You might ask yourself why I haven’t continued writing my after thoughts right after I published my last post. Well, it is because I couldn’t. As simple as that. I was so overwhelmed by everything I had experienced in the last months that I needed time to understand and absorb inside me what happened before, during, and after this trip. I needed time to think and take some distance at the same time. The strong emotions I encountered in my grandparents homeland lasted for weeks and they didn’t leave my mind. All I thought about was that I needed to go back soon again. The impressions this town and this country left in me were enormous.
I remember that as we took the road back to Kishinev the sky was already dark but my mind was fully alert and my heart really warm. My dream to be there came true. I must have seemed very quiet to the outside world but I was surely not inside me. I was grateful that I was left alone with my inner thoughts. All I could think about back then was that I couldn’t believe myself that I have stamped my feet down in Yedenets and left my own footprints in its streets. The time we spent in there, about five hours, was too short for my taste. I had miscalculated the effect and the need for me to be there and enjoy this town. In my anxious mind all I wished to do was to find in no time the answers to the questions I was searching for. You see? I wanted all: to see this whole place, to find at least one of my ancestor’s graves, to taste the food, to find information about the house where they might have lived in, the synagogue they might have prayed, the location of the famous Loan and Savings Bank where my great-grandfather Asher Kaufman worked, take photos… Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any hint to help me find these answers, an ancestor or relative in the near by Jewish cemetery or any of these places. Nevertheless, I was euphoric to be there. But, there was too much to take in, too.
I also remember clearly the Yiddish songs Yefim sang for us and the effect they produced in me. My thoughts then were wandering again on the streets of Yedenetz, trying to retrace the steps we made and the sensation I felt under my feet while walking there. It gave me peace and an inner happiness to know that I had possibly walked on the footsteps where my grandparents were kids, maybe when they were holding hands, walking to the closest synagogue with their parents… On the other hand, it made me imagine the angst and heartbreak my grandmother Lise must have felt as she said goodbye to her parents, unknowingly if she would see them alive again.
Originally, I had a planned to visit the cemetery, walk around the city and then go to the next towns on my list: Zaicani, Briceni and Lipcani. All of them in one shot. Wow! How naïve I was. And of course, this is not what happened in the end. During lunch, Mr. Akkerman wanted to get to know me better. I told him my story and the other reasons I had for coming to Moldova. I told him about the LivingStones Association, the organization I had just founded in May last year and my wish to contribute to the preservation of the Jewish cemeteries in Moldova and about “Likrat”, the youth intercultural dialogue program against antisemitism I am planning to start this year. He was very touched and very happy to hear about my plans and he offered his help wherever needed.
We all spent together a wonderful afternoon only to be more perfect as Yefim Chorny played the piano at the restaurant and sang my favorite Yiddish songs. The wonderful hospitality of the Akkermans made it impossible for me to say “excuse us, but we need to go and visit the next towns on my list.” I decided to follow my five senses and enjoy this moment. I let it go and told myself there will be a next time. I felt then that I wasn’t ready to confront again the frustration and the deepest pain by the inability to see or find the places where my family have lived before in the other towns. My thoughts were already figuring out how to find this information in the near future.
When I returned home many people and close friends here in Zurich wanted to know everything about my back to the roots trip and to see my photos. I showed it to them and told them all about it. The warm sensation of being able to have been in Bessarabia lasted for at least a month. I couldn’t take this country, its people, its food, its history off my mind. But now, almost four months since I left Moldova, I can only tell you that I can’t hardly wait to visit this country again, these places, travel to new destinations and taste its delicious food. And I will do so, on May this year, when I will be able to finally start the educational program “Likrat” of the LivingStones Association. I am looking forward to reconnect with this country, its Jewish and non Jewish inhabitants and its Jewish history.