To Mark Saul (and others)... the personal side of genealogy is the side that
makes it so very special. Life is too short... and I think it is always
worth taking the risk because you never know what wonderful things might
happen. But I can assure you that if you don't take the risk, NOTHING will
My having found my grandfather's ENTIRE family... and having reunited with
them after almost a century... is without a doubt the most profound,
meaningful thing that has ever happened to me in my life. (You can read the
story at the UkraineSIG site, under "Stories... Kirovograd.") I do not
regret for a moment having done it, and even had it turned out differently, I
would NOT have regretted it. I decided that it is important to ask for what
you want and need, and if the other person feels their privacy is being
invaded, they always have the right to say "no." But you might be surprised
at how eager others are to make connections.
During my search, I badgered my family for every shred of information I could
get to assist me in my search. I searched through family files, called my
aunt a million times asking question after question. Though nobody thought
that anything would come of it, NOBODY withheld information >from me. I wrote
to total strangers who shared my last name all over the U.S. and the world.
MANY, though they turned out NOT to be relatives... wrote back long letters
and told me their own family stories. I received enough of these letters
that someday I could write a book about it. I boldly wrote to total
strangers in Urkaine and Russia and asked for help in my search. Many
responded very positively... and the young stranger in Ukraine who eventually
helped me find my family is somebody who has now become a "friend" with whom
I correspond regularly. And when I actually finally found my cousins...
scattered in various countries across the world... I found them as ecstatic
to have found us as we were to have found them. I asked a million
questions... wrote letter after letter... made phone call after phone call...
and I found each and every one of them eager to share family stories,
photographs, memories. I met many of them at family reunions in Jerusalem,
and then in New Jersey... and they all came loaded with photo albums,
stories, information for me to add to the family tree, and warm embraces.
The best advice I can give to you and to anybody doing a search is to be
persistent, to NOT be afraid about how others might perceive you, and to GO
FOR IT! You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. You never know
what miracles might await you.
Arlene Gorewitz Boumel
Coral Springs, FL
In a message dated 11/25/00 1:14:07 AM Eastern Standard Time,
Subject: reaching out to family