Author & Speaker

The Next Adventure

In two weeks and two days (who’s counting?), I will head out for Warsaw, Poland, for a bicycle trip through Eastern Europe! The journey has several elements.
First, of course, is the adventure of the ride, which will take us from Warsaw to Odessa on the Black Sea. Because we’re going through Budapest, it’s about 1300 miles as the crow flies. We are likely to hop a few trains for the steepest parts, but it will be a real physical effort and an up close look at countries we know nothing about.
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Cycling in Vietnam, 2007: up close and personal
Second, we are going to scratch around for historical roots. My grandfather emigrated to this country in 1913 from Czyzewo, northeast of Warsaw, while my grandmother came from Odessa in 1908. We know very little about their families and lives back in Europe: they did not talk about them much, and my father was pretty unsentimental about such things.
So we’re making contact with groups like JewishGen, which are pretty amazing in their genealogical resources and willingness to help. So far, we have contacted a long-lost cousin of my father’s in Israel, who revealed that the family moved from Czyzewo after my grandfather left, to Lodz. We’re hoping to track down more of these old connections and to figure out what happened to these folks through the Holocaust. My grandfather had seven siblings: so far, we can account (sort of) for four of them, all of whom got out. Still trying on the other three.
The grim truth is that anyone who had not left Lodz or Odessa by 1939, did not get out. You can track the awful history of these places through the Yad Vashem website, maintained in honor of the Holocaust victims.
It’s a fascinating exercise in real history. You can follow it on our bike trip website.