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  • My great grandmother, Bessie Levy (Borodinsky) left her villa of Priluki, Ukraine in 1897 for San Francisco. She already had two sisters and a half sister living there. She was 19 years old. Her father had,, Morduch Borodinsky, had died in 1891 at the age of 61. He had nine children from three wives (the first two probably died in child birth). They were all girls except one son, Aron-Movsha Borodinsky born in 1874. Morduch, my great great grandfather was a butcher. His son Aron took over the business and he stayed in Priluki and had four daughters and one son (Y chromosomes did not do so well in that part of my family).

    In my late teens, Bessie, would tease me about how I looked. I had long hair and a beard. She once said that I looked like her brother Aron. She called him, Aron the actor because he acted in the amateur Yiddish theater in Priluki. I said "why? Because he had a beard?" and she said "No, because he did not and all the other men did".

    Bessie, filled me with stories of Priluki and told me how she would swim in the river there. After, my grandmother, Della died in 2000, I was left with her extensive collection of family photographs. That triggered my interest in family history/genealogy. I eventually sent a researcher to Priluki. She was able to trace my family back to my great great great great great grandfather, Gerson Borodinsky born around 1760. We discovered that Aron had had a family (the four girls and one boy) but then there was no more information. From, my grandmother, Della, I knew that the family in San Francisco had continued to have some communication with those left behind in Priluki until the 1930s. Then there was nothing. I assume that everyone had perished in WWII.

    So you can imagine how amazed I was one day to get an email from a man in Israel , Dima, saying that he was the great grandson of Aron-Movsha Borodinsky, the brother of my great grandmother. I got his phone number and called him. I was surprised to lean about how much he knew of the family. His grandmother, Miriam, the daughter of Aron, had lived in Israel and had told him and his mother much about the family history. The family had survived by escaping to Kazakhstan. Aron died there. What was left of the family actually returned to Priluki. It was there that, Dima was born in 1968. Then I was surprise to learn that his mother, Alla, who is just a year younger than me, was living in the Bay Area where I was living. Soon, after, I organized a visit by her to my home and invited my sister and one of my cousins. We reunited the family after 110 years.

    While I continued to have a lot of communications with Dema, it was more difficult with Alla since her English was poor. A few months ago, Dema told me his mother had been in an auto accident. She had been hit by a car while walking across the street. I asked where she was and he told me Santa Rosa. One of my homes is in Kenwood CA which is next to Santa Rosa. I at our Los Angeles home at the time. But my sister, Beverly. lives in Santa Rosa as does my son, Asher. I asked Bev to visit Alla which she did (see photo). So of my other cousins visited her as well as did I a few weeks later. So Alla is not alone as she recovers. She has her family.
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