Sunday, April 30, 2017

Nuremberg and Prague

Nuremberg - the trip
My flight from Israel to Zurich was at 4:50 AM Wednesday and as is my wont, I was very early. Check-in was quick and I figured to get some sleep before boarding. Unfortunately there was a very loud woman going around asking everyone in the gate area "Are you going to Chicago?" and following up with "Then where are you going?" She really wanted my answer and woke me to make sure she got it.

And since I was already awake I was given a three-page survey asking what I thought of the airport. Answer: Not bad, but they need plugs at the gates so we can keep our computers charged. That was not even on their list of choices, which mostly had to do with food options.

On the plane, I was next to a woman with a crying baby, but I slept through most of that.

I had to go through passport control in Zurich, where a rather nasty clerk informed me that my toes were over the edge of the yellow "wait here" line and that I mustn't do it next time. I assured him that I will do what I can to make sure there is no "next time."

The flight to Nuremberg was on a propellor plane with seventy-six seats, all taken. It was snowing and we had a delay so the plane could be de-iced. I slept through that flight as well and awoke on the ground in Germany. On an earlier trip, I had a plane change in Munich, but this is the first time was actually going there.

Nuremberg - the family
As I explained here and here, the Nuremberg visited was added when I learned that I had a second cousin living there. A granddaughter of my maternal grandmother's older sister, whom we knew nothing about until three months ago.

Israel David and daughter Alta
Inna's granddaughter Yuliya (my second cousin twice removed) met me outside baggage claim and her father Viktor was outside with the car. We picked up Inna and went to Viktor and Anna's home where we got straight into pictures, relationships and generally getting to know one another. Anna - who is a physician, as was Inna before she retired - joined us when she finished work.

They have been in Nuremberg for seventeen years but the talk was all in Russian. I was pleased that was the case - German would have made me very uncomfortable. I was surprised to learn that all of them had been in Israel at least once and Yuliya participated in the Birthright program. Yuliya, whose English is quite good, did the translating as Inna and Viktor do not speak English. Anna speaks a bit.
Yuliya, Anna, Israel, Inna. Viktor is the one with the camera.
I showed them the 1929 letter from our great-grandfather Israel David Rosenbloom's second wife Yenta, reporting to Uncle Hymen in the US that Alta Kaplan (Inna's grandmother) had two grandaughters, each from one of her sons. One was definitely Boris' daughter Dusa, who lives in Moscow, but the other was unclear. Only when I suggested that perhaps a child had died did Inna say that she had an older sister Evgenia who died at age four.

Inna was also vaguely aware that her grandparents Alta and Ber Kaplan were cousins. I had suggested that myself a few weeks ago based on the DNA matches of Inna's first cousin Lydia whom I met in Columbus three months ago. Inna herself gave me a DNA sample and I expect that her matches with the eleven American second cousins will strengthen that theory.(Their tradition is that Alta's husband is Bor=Boruch while ours is that his name is Ber=Berl. Since he had a son Boris/Boruch, I prefer our tradition.)

The grave of the Resnikovs
Viktor - who has his own genealogy interest, including a tree on MyHeritage - seems to have the same information that I have regarding the Resnikov step-cousins. That would be Yenta's daughter Sonia, from her first husband, and Sonia's husband and two children. the four are buried together and it appears that the two children were not married and had no children of their own. What we have to determine is whether we have the same information independently or if there may be some copying of errors.

Uncle Hymen (our grandmothers' brother) said forty years ago that Yenta had a son whom he called Jack Bandis and that they had been in contact years before. Inna had never heard of him. Someone in the Moscow family may know something, but I am not optomistic.

One of Inna's first cousins, David, lived in Israel and died a dozen years ago. I have been trying to locate his family. It turns out that after David's wife died, he married another woman from Russia and SHE is still living. Inna gave me her phone number and will call after I get back to Jerusalem.
Uncle Hymen (center) visits Alta's family before going to the US (1914)

Alta Rosenbloom Kaplan lived to age 93
Inna also told me that the half sister Mera Goldin, the daughter of Israel David and Yenta, had a son and two daughters, all of whom still live in Moscow. She thinks. I will talk to Katya in Moscow about making contact with them.

Inna says that she does not know the family history, but her older sister Maria does. The problem is that Maria, who lives in Moscow, is not well and what she knows is, for all practical purposes, lost.

Not all relatives are interested in finding new cousins, even close ones. Inna says that her brother in Indianapolis is one of those who is not. So I was pleased and grateful to meet this particular group. And they were happy that I made the effort to come.

Later in the day, the five of us went into the center of town and walked around on the stone streets for two hours. Much of the city was levelled by American bombing and rebuilt after the war. The Jewish sites were not, though there are memorials.

Thursday Viktor delivered me to the bus station and waved me off.

The bus ride to Prague was three and a half hours and uneventful. The WiFi was reasonable and there was electricity for the computer. The seat next to me was empty.

All for one and one for all
Where we are staying
My cousin Linda arrived in Prague earlier in the day and met me at the station. We walked to the Airbnb apartment about twenty minutes away. The apartment is a fifteen minute walk from the Jewish Quarter and we walked over to eat. After supper at the King Solomon restaurant, we were joined by Cousin Cyndi, who arrived in the evening. (I had met Cyndi before.  We are fifth cousins.)

Friday morning, I went to Chabad for services but skipped the three hour walking tour of the Jewish Quarter. I wasn't too tired, just not in the mood. I am not much of a tourist. Between the stone streets and sidewalks and the strange requirement to remove your shoes at the door of the apartment, my feet hurt.

Cyndi and Linda took the tour and were out nearly seven hours.

Friday evenig the three of us went to Chabad for services and supper. there was a big crowd which included a large group of American girls on a school trip that began in Poland. The food food was plentiful and there was lots of singing, though it was Chabad-type rather than traditional Shabbat fare. The rabbi kept asking me if I was actually prepared with the Torah reading for the morning; I assured him that everything would be fine.

Morning services were scheduled for the decadent hour of ten o'clock and the rabbi and I were the only ones there on time. His wife is the granddaughter of a prominent rabbi whom I knew in my Chicago days. They have been stationed in Prague for many years. My reading was as advertised and it provided an opening for conversation with others in the congregation. It was largely Israeli and the rabbi spoke in Hebrew. I was not planning on staying for lunch, but the rabbi insisted.

Today - Sunday - we pick up the rental car and head for Zilina in Trencin Couty Slovakia. Zilina will be our headquarters for the next four days. There are two Zelinka cousins in Prague - Milan whom we may see this morning and Lydia who is in Zilina until Tuesday and we hope to catch her there.

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