An Amazing JewishGen Success Story #general
Susan J. Gordon
Thank you, Meyer, for sharing this heartwarming story. It's sad, but also
"fortunate" that the old group photo had survived!
Jewish Genner Susan Gordon
PS: I *did* need a box of tissues :-)
From: Meyer Denn <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2017 22:29:14 +0000 (UTC)
Dear Fellow JewishGenners,
Last Friday, I posted a request on this digest for assistance in locating
a missing person to reconnect her with some family. Now, I
am at liberty to share the back story and how this puzzle was miraculously
solved after 75 years. First, get a box of tissues.
MODERATOR NOTE: Please send further thanks directly to Meyer.
Meyer Denn <meyerdenn@...>
Dear Fellow JewishGenners,
Last Friday, I posted a request on this digest for assistance in
locating a missing person to reconnect her with some family. Now, I
am at liberty to share the back story and how this puzzle was
miraculously solved after 75 years. First, get a box of tissues.
This woman was left by her Jewish parents in a non-Jewish orphanage
in Russia in 1941 at the age of two. In 1945, neither parent knew
that the other had survived the war. The mother came back for her,
but the father was locked away in a gulag in Siberia for eight years.
By the time he reached the orphanage, the girl was gone. In the
meantime, the mother, not knowing that the father had survived,
remarried and the girl took the name of her adopted father.
Eventually, they all made Aliya, settling in Karmiel in the late
1950s. The father spent the next 50 years searching aimlessly for his
little girl, with only a tiny frazzled group photo of all of the
children in the orphanage including his daughter. Of course, his
efforts were in vain, since she had changed her name, and there was no
way for the father to have known this. In 1991, the father together
with his son and his grandchildren >from his second marriage, made
Aliya, settling in Haifa. Meanwhile, the father continued to search
for his daughter with the hope that just maybe she had made Aliyah,
not knowing until his dying day in 2003, that she lived no further
than a 10 minutes car ride away.
This is where I enter the picture. I made Aliya in 1997, and I lived
in Israel for five years. During that time, I took advantage of the
Yad Vashem archives to locate family members whom I had never met,
but was able to find through their Pages of Testimony. I found the
father, who at that time must have been in his late 80s. I drove to
Haifa to meet this new-found family. I must admit that I had very
little in common with these new immigrants. I did not speak Russian,
they did not speak English, neither of us spoke Hebrew that well, but
the choppy English that his little 12 year-old grandson understood
together with my broken Yiddish and all of our broken Hebrew, we were
able to get by. The father explained to me his heartbreaking story
about his daughter. He took me in his bedroom and showed me the large
collage photo made >from the tiny frazzled photo that he had carried
with him all those years hanging above his bed....the last thing he
saw before he closed his eyes each night. I could offer little help,
unfortunately. At the end of the meeting, we said goodbye and I
returned to Jerusalem, never to hear >from or see them again.
Fast-forward twenty years. I receive a "friend request" on Facebook
from the "little" twelve year-old grandson, who is now 32 years old.He told me about the impression and impact that I left on him as a
child so many years before, made him aware for the first time that he
was part of a larger picture. He grew up only with his grandparents,
parents, an uncle and one brother......no cousins......no extended
family. He said that I made him aware that he was part of a BIG family
.....a People. He went on to tell me that while some people's lives
ended in Poland in 1945, he had decided to begin his new life in Poland
by attending a reunion of descendants of families >from Lublin this
summer with his fiancé. (I will be attending that same reunion.) He
told me that his grandfather had died in 2003. Then he told me some
startling news. Because of the spark I lit in him about searching for
family, he made it his personal task to find the lost daughter for whom
his beloved grandfather had searched for so many years. He eventually
found his way to the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, where
through their research they were able to discover the name of the
mother's second husband, the girl's married name, and even the address
in Karmiel and a phone number. The problem.....the phone number no
longer worked and she was no longer at that address.
This young cousin now turned to me, "You are the master.....can you
work your magic? Can you help me find her?" That is when I posted my
note last Friday on JewishGen digest looking for help in Karmiel,
Israel. While nearly 20 people contacted me to generously offer their
assistance, one of the first ones to do so on Saturday night was a very
kind attorney in Karmiel, whose partner is Russian. No sooner had I
provided him the information (without the entire back story....only the
fact that I was looking for this lady) did he respond that not only
could he help me, but this exact woman was his client whom he
represented in the purchase of her flat 30 years ago, and with the sale
of her flat last year. He told me that she had moved into a retirement
home, and that he had already spoken with her son, who would be happy
to speak with me to learn about why I was searching for her. He gave me
his telephone number.
I quickly picked up the phone and my fingers fumbled as I pushed the
buttons. The deep voice picked up the other line. I explained that I
am a genealogist, and I have been researching our mutual family lineage
for about 45 years. I explained to him about how we were related through
his mother's biological father, of whom he know almost nothing except
for the family name. I told him that he was part of a rather large
extended family of which he was unaware. We had a very warm and jovial
conversation. Then I asked him if he was sitting down, and he sounded
confused, "why should I sit down?" I told him....."just sit down for a
moment." He replied, "ok....I'm sitting." I said, "you know your
grandfather who passed away in the Shoah? The one through whom we are
related? He did not die in the Shoah. He survived. He came back to the
orphanage to look for your mother. She was gone. He assumed that his
wife had been killed in the Shoah, but he continued to search for your
mother for many decades. He made Aliya in 1991 and he lived right here
in Haifa until he passed away in 2003."
There was a silence on the other end of the phone....."Ma ata omer???
(What are you talking about?)," he gasped. I continued......"and your
mother has two brothers that she has never met.....and they have
children.....and they are all eager and anxious to meet you all and to
try and build a relationship......to catch up on a lifetime of missed
opportunities. It's not too late.....are you interested? Can your mother
handle this news at the age of 78?" His answer was an immediate "OF
COURSE.......B'VADAY!!!!!" He gave me his number and told me to have his
new cousin be in touch with him as soon as possible.....there is no time
I called my young cousin and told him the news.......he was speechless.
Within one hour, he had already arranged a four-way conference call
between himself, his father, his new cousin with whom I put him in touch,
and the new cousin's sister. After a very warm and excited telephone
conversation, they all agreed to convene their families together on the
approaching Shabbat to all meet for the first time, and for the sister
and her "little brother" whom she has never met to look at each other and
marvel at this miraculous opportunity that they have been given to get to
know each other at this stage in life.
On Shabbat, the young cousin plans to give his aunt a very special gift
......that precious photo collage of her as a little girl that hung over
his grandfather's bed for so many years.
This is all due to the wonder of JewishGen, and the many kind and
generous who give of their time and resources to change lives and make
Thank you, JewishGen, and God bless you all!!