Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How did you find out?

After a flurry of emails, I stopped to reflect on this most amazing story. One question lingered - after 60 years, how did Roma come to know that her parents were once both Jews? So I asked:

Hi David -

I'm an attorney and music producer in NYC. I live with my partner of 17 years who is a judge.

I was born in Zabrzre, and had been told we left Poland in '49 and traveled around Europe (France, Italy, Switzerland) while we awaited US visas. After almost two years, the story went, we gave up and came to Canada, settling in Montreal when I was about 5.

My father was a civil engineer, mother a teacher. I was told the family was Protestant/Roman Catholic and I was registered in school as Anglican. I knew very little about religion, since my father was militantly atheistic. Questions about early history generated vague and abbreviated replies. I knew my father's family died during the war, including in camps and the Warsaw ghetto. When I was older and friends raised questions about how non-jews could have suffered these fates, I handed back the explanation that I was given: that many Polish civilians died as well as Jews, especially intellectuals, professionals, sympathizers, etc. When I confronted my mother, as recently as 6 years ago, before her Altzheimers overtook her, and she ran upstairs to retrieve a faded copy of her Roman Catholic marriage documents.

Exactly a month ago, I received an email from someone doing genealogical
research which contained details inconsistent with my version of reality,
such as original names, clear references to Jews, and that we had emigrated
to Canada via Israel.

I flew to Montreal, met with my mother's brother Zygmunt, and showed him the email. Out it all came, pretty shocking. Not a drop of Gentile blood on either side. Every single name changed. And, the European vacation (from when I was 2 to 4) was in fact a patriation to Israel, where we lived in abandoned British military barracks.

So I'm dealing with it like I deal with many other things: immersion. I learn as much as can and absorb information as a way to understand what it actually means to me. I woke up on August 8th as Jew, but I haven't had a Jew's life. In addition, there's the issue of having grown up in a complicated lie.

So, many thanks for getting involved in my process. You and your web work have already been woven into the fabric of my discovery.

best,
Roma

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