Wednesday we were on our own. First stop Rajec (pronounced Ra-yetz), about ten miles from Zilina. Not only were we on our own but we had no contact information for the person with the key. We did, however, have the precise location of the cemetery so off we went, hoping to find some Rosenzweigs and who knows what else.
Standing on a tree stump, I was able to see over the wall in a few places.
The cemetery seems to be in excellent condition and many tombstones appear, at a distance, to be legible. But we coudn't get inside.
In a group project of this sort, each person brings certain strengths. I am the one who reads Hebrew. Cyndi will pick a conversation with anyone, even though all she speaks is English. Linda? Linda is tall and climbs over walls.
And off she went, the non-genealogist, photographing all the graves in the cemetery from top to bottom.
There were probably eight or ten Rosenzweigs, three of them Jakob. A few others I don't recognize off hand. The non-matching Jewish and secular names doesn't help.
There is a Rozalie (Rachel) Rosenzweig who died in the summer of 1926. She could be my great-grandfather's sister-in-law, but her grave calls her the wife of Yaakov, while my g-gf's brother was Simon. He still may be the same person. The staones are very hard to read and I'll have to work on them later.
Next stop was Dominiza, a very small town not far away. That is where my great-grandfather was actually born in 1858. It was closer to the dusty village image I had from east Galicia, but even it showed some modernity.
Cyndi's directions sent us up to an empty field behind a row of houses - obviously the wrong place. So we followed Plan B, find city hall and ask.
Finding city hall was itself a project and we asked asked a woman named Melania for directions. She is a chemist in a lab in Povazska Bystrica and her English was quite good. She got into our car with her six year old Matthew and took us to city hall where we found someone who said she would search her records for Rosenzweigs and get back to me by email.
|Our friends Josef, Melania and Matthew
We got a look through the fence by going through the field where our search had started. The cemetery is right behind where the synagogue once stood and has very few stones. But the one we could see was Joseph Spitzer, the husband of Nathan Zelinka's daughter Jeanette, whose grave we had seen Monday in Kotesova.
Josef said he would contact Pavel Frankel in Zilina about fixing it up and would try to get in and send us some photographs.
|The house on the site of the synagogue, perhaps where
my great-grandfather and his brothers were circumsized.
We were tattered and torn not so much physically (though I must replace my shoes when I get home), but by the experience of seeing these places where the various branches of our families lived for generations.
The Bytca Archives
We had one more stop Thursday morning, at the state archives in Bytca. It was across the street from the synagogue, which is undergoing some sort of renovation, or at least fund raising for that renovation.
Cyndi worked her magic with the archivist and she permitted us to photograph their paper index showing all their microfilm holdings. We will make a list of the Jewish records and perhaps put together a funding project to get them transcribed. As we left, I thought about Marla and Jay Osborne who actually live in places like this in order to get the work done.
Next stop Budapest.