Am Yisrael

Ulm: Stolpersteine Ceremony

Ulm

Baden-Württemberg

Federal Republic of Germany

October 29, 2016

My Cousins and the Stolpersteine

Otto Polatschek is gone but not forgotten.

Lisa Polatschek is gone but not forgotten.

In Ulm, Germany, Otto inherited a retail shoe business from his parents Alois Polatschek (1879-1929) and Paula née Brumlik Polatschek (1883-1932).  But as the Nazi menace in Germany became more threatening, Otto sold his business to the Werdich family and fled with his wife Lisa to Berlin.

"Shliach" is the Singular of "Shluchim"

ב"ה

Shliach is the Singular of Shluchim

 


Brooklyn
New York
November 8, 2015

 

I met Harley Greenberg in Chengdu, by chance....

……….

Harley Greenberg and I first met in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China in the fall of June, 2010.  We have been friends ever since.

Harley was a Peace Corps Volunteer in China.  He smiles, a warm and caring smile.   

Harley and his wife Helen live in Chengdu (population 9.6 million).  They have a darling infant daughter who they named Jeanne.  From the recent photos he has sent, Harley appears to be one of the most affectionate men I have ever known.   He overflows with gratitude and joy and love as he embraces his wife and child.

Harley and Helen operate the Windhorse Tour travel agency in Chengdu – the gateway city to Tibet.  In 2010 they helped me with my local plans and also booked me on the Yangtze River Three Gorges Cruise.

In the spring of the 2011, I called Harley from Bangkok.  During the course of our conversation I happened to ask him if he was planning to attend a Passover Seder in Chengdu.  Not only did Harley have no idea if there were any other Jews in Chengdu, he was quite unaware that Passover was soon to arrive.  

As we spoke, I did a search and found a small group of Jews in Chengdu who were gathering to conduct a Seder.  I gave Harley the information and encouraged him to make contact.

Two weeks later I called Harley again. 

The Big Birthday!

Bangkok

Thailand

September 20, 2015  

Hello,

My Birthday weekend has come to an end.  It was a quiet day today after two wonderful events.  

On Friday night, my actual Birthday, September 18, I decided to attend synagogue Sabbath services where I gave a brief talk appropriate for the day and the location.  

On Satuday night, I had a typical birthay party with both old friends and new friends.  We enjoyed a variety of Thai food dishes and two birthday cakes: fruit cake and mocha layer cake.  

Of course, I gave a short speech and thanked my friends for celebrating with me. (Photos attached.)

And thank you all for your birthday wishes from around the world.

Below is the text of my remarks at Synagogue.

Be well,

Jan

.....................................................................................

Temple Beth Elisheva

Bangkok, Thailand

September 18, 2015

Friday

My Dear Family.  My Dear Friends,

Shabbat Shalom.

I am Jan Robert Polatschek.     I live here in Bangkok.   I am a member of the congregation Temple Beth Elisheva.

Today, September 18 is a special day for me.

On this very day in New Rochelle, New York, Ruth Rebeka Lifson Polatschek and Otto Siegfried Polatschek became the proud parents of a six pound eight ounce baby boy.  The date on the Hebrew calendar was 15 Elul.

Grodno: The Lifschitz Family

Grodno (Hrodna, Гродно, גראדנ)

Grodno Region

The Republic of Belarus (Белару́сь)

September 10, 2014

 

The Family Lifschitz: “Ich Baink Noch Grodno”

In 1902, Jehoshua Lifschitz bought a one-way ticket.  All the Lifschitz Family purchased travel tickets.  “One-way!”  Jehoshua’s brother Schmuel bought a one-way ticket as did his brother Yitzchak, his sister Lena and Jehoshua’s wife Pesha Tziril.

They left Grodno, their home town, traveled overland   across the Russian Empire (horseback? cart? train?) to the Baltic Sea where they boarded a ship (more than one?) bound for the dangerous, often disease-ridden “steerage” crossing of the Atlantic Ocean to the New World.   The Atlantic crossing took at least eleven days.

The Lifschitz Family was not alone.  Between 1900 and 1914, eleven million immigrants from Europe made the crossing, 85 percent of them in steerage.  Steerage was the lowest fare and passengers sometimes were housed below the main decks of the ship.

Immigrants landed in New York, or Boston.  If they were sick, they may have been refused entry.  So some stayed aboard the ship and traveled to Galveston, Texas.

They arrived.  Most stayed.  They never looked back.

Salaspils Memorial: Saying Kaddish

Salaspils

Latvia

August 25, 2014

Dear Rabbi Kantor, **

cc: Family and Friends

Rabbi, I have a question:  “Is it a mitzvah to recite the Kaddish?”

Here’s why I ask: 

Twenty kilometers southeast of Riga, off the main highway, at the end of a narrow road, I park my car in an empty lot.

A dense forest of tall silent trees lines both sides of a broad gravel walkway.  Except for an elderly couple off in the woods gathering mushrooms, I am alone as I make my way down the long path to the distant monument. 

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