Tuesday, November 5, 2013
What is remembered, lives
I haven't got the right words yet to describe my experience yesterday. It was powerful, meaningful -though I am unable to articulate the meaning just yet. The experience is still brewing.
I marched down to the Library first thing, renewed my reader's card, arrived in the reading room a half hour before the person who could fetch the book came in to work. I was on a mission! It was wonderful to sit there in the beauty of the Library. You can feel the history, the reverence for books - so cool. I read a book about ancient Sumer while I waited - it was not time wasted, and too, it gave me time to get grounded before the encounter with That Book.
I held the Yizkor book in my hands, I stared at it, I leafed through it. Most of the book is about Kremenits which was a much bigger town close to my family's village. At the back of the book is a very short section of memories of Vzysgorodek. As it turned out, the book has not been translated from the Yiddish. The Hebraic specialist on duty doesn't know Yiddish at all, or she could have done some quick translating. I didn't get to read the stories, but I held the book. It was epic, I tell you.
The experience was so powerful, I didn't even take pictures, except for these - the cover of the book and the first page of "Memories of Vzysgorodek before 1927." When I go back, I'll remember to photograph the reading room. It is exquisitely beautiful.
I guess that's one of the Carpathian mountains in the background. The village is certainly Kremenits since almost the whole book is about it. It looks rustic, doesn't it? And that was the BIG town.
I ran into a couple of the brainiac househusbands of Capitol Hill this morning. One of them, the guy who asked about the tattoo and pointed me in the direction of the Library of Congress, has already put out the word that I'm looking for someone to translate the memories into English. He's hooked in to the Yiddish program at the U of M. He says a grad student could do a great job and would be interested in the work. What a great idea. But even before I get it translated I'll go back just to hold it, leaf through, look at the pictures and such. Oh that book.
On the way down to the Library, I took lots of pictures. Sundogs appeared and disappeared in a ring around Brother Sun. I saw some before, some more after I left the Library. The air was crisp, the trees were resplendent in all their colors. It was surreal. It was like a cartoon of autumn, everything exaggerated.
I didn't cry until I got back to the chateau. Once in the quiet of my home I wept profoundly. My heart was wide open. It will take awhile to integrate.
In a way, it's funny because these ancestors would not know what to make of me, my "life style," my mysticism, shamanism and my pre-Judaism Jewishness. I am not traditional, but they were. They would disapprove, I guarantee it. They might even be appalled to hear my life's stories - even I find them somewhat appalling, well some of them anyway. Ah but they're stuck with me, because I'm the member of my family who is strongly called to work with Holocaust era ancestors. My siblings are grateful I'm doing this but the work doesn't call them. No. It's up to me. Sorry, ancestors!
Actually I'm not at all sorry.