Bintel Blog

A Living Lens: The Forverts Reunited Nava Semel's Family

By Alana Newhouse

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From the mailbag: I just received a note from Israeli author and journalist Nava Semel. Ms. Semel was writing to alert us to the publication of her new book, “Israisland,” but she included a story that she rightly surmised might interest me.

“My American grandfather found out that his abandoned son survived the Holocaust through an article in the Yiddish Forward in 1946,” she wrote. “My late father Itzhak Artzi was then a young Zionist leader and he gave an interview to Forward correspondent in Paris. The interview was published in New York and my grandfather saw it. Forward is indeed responsible for uniting my family and ending the split.”

Alana Newhouse, the Forward’s Arts & Culture editor, is touring the country, speaking about her new book, “A Living Lens: Photographs of Jewish Life From the Pages of the Forward.”

Paul Golin Thu. Jan 31, 2008

Hi Alana, While perhaps not as dramatic, I too have family that reconnected through the pages of the Yiddish Forward. My grandfather's niece survived the war because she had coincidentally been visiting friends in Russia-proper when Germany attacked the then Russian-controled part of Poland where they lived. She stayed in Russia after the war, married and had a daughter. During the Soviet era, she had sporatic contact with my grandfather (my mom remembers as a child sending care-packages to "relatives in Europe"), but after my grandfather passed away in 1971, we lost all contact with her. I grew up unaware that I had relatives in Russia. That is, until the Iron Curtain fell and in about 1990, my grandmother read a classified ad in the Yiddish Forward...looking for her! Our relatives were planning to move to Israel. Thanks to the ad in the Forward, my family here was able to help them financially to move, and they are now living in Tel Aviv with two Israeli-born great-grandchildren of that original young woman who was cut off from her family in Russia during World War II. (Thank you, Forward!) There may be tons of stories like these... Paul Golin

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