Saturday, February 17, 2024

Spring came in the middle of winter

 It's all blooming in my garden now. They come every year and I'm always as excited as meeting old friends.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

after fifty years

 Last week I had a strange visit. After fifty years someone in the army decided to open old files of soldiers who were killed in the Yom Kippur War and that's how some of my husband's belongings who was killed in that war came to me. Not much left, three photos, a military driver's license and a reserve order.                                  I often thought to myself how things would be if there were social networks, the Internet, and everything else. There was no television then and telephones were also rare. A landline phone of course. Who thought of an iPhone.

Rumors passed between people and it was very difficult to get real information. When he did not return from the war, I was very, very young with a baby girl, I started looking. Most of the soldiers who were with him in the Suez Canal were killed and the rest were taken prisoner.                                                                    The newspapers published pictures of groups of prisoners that were in Egypt, the pictures were in black and white and blurry and I tried to identify him. I did not make it.

When the captives began to return from Egypt after a few months, they returned in groups in small planes. I was able to get information on each group that returned and so I stood there by the planes when wounded and very sad people got off, he was not among them. On the way back home I listened to the radio where they read the names of the people who returned that day. I hoped that maybe I didn't see well and he returned anyway.

When the last group arrived and he was not among them I understood.

How different things are today.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Anna's story

 I don't know why exactly the story of Anna, one of my grandmother's ten sisters, has been asking to be written for several days. It's been going on in my head for a few days since my granddaughter played the song about Alabama when I was driving her to school. I found myself telling her about the fact that we have family in Alabama, something I discovered during the days of the Covid closures when I found and united all the descendants of the sisters and the brother in the whole wide world, where they were scattered.                                                                                                                                                                           One of the sisters, Ida, lived in Oslo with her husband Jacob where they ran a Jewish orphanage, apparently, Jacob had a brother who lived in Mississippi and 

had a farm of some kind, he sent Anna a picture of his brother and a picture of Anna's brother. They liked each other and it was decided that Anna would travel from Leipzig in Germany to marry Jacob's brother in Mississippi. In 1922. The brother sent Anna first class ship tickets but she changed it to something simpler and gave the remaining money to the sisters.                                                                                                                                                                          They got married there and had two children, Simon who was killed in World War II and Esther who was a well-known folk singer there.

From the letters found by her grandchildren, it becomes clear that she was very unhappy there and wanted to return to Germany shortly after arriving in Mississippi, but the brother in Oslo wrote to her and convinced her to stay.                                                                                                                                                                At some point they moved to Alabama where the family has remained until today. The granddaughter Diedra, with whom I am in contact after I found her, says that one day she was walking with her mother in the small town where they lived and her mother complained that she felt very lonely with such a small family. Deiadre suggested that they enter a small restaurant that they used to go to in the past, where she suddenly saw a group of people and said to her mother, "They look like us", a short inquiry showed them that it was a family gathering of family members that they also had relate to  and they didn't know about. And so her mother suddenly felt less lonely.                                                This is the story. Maybe I've been thinking about it a lot lately because I wonder about the choices we make and how they determine our destiny. What would have happened if my grandmothers had chosen to immigrate to Australia, South Africa, America or anywhere else in the world like some of their sisters did. Of course, underneath all this lies the anxiety, what will happen to us here.

And there is also the romantic story of a girl traveling with a picture of her future husband, for several weeks, into the unknown, to the Alabama of 1922, another world.                                                                                 Jacob the brother who sent the photos was taken from his home in Oslo along with fifty other Jewish residents of the house in Oslo, they were taken on the ship "Gotland" whose terrible story can be found on Google, and died in a concentration camp. The woman Ida, my grandmother's sister, was left behind because she was disabled. Of course I didn't tell my granddaughter that. Only the romantic part of the journey to the husband.