I have given my little piece a title that might strike you as quaint. I call it “What shall we tell Miriam?” It is thus entitled on the assumption that there must be many Miriams and Sarahs and Samuels and Josephs and Daniels everywhere in the world where Jews have set foot (which means virtually everywhere) who are or very soon now will be asking their parents and grandparents questions to which hitherto they have seemed strangely indifferent: What was life really like in that country where you were born, in that incredibly distant past, before the Second, before the First World War? What were these people like, the grandparents and the great-grandparents, how did they live, what did they do, what did they think, what did the places look like, what did they smell of? In the words of the historian Ranke: "Wie es wirklich gewesen." Posing such questions is part of a natural cyclical process: indifference—then curiosity. I think it is important to tell them—for our sake and for their sake. Who will, if we won't?
Read More → For many years I had desired to see the town my family came from, which I could only envision though the eyes of my twenty-five antique postcards. Ten years ago I made contact with the president of the Tarnobrzeg Historical Society and those postcards had begun to bloom. With his help, I collected photographs of the two houses/businesses my family owned. In 1994, I had planned to make my pilgrimage but the realities of life interfered. The town kept growing, as I could see though the pictures on the internet. In 2001 my trip became a reality.
Read More → I have recently returned from Warsaw where I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to do some work in the AGAD (Archiwum Glowne Akt Dawnych) and briefly visit the Urzad Stanu Cywilnego, the two archives in Warsaw which keep Galicia birth marriage and death records. I would like to share this experience with you and help you understand what a treasure these records area and how important they are to understanding Jewish history in Galicia. The AGAD archives are housed in a lovely, old (probably rebuilt), small palace very close to Old Square in Warsaw. The rooms are bright and pleasant to work in and the staff, although mainly not fluent in English, is most helpful. The security is strict. One is not allowed to take large bags or materials other than a pencil and notepaper into the reading room.
Read More →