Missing Branches - Found!  

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There were clues everywhere. But I have been distracted and disorganized lately and could not really focus on the task at hand. But suddenly something clicked and I am happy to say that I have found a couple of missing branches of my tree. And not too distant either. Let me explain.

I have been unhappily reading the book Defiance (more on that in a later post) about the Bielski Partisan group and thinking back to a piece I read by Yakov Segalchik called The Eternal Testament: Memoirs of a Partisan. In that piece are a lot of links to my family and the shtetl of Dolhinov. And since my great-grandmother was Ester Segalchik, I knew there has to be a solid link somehow. Then I found an entry in an online guest book which lead me to believe that Yakov was a first cousin of my grand-uncle, Shlomo Shamgar. Which means he was a first cousin of my grandmother. Which means that his father is one of the 3 brothers of my Ester. But which one?

I contacted the people in the guest book and ended up with a phone number to the daughter of Yakov. Today I made the call. It's kind of awkward trying to explain why a complete stranger is calling you and asking questions about your parents and grandparents who are long gone. Especially since that stranger seems to know a lot about you. But she was delightful and very helpful and with her help I had a few other pieces to the puzzle.

Then I remembered that my own cousin from Israel, while traveling in Argentina, ran into another Segalchik from Israel. Only much later when they had both returned from their travels did my uncle tell his daughter that they might be related. And indeed we are. And not only that, but his name is Amir, like mine (and even spelled the same way). He is my third cousin. We are both 2nd-great-grandsons of Jacob and Ita Segalchik.

I asked my cousin to put me in touch with him and she told me he was on Facebook but also gave me an email address and a promise to help out if I needed it. Which got me thinking - have I searched for this branch on Facebook yet? And what am I waiting for? After a quick search I found another brother. I sent him a message and the reply was very positive. Yes, his grandfather was Shmuel Segalchik and he was from Dolhinov as well. And another phone number.

I called that number as well today and his mother was very excited to speak with me and gave me a quick run down of the family. We came to the conclusion that the brother in question was Joseph Segalchik. Both his sons named one of their own sons after him. Named after the grandfather they never knew.

So I decided to do some digging in the Yad Vashem - Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names and I found the Segalchik sister as well. Her name was Leah Dina "Ladusha" Segalchik. And she married Joseph Meir Lenkin. Their son Nachum Lenkin had filled several pages of testimony. That name rang a bell so I decided to call and ask my father if he remembered this man who was my grandmother's first cousin.

Sure he remembers him. And his son. They lived next door to my grandparents for many years! In Israel, in the apartment I remember on Truman Street in Ramat-Gan. They lived at Truman 7 and my father and his family lived at Truman 9. And they came to family functions. My father thinks the son even came to my Bar Mitzvah! Why has he not told me about them before? Have they been hiding in plain sight and we just missed them?

So I have another email address and another phone call to make tomorrow. My father got me those details today after he spoke to the son directly. In the meantime I have been going over pages of testimony and rebuilding the tree based on that information. And I also added everyone to our Geni tree and invited everyone to join and fill in the gaps.

This is very exciting!

Bringing Moshe Zinberg back to life  

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Moshe Zinberg was my maternal great-grandfather and pretty much the only grandfather either of my parents had. My father's grandparents perished in the Holocaust as were my mother's paternal grandparents. So Moshe and Elka Zinberg were pretty much it. My mother remembers how after the war nobody really knew what grandparents were and whenever they came to visit, people would come by just to get a glimpse of them.

Moshe and Elka lived in Beltsi (Balti in today's Moldova), had 6 children and were planning to immigrate to Israel around 1933. Moshe sold everything they had, including their house and all their possessions to purchase tickets and travel documents only to find out he'd been scammed and left with nothing. The family went thorough a very hard time but eventually managed to rebuild and prosper. Then when WW2 started their house was destroyed in a Nazi air raid and they fled over the Russian border. Traveling hundreds of kilometers on foot, the family eventually settled in Tashkent, in what today is Uzbekistan:

After the war, because of his deteriorating health, Moshe moved the family back to Beltsi, where he died in 1960.

The truth is, I haven't done much research on Moshe yet. Most of what I know is from my sister's roots project and family conversations. But one of my favorite photographs is of Moshe, probably around 20 years old, in Red Army uniform during his service in WW1. It's a small photo that is badly deteriorated, that I have shared here before.

And this is where Landailyn comes in. Janine Smith, who writes the terrific Janinealogy blog has taken this photograph:

and restored it to this:

Can you believe it? And she did it in no time at all.

My mother showed the restored version to her mother and she confirmed that this is in fact her father in uniform. Now, before all this we didn't even know that he served in the Red Army during WW1, so now I get to talk to my grandmother about this new revelation and find out much more.

My grandmother became very emotional when she saw the restored image. So thank you, Janine, you made my grandma cry.

Cities of the Underworld  

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One of the many things on my Tivo is a show on the History Channel called 'Cities of the Underworld' which takes the host all over the world, or rather under the world, exploring lost cultures and amazing out-of-this-world places.

I just watched an amazing episode about the 'Secret Holy Land' in Ethiopia. Basically the idea is that early isolation of Christianity there caused some astonishing things to happen. I'm talking about Templar crosses on tombs of the Axumite kings 7 centuries before the crusades. Or churches dug into the ground and completely carved out of rock. It's pretty amazing to see.

Anyway, I just wanted to point you to this amazing show. You can go to the show's website and watch full episodes. I really recommend it. It's history lite for sure, but the production quality and unique locations are captivating.