Judith Baumel

I’m off to Zolochiv, Ukraine. When my father and grandmother left, it was called Zloczow, Polska.

July 9th, 2009

malcah_bummyHere’s one of the reasons I’m going:  It’s this picture my grandmother sent to her husband to introduce his son, my father.  Malcha was pregnant when her husband, Hersch, got his papers for America.  So he went ahead to The Bronx to set things up.  Bummy (Avraham) was eight months old in 1927 when she took him to the photo studio.  It would be four years until the family was back together.  Bummy never quite got over the shock of meeting his father for the first time.  When I read Call It Sleep I wondered if Henry Roth’s story was my father’s.

I love the way my grandmother grips my father with her fingers.  Until the day she died in 1990, age 93, her fingers retained that power. Her fingers are a recurring motif of my memories.

8 Responses to “I’m off to Zolochiv, Ukraine. When my father and grandmother left, it was called Zloczow, Polska.”

    Welcome to blogland, Judith and good luck with the travels. I wonder whether you will meet any relatives there?

      Thanks, George! No relatives. But a group calling itself “2nd Generationers” (which includes some people born in the town, baruch hashem) are gathering to dedicate a monument to the Jews who were killed in the second Aktion in the forest outside town. We are coming from Australia, New Zealand, Israel and the USA.

    AJB says:

    LOVE this photo – doesn’t she look like Ellis? And Blake is looking very much like Bummy in this photo.
    Have a great trip!!

      Thanks, Andy. I don’t know if I should send congratulations or condolences if Blake is looking like Bummy,. Or to send it double if you start to notice the same personality traits. As I watched Aaron grow, I often felt (with happiness and frustration) I’d
      been there/done that before.”

    Janusz says:

    Great trip, wish you good luck.
    Do not miss to see the castle in Podhorice (Підгірці in ukrainian) – to me it’s the most beautiful place in entire Ukraine. What’s important – it’s impossible to visit internal part of the castle now, you can only turn on your imagination. This shows as well how ugly was past soviet times. It’s not far from Zolochiv.
    Spend some time in Lvov and in Poland Wroclaw is much better option than Krakow (so many visitors this time of the year).

      Thanks, Janusz! I will try to get to the Podhorice castle. I’ve seen pictures, and I agree. I’m learning how much Ukraine has suffered, over the centuries, in particular under the Soviets, and your advice to use imagination seems a potent symbol of the Ukrainian experience in general. We are planning a few days in Lviv. But I’m afraid I won’t take your advice to avoid Krakow, crowded though it may be. Really, come all this way and miss Krakow? Impossible for this tourist. I long to see the Jagiellonian library.

    Ellis says:

    The best part of the photo is the animal pelt. I see a resemblence to many Baumels in her face, but most particularly Barbara. I love tracking things on the Twitter page – I assume it will get harder to find web access as you leave the vicinity of aiports?

    Good luck with everything.

    Jennifer says:

    I, too, see Aaron in that photo. That look on your father’s face. I thought about my father in your father’s collection of data, only my father wrote lists of people’s names–family, friends, sometimes. And places. A different kind of memory bank. Good luck with the trip! xxx