On the left, our own Sally Cox, daughter of Joan and Greg Cox, meeting Elie Wiesel, world-famous Holocaust survivor, author and Nobel Laureate, at the University of Arkansas. Sally asked Wiesel to autograph a copy of his book, "Night," as a birthday present for her mother. A copy of the inscription, with Joan's Yiddish name, is on the right.
My grandfather came to the US from Lithuania around 1910-1915, leaving behind 1 sister and 5 brothers. He brought one of his brothers to this country before the war. One brother survived and came after the war. I explored the names database of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum online and found the records of the deaths of his 3 other brothers. The document in Hebrew is the record documenting the death of my great uncle Shalom Baraker. The second attachment is a translation provided by the museum. The woman listed as the witness was my Dad's cousin who survived the war and immigrated to Haifa in the 1960's and whom I met during my second visit to Israel in 1985. Anyone can search through the Museum's digital data base at http://db.yadvashem.org/names/search.html?language=en to find records relating to people who were killed during the Holocaust.
The Miracle of How a Man Found His Brother
This is the story of Leon, a survivor that I knew in Connecticut. One Shabbat morning while a group of us were studying Torah, we read about Joseph's father sending him to find his brothers. While Joseph was searching for them, a mysterious unnamed man appeared and told him where he would find them. Suddenly, Leon jumped to his feet. He told us how he and his brother hid in various places to avoid capture by the Nazis. Somehow they became separated. At night, as Leon lay in his hiding place, he had no idea where his brother was or if he would be able to find him. He didn't even know if he was alive.
Leon described how during the night a man appeared to him. Leon thought he was seeing an angel because he could see right through the man. The visitor told him that his brother was safe and that he was hiding in a certain house in a nearby village. In a blink the man/angel was gone. Leon recalled how in the darkness of night, he carefully went to the other village and found his brother.
Leon sat down as suddenly as he had stood up. The group remained silent, moved beyond words.
Leon's brother also survived the Shoah and moved to New York City.
As the granddaughter of a survivor of the Shoa, who left everything that was familiar to him, filled with the sorrow over having lost his family, what I learned from my Zeide: was" not to forget". I learned to work hard and to get ahead no matter what. He made something out of nothing in America and like many others, besides rebuilding their lives in a new land, he became a part of the community, helped other people who arrived from Poland and, brick by brick, shoulder to shoulder, forged ahead and in their communities, many of them managed to survive.
I think what I remember most about my Zeide is that he was so happy to be alive and he enjoyed even the least important things in life. He tried to pass on his knowledge to us, the traditions of a lifetime lived to the fullest. I also remember how he and his only brother who survived the Shoa, continued to speak Idish (Yiddish) with one another. My Zeide also taught it to his children and when my cousins and I would hear them, we didn’t understand and we saw how he would read the newspaper Di Presse, which was the last local Idish newspaper in Argentina.
Lastly, I’d like to quote something I once read: “It was IIdish whom they once heard speak of a foreign country named Argentina. It was in Idish that they fantasized about and dreamt of this land of liberty, and it was in Idish that they laughed and cried on the ship during the long journey that brought them to this place”.
In memory of Abraham Lachter.