10 May 2009

New York: Crossing the river, May 17

The Jewish Genealogical Society of New York is the mother of all Jewish genealogical societies. Literally. It was the very first such society.

Tracing the Tribe's readers living in New York know about the JGSNY and may already be members. Readers living elsewhere and who travel to the city, may want to time their visits to coincide with the group's monthly meetings at the Center for Jewish History (CJH), 15 W. 16th Street.

The next meeting is set for 2pm Sunday, May 17. The speaker is author Dr. Shalom Eilati, whose story begins in the Kovno Ghetto and continues through his arrival in Palestine. He will discuss his book -"Crossing the River" - which is both a personal memoir and valuable historical resource.

Set against backdrop of Lithuania 's occupation - first by the Red Army, next by the Germans, and then again by the Russians - it is a story reflected through the prism of a sharp-eyed young child, Shalom Eilati.

His story starts in the occupied Kovno Ghetto and ends with his flight across the Soviet border, through Poland and Germany and finally, his arrival in Palestine .

The adult survivor, while recalling the terrorized child that he was and how he then perceived the adult world, also takes stock of his present life.

Throughout the memoir, Eilati attempts to reconcile his present life as a husband, father, scientist, and writer, with the images, feelings, and thoughts from the past that have left an indelible mark on his life and that continue to haunt him.

Born in 1933 in Kovno (Kauna), Lithuania, Eilati's parents were Israel Kaplan (teacher, historian and author) and Leah Greenstein ( a nurse and poet).
In 1941, he and his family were imprisoned in theGerman-created ghetto. At his mother's initiative, he escaped from the ghetto alone in 1944 and reached Palestine in 1946. His father also survived. With a PhD in citrus cultivation, he taught at Hebrew University was among the founders of Israel 's Environmental Protection Service, and coordinating editor of the quarterly journal Cathedra, on the history and settlement of Israel. He lives in Jerusalem, and is married with three children and five grandchildren.

Read about his return trip to Kovno - "Back to the River" - here. There will also be a booksigning following his presentation.

Judy Steiglitz of the American Red Cross in Greater in New York will be available before and after the meeting to answer questions about Yad Vashem's Names Recovery Project. Do you or someone else need help filling out Pages of Testimony for loved ones or for those who perished? Bring your questions.

For more details, go to the JGSNY website. CJH's Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute will be open from 12:30-1:45pm for networking with other researchers, access to research materials and computers.

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