Yesterday was Tisha B'Av, the Jewish national day of mourning. It is the day on which we commemorate tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people. It is the day that the destruction, of both Temples. Various other tragedies are also marked on that day from the massacres that took place during the Crusades, to the expulsion from Spain to various events of the Holocaust, all are remembered in some way on Tisha B'Av.
My friend Rachel Neiman wrote a wonderful essay , which you can read here Jewish Athletes and the Shoah. I followed one of the links in the article to the Yad V'Shem Central Data base of Shoah Victims.
For the past couple of years I have been doing some genealogical research with my cousin Oren in Israel. We had always known where our family came from. My grandmother, Toba Weisglass Levy came from near Czernowitz, in what is now Moldova. Her father, Chaim Weisglass, came from an illustrious family. They owned estates. ( Yes, estates, eight of them.) Chaim's brother or uncle Sigmund ( we are still working out the details) was elected mayor of the town of Zastavna outside of Czernowitz, in 1904. (Chaim brought his family to New York in 1903.)
WWI brought hard times to Czernowitz. People with the means to moved to Viena. Burial records show that much of the Weisglass family did move to Vienna. Looking through the Yad v'Shem records, I found
My cousin. I had never heard of my cousin Barukh before. I had also never heard of his brother Moshe who submitted this testimony, or his parents, Yisrael and Miriam.
I do know that these people are all part of my extended family. I can't even begin to imagine the horrors they lived through, or how exactly they were murdered. Somehow just naming their names pulls them back a bit from total annihilation.
I hope to dig a bit more in the archives and begin to claim more of these names as my relatives.