Arnold Markowitz - "Father told me..."

Arnold Markowitz from Philadelphia visited the Borderland on August 11-13th. His father had been born in Sejny, and in 1905 had emigrated to America. Arnold Markowitz gave us some matierials on Sejny Jews. On Saturday, 13th of August, he met with the young people in the Borderland Center. He retold the stories about Sejny that he, as a child, had heard from his father.

On June 11th, 2005 The Borderland was visited by Lucyna Saunina - the descendant of the two Sejnian families of the Borowiczs and the Lews; Gila Eliba and Haim Lev - the son of the former sawmill owner in Sejny (from the Lew family). The guests met the children taking part in the Sejny Chronicles project, listened to the story about Sejny and about children’s work. They visited the town, saw the house where their uncle Kan, the teacher in heder, lived, and they pointed the place where the Lew family house once stood.

In August 2005, I visited Sejny, Poland, the town in which my father was born in 1890.  What follows is the transcript of my video-taped interview with Krzysztof Czyżewski, president of the Fundacja Pogranicze/Borderland Foundation (headquartered in the former synagogue, Talmud house and secular Hebrew lyceum); Bożena Szroeder, director of the foundation’s youth program; and several members of the youth program.  The interview was conducted in English, with frequent interpretation into Polish by Mr. Czyżewski.  A transcript of the interview, entitled “Ojciec opowiadał mi….,” was published in Polish in Almanach Sejneński  3 (Sejny Almanac 3) in 2006.  Subsequently, I commissioned an English translation of the text, which I later edited for clarity and for errors resulting from multiple translation and re-translation.  Mindful of the Italian saying, “Traddutore/Traditore”  --  “[the] translator/ [is a] traitor,” I call what follows an interpretation of the cross-lingual transcription of the spoken word and its subsequent translation! 

Arnold L. Markowitz

Father told me…

Krzysztof Czyżewski: We welcome Mr. Arnold Markowitz, a descendant of the Jews of Sejny.  He is one of the last witnesses who can bring us information about the world of pre-war Sejny, no longer existing today.

Arnold Markowitz: What I would like to relay to the young people is the thought that they should be asking about the past with their parents and grandparents, because later it may be too late to have the chance to learn about the place where one lives.  I want to tell you some bits and pieces which I have been gathering for years about how life looked like here and what my family was like.  Conditions exist these days that make it possible for me to find various official documents or materials about my family and to connect one name with another -- to try to re-create relationships between members of my family.  My father, Charles Markowitz was called Charlie, and he was sometimes called "Uncle Charlie,” because he had the kind of personality that made it comfortable for people to call him “uncle”.

When he lived in Sejny he was called Yisroel Khatskel Markowicz.  Yisroel (Israel) was the name of his mother’s maternal grandfather, Khatskel was the name of his father's maternal grandfather.  Yisroel was a Hebrew name, given and used in a synagogue; Khatskel, on the other hand, was a secular name.  So in daily life everyone called him by that name.  Khatskel is a Russian/Polish, Yiddish form of the Hebrew name Yekhetzkel (Ezekiel) -- sort of a nickname.  Two names were given, so the Hebrew name wouldn't be used unnecessarily.  This tradition did not apply to women at the time.  They had one name; sometimes two.  However, they were not so strongly connected with the religious life of the synagogue.

When I was young, my father did not read me stories from children’s books but he lulled me to sleep with stories about how life used to be in SehNEE (with the accent on the last syllable) -- that's how the name was pronounced in Yiddish.  He said he was a Russian Jew, a Litvak, who came from SehNEE, a small town located not far from the larger city of SOOvalk.  His mother's family came from a small town which he called “KrasnoPOL’ye”.  Only after my father's death, about forty years ago, I learned that these places do exist in Poland today and are named Sejny, Suwałki and Krasnopol.

Krzysztof Czyżewski:  We also are interested in the history of your family.

My father was 74 years old when he died in 1964.  If he hadn't been a habitual smoker, most likely he would have lived longer -- I'm talking to you young people, now.  He was 15 years old when he left Sejny and emigrated to America.  His childhood history of which he told me happened in a happy place, among the forests, lakes, fish, and birds that were here, among nature and wild animals.  His father was a tailor, as was my mother's father which means that I come from a long tradition of tailor families.  Their children in America became tailors and worked in the clothing industry.  However, my father, in his youth and older age, was not a person who could sit in one place and sew.  He was too energetic, too active for that.

His elder brother was, of course, a tailor.  My father, right after finishing kheder in Sejny at the age of 13, became apprenticed to a house painter in town.  That's what he did when he came to America also, and actually until the end of his life he was a house painter.  He raised a family of five children:   Three daughters, then I was born, then another daughter.  I was called "The Prince of Wales".  My father sometimes called me in Yiddish “mayn held” or “mayn tzaddik”.  He emigrated in 1905 because work conditions were not good for him.  He went to America where his elder brother had been for a few years and had a family; a wife, children [records later discovered indicate that his brother was newly married when my father arrived in 1906 but had no children as yet].  His brother's name was Aaron Leyb.  His names, according to tradition, were given to him to commemorate the names of his grandfathers from both sides of the family.  His older sister also left for America before him. His parents, his younger sister, Etel, and grandmother Golda stayed behind.

Now I will tell you about his youthful trade.  Apparently he went all the way to Koenigsberg to conduct some shady business.  He brought very simple things from there, and thanks to that he made some money that was profitable from the point of view of taxes -- one could skip paying them.  His best accomplishment as a smuggler was smuggling himself out in a babushka and girls’ clothing -- he left in a farm cart, wearing a  headscarf and a skirt.  He couldn't look like a young boy because he was threatened with service in the Russian army.  That was exactly why young people, young Jews, ran away.  At that time in the Russian army there was a very strict discipline directed against the Jews.  If you placed your shoes the wrong way you could have your service lengthened by five years.  And the main reason wasn't to extend the service for Jews in the Russian army; rather, they wanted to assimilate the Jews and eliminate their "Jewishness".

I remember my father telling me that when he was a small boy an old woman said that in her youth she saw Napoleon's soldiers.  This tells us how very long ago all this happened, but it seems like just yesterday.

Bożena Szroeder:  People still tell today that Napoleon passed through Sejny.  Everyone points out a house where he stayed but everyone points to a different house.  And it is written somewhere that he ate lentil patties and everyone remembers that too.

My father told me also that his father sewed clothes for two priests from two different churches, from the Russian Orthodox church and the Catholic church.  He told me about a magnificent Catholic church in Sejny, about the basilica.  Where we lived, in Brooklyn, there was a huge Catholic church but my father always repeated, "That's nothing: You should have seen the church in Sejny, then you'd know you've seen a church!"  He told me that he always had to deliver clothes to this huge church.  The priest never touched the money, the payment was always placed on the table and the priest would say,  “Khatskel, take the money."  He also told me that in winter he had to cross the river against a very cold wind.  Wow!  I was always so taken with that story until I came to Sejny for the first time and saw how “not-big” that river was!

He told me about the house in which he lived.  It was built of logs, it had two rooms and a "Russian stove", as he called it, and he told me that during winter he slept on the stove -- which for me was hard to believe because I have never seen a stove like that.  If somebody wanted to sleep on a typical iron American stove he would burn.  There was an earthen floor in the house but my father told me that his mother cleaned it and polished it so that it looked like stone.  He told me about Jewish holidays, about the Passover holiday and about the Seder (the traditional meal eaten on the first evening of the holiday) when everyone was very hungry but they couldn't eat until 10:30 because his father spoke each word from the Haggadah so precisely and exactly.  When I spend Seder with my young family, the reading is a very fast procedure and then we eat right away.  (But perhaps my father remembered Seder just like he remembered the river in Sejny)  He also told me that there were different people living in Sejny, people speaking different languages.  Because he said that he had many friends who weren't Jewish, I imagine that they knew each other's languages so they could communicate.

He also told me that once a farmer complained about what my father did with his friends -- they knocked down his fence.  The farmer complained to my grandfather who made my father build a fence much better than the previous one. (I never destroyed any fence...)

When my father left Sejny, he traveled to Antwerp in Belgium, then by ship to America.  In Antwerp it was discovered that he had a common eye illness called, “trachoma”, which could mean that he wouldn't be allowed to enter America; and that 15-year-old boy went to Berlin so they would heal his eye.  He remembered a blue stone used for healing.  After the procedure the eye was healed -- it worked.  But he spent three months wandering about Berlin, where he got to know one of the largest European metropolises, and nice people – the Berliners.  He went back to Antwerp and sailed.  He told me the name of the ship but I don't remember it after so many years [later remembered: SS Kroonland].  Once I asked one of my sisters whether she remembered anything about our father's arrival in America.  She said that supposedly he arrived on April 14.  Later I got his arrival record and it turned out it was April 12.  The document says that he was 17-years-old but I know that he wasn't even 16 at the time.  Unaccompanied children who were 16 and younger could have been sent back home.  There is also the address of my father's brother in Brooklyn, in New York.  Thanks to that I later found information about people who came from the same area; they lived in the neighborhood.  My father's brother was 22 at the time and had a wife.  He died about five years later [Later learned: Seven years later, in 1913], leaving a widow, two daughters and a son.  My father then, as a very young man, helped his brother's family.  The sister-in-law later married a widower with a similarly large family, so they had a lot of children.  When I was born, I was named after that deceased brother.  My Hebrew name is Aaron Leyb.  Those were my uncle's names, but also the names of his grandfathers, great-grandfathers and great-great-grandfathers -- they appeared very often in our family.  This system of names is very useful in genealogy, in establishing family connections.

As a child I had a pleasure of knowing my father's sister Basha; whom we called, ”Bessie.”  She worked in a garment factory (her brother Aaron was a tailor; at that time it was a typical job for Jewish and Italian immigrants, they usually found work in the garment industry.)  Bessie married an Englishman who was not Jewish and thanks to that, in addition to Channukah, we also celebrated Christmas. We had Channukah at home and later we went to aunt Bessie's house for Christmas - that's America.

Krzysztof Czyżewski:  Maybe something like that could have happened in Sejny...

Unfortunately, when I was 9-years-old, my aunt died of the flu, before miracle drugs were available that cured that illness.

Another story related by my father about life here has to do with the time when his family was expelled from Sejny during World War I. They later lived in Vitebsk.  I just found in the Lithuanian archives some documents related to the expulsion of my grandfather's family; there is even a mention of a niece about whose existence we didn't know.  In this document I also found a trace related to my father's sister whom we always have known as Ethel Wolfowitz but there she was under another last name and had a one-year-old daughter Masha [actually, 2-year old].  That's where the record of expulsion from Sejny to Moghilev Guberniya is, in the archives in Vilnius.   I know that my great-grandmother Golda died before 1920, because my eldest sister Golda (Gladys) was born before 1920.  My grandmother Sora had to have died before 1924 because her name was given to another of my sisters (Sylvia), born in 1924. The last news from our relatives living in Vitebsk came in 1932.  That means that the last record about our family who had resided in Sejny comes from that year.

Krzysztof Czyżewski:  Could you tell us more about your father?  You mentioned his unusual character...

He must have been a very brave young man with a very good soul because he liked all kinds of people.  He worked very hard during a very difficult time in the United States -- he took care not only of his immediate family, but also of others.  Without formal education, he spoke very good English.  Coming from a very traditional family, he observed the laws, holidays and other important things.  Everyone called him “Charlie,” and my mother was called “Mrs. Markowitz,” although she wasn't so formidable -- but that's how it was.

Because I was a very young and modern American, they sometimes didn't know quite what to do with me.  They gave me the freedom which I wanted to have, and they insisted that I get an education.  We didn't really have any generational conflicts, only some little arguments.  We had many members of my mother's family around but on my father's side there were only his cousins from Krasnopol.  Unfortunately, I didn't ask them enough questions to find out more about that branch of the family.

I was always interested in where I come from. I came to Poland in August 1990 for the first time; it was on the anniversary of my father's hundredth birthday.  I came before Pogranicze came to exist in Sejny.  Later I was very happy to learn about your presence here.  I am 76-years-old and I travel more than I should.  The second visit was in 2003 in the centenary of my father's bar-mitzvah.  Today's visit is in the 100th anniversary of his emigration.  I come here every hundred years…

Krzysztof Czyżewski: Tell us more about yourself,  please.  How did it happen that you, born and raised in an Orthodox Jewish family, became a modern New Yorker.

I grew up in Brooklyn, in a place where many people liked me.  I went to a public school and I made it to one of the best high schools in New York, in spite of very high competition.  I don't really know how this happened; this school used to get all the science prizes.   Now the school is in a different building, near the World Trade Center.  I wasn't a very good student.  As a young man I was an actor.  I performed in summer theater, later I majored in drama in college and so I lost about one year.  Then I spent a year traveling with a drama performance, touring in 44 American states.  And that was pretty much the end of my acting career.  Later I went to a very good college, St. John’s College, in Annapolis, Maryland; very small and good, but I left there as well.  The dean told me then that I could come back any time I wanted.  But I never went back,   and after five years I started studies at the New School for Social Research.  This university was staffed by many emigrants, like Hannah Arendt, leaving Europe during the rise of fascism.  I spent seven years at that college and only got my B.A. degree when I was 34, 12 years later than usual students.

I realized that I liked studying so I continued to study.  I got a master's degree in Library Science, then in Art History and one more in Historic Preservation.  For 20 years I worked as a librarian at New York University, as an art history and architecture specialist.  I earned my living during the day and attended classes at night.  I retired at the age of 57 because I prefer not to work but to travel.

I never seriously observed the Jewish religion, although like every Jewish boy I had a bar-mitzvah at the age of 13. After that a young man should be coming to synagogue and be active in religious life but this didn't happen in my case.

I prepared a few publications, bibliographies; one of them was a compilation of works by my professor from the New School who was a famous architect, aesthetician  and art historian from Berlin.  That's why in the 70s I spent some time in the Berlin archives.  I also published a bibliography about historic preservation.  Other than that, I try to stay out of trouble...

Krzysztof Czyżewski:  Why have you decided to come to Sejny?

I started thinking about coming back here, to Sejny, because of great love and respect for my parents.  My father told me so much about life here, about how he used to walk to Krasnopol -- six miles -- to visit his grandmother.  These things from childhood stay with a person, especially when one's childhood was a happy one.  Naturally, when I was growing up coming to Poland wasn't easy for me.  When the 100th anniversary of my father's birthday was coming up in 1990, a trip to Poland appeared to be possible.  I didn't know what to expect.  I found Sejny on a map, I knew how to get to Warsaw and find a train to here.  I was 61 years old when I arrived in Warsaw for the first time.  I got on a train to Bialystok, then a bus to Augustow, and from there I came to Sejny through the most beautiful forest I had ever seen.  I arrived at 6:00 in the evening, having no idea whether I would find a hotel or any other place where I could spend the night.  A very nice lady in the bus realized that I and my friend with whom I traveled were strangers.  She asked us, with a gesture, whether we wanted a place to sleep.  She led me to the "Skarpa" hotel and that's what our “Welcome to Sejny” looked like.  I had no idea that there was a synagogue here; that there was anything left.  When I left the bus at Parkowa Street and I noticed a synagogue with a large sign showing a menorah and the word "synagoga” I was very surprised and touched. And then I found out that the synagogue was now an art gallery. There I met Wiesław Szumiński -- he did not speak English, I didn't understand a word of Polish, but we had a great conversation.

I spent three nights in Sejny, then I went to Tykocin where my mother's parents were born.  My mother's ancestors lived there for as long as my father's ancestors lived in Krasnopol, Sejny and Berżniki.  But my parents, although their families had lived so close, met only in New York, in Brooklyn, and that's where they got married.  Recently, I found a package of letters which my mother saved from 1919 when my father was in the American army, far away in Alabama.  In one of the letters my father mentions a wedding that most likely he would not be able to attend; in another letter he said that he was sure he wasn't going to make it, but "I assure you I will be at your wedding".  There were also letters he wrote to his brother's widow.

My parents spoke Yiddish only when they didn't want us children to understand them... But we knew what they were talking about anyway.  I familiarized myself with Yiddish when my mother talked with her mother and her sisters.  My father was 300% American.  I have a lot of nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.  Many of them have names that go back to Sejny and Krasnopol.  One of my grandnieces has two sets of twins, two boys and two girls.  That's how life is sometimes.

Krzysztof Czyżewski:  How were your returns to Sejny, what were your feelings?

This place appealed to me.  Young people have a different personality than people in small towns in America.  Over there, when strangers come to a small place like this, people are more open, they smile; it would be different yet in Italy.  So each nationality has a different sense of barriers between people.

Krzysztof Czyżewski:  Coming here, have you felt the absence of openness?

I had a feeling that people keep to themselves here, that people who come back are not necessarily looked after.  But later, as you meet people, the interpersonal relationships become deeper.  I became friends with Sister Barbara in the basilica.  My feeling after three visits is such that this is a great place, especially for young people who grow up here.  The existence of the Borderland Foundation brings another quality to contemporary life.  I am happy that these three buildings function as one, and nobody would expect to find anything like this here.  It is nice to see the three Jewish buildings in their relationship to the basilica and the cloister. It is also a town connected to the nearby villages, and to the surrounding countryside.  You feel that you come from town to village right away.  There are many places in the world where you go from suburb to another suburb, then there is another city, there is no relationship to a village.  This is a quality that should be preserved as something special.

After my first visit I realized that there was a chance of recreating the genealogy of my family.  Until then, we thought that everything was lost, that there were no documents.  But after I came back here, I found out not only that there was Jewish genealogy but that there was a group of people interested in the genealogy of Jews from the Suwałki region.  I joined the group soon after my first visit.  I realized then that if I wanted to come back I had to learn some Polish.  So now I can say "please", "thank you", "may I have a large Zywiec please" [Zywiec, a major brand of Polish beer] and some other things.  I signed up for Polish classes in Philadelphia where there is a Polish organization doing that.  I learned mainly from textbooks used by Polish-American children so I know words like "ceiling", "floor", "walls", etc.

Krzysztof Czyżewski:  It seems that when we speak Polish here, the situation is similar to the times when you wanted to understand your parents telling each other secrets...

Yes, sometimes I happen to understand...  The problem is that my foreign language pronunciation is good.  When I say something, I get a very long and complicated answer.  And then I have to say "I'm sorry, I didn't understand anything".  This happens to me in other languages, as well.

After my first visit in Sejny, I gave Wiesław my address and soon he wrote me a letter telling about the Borderland Foundation.  This was good news for me.

I don't know whether I have anything else to say...

Bożena Szroeder:  We'd like to ask you about the tales that your father used to tell you at bed time.  Could you tell us a Sejny tale?

They were the same stories all the time.  My father told me that when he cut his finger, his grandmother would wrap a cobweb on it -- that's a story from before band-aids.  He was very young when he left.  He never spoke about the synagogue, about Talmud school... This was invisible to him; natural.  But he stressed that his town had the most beautiful church.  He must have lived somewhere near the river and he told how in the spring he stuffed moss between the logs in the house.  So their house wasn't plastered or covered with some other material but it was built out of logs and sealed with moss.  He told me about a hen which sat on duck eggs until they hatched, and when the ducklings swam away the hen was very unhappy.  So when I stood on a small bridge on the river and saw ducks, I thought that they could have been descendants of the ducks from my father's story.

Bożena Szroeder:  That could have been on Grodzka street. Sara Kirchner's family lived there too.  She comes from the Dusznicki family.   She has excellent memory and remembers the neighbors well.  She is 93 years old and she sent us a letter in which she describes streets in detail.  Maybe we should get you in touch with her?

When did they leave Sejny?

Bożena Szroeder:  Shortly before the war.  They had a property in Dusznica, a mill, but she spent her childhood here.

Krzysztof Czyżewski:  We talked about your father, what about your mother?

My mother was born in the United States.  I knew her mother well; I also remember my mother's father.  I remember the time when my mother gave me a book of Morris Rosenfeld's poetry in which my grandfather's name was written very carefully.  I gave this book as a gift to the YIVO Institute in New York. [Morris Rosenfeld, an important Yiddish poet who emigrated to the United States, was born in Sejny.] My grandfather died early, in 1933, but I remember a Seder evening with him.  I remember my mother's grandmother who also died in 1933; I was 4 years old.  Her name was Khashke Maliszewska and she was born in Tykocin.  Her mother's name was Khay Dyna, and her mother's name was also Khashke.  I can trace all the female names from gr-gr-gr-gr-gr-great-granddaughters to gr-gr-gr-gr-gr-great-grandmother.  I haven't read it yet but there is a book titled "Seven daughters of Eve" about maternal lines.  It seems to me that there were many more women in my family then men.  Silverstein was the name of my mother's maternal grandparents.  My mother told me that this wasn't the correct family name.  I kept this deep in my memory and in recent years thanks to the magic of computers I found the family name.  The name was Wołowicz.  I typed my great-grandmother's name Maliszewska into a database.  I knew that my great-grandfather's name was Khatskel Leyb and I found the birth records of my mother’s uncles, whom I knew.  Then I went to the online Hamburg Emigration archive and entered Wołowicz and I found the emigration document of my great-grandmother with two of her daughters, whom I knew.

Krzysztof Czyżewski:  Did you draw your family tree?

Yes, I sketched it.  I realize that it will never be finished, but I try to find as many elements as I can.  I will send you a photograph of my father's parents which was taken in a photo studio here in Sejny [actually in Suwałki].  I also have a picture of my father, his brother and sister taken in New York -- they had to take a picture like that to send to their parents. One more thing - before the name Krasnopolski appeared, my ancestor’s name was Pesach.  My ancestor Pesach had three sons.  One of them was born about 1773.  Only his sons took the name Krasnopolski.  At the same time and place [Krasnopol] my ancestor Mordechai lived.  He was called Mordkho, in order not to desecrate the Hebrew name.  Mordkho had three sons who took the name Markowicz.  It is interesting that they didn't take a Hebrew sounding name -- the name Marcus has a Roman origin and was very popular.  Often surnames based on Mordechai or Moishe were related to Marcus, such as Markowicz.  Another popular name was Grodzienski.  My great-grandmother Golda's maiden name was Grodzienska.  Undoubtedly, this name originates with the most famous family in the Sejny region [Although I at first perceived an "honorific" connection to the name of Jerzy Grodzienski, the donor of the land on which Sejny was founded, I later learned that the name relates to the city of Grodno, and is prevalent in the Suwalki area because of an important Grodno/Koenigsburg rail route that passed through Suwalki.].  A surname, itself, came from the work you did, how someone looked, from the place where one lived, from parents' names or from the surname of a very notable person.  I hope that I will be able to collect an entire catalog of such names.  I really hope I will be able to come back to Sejny.

Aleksandra Kotarska:  Our friends play in a Klezmer Band whose concert you heard in the White Synagogue.  Do you think they could go to New York to perform?

I hope so.  I think they are good enough.  They are very good, I'd like to say more -- they have a very good vocal soloist.  She comes onto the stage, leaves, and then comes back as a completely different person.  I am very happy to have met you.  I think that my father would have treated you as his nieces and nephews.  I hope you will notice the beauty of the world in which you live and will be able to travel in it.

Krzysztof Czyżewski:  They have traveled already.  They went to Bosnia recently where we led an intercultural workshop.  They showed Sejny Chronicles.  Have you seen that performance?

No, unfortunately, I only found an English description of the performance. I think that everything that the young people have done here is wonderful. 

Bożena Szroeder:  Have you seen the "Sejny Chronicles" book prepared by the young people?

I tried to buy a copy but they were sold out...

Bożena Szroeder:  We are preparing a second edition and we would like your story to be in there as well.  In this book people tell stories about their neighbors and many stories have to do with the Jews.

What I brought with me and gave to Agata Szkopinska, is information about Israel Schapiro, the son of Tuv’ye Pincas Szapiro founder of the Hebrew gymnasium in Sejny].  He was the first curator of the Semitic texts section in the Library of Congress in Washington.  Then he left for Israel where he lived until his death.

Krzysztof Czyżewski:  Have you met him?

No, I only gathered information about him from the Library of Congress.  There is a book named "Shtetl Finder" and I looked up "Sejny" and two names appeared: Israel Schapiro and Morris Rosenfeld.  I searched for a Yiddish name "Senee" or "Senya" as a name close to my heart, and found a cross-reference to “Sejny”.  I know some German and I feel the close relationship between German and Yiddish but there are words in Yiddish whose source I couldn't relate, I couldn't find a root.  But after my first visit here my ears and eyes opened up.  For example, the German word for father is "vater" but in Yiddish we say "tateh".  Later I found out that in Polish “dad” is "tato".   The word for “clock” in German is "uhr" but we called it "zeiger".  Later I noticed a sign on the street "zegarmistrz".  So after my first visit in Poland I started studying not only Polish but Yiddish as well.  Sejny is a continuation of my education in a way.  Many think that Yiddish is a sort of degraded German but, of course, it's not true.  Yiddish started developing at the same time as German and English.  Although Yiddish has a lot of German language structure and vocabulary, it also has a lot of English patterns.  Yiddish borrowed a lot of words from Polish and other Slavic languages.  Some closely related words came from the Slavic languages.  However, a lot of theoretical and metaphysical terms came from the Hebrew.  That created this very unusual, very original, interesting Yiddish language.  For example, it's possible to say in Yiddish that when someone has too much to say they have not a "big mouth" but a "snout", using the Polish word.  It's more interesting and, of course, Yiddish sounds different depending on where you are from.  My father spoke Litvak (Lithhuanian) Yiddish, as opposed to the “very incorrect” Galitzianer Yiddish.  My current Yiddish teacher comes from a Lublin family and, as a result, we have some problems.  I don't think I will ever be a Yiddish language star.

Krzysztof Czyżewski:  I am in awe that you are still learning...

When you stop learning, what becomes of your life?  Last winter I spent a month in Buenos Aires in Argentina. I was working on improving my Argentinean Spanish accent.  I am sure that my father would have loved to travel as much as I do if he had a chance.  I came to Sejny in a roundabout way, having almost reached the North Pole.  I traveled south through Finland for nine-and-a-half hours to reach the arctic circle.  Sejny shines from the North Pole!  

Bożena Szroeder:  Had your father ever mentioned that he would like to come to Sejny?

He never spoke about it because everyone left, everyone perished.  He wanted to visit Israel which I did in 1987. But I’m sure that if the circumstances were right, he would have said "Let's go, time to go"  He was active till the end of his life.  Five years before his death my mother died; she was still young, it was two days before she would have turned 60. He was very unhappy. He was surrounded by loving children, grandchildren, everyone loved him.  I would like everyone to have such a happy life as I have, and he surely had. The world is completely different today.  In the basilica I met a woman who has lived in the States for 12 years and came here to visit her relatives.  In my father's times it would have been a one way ticket.  I hope that now we will have better times.  Much depends on you.

Bartek Hlebowicz:  Do you have children?

No, I don't, but I have nephews and nieces who, it seems to me, are interested in our Polish roots.  I think that they will really be interested in it when I'm gone and there will be no one to ask.  These are older children who remember my father and my mother.  It's hard to piece everything together into a family story but I will do everything to leave them such a story that they will be able to go to it and reach beyond.  Today even my mother's cousins wouldn't be able to tell what her ancestors' names were.  It will be possible for everyone from these pieces of information which I was able to gather and decipher.  I always thought that my great grandmother Golda Krasnopolska was my father’s maternal grandmother.  I always thought that my father's cousins came from his mother's sister.  So when, in the Lithuanian archive I found documents regarding the evictees, I thought that Golda was my grandmother’s mother.  But it wasn't true.  Then, my archive findings turned all history around.  Now I know that Golda wasn't Sora’s mother.  Golda's father's name was Khatskel, just like my father, and her mother's name was Dobrusza. I'm just thinking that it has to do with the word "good".

Krzysztof Czyżewski:  Dobrusza means "good spirit".  And we wish you good journey.  Until we meet again.


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Darowizny uzyskane przez Fundację Pogranicze

W związku z otrzymaniem darowizn, na podstawie art. 18 ust. 1f, pkt 2 ustawy z dnia 15 lutego 1992 r. o podatku dochodowym od osób prawnych (Dz. U. z 2011 r. Nr 74, poz. 397, ze zmianami), Fundacja Pogranicze podaje do publicznej informacji, że łączna kwota uzyskana z tego tytułu w okresie od 01.01.2018 r. do 31.12.2018 r. wyniosła 66.006,31 zł.

W 2018 roku Fundacja uzyskała również kwotę 16.106,30 zł w formie wpłat z 1% podatku oraz 5.131,31 z tytułu zbiórki publicznej nr 2018/2901/OR.

Otrzymane darowizny Fundacja Pogranicze w całości przeznaczyła na realizację działań statutowych.

Towarzystwo Inwestycji Społeczno – Ekonomicznych S.A. w Warszawie udzieliło nam pożyczki na zamknięcie inwestycji oraz pomogło zorganizować montaż finansowy przy współpracy z Polskim Bankiem Spółdzielczym w Ciechanowie dla zapewnienia pełnej płynności przy prowadzeniu inwestycji związanej z rewitalizacją zabytkowego kompleksu dworskiego w Krasnogrudzie, w którym powstaje Międzynarodowe Centrum Dialogu.

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