Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Litvak family.

Lithuanian Jews or 'Litvaks,'are  Jews born in Lithuanian, Belarus, Latvia, two north eastern regions of Poland, and some border areas of Russia and Ukraine .  Today, very few remain.  Those who escaped in 1941, mostly fled to Russia.  My great grandfather Harry Rubin immigrated to Canada around 1910.

Thanks to the DNA test, I'm  here to discover my Litvak ancestry, in the landscape , in the collective memory, and in my soul. My mountaineer friend Ken immediately called my journey to Lithuanina a  Pilgrimage. And that's what it's  been, all six weeks, and not a single blister.

The pilgrimage started in Gdansk in July, drifted over the Polish border to a monastery near Kaunas , and meandered down to the south west of Lithuania to my great grandfathers village, Seirijai.

This village was the original goal of my 'pilgrimage.'

I believed my fathers family had escaped from Seirijai on foot to Poland (then immigrated to the US), but it turned out in 1906, having had some money, they took a  train to Hamburg .
From there they boarded a boat for the 3 week journey to Montreal, not NY. Some of the family made their way to Scotland. My pilgrimage was full of surprises.

Lithuania is a flat densely forested country. It is a land of apple trees, blueberries , mushrooms, no mountains .
They've only had their independence from Soviet domination since 1990.

After many adventures and much research in Vilnius, previously known as the Jerusalem of Lithuania , I arrived here in Druskininkai.

That 130km journey is a book in itself! More later about meeting the new Jewish community in a
forest, with a feast, singing, dancing, and being invited to tell my story.

Then  yesterday, August 13th, with a Lithuania guide, I visited  Kapciamiestis where my great
great-grandparents Wolf and Gritl Rubin lived in 1870.

It was beautiful, so charming , so almost fairytale otherworldly, I immediately, finally knew where I've come from. My roots come from this soil.
More about this in a while

Thanks to a DNA test two years ago, I finally discovered where my  never met, never known birth father came from -
Info from 2nd and3rd cousins  (thanks to the  DAA test ), gave me the names of my great grandparents, the name of two villages, and a calling to find out more.

It feels that my pilgrimage to this beautiful country is complete.

I've found what I didn't know I was searching for . I've found in my innermost heart a sense of familiarity that is unquestionable. The village of Kapciamiestis was almost destroyed during World War 11, but essence cannot be destroyed...and the dreams and hopes of my beloved ancestors who lived here are in my genes, and mysteriously , I feel I've just crosssed a threshold.

I'm certain John O'Donohue and David Whyte have poems which express this feeling exquisitely.



Until I can understand and say more about this homecoming, here are some pics.


1 comment:

  1. Hey Meg, it's Leonard (one of the twins from Kaunas). So interesting to follow up on your story. I hope you're okay!!

    Wishing you the best!

    ReplyDelete