Members of a family separated for 77 years were recently reunited through the wonders of the Internet. Caitlin Gibson has the story at the Washington Post.
“The five women crowded together around the kitchen table in New Jersey, their eyes fixed on a laptop screen. It was 7 a.m., and none of them had slept well the night before; they were too anxious and excited for this moment. Jess Katz logged into Skype as her mother and three sisters watched.
“A face flickered into view: their cousin, the son of a long-missing uncle, the family they thought they had lost forever in the Holocaust.
“On the other side of the screen, on the other side of the world, Evgeny Belzhitsky sat with his daughter, his granddaughter and a translator in his home on Sakhalin Island, Russia.
The eight family members smiled at each other, speechless. Then, Katz recalls, they all started to cry. …
“More than 70 years had passed since Katz’s grandfather, Abram Belz, first tried to find his younger brother, Chaim. Abram last saw Chaim in 1939, the year their family was relocated along with thousands of other Polish Jews to the Piotrków Trybunalski ghetto at the start of World War II.
“The brothers died without seeing each other again, but on April 20 their families had been joyfully reunited. …
“ ‘My grandfather, because he was the oldest son, felt an obligation to stay,’ [Katz] says. ‘But it was important to their mom that Chaim try to escape.’
“With his mother’s help, Chaim slipped through a gap in the ghetto wall and fled across the border to the Soviet Union. The family knew he made it there, Katz says, because he sent letters and packages to his family. But then the letters and packages stopped coming. …
“In April, Katz — a tech-savvy 25-year-old who works for a software company in New York City and has blogged about her family’s Jewish roots — had extra time on her hands as she recovered from minor surgery at home. She decided to take up the search.
“After decades of tedious research and letter-writing, it took Katz two weeks to find Chaim’s son.
“It was a success born of an improbable alchemy: the serendipity of social media, the generosity of helpful strangers, and access to technology that allowed distant relatives to bridge thousands of miles, a 14-hour time difference and a language barrier.” Read the read the happy ending here.
Let’s hope that technology will also help the refugee families that are getting separated today. There is nothing in the world like the pull of family.
Photo: Jess Katz