Menachem's Writings

Setting the Record Completely Straight re My Aunts

The idea behind this story comes from my son, Elisha, who suggested that, by giving a bit more detail on my two aunts, mentioned in my earlier story concerning my long lost family, we may, via the intricacies woven by the World Wide Web, learn something (more) about them or perhaps even locate some new relatives.

[I originally wrote piece this story in September, 2008, but I found out a little more information, so I am adding this seamlessly on 1st April, 2009]. The original is still on the web.]

I wrote in that essay that my father was the only survivor of his family. This is not quite precise. My grandfather, Bela Baruch Kaufman, was married twice. I have no detail at all of his first wife. She disappeared from the picture (died? divorced? probably the former) many years before my father's birth in 1915. My father was the fourth [according to my dad's cousin — I however remembering him saying he was fifth, but my memory may not be serving me well] and youngest child of grandfather's second marriage to my grandmother, Fanny Feige Prager. Feige was the (second?) daughter of Rabbi Avrohom haLevi Prager who served as a Town Rabbi and Av Beth Din (head of the rabbinic court) in the town of Topolcany in western Slovakia. He previously served as Rabbi to the Po'alei Tzedek community in Pressburg (Bratislava) and was brought to Topolcany to assume the mantle of leadership of the Jewish community in 1883.

My grandfather is buried in Topolcany next to my grandmother, but that does not tell us much because it is our custom to be buried along side the wife with whom one had the greater number of children. Second, it was my father who buried his own father, so I think you would expect him to bury his father next to his mother in the absence of any other will or testament.

My father once mentioned that he had an older sister (from his father's first marriage) who had not married and was getting on in years. In 1928 or 1929 she left for America. I believe her name may have been Irene — though she may have used another designation in her new home. My father was only twelve or thirteen years old at the time. She may have been twenty or more years older than him. One of my father's (younger) cousins told me she had some cloudy memories of this lady. But she (and all the other cousins I have located) are from my grandmother's side, hence not blood related. I am not aware of anyone from my grandfather's side. His story is a total blank other than the text on his grave. On the stone he is recorded as "the son-in-law of Rav Prager" and the son of Ya'akov. No further detail. I had assumed that my father had no communication with his sister after she left Europe. However, his cousin, Jana Prager Gottshall, told me that after the war my father used to joke that everyone was receiving care packages from the U.S. while he was sending money to his sister over there.

So I guess at least as of 1947, she was not doing to well in the Promised Land where the "streets are paved with gold".

So if someone out there in InternetLand can pick up a thread here, we would be happy to hear from you. Perhaps my aunt eventually got married in the United States and we have hundreds of descendant cousins over there!

I have previously mentioned my Aunt Elizabeth Bozsi Lichtenstein whom we discovered in London in the sixties. My father had lost contact with her after the war. She wrote us very warm letters, being thrilled to have made contact again with her family. She was saddened to have lost my father again so soon after having rediscovered him. Her correspondence continued after his passing.

I visited her in London in 1974. She was very excited when I met her in the flesh. She told me her family history. She even apologised to me (now this was a bit weird — after all I was 21, she had probably passed 80) for remarrying after the war. She loved my uncle, but when she was certain he was not going to return home, she was lonely and married for company. And now she was alone again. This was not an easy conversation for an immature university student.

I cannot remember in which part of London she lived — I think it was somewhere towards the north. It was on a main, four lane road which had a division between the two sides. I had to catch a bus to get there, so it could not have been too close to a tube station. (I must search though my old records but don't like my chances. A lot my personal records were thrown away when my worldly goods were moved during my absence after my mother remarried and moved house.)

My aunt lived in a two story house with four bedrooms upstairs. I remember that because I discussed with her the possibility of me coming to London to study for a masters in Computer Science at London's Imperial College. She said that she was unable to get upstairs due her deteriorating health and would be happy for me to "live upstairs, undisturbed". It was certainly tempting offer.

My mother once said that when Aunt Elizabeth goes on to the next world, she will "surely leave you two boys something. She does not have another living relative." I do not know if indeed she owned any material possessions in this world and whether there was something to leave. Perhaps she had a favourite charity that was very close to her heart.

One day, out of the blue, we received a letter from a neighbour of our aunt informing us that she had passed away three or four months earlier. Nothing else. One paragraph. No details. Not even where she was buried.

Were we silly not follow this up? Had someone cut us out of the picture? Or perhaps she really had no material possessions? Or she had a special, pet project to benefit?

We shall probably never know.

Menachem Kuchar, 17th September, 2008    
17th Elul, 5768    

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