Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Talking With My Aunt

When she first left a message on my answering machine, my heart skipped a beat. My Aunt Lila, my mother's fraternal twin sister sounds just like mom did before she assimilated in the Southern California life. In other words, like Brooklyn, New York.

Well, Aunt Lila was very excited. She had recently spoken to her uncle, and my great-uncle Simcha, who is just a few years older than her. Uncle Simcha is my grandfather's half-brother, born roughly 25 years after my grandfather, and they both share the same father.

It seems Uncle Simcha's four children have produced 10 times their number, and with grandchildren, there are nearly 100 Nadbournys all over the world who can trace their lineage to a man in Boro Park, New York. My aunt seemed overwhelmed that she was no longer nearly all alone in the world.

Uncle Simcha's story is actually quite interesting. He was born to my great-grandfather's second wife, it appears, after my grandfather had left home for good. He studied with the Mir Yeshiva, and like all the Jews of Poland, found himself on the run from the Nazis in 1939.

In Vilna, he got a visa to Shanghai - but not from Sugihara, the Japanese Counsel General who handed out thousands of life-saving visas. Uncle Simcha got his visa from his half-brother in Brooklyn. We know now that the State Department did all they could to block Jews from coming to America, and Shanghai was the best grandpa could do. Simcha went, however, to Shanghai with the Mir Yeshiva, and when the war ended, came to New York with his wife Dita after being sponsored by my grandfather.

I have been blessed to spend a few hours with my great-uncle, all of them fascinating. He is truly a kind man, who has had his share of suffering. Today he basks in the glory of an incredible family.

He is proof, as we all are, that we have a purpose in life and all stem from the same heavenly source.

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