Thursday, June 19, 2008

Another Precinct Heard From

Well, no, this isn't about Howard Dean and how he possibly could have been a serious candidate for president. I just like the photo.

This is about getting ready for this astonishing trip from Warsaw to Odessa. I've been focusing most on tracking down some family history, since part of the trip is about examining the heritage we dimly possess from these exotic places. So far, most contacts have been with the Odessa branch of the family (Gorsky, changed to Gordon), and I have turned up:

  • Lots of scientists, although Matt & I are from the word branch of the family, and are not so strong on the quantitative and scientific (though Matt was darned good at that stuff in high school).
  • A couple of lines of the Gordon clan have been afflicted with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), which is an extraordinarily tough road to go down.
  • No one (so far) knows beans about what life was like back in Odessa.
  • My great-grandfather (Leiba) came to this country in his late 30s with six kids, had another kid, and never worked a day in his life after that. This puzzles me. How did they eat? Suppposedly the oldest son, Irving, supported the family, but it's a bit hard to credit. I keep thinking Jewish gangsters, but supposedly Leiba was at synagogue three times a day, so that doesn't fit either.
  • When my great-uncle married outside the Jewish faith (the first one), no one told his mother; indeed, he taught his new bride some Yiddish so she could pretend to be Jewish with his mother, who was almost blind. The old lady, though, was not particularly taken in. She kept saying, "She doesn't sound Jewish."
On my father's side, I'm trying to track down two of his cousins who live in Israel, for whom I have addresses from 1993. If anyone out there has some thoughts about how to trace people in Israel, please let me know. All the web-based searching tools I can find are in Hebrew, which is a barrier.
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