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December 20, 2007


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Dinah Berland

This is such a rich and beautiful story, and so full of blessings. Thank you so much for sharing it!

Marcia Greenwald



'Twas circa 2003 maybe earlier...Autumn in Brooklyn New York ... About Rosh Hashana time, as I finished shopping for a little kiddush cup, in the small silver shop on Avenue J, I heard a customer say, "...I live in Warsaw..." My heart skipped a beat.

When only he, his wife, and I remained in the shop, I approached him and asked,"Excuse me said that you live in Warsaw?"

"Yes," he replied emphatically.

"Do you... maybe... know of the Gesia Street Cemetery?" I asked.

He stood erect and stated, proudly, "I am Director of Gesia Street Cemetrery."

I began to tremble ... and thought that I was probably having an elaborate dream ... but decided to continue speaking. I said, "My Zeide, Moshe Yosef Wilk, was buried there. He died on the 25th of Adar in 1917."

"I have already computerized about 5000 graves and I don't recall that name, BUT! YOU HAVE COMPUTER? YOU HAVE E MAIL?"

When I said that I did, he whipped out his card, gave it to me and said, "You write me details and when I find KEVER, I'll write to you."

I took the card, thanked him; we wished each other SHANA TOVA, and I left the shop, still shaking so much that I added 2 quarters to the parking meter and walked up and down Avenue J, until I felt that I was calm enough to drive.

At home I wrote that e mail note to Mr. Szpilman, and continued to do so as many holidays approached over the next few years, always getting a "not yet" in response to my query. Mr. Szpilman wrote that my Zeide's kever had not yet been found.

IN ABOUT 2006, my cousin's daughter and HER husband lived in St. Petersburg for 2 years, while Simon was researching Russian Jewish History. They took a side trip to Poland, went to the Gesia Street Cemetery and inquired about the KEVER of Moshe Yosef Wilk, Jodi's great grandfather. Mr Szpilman said, "Is woman in Brooklyn looking for same KEVER!" Jodi whispered to Simon, "That's probably my Cousin Marcia."

"Is correct!" interjected Mr. Szpilman, "Is lady in Brooklyn looking for same kever (grave)--Marcia Wilk Greenwald!"

...and our extended family in Montreal, Israel, Chicago, California, New York rejoiced that Zayde was being remembered.

Finally in November 2007, Jodi received e-mail and a photo, that the Kever, in good condition was located in Section 88 of that cemetery and a photo accompanied the mail...

The joy, excitement, and gratitude that resounded across the telephone wires, the internet, the hearts, minds, and souls of all of us could not be contained...

While thoughts of trips to Poland were entertained, considered, postponed, reconsidered and are probably still floating around in many Wilk relatives, I heard that my friend and former colleague at the Yeshivah of Flatbush is leading and accompanying a group in March of this year 2008.

Mrs. B T said that she does plan to go to the cemetery in Warsaw, directly from the plane and would deem it a privilege to carry out the task of finding the Kever...with Mr. Szpilman's help...

I brought home stones from Israel, and I gave one stone to her to put on the Matzeva (gravestone)... With my brother's and sister's urging I gave her an envelope for Mr. Szpilman with a small gift for him for Pesach.

I put together a folder with the picture of the matzeva, and this narrative, so that she can construct a lesson and tell the students, that Moshe Yosef Wilk's son, my father, Avraham Asher Zelig Wilk (Abraham S. Wilk) was a president of the school which they attend ... and that Menachem Mendl, Moshe Yosef's father has a namesake, my Uncle Manny living today in Montreal...My Uncle Manny was nine months old when his father, Moshe Yosef passed away in 1917; my father was not yet a Bar Mitzvah at that time in 1917.

There is a kind of closure/reopening with this occurence. No small reason for me is that my name comes from my Zayde: "Masha Yehudis" was the name my father chose for me when I was born in 1932.

...and yes...I've always believed in miracles ...

Marc Lerner

Here is my miracle. Decades ago I was feeling down and I prayed the most sincere prayer of my life; Dear God do anything to get me closer to you. The next week my MS hit me and I was 80% blind ( which came back to 50%) and I slowly developed a short term memory loss. So basically I was trapped inside me in the moment.

After years of mourning the death of the life I had, I slowly accepted it and became serious about developing an intimate, loving connection to Hashem. My girlfriend at the time worked with an Orthodox Jew who took me into their Shirems and helped me study Torah. I was Jewish, but didn't feel that was my path. I felt blessed because I was forced into a situation where study could only alude to. I felt the 613 commandments prepared people to be in the place I was forced to be and when you get there you can either love Hashem with your whole heart or think.

Since I couldn't read, my thoughts were not that of Torah, but after years of spiritual searching I could do the first commandment; to have no other gods before the Ultimate God and that included my thoughts. My connection had to be an intimate loving touch at the depth of silence.

To many that situation is only the effects of a serious illness, but to me that was a miracle. So miracles are made by the way you interpret situations and actually that is a miracle. I was able to turn the hassles of MS into an incredible journey of emmess.

Dinah Berland

Hi, Lori!
Thanks for being the first to post a comment on this virgin blog. All best wishes on your project, which I will follow with interest.
Cheers from Los Angeles,

Lori Witzel

What a wonderful story, and a wonderful project/book! I'm so glad you stopped by my work-in-progress, and I am delighted to have met you through Rachel.

Sending you smiles and warm wishes from Texas.

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