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Ian Geoffrey Levine

Current Location:: London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
Birthplace: Blackpool, England, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of Sidney Levine and Private
Brother of Private and Belinda Levine

Occupation: Record Producer
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Ian Geoffrey Levine

I have deeply studied both sides of my family. My Mother's maternal family, the Cooklins, coming from the Kukla family of Rezekne, formerly known as Rezhitsa in Latvia, and also her paternal Kalina family, along with my father's maternal family the Fishers, who come from the Firer family from Anyksciai, then Vilna,in Lithuania. The Levines come from Leizer Levin from Traby in Belarus and they go all the way back to 1530. So I am 100% total Eastern European Ashkenaze Jew, and proud of it.

I have made extensive deeply researched documentaries about both The Cooklins and The Fishers.

Right now I am deeply immersed in tracing the Firer family even further, back to the five children of Shmuel Josel Firer, who were FAYVISH FIRER, MORDUKH FIRER, YANKEL FIRER, ITSYK FIRER, and CHANA-RAIZL FIRER who married a Goldberg. These five siblings were born between 1775 and 1807. Over the years, the name FIRER became FISHER, FIHRER, FORER, FOHRER, FARER, FAHRER, FUHRER, and in many cases still remained FIRER.

We still have so much to learn. The Firer research is happening now, whereas my Kukla research of my Mother's family, began twenty two years ago.

The first man to be called Kukla was ABA son of JANKEL. In 2016 I hired a genealogist who specialised in Jewish ancestry from Latvia, and she discovered that Aba Kukla was the first of our ancestors to be given the Kukla name by the officers of Catherine The Great, sometime around the late 1700s. I recently saw the very old 1811 census of Rezhitsa, our home town, now called Rezekne, which told me the newly discovered information that ABA was the son of JANKEL. Of course Jankel, despite being our ancestor, did not actually have the name Kukla.

Information passed down the families by word of mouth, suggests that the name Kukla comes from the giant twenty foot high haystacks that existed in the rural area where ABA lived. Aba had at least nine sons and we have no way of tracing how many daughters. Most of the Kukla descendants come from Mordechai, who in turn also had nine sons. Mordechai’s brothers were AHRON, GETZEL, ELIASCH, IDEL, ITZIK, SALMAN, HIRSCH, and JOKA-JANKEL.  We have traced some living descendants from  AHRON, and ITZIK, and we almost traced the line from GETZEL, meaning that we traced several descendants, but none of these survived to the present day. However, to date we have found no living descendants whatsoever from  ELIASCH, IDEL, SALMAN, and JOKA-JANKEL. But the largest concentrated number of descendants come from HIRSCH, because despite horrific Holocaust losses such as his grandson DAVID MICHEL KUKLA who was brutally burned alive in the Choral synagogue in Riga, together with his daughter, where the Jews were bolted into the stone edifice while gasoline was used to burn the entire building down, nevertheless Hirsch’s grandson ELIA and his wife BASHEVA had eighteen children, and eleven of these families ended up in the USA, mainly Omaha in Nebraska, before spreading out all over the world.

However there are over two thousand descendants of MORDECHAI and his wife HENA. Because nine sons all had prolific descendants. In fact considering the first Kukla was named in the late 1700s, by about 1890, half of the town of Rezhitsa was populated by the oh so prolific Kukla family.

The oldest son HIRSCH who bore the same name as his uncle, probably because both were named after an earlier Hirsch before the name KUKLA existed, had a grandson ISAY KUKLA who emigrated to New York and the name became COOKLER, breeding a few healthy generations of Cookler descendants. Hirsch’s son IDEL was gassed in Auschwitz together with four of his six children and about thirty grandchildren. It is a miracle that any of his descendants survive, but thankfully they do.

BERKA’s son ABRAHAM COOKLYN was the first of the family to emigrate from Latvia, in 1886, to Leeds in England, where his six children were all born before they then emigrated again to Brooklyn, New York. His daughter Bess married a South African who got drunk on his stag night and missed the Titanic by a mere five minutes. Berka’s daughter ROCHEL-RIVKA married a rabbi ITZIK RUBEN, and they emigrated to Pennsylvania. Her brother AZRIEL died very young in a tragic accident, so they took his youngest daughter DORA (DOBA-LEA) with them to the USA, very very much against the wishes of the rest of the family. After twenty years of living in Chester County in the state of Pennsylvania, they moved to Palestine, where Dora’s descendants have flourished, and two of her three children are still alive in their nineties.

JOSEL married three times and had had a total of nine children, three from each wife. He was a master tailor and he was brought to St. Petersburg to make uniforms for the Tsar’s officers. Wonderful old photos exist from CHAIM KUKLA, Josel’s youngest of his nine children, whose descendants now live in Siberia.

HATZKEL emigrated to England in 1905. His wife Sarah Bobroff had died, so he married her sister Rochel, who of course travelled with him. His son Solomon had already set up home there in 1896. All of his nine children came to England and lived and died there, apart from SAMUEL who later took his family to Buenos Aries in 1929. Hatzkel has over eight hundred descendants, because this branch of the family were not touched by the Holocaust, unlike most of Hatzkel’s brothers.

DOV BEN MORDECHAI, also known as DOV-AZRIEL had a daughter called ETKA LAPINSKY who took all of her family to South Africa and founded a huge dynasty who still live there to this day. One other granddaughter married a VAINER, and led to a big section of VAINER descendants. Howard Cuckle traced Dov’s grave to Latvia, and sadly only he and Hatzkel are the ones whose graves we discovered.

ABRAM-MENDEL founded a huge part of the family. One son, BANOFF, went to Scotland, with his young wife FANNY STOLIR, but died very young in a tragic accident with a wooden cabinet, leaving three young children, and then his wife Fanny, remarried a Margolis. One other grandson, LEIB, had nine children, who fled from the Nazis, and one of these, MERI KUKLA, is still alive, aged 101 years old in San Francisco. One grandson, JUDEL, had eleven children, one of whom, PESIA, went to Palestine very much against her father’s wishes, thereby surviving the Holocaust and founding hundreds of descendants in Israel. But her father JUDEL had excommunicated her for leaving, although most of her siblings were murdered.

YEHUDA was one of the twin boys, and he had two sons who both emigrated to Hull in England, and a granddaughter who went to Brazil, resulting in a massive amount of our family living to this present day in Sao Paolo, in Brazil. Photographic evidence shows Yehuda himself to be in England, around 1911, but we still don’t know whether he died there or if he returned to Dvinsk.

LEIZER (also known as ARI-LEIB in Hebrew) is believed to be the twin brother of YEHUDA. His eldest son HARRIS first went to Hull, then New York, with all eight of his children. Some of his Cooper descendants have proved impossible to trace to this day, unfortunately. But his brother YANKEL founded the Korklin branch of the family, who spread wide all over the world.

ELIKIM had a son called MORES KUKLE, who emigrated to South Africa and descendants then moved to Canada  and Australia as well. His passport shows Rezhitsa as his home. Mores went into business with Hatzkel’s son, Isaac Cooklin. Elikim’s tragic grandson BENJAMIN moved to Norway before being shipped to Auschwitz with two of his sons, similarly his sister GITEL lost five of her children the same tragic way. MAX KUKLER son of another grandson, RUBEN, escaped the Nazis while very young despite losing everyone in his immediate family. He moved to the USA, first Chicago then Atlanta.

Intense research taught us that every single one of our original family in Latvia was born with the name Kukla (pronounced cook-lyah, as opposed to cook-ler), but as they slowly but surely moved out into the world, the name became spelt differently, in a myriad of different ways.  Once my own great grandfather Solomon Cooklin (born as Schlomo Lipa Kukla in Rezhitsa) had arrived in England in 1896, the first one to ever come over from Latvia, apart from his first cousin Abraham Cooklyn, son of Berka Kukla, who had settled in Leeds in 1886, ten years earlier, then the authorities over here in England changed our name from Kukla to Cooklin.  Probably because when my great grandfather Solomon arrived, and he was the very first one of all his siblings to come into this country, he spoke no English whatsoever. He only spoke Yiddish, and most probably the immigration authorities wrote down his strongly accented pronunciation of “Kukla”, which was spoken phonetically as the original cook-leah, into as English a form as they could comprehend, which means that they thought they heard it sounding like something close to the name “Cooklin”. And so that version of the name stuck for life. So to sum up the confusion over the variations of the name, we have already established that when Solomon arrived in England and was registered by the authorities, they spelt his name Cooklin, and therefore everybody else from our own side has followed suit ever since. Whereas other branches from Hatzkel’s brothers became Cookler, Cuckill, Cooper, Kuklin, Kukler, Koklin, Korklin, Cuckle, Kuklya, Kuklia, and even Cook.