Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bubbe Jenta

Another few hours on the 'net, another major discovery...
Dear Lukasz,

Here's a find I'm thrilled about.

You'll recall this whole adventure started with the death in 2007 of Alinka Guzik, my father's cousin, daughter of his uncle Herz. (Another uncle was David Guzik, JDC director in Poland during the war, a part of my newly revealed heritage I'm exceedingly proud of.) My father's side of the family has remained relatively mysterious compared to my mother's. Well, here's Herz, David, Leon (emigrated to Pasadena before the war) and my grandmother Masza's mother Jente, in the Warsaw Jewish cemetery on Okopowa Street, Section 100. She married Henoch Guzik.

I first learned my great grandparents' names just before my trip, when I discovered a scrap of paper with passport application annotations in David
Guzik's file at the JDC office in New York (thanks to the wonderfully generous and warm support of director Sherry Hyman). David Guzik's parents (and therefore my greatgrandparents) are noted: Jenta Pinkwasser and Henoch Guzik.

Here's the info transcribed from the stone:

grave id 22276
sex F

first name Jenta
surname Guzik

hebrew name Yenta

fathers name Moshe Yaakov

maiden name Pinkwasser

date of death (m/d/y) 2/5/1918

I can't even express what is so exciting about finding this. Part of it is the thrill of the hunt, the detective's conceit. I won't begin to admit how many hours I spend peering into Jewish haystacks in internet space. Part is the sheer concrete-ness of a gravestone, name carved for eternity. Like the tombs of the pharaohs I just saw, my great grandmother's grave represents her continued existence. Couldn't be a sharper contrast to her prior utter non-existence in my universe. And there's some deep and moving symbolism of her eternal rest there in particular, Ground Zero of loss, the Warsaw Jewish Cemetery.




Anonymous Anonymous said...

How totally cool. And how beautifully written.

January 7, 2009 at 10:52 PM  

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