This was when grandfathers and grandmothers
Were pictures in books.
And uncles were all refugees.
Like most children of the world
We too had a mother and a father
- Imot ve’Avot: Foremothers and Forefathers
Sooner or later, you learn you can be last in line but being first is an illusion. Someone came before you. Whether you knew them or not, they are part of you.
Today I stand in front of my foremothers and forefathers, the few whose presence was caught and framed in silver while there was still time. They were passed on to me in a banker’s box, kept safe from being lost, and now displayed on my bookshelf. There’s photo of my mom Eddy, taken the day of my wedding, and one of Anna, my grandmother, taken at a cocktail party a couple of years later. My mother wears an indigo blue silk gown with a modest neckline. She’s standing shoulder to shoulder with my grandfather. They are both smiling, their bond is tangible. This is the last time I saw my grandfather happy. His health was already faltering. My grandmother fills the frame in a shimmering, tight-fitting sheath dress, a blond mink stole casually nestled in the crook of her arm. Her smile is radiant, her stride exudes confidence. I used to hate this picture.
There is a picture of a young Józef, before he became Anna’s husband and Eddy’s father, in one rare photo that escaped with him from Nowy Sacz, Poland. Presumably taken at a costume party, the photo shows a lightly-built Józef dressed as a jockey, smiling shyly, as if anticipating days spent at the racetracks. Little did he know then, that half a century later I, his granddaughter would accompany him to the racetrack and share his love of horses. Next to his is an unflattering headshot of his older sister Sally, then middle aged, same shy smile as her younger brother. Sally defied all odds – she found comfort at an advanced age after escaping death in her prime. I wonder what a young Sally would have been like.
The larger frame is occupied by a stately Arnold, Anna’s father and Eddy’s grandfather – the only one she knew, and adored, if only for too short of a time. Time and time again she told me how he would whistle while holding her hand on the way to the market. In 1942, demons in black shirts caught up with him on Tweede Boerhaavestraat in Amsterdam.
God of my foremothers and forefathers, in your silence I hear their voices. Help me muster the courage to listen.
- Gevurot: Life-affirming Power
Blessed is the day my grandfather Józef convinced his wife Anna to immigrate to Brazil. I am guessing it was on August 25 or 26, 1939. Anti-Semitic riots were taking place near the train station in Antwerp, Belgium, where they lived. Józef, 31 years old, too frail for street fight, came home bloody. Four months later, he obtained an entry visa to Rio de Janeiro from the Brazilian Consul General in Antwerp, nationality noted as “Stateless” on the paperwork. I was told that he, Anna, nine-year-old Esther, nicknamed Eddy because her mother had wanted a boy, and Anna’s brother Maup, boarded the next to last ship to leave Antwerp. A hastily arranged baptism of convenience had allow them to squeeze under Brazil’s Jewish immigration quotas.
Sally, who had left Poland on her own to join her brother in Antwerp before the war, stayed behind, smitten by a good-looking resistance member named Jacques Springer. She was rounded up a couple of years later but with Jacques’ help avoided a worse fate. Somehow, she arrived in Brazil in the spring of 1951. Her tourist visa said she was married to Jacques Springer, but was she?
Cursed are the days when the source of life goes into hiding. Blessed are the faithful who have the strength to bear witness against all odds. May I become one of them.
- Kedushat ha-Shem: Blessed is the Holy Name
It is said a person is forgotten only when their name is forgotten.
Many names I forgot or forgot to ask for. Through genealogy research I discovered many more for whom I had no pictures, no stories, and no one to ask. The few names I remembered belonged to Israeli relatives I had met when I was nine years old. They impressed upon me that I didn’t matter, I was just a pampered kid from the old country, while they were pioneers in a new promised land, strong, independent, handsome. I don’t know that any of them enquired about me. So be it. For years I pretended they did not matter to me.
And cousin Danny died, and his brother Ami-Hai died. By then their parents, Ella (Sally’s and Józef’s sister) and her husband Sholem, who had taken refuge in Palestine during the war, had already passed. How did they managed to leave Poland in 1940 with a two-year-old boy, Ami-Hai, and a few months old baby, Danny, after the country was invaded? and what happened to Edna, their youngest child born shortly after they arrived in Palestine? She became an historian in Jerusalem I was told. I am trying to find her. I hope she’ll remember me. I hope I am not too late.
May their names be holy. May their names be blessed. Their memory are a source of strength and resilience.
- Binah: Understanding
I grew up in a small family circle that included Grandpa Józef, aka Vovo, Grandma Anna, aka Grannie, my mom Eddy, and occasionally my great aunt Sally but no cousins with whom celebrate birthdays. I was the center of their attention, and often my mind wandered elsewhere, in search of care-free places. They had stories they refused to tell, or that I refused to hear, about how their parents and grandparents, and siblings and uncles who remained in the old country lost their lives during the holocaust.
When, decades later, I sought to understand the stories behind the tragedy, there was no one left to ask. I don’t know what happen to Aunt Sally and her relationship to Jacques. I know a little about uncle Maup, my grandma’s brother, a musician who joined Ray Ventura’s orchestra when it toured in South America during the war. Maup was attracted to the energy of dance halls, and to the buzz of cocaine. The good life didn’t last. He eventually settled in Caracas, Venezuela, earning a meager living teaching piano. My mom shared with uncle Maup a love of music and a talent for singing. She learned of his passing through bureaucratic channels. Did he find some contentment in his old age? I think I met him in person once, or maybe I didn’t. Maybe I only met him in stories that my grandmother told about him.
Blessed is knowledge and understanding. Never again will I turn a deaf ear to stories old people tell. I am one of them now. Maybe my stories will matter to someone, someday.
- Teshuvah: Return
Józef was one of the first in his Antwerp Jewish community to travel to Germany after the war because, “the new generation cannot be held responsible for their murderous parents.”
Józef, the shtetl Yid who spoke many languages badly save for Yiddish, categorically refused to apply for any kind of compensation for the loss his family had suffered during the war. He saw the word “Wiedergutmachung” (compensation – literally, to make good again) as an insult. No amount of money would make up for the murder of his loved ones, the grief that cost him his faith in God, the years of anxiety waiting for news from various agencies charged with sorting names and records and corpses. For my grandfather, Wiedergutmachung did not belong to the realm of possibilities.
There is no turning the clock back. Lives and stories are lost. Blessed are those who face the truth and find hope.
- Selikhah: Forgiveness
I have no framed photos of my father, Sukar Caplun, aka Sylvain, born in Balti, Bessarabia in 1924, nor of his mother, Pescia, among my family pictures. Sylvain and his mother arrived in Rio de Janeiro in 1946, after having spent part of the war in France; he in the Resistance, she in hiding. I have no idea what happened to Sylvain’s father or siblings. All I know is that Sylvain and Eddy met, wed, each thinking the other would bring them what they sought. I was born of this miscalculation. They divorced two years later and put an ocean between them. My mom and I, together with my grandparents, returned to Europe. My father remained in Brazil. I only met him – and his new family that provided me with two half-sisters – twice as an adult, both times at my request. Other than that, silence.
After my mother died in February of 2012, I had the urge to know whether Sylvain was still alive. I found his obituary by chance after scouring the internet for over a year. He had passed away a month before my mom. I had become an orphan. Then I called my half-sister Marcia.
“Did he say anything about me?”
“No, he didn’t”.
Rage and tears poured out. I had heard through a Brazilian friend that Sylvain never alluded to my existence. Even at the end of his life he did not mention my name. I don’t have it in me to forgive him his indifference, nor to forgive my half-sisters for not trying to contact me when he was at the hospital, when they buried him, when they later unveiled the headstone.
This was nine years ago. I still want to scream at him – Hineini, Here I am.
Please help me find the strength to forgive. Blessed are those who chose compassion over resentment.
- Geulah: Redemption
In March 2014 I traveled to Rio de Janeiro, at the urging of my father’s family who needed my signature on some succession paperwork. I was greeted by my half-sisters Claudia and Marcia, now middle-aged women. Marcia was single, struggling to make a living. Claudia was happily married, with 3 children. Their mother Malka looked shapeless. Sylvain had been her backbone.
When I met Malka during my first trip to Brazil in 1973, she sent me a loud and clear message: I was not welcome. Whenever I attempted a conversation with my father, she stood between us, bared her teeth, threatened to leave with the children. I cut the trip short. My father did not try to stop me. He did not contact me after that.
I made a second trip twenty-five years later, to see if the past could be mended. In an extraordinary gesture of honesty, Malka apologized for her past behavior. Sylvain, on the other hand, acted as if he were blameless. Marcia, who had embarked on an acting career marred in Brazilian macho politics, wanted me to whisk her away to California. I refused. Claudia was busy being a wife and a mother. The little bit of connection that we managed to establish fizzled after I returned home from this second trip.
When I saw them in March 2014, Sylvain’s widow, their beloved children and grandchildren were mourning a man – husband, father, grandfather – who had chosen to ignore my existence.
Malka died in 2015. Marcia and Claudia became orphans, like me. I am their big sister and I am keeping my distance. Maybe I am ignoring them the way my father had ignored me, because it seems easier to blot people out of sight than to consider the obligations we have towards them. The irony of it all is that Claudia and Marcia, and Claudia’s children, are my closest living blood-relatives. I haven’t yet learned what that means. Will they have a role in my life and I in theirs? If there’s a happy ending to this story is that they got to be born, and I got to meet them. Maybe I will come to love them, if I only find the courage to open my heart to the possibility.
It is said that each day creation is renewed. Blessed are those who make sense of the past.
- Refuah: Healing
(All may say aloud or silently the name of someone who needs healing)
It took years after my mother passed before I felt strong enough to open the plastic bags she kept on top of her wardrobe. In them she had stored letters, many from me, and photo albums documenting her life and mine entwined with hers. There are blank pages in these albums where pictures of father and child should have been. Growing up, the word “dad” never crossed my lips: it felt wrong. I bear Sylvain’s genes; I was told I walked like him. That’s it. The man who fathered me went on pretending I did not exist. I went on pretending I did not need him: I had my mother.
Hers was a demanding love, as if keeping me close would help her stand up to her manipulative mother, or drive out memories of loss that had darkened her early years. As a child, I clung to her, she protected me against ghosts that sometimes invaded my bedroom at night. Later in my teens I chafed under the weight of her affection. Over and over, I side-stepped her pain in order to loosen her embrace, until one day, in 1988, I broke free and moved to California. Her biggest fear came to pass: her daughter was moving far away from her. It left a tear in our relationship that we were unable to mend fully. It’s too late now. She passed away in 2012.
Please keep me in your prayers. Please help me bear the burden of loss, so I can become whole in body and soul.
- Birkat ha-shanim: Blessing for Good Years and Abundance
A few years ago, I launched into frantic genealogy searches. The most tangible result so far has been to gather the dead branches of my tree, as if a giant saw had cut them off and scattered them in various concentration camps. The branches that survived did not bear many fruits, but let’s be grateful that they did bear a few.
When Grandpa Józef, Grandma Anna, and my mom Eddy reached the shores of Brazil, they must have breathed a sigh of relief mixed in with something else. For my grandfather, it must have been trepidation, for my grandmother, fear, and for my mother, hope. Józef, with very little money in his pocket, moved them all to Diamantina, a small mining town in the state of Minas Gerais. Most people there were poor. Somehow, he made a living trading and cutting semi-precious stones. My mother told me about happy days going to school wearing only one shoe because most kids could not afford to wear out both shoes at the same time and she did not want to stand out; how she was terrified of chickens still moving after having their necks wrung; how she felt, at age 10, that she finally belonged somewhere. The child who felt unwanted by her mother adopted Brazil as her country. For the rest of her days, decades after we had moved back to Europe, she considered herself Brazilian.
I was born in Brazil. I have a love-hate relationship with this country. Not my mother. She glossed over the dictators, the abductions, the political prisons, the torture, the abject poverty of the favelas. Samba was the soundtrack of her happy moments.
May the source of strength that animated my foremothers and forefathers reveal itself to me. I fear I have lost its location.
- Galuyot: Diasporas
When my mother divorced my father, in a country and a time when divorce was considered shameful, Anna made sure there would be no social disgrace: using charm and deceit, she pushed my mother into the arms of a serviceable replacement husband, a Frenchman from Le Havre. Maybe my grandfather tried to object to the plan, or maybe he thought it would shield his daughter from humiliation. Maybe Eddy agreed to exile herself from the country she loved because she did not have the self-confidence to brave its social norms. Regardless, in 1955, we all boarded a plane back to Europe. My mom, her new husband and I settled in Le Havre. It would not be our last stop.
Grandma and Grandpa started over in post-war Antwerp. Grandpa walked every morning from their apartment on Frankrijklei to the diamond district to earn a living. Grandma raced after glitter to make up for lost time. When she married my grandfather, she was dreaming of a secure, opulent life where she would shine. Instead, she got pregnant and uprooted. Motherhood was a burden; Brazil fed her upper-class ambitions but never felt like home. The photo of her in a tight cocktail dress with a mink stole on her arm was taken shortly after my grandfather died. She hadn’t given up her dreams. Who am I to judge? I tried to find myself when I traveled to the American West in search of a clean slate. Maybe she was searching for herself too, in her own way. Glamour was her promised land, but she never made it all the way.
Blessed be the ones who have deep roots. The rest of us ride the winds.
- Birkat ha-Din: Justice
While my mom was dancing by herself to Bossa Nova tunes in our apartment in Brussels, I was busy denouncing the tyranny of Brazilian military, the torture of political prisoners, the murders by the Esquadrãos da Morte. As soon as I obtained my Belgian citizenship, I took my Brazilian passport, the only one I had until then, and slammed it on the desk of the Consul General of Brazil in Antwerp, declaring full of self-righteousness that I had no desire to remain a citizen of a country with no respect for human rights.
Unbeknownst to me, the Consul was an acquaintance of my grandparents. Many years later, I learned that he never acted on my request to renounce my Brazilian citizenship. The country that granted hospitality to my family in 1940, nevertheless rejecting thousands of others, did not release its hold on my identity. When I enter Brazil, I am a native.
It is said that before creating humans, God consulted the angels. The angel of kindness said, ‘create them, for they will do acts of loving kindness.’ Then the angel of truth said, ‘do not create them, for they will be full of lies.’ The angel of righteousness said, ‘create them, for they will establish justice.’ The angel of peace said, ‘do not create them, for they will be in constant strife!’ The angel of truth was silenced. Humans appeared, trampled the angel of peace, fought for righteousness rather than justice. Occasionally, we read about loving kindness in the papers.
Blessed are those who do not despair. I wish I were amongst them.
- Birkat ha-Minim: Petition against Heretics
Vovo (“Grandpa” in Portuguese), isn’t it racist to tell me to stick with the Jews? What does “Never Again” mean if we Jews do not side with the oppressed? So, I chose my side and protested. I ran with underdogs, made friends with rebels, and got my mom and grandparents worried that I would get arrested, because, you know, Jews are never completely safe outside of Israel.
Late 1970’s I accompanied my boyfriend, Maurice, to visit his brother in northern Germany. Maurice, who had left school at 14 out of necessity and worked in a print shop, became a vocal left-wing activist. His brother, who lived in Germany, professed unequivocal Nazi sympathies. Maurice hadn’t seen his brother in years. Family ties, albeit loose, were tugging at him. So we went. The family was ordinary, five well-behaved children, the home a modest cinder block house, indistinctly grey on the outside. I don’t know how the subject of my Jewishness came about. I remember the response – “you can’t be Jewish, you are too nice for that.” Outraged, I left the room. On my way out I glanced towards an open door. The room was neatly furnished with a desk and shelves. On them and on the walls, Nazi memorabilia. I threw up.
God of my foremothers and forefathers, my enemies seem stronger in their hope of supremacy than I am in my hope of creating a better world for humankind. I am afraid they have an easier job. I hear no thunderous voice from above saying differently.
- Tzedakah: Fairness
My father said he felt cheated when my mother divorced him. How did she dare?
My mother said he cheated on her with the nanny hired during her postpartum depression. How did he dare?
My father remarried and started a new family.
My mother divorced a second time, struggled with relationships.
My father died surrounded by loved ones.
My mother died with only me at her side.
I was her only daughter and was cheated of a father.
He always wanted a son but had three daughters.
Life is fair, or not. It’s matter of perspective.
My grandfather won battles against forces larger than him thanks to his wisdom and courage but was despised by his wife. He succumbed at age 72 of type 1 diabetes and dementia.
My grandmother grew up poor and dreamt of riches, chose her allegiances unwisely, put too much faith in money and alienated her friends.
A few years after she became a widow and the famous glam picture of her was taken, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. During the last couple of months of her life, she transformed into an endearing old lady. Her daughter, who had resented her immensely for her lies and intrigues, warmed up to the mother she wished she had had all along. Then she lost her.
Life is not fair.
Aunt Sally, who had moved to Israel around 1960, lived alone in Tel Aviv. Her meager allowance only afforded her to be a lodger in an apartment owned by a woman she disliked. Eventually she got rewarded with companionship and a comfortable life. Sally got engaged to a widower named Mundek shortly after she met him playing bridge. She came to visit us in Brussels. I remember her blushing when she talked about her fiancé, giggling when she and my mother went shopping for clothes appropriate for a bride in her senior years. I remember the pride with which she said his name – Dr. Morecki.
The moment she became Mrs. Morecki, life became fair, as far as she was concerned.
If I were to pray, I would say:
On the righteous and generous souls
On the ancestors who perished and the survivors who bore witness
On the believers and the seekers
May fairness and compassion flow from generation to generation
May they be rewarded with gentleness
Place my lot with them forever, and let me not shame their names
For their memory inspires my truth
Blessed be the source of dignity for all.
- Boneh Yerushalayim: Builder of Jerusalem
No one in my immediate family dared to dream ambitious long-term dreams. Even owning a house seemed preposterous (bricks are not portable to a born refugee). Nothing ever seemed completely secure. Our rights under the law could not be taken for granted, they said.
The state of Israel embodied their dreams of safety. In 1962, not even 15 years after the state’s creation, my mother and I spent a year and a half in Tel Aviv. We were not prepared for this freedom from fear, this bucking of the material niceties that stood for dignity where we came from. As a result, my mother felt naked. Her go-to shields – makeup, designer clothes, impeccable manners – did not protect her. She had moved to Israel thinking the country would embrace her grace, her renaissance-woman intellect. She hadn’t realized, or preferred to ignore, that the country was like a crude and hungry teenager, and that she needed to help with its upbringing. My mother, who had obeyed social conventions wherever she had lived, did not adjust to a country that had so few. To build a life in Israel meant she would have had to rebuild herself.
With the best of intentions, she enrolled me in the only French-speaking school in the country, a catholic school run by nuns in Jaffa. I was slow to learn Hebrew, didn’t make many friends in our neighborhood. She was slow to learn Hebrew, couldn’t find work. Our apartment in Tel Aviv, with its brand new Scandinavian furniture, felt impersonal. She was unhappy and I, a clingy insecure nine-year-old, was unhappy because she was.
The mountain seemed too high to climb. We went back to the old country. Brussels became home. Then Paris. Until I could no longer stand the long shadows of the holocaust still hovering around me.
I crossed the Atlantic on a whim and fell in love with the contorted shapes and vastness of the high desert of Eastern California. I settled in Bishop, a small town of 6,000 inhabitants nestled in the Owens valley, between the massive walls of the Sierra Nevada and the lacerated canyons of the White Mountains. Amid sage brush and granite boulders I discovered how much I yearned for space, emotional space, space to grow unconstrained by the past. Childhood dreams of ponies and puppies materialized. For the first time it seems, I understood the meaning of awe and gratitude. I started hearing the voices of my ancestors. Today my home has a place for them. I don’t know how they feel about it. From my kitchen window I can see the sun setting behind the Sierra Nevada and the moon rising over the White Mountains. I feel safe. I hope they do too.
May all who dwell with me and in me be protected by a canopy of peace.
- Birkat David: Blessing of David’s Lineage
I wished I had known my great aunt Sally better. Józef’s older sister, she served as a surrogate mother to him and his siblings when their father remarried. Maybe his first wife had died, I don’t remember. Later Sally became a soothing presence in my mother’s life. Eddy, who had a tense relationship with her own mother, adored her. I was intimidated by her hawk-like appearance, her long curved fingernails.
Sally, who may or may not have been married to Jacques Springer, remained childless. The few details of her relationship with Jacques that were spoken about were always told in hush-hush tones. I can only imagine the courage she had to muster to get out of Poland in early 1930’s as single, unaccompanied, 30-year-old woman. And to carry on a love affair with a younger man…
At about the same age Sally left her family in Poland for an unpredictable life in Belgium, I left a comfortable life in Paris for an open-ended quest in the American West. I wonder sometimes how much of her gutsy, opinionated personality I have inherited.
How would I have reacted in the harrowing circumstances the war generation lived through? By choice or necessity, they risked everything on bold survival strategies while adopting a hold-your-head-down, don’t-make-yourself-too-noticeable attitude. They blazed new trails and remained faithful to traditional values. They transgressed and they obeyed.
Blessed are the ones who dare, for they inspire generations to come.
- Tefillah: Prayer
My forefathers in Poland and Romania were pious men, wearing the traditional garb, living traditional lives interrupted by pogroms. They recited the Amidah three times a day and paid with their lives. I, on the other hand, pick and choose my rituals freely, interpret old ones, invent new ones. I can wrap myself in a prayer shawl, dance with Torah scrolls, say Kaddish for my mother on the anniversary of her passing. I pray to the winds. My prayers are sometimes answered.
I am a leaf pleading for more time on a branch of the tree of life, hoping for calm before the wind carries me away. Yet I know leaves eventually fall; gusts of wind break off branches… and all is cycled again in the depth of being.
I pray my remaining years be worthy of the book of life.
- Avodah: Service of the heart
As a child, holding my mother’s hand was all I needed in the world. Did I see any cracks in her carefully composed façade? If I did, I looked away. She was my rock, my refuge wherever we were.
Eventually I realized I was a character in a larger story with a plot that had taken shape when Eddy was a child. She was born in 1931, a bad year for a Jewish child to be born in western Europe. Her father was Polish, her mom was Dutch. She was seven when Kristallnacht took place, eight when Nazi Germany invaded Poland, all the while shuffled between a struggling household and an uncaring boarding school. When I started to notice the cracks, light was not coming in, darkness was pouring out. She tried to hide it behind flawless makeup. Deep inside there was a fear of abandonment, a quest for acceptance that never left her.
When I realized how fragile her facade had been, I became angry. By making me the center of her life, she had taken refuge in me all along. I had become her go-to excuse when circumstances would have demanded too much of her. Our departure from Israel so I wouldn’t have to serve in the military eight years later? That was only half of the story. The other is that it would have taken her an immense effort to adjust her expectations of what the country needed from her. Her short-lived relationships because she couldn’t stand my tears of jealousy? She chose my happiness over hers she told me. I didn’t buy it. I told her she wasn’t brave enough to take a chance on rebuilding her life. If this sounds like indictment by a cruel twenty-year-old, indeed it was.
Despite the distance I put between us when I immigrated to the US, we remained close in a messy, complex way, through successive episodes of tearing and mending. When the façade finally crumbled, it revealed an immense love.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart do justice to the love she gave me. I have a long way to go.
- Hoda’ah: Thanksgiving
To me, another day means what opportunity shall I pursue? to Arnold, my great-grandfather, it must have meant, shall I stay, or shall I go? At the end he and his loved ones in Amsterdam stayed. After all, the family had been in Holland for two hundred years. They were Dutch. It did not matter to their neighbors who turned them in to the Reichskommissariat in 1942. They did not survive. Even Jettij, Anna’s and Maup’s baby sister, died in Auschwitz. She was eight years old.
My grandfather had begged them to join us in our escape to Brazil. Only Maup agreed. For this I am grateful.
I pray my eyes remain open to beauty, even on a sad day. I pray I see a pathway among fault lines, even as light fades.
- Birkat ha-shalom: Blessing for peace.
Józef had fled Poland to avoid conscription in the Polish army. He must have been eighteen years old. He and his best friend jumped on a train to pursue their dreams in peace. History decided differently. His marriage was a struggle, making a living was a struggle. Keeping his head up in Nazi-leaning Antwerp was a struggle. I’ve been told that in Diamantina, he went to work on a burro, hopped on small planes and crashed in the jungle, refused to carry a gun, even when his poker partners did. He, the frail Jew from Galicia who never learned to drive, became in his own way a fighter yearning for peace and quiet. Anna, Eddy and I occupied the center of his life, but he helped many on the periphery: Maup and Sally, his other sister Ella, children of murdered relatives who wound up in Palestine. He never forgave himself for failing to convince Arnold, his father in law, to follow him in Brazil.
Jozef is buried near Antwerp, Eddy in Brussels, Maup in Caracas, Sally in Tel Aviv, Sylvain in Rio de Janeiro. Anna’s ashes are in a small leader pouch in my closet, Arnold’s cling on bricks in Auschwitz. Their photographs grace my bookshelves, bathed by the soft afternoon light. I’ll try to find one of Sylvain.
May you rest in peace, Józef, Anna and Eddy, Arnold, Maup, and Sally. And you too, Sylvain. May my memory never fail you.
Elizabeth Caplun has lived in four countries and two continents before before settling in Bishop, California, a small town on the East side of the Sierra Nevada. Recently retired, she devotes her time to writing, heading the High Desert Mussar circle, hiking and tending her garden. Her writing weaves memories and stories of displacement, with a yearning for a place called home.
This is a very beautiful piece of writing. Weaving it between the verses of the Amidah is brilliant.
thank you David!