Sunday, April 24, 2016

Re: My Father's Father's Family "Three Minutes in Poland"

While I was sitting shiva for my father on the Eve of Passover, my friend dropped a bag next to my chair:
"There's a book and coffee."
Later that day, during a lull in the shiva, when nobody was there to comfort, I opened the bag and found  "Three Minutes in Poland." Now that I'm "up from shiva" I'm reading it. It's the amazing saga of Glenn Kurtz, who tells how he discovered and researched the short film his grandfather took in pre-World War Two Poland.

I plan on reviewing it after I finish reading it.

Now why is it so exciting and so fitting as reading material during the mourning period for my father? It was even one of the props/tools/visual aids I had at my service when sitting shiva along with pictures.

So many of my neighbors are immigrants or children of immigrants, including Holocaust survivors, so a common and favorite question one asks a person sitting shiva for a parent is about the family background:
From where was your father/mother or his/her parents?
When someone is a good few generations in Israel it's rare. With the help of this book I was able to talk about my father's father's family, their European background and their way of thinking. "Three Minutes in Poland" is about the Jewish community of Nasielsk, where my paternal grandfather's family had lived until well before the Holocaust.  Unlike many Jewish families from Europe, it seems that the Spiegelman clan, my father's father's family, were not optimistic about life in Europe. They were ambitious businessman and decided that their futures would be better in America.

Not just my grandfather and some of his siblings left Nasielsk, but his parents, aunts, uncles and cousins were also in the states. Most arrived before or after World War One. My father was raised in a large clan including both sets of grandparents, because even my grandmother's parents and most of her siblings had left Rogotshov, Belarus prior to World War Two. Not that long ago I was contacted by descendants of cousins of my father's mother, and we are now in touch pretty much daily on facebook.

All of this is rather amazing, as far as I'm concerned. I'm very glad to have an amazingly suitable book to read after sitting shiva. Here's a video about Nasielsk, Poland, 1938, and the author of the book:

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