Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Today is the 1st of Kislev, a month synonymous with miracles, with Jewish resolve, with heroism, and with proud assertion of Jewish identity. I was privileged this week to cover a kind of miraculous story that embodies these values.
Yesterday, Bernard Krutz did not know who he was. As a small boy, he was hidden during the Holocaust in an orphanage and had no idea where he was born, what his real name was, and who his parents were. He could not find a single family member after the war, lived in Poland until 1968, and then moved to the United States where he lives now at the age of what he thinks is 82. Meanwhile, he raised a family and led a full life without knowing who he was.
His daughter Lisa suggested that he check his DNA and avail himself of the resources at Yad VaShem to see if any relatives could be located and a match was finally found. He discovered a first cousin who lives in Israel. He has only now arrived here in order to learn the most basic facts about his identity: His name is Berel, the son of Avraham-Yehuda and Raizel Szczycki.
"After 80 years, I finally know who I am and who my family members are," he said yesterday when he met his cousin in the city of Modi'in. "From my perspective, the war has now ended because all these years I fought this empty feeling."
There are those who try to do away with concepts such as tradition, family, and the connection between one generation and the next. There are those who would have told him to give up in his quest a long time ago. But the one who finally succeeded after all these years in connecting him to the previous generation was a daughter of the future generation. His daughter was the one who extended herself to find his link to the past. It's never too late to discover who you are and the place in the magnificent Jewish story where your name is written.
Have a good month.