Sucher, on June 30, 1930, and Ira, originally Izchok, on June 6, 1931, to Fajwel and Ryvka Kinel in Poltusk, Poland. They were the the youngest of six brothers and three sisters. (See also Faiwel and Ryvka entry)

Fajwel, now Philip, was a businessman and landlord; Ryvka, a homemaker. The family lived a comfortable life as the family owned real estate including the local synagogue which was on their property. Their father was very religious, attending services twice daily.

Sam and Ira attended grade school until September 1939 when the Nazis occupied Poltusk and Jews were no longer allowed an education. By the end of September, the family was evicted from their home and given five minutes to leave, forced to leave most of their possessions behind. An image that haunted Ira his entire life was of his grandmother buried alive and his other grandparents forced into a river and left to drown because they were too sick and old to run away.

The rest of the family ran away, going East to the Russian border where they were sent to a labor camp in Novosibirsk, the capital of Siberia. There their parents and older family members were forced to work twelve hours a day cutting and carrying wood. Sam and Ira remember the very harsh conditions they had to live under with very little food and having to endure the sub-zero weather. They were liberated by the Russian army in May, 1945 and by August were repatriated back to Poland.

When they tried to return to their home in Pultusk, the local Poles, having taken over their property, tried to kill them. Forced to run away again, the family made their way to a DP camp in Stuttgart, Germany. There they were reunited with most of their siblings and realized that, miraculously, their parents and all eleven children had survived.   

Ira and Sam came to the United States in 1948 to join their parents and Uncle Aaron, already settled in Rochester. They adapted well to life in America. Ira always said, “I was born when I came to America.” He worked hard his whole life, getting a job at Niesner’s and buying his parents a home. While taking care of them, he continued to work full-time. He met his wife Nili Stark whom he married in 1961. Born in Israel, she was also a child of survivor Abraham Stark.

Ira eventually left his position at Neisner’s to start a family business, Rochester Israel Bakery. His business ethic served him well as he worked long hours to support his own growing family. Michael,  Sandra and Alan. Sandra remembers,  “My tired sweet, kind, gentle dad would pick me up from Hebrew School and always had enough energy to stop and feed the ducks with me on the way home. She still recalls the songs they sang together on the way to the duck pond. Eventually he became a loving grandfather to Dana and Alex Kinel and Ariel and Lauren Bernhard. Ira passed away on December 18, 2011 after a prolonged illness.                     .

Sam married Roberta Schwartz in 1957. Sam worked at Xerox for 43 years until his retirement. They had two children, Brian and Deborah and later five grandchildren: Andrew, Sean, Emily. Julia, and Eli. Sam passed away on August 7, 2014 at age 86, the last of his eleven siblings.