My Long Lost Family History

1 month ago Leighest 0

By Julia Landes

It all started in Poland at the death camp named Treblinka. When walking into Treblinka it feels surreal. My shoulders felt heavier as I walked along the path that the Jews had walked on many years before. There was a sense of silence in the forest around us and it affected everyone in our group. As we walked up to around 17,000 headstones which were memorials for the death camp, our tour guide started to explain what we were looking at. He began to mention that each headstone was for an entire town not just one person. That put into perspective how many people have perished in the spot that I was standing in. As a result in the mass killings, not many people were able to be identified which led them to be forgotten. Therefore, our tour guide advised us to take some time to ourselves and walk around through the many of the headstones. He told us to pick one and take a picture of it so that the community could be remembered. At first, I thought it was a bit odd and random for us to do it but it was a very thoughtful action to take. I walked in a couple rows and decided on the one I wanted. My friend had taken a picture of me in front of it and then we both went on to catch up with everyone else. The importance of this gravestone was only recognized when I got home from my trip two weeks later. I was talking to my grandma about my trip so we started with Poland. She mentioned to me that my great grandfather was from Poland and that was new information to me. I asked her what town he was from and she had said “Radom.” As soon as those words left her lips I started sobbing. I could not believe that she had said the name of the town on the headstone that I took a picture in front of. Hashem had guided me to my family’s grave. My grandma explained to me that my great grandfather was the only one to survive out of his entire family. He had escaped the ghetto with a friend and fled to Ukraine. This trip had an amazing impact on me before I even knew it. I think it is truly important for people to go on this trip to learn about our heritage and to see the history right in front of your eyes. I enjoyed every part and this trip will be something I will never forget.