If you read back to “trusting a stranger” you will read how I met and hired Graznya Rychlik of www.guidingpoland.pl 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 Ancestry.com 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.