The Photo: Skiing in Sweden
I was born in Sweden, the child of Polish Holocaust survivors. My father, an adventurous sportsman, put me on skis at the age of three. Though the expression on my face seems to suggest a bit of hesitancy, skiing did come to play a rather significant role in my life.
From Sweden, my parents had hoped to immigrate to Montreal, but we ended up in Los Angeles, instead, where I grew up. We were among the very early skiers in Southern California, often driving four hours to a rope tow and piling snow on the bumpers of our car to prove to our neighbors that there was, indeed, snow to enjoy in the local mountains.
I lived in Israel for most of my twenties. Having abandoned my skies for several years, I eagerly accepted an invitation to ski on Mount Hermon. That day, I met a young Canadian who brought me to Montreal.
Thirty-two years later, Irwin and I are still skiing.
The Photo: Honeymoon in Poland
This is not the sort of image one would associate with pre-war Poland, but this was, indeed, Poland, July, 1939. My parents, Julia and Mordechai Taubenblatt were enjoying their honeymoon in an obviously elegant resort. Their smiling faces hold no hint of the catastrophe that was to befall them and the Jews of Europe exactly three months after their wedding. Sept 1, 1939 the Nazis occupied Poland. Initially, my parents were interned together in the Radom ghetto but later they were separated for the duration of the war. They were the only survivors of their extended families who had remained in Poland during the war. Miraculously, they were reunited.
They immigrated to Montreal in August, 1947 and I was born one month later, my brother, Steve, three years later. My father established a successful clothing manufacturing firm which my brother and I were privileged to have inherited. The business has celebrated its 58th year. My parents were active and generous participants in the Montreal Jewish community. They enjoyed a wide circle of friends and a rich family life.
They continued to share many beach vacations during their almost sixty years of marriage.
The Photo: Rabbi Nachum Asz
My great-grandfather was the Great Rabbi of Czestochowa, Poland from
1894 until 1936. In this picture, taken in Poland in 1930, he is meeting
with President Noscicki of Poland.
Rabbi Nachum Asz was my father�s grand-father. Although was a Great Rabbi, he always had time to take my father on rides in the city. In 2004, my parents, who now live in France, and I went back to Czestochowa for a reunion of Holocaust survivors and their relatives. While there, we payed tribute to the memory of Rabbi Asz. Our Jewish heritage has continued through generations, wars and continents.
My grandfather Berl Lieblein (c. 48 years old) and (from right to left),
my uncle Hersh Leib (c.18), my aunt Lea (c. 20), and my mother,
Sarah (c.10). Photographed in Stryj, Galicia, c. 1912.
At the time of this photograph Berl's oldest children were already in
New York. They wrote, asking for a photograph of the rest of the
family. In the mind of my grandfather, to be photographed was a sin.
But my Uncle Izzie and Aunt Rose persisted, and finally he decided,
with tears in his eyes, that there was no alternative. For the
children, envied by their friends, the outing to the city was a
great event; for my grandfather it was a sacrifice.
Going to the railroad station they ran into the rabbi of their village.
It was unusual to see somebody in the middle of the week and early in
the morning all dressed up. He asked, "Reb Berl where are you going?"
Broken-hearted my grandfather told him the story.
As my mother later wrote: "Evidently that Rabbi was a very clever
man and said, 'Reb Berl you are doing a fine thing. Your children
are good children. They are so far away who knows whether they'll
have a chance ever to see you; with the picture of yourself they'll
have a feeling that you are with them.' By the mentioning 'ever see,'
father cried, but that Rabbi eased up the situation. Fortunately
the pictures came out good and we didn't have to go to the city
again." Mother would always conclude the story with a reflection
on the importance of sholem bayis.
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