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I had asked him to help us find the oldest citizens in town, the people with the longest memories.
At the Town Hall, Oleg darted inside, returning shortly with the mayor in tow.
Nine out of every 10 Jews were murdered during World War II; in many places, what remains today are a handful of people, plaques and monuments of stone, remnants of a once-vital community.
Yet there I was, Wolf Frumkin’s American granddaughter, returning to the village in old Russia, to the home he left behind more than 100 years ago.
Titled "Family History of Korzangorodok, Jewish community of Pinsk District in Minsk Province," dated 1905, the records indicate, said Oleg, that "there were many Frumkins then in Korzangorodok." The records show that in 1905 my great-grandfather Hillel was still living; his sons Mendel and Morris were there, too.
Though I had known that my grandfather Wolf had two brothers, the archives also record a sister, Devorah.
This is the "old country." Except for the occasional television antenna on the roof of a peasant home, this small village of Korzangorodok, 50 miles east of Pinsk, looks like a place that time forgot.
Through our guide, Oleg, the mayor’s mother spoke of events that took place more than half a century ago as if they had occurred only yesterday. It was the kind of silence in which all you hear is the sound of your own heart beating. The list was an inventory of her former Jewish neighbors.
I became proficient in the ways of microfilm and microfiche. census I found my mother listed as an infant, the newest member of the Frumkin household.
I scoured census and naturalization records and old city directories. But I am still trying to find the name of the ship and the port of entry that brought my ancestors to the New World.
We stood in a near-empty field, staring at a picket fence around a small one-story wooden house; a simple, ordinary scene endlessly repeated throughout the village.
This spot, said the mayor, is the former site of the synagogue and the Jewish school.
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Next he led us to a large, recessed area of overgrown bush, surrounded by earthen embankments. Here, Wolf’s parents, my great-grandparents Hillel and Bessie, most surely are buried.