Polish Roots

20 Jun

If you read back to “trusting a stranger” you will read how I met and hired Graznya Rychlik of to do ancestral research and be our guide in Poland. Today (actually yesterday) was the day we had together. I had been looking forward to this part of our trip for almost a year. There were 3 towns in Northeast Poland that are connected to my grandfather’s family. We have documents from that my great grandfather Meer Abraham Feldman and Basia Adacheko were married in Wysokie Mazowieckie in the late 1800’s. We went to this town. The temple was destroyed but the Jewish cemetery was still there. It was rather overgrown but we walked though to see if we could recognize any Feldman or Adashek names. It was very difficult to read any of the stones as the hebrew was worn away from most of the stones. I will add pictures of the huge white tablet dedication after the trip as it is on my camera vs my iPhone.  I have to say this city was unremarkable. This is also where Ben Feldman was born. The family then moved to Ciechanowiec. As we were driving up to the town we crossed over a river. My mom says “my father used to tell Mimi and I that he once fell through the ice on the river as a little boy and he said to his friend to get a branch to pull him out” I took sand from this river home. (yes, Liz &Tali for you too). We pull into this lovely town and meet with the Office of Tourism (a guy at a desk). He tells us that there is a synagogue and that the city owns it. It was under rennovation.  Grazyna takes us into another government office and after talking to the office staff out we go with the director of IT to escort us across the street to the temple. Jews settled this town starting in the early 16th century.  Jews made up the majority of the town and played a central role here. In November 1941 the nazis came in established a ghetto of the nearly 4000 Jews by the temple and downtown area. I have to assume we had family in this group. The entire population was sent to the Treblinka death camps in November 1942. There are no known Jews there now. We then went to the cemetery and found a few stones behind the starred gates and said Kaddish. In the catholic cemetery they had a monument that says, “Here lie the corpses of victims of Hitler’s barbarism done and executed in 1943 on the Jewish people.”  One other interesting thing I kept hearing “that is a jewish house.”  What that meant is that it was deserted in1942. The poles didn’t know what to do, 20% of the homes around the country were vacant because the families were murdered.

We enjoyed a Polish lunch of salad with sour cream, vegetables, and kishka. It was a turkey potato kishka vs whatever yucky kishka. I remember my grandma used to serve it. It was so good. I spoke to David and the boys after lunch and Brett kept saying “shishka” so cute.

We then went though Rutki, a small town down the road from Kolomyja. My grandfather describes this town as a place they also lived as well as a place he sold apples as a kid. Driving down the road I could see he and his brother on horses going to the market square to sell extra fruit. The family business was a dairy farm with an orchard. I also heard once that they also had a flour mill. Next we drive into Kolomyja and it is exactly that…the most beautiful farm area with cows everywhere, barns, and crops. It kinda looks like Wisconsin. It definitely had the same dairy air. We had cows just walk in front of our car and we just giggled. I felt such a connection to these places. Grazyna put about 300 miles on her car driving all over. We are so grateful to our guide and now friend.


dedication to the former synogogue of Ciechanowiec


Renovated interior of the former synogogue of Ciechanowiec. (now it will be a music hall for the city) There are no Jews left in the city.


Renovated interior of the former synogogue of Ciechanowiec. (now it will be a music hall for the city) There are no Jews left in the city.


The city information center


Dedication at the Catholic cemetery where they buried unnamed Jews


Jewish Cemetery of Ciechanowiec, where my grandfather Marvin Feldman was born.


the town where my grandfather (Marvin Feldman) lived before they immigrated to Wisconsin   


We dropped my mom off at Sofitel and Grazyna and I went to the old town of Warsaw. 70% of Warsaw was said to have been destroyed by the Nazi bombings. They destroyed historic buildings, castles, homes, and pretty much everything that was important. Poland rebuilt the old town. When I think “rebuilt” I think Disney. This was magnificent architecture. More to come. Tomorrow Vilnius, Lithuania.Back in Warsaw. Grazyna and I walked around the old town.  


Old town Warsaw


door in old town Warsaw


the table next to us ordered a tube of beer, they self serve, notice the handle


Maadame Curie’s home, Marie Skłodowska-Curie was a French-Polish physicist and chemist, famous for her pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes—in physics and chemistry


over 300 miles logged on our Polish Roots tour


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8 responses to “Polish Roots

  1. Ronee K.S.

    June 20, 2012 at 6:30 am

    Beth I am so enjoying these. My family is from Wlodowa which was destroyed in the war. My grandfather was born there along with his parents and most of his siblings. I have wanted to go to Poland for a long time. I am living vicariously through there. I would love it if you would bring me back a small trinket, even a Polish coin so I can feel connected to it in some way. We have a tremendous family tree we hav created over the years and it’s powerful to know that history.

    • Beth Katz

      June 20, 2012 at 8:15 am

      Ronee, I will have money for you! Thank you for the reply appreciate everything you wrote above. Xxoo

  2. Mimi

    June 20, 2012 at 6:57 am

    You are doing a great job recapping your travels. Safe travel to lithuania. Mimi

  3. Brittany

    June 20, 2012 at 7:59 am

    That town square is stunning! Looks like such a beautiful city.

  4. Tom Freeman

    June 20, 2012 at 8:39 am

    I am not sure if the picture is the turkey potato kishke or the whatever yucky kishke. Let’s just say it must taste better than it looks.

  5. Elana Scharlin

    May 21, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    The town in the area is Kolomyjka, not Kolomyja. Kolomyja is in the Ukraine (formerly Austria-Hungary, Galicia region and Poland between the two world wars).

    • Beth Katz

      May 21, 2015 at 5:07 pm

      Yes, that is true but my Kolomyja is in Poland. There are 2. It messed me up at first but then I found the very small dairy town adjacent to where my great grandparents lived.

    • Beth Katz

      May 21, 2015 at 5:08 pm

      Yes, that is true but my Kolomyja is in Poland. There are 2. It messed me up at first but then I found the very small dairy town adjacent to where my great grandparents lived.


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