Monday, January 4, 2010


It was the day my sister Kerley and I were in NY to meet with Dina Zonis. A few hours before we drove to her apartment, my sister received a phone call on her cell. She seemed a bit bewildered, and I could see that was not a normal call. Kerley was trying to communicate with the person on the other side, at some point she gave me the phone and said: “Cassio, you know a little German, right? Talk to him, I don’t know what he wants. The only thing I can understand is ‘Tolpolar, Tolpolar’…” I was a little skeptical, didn’t want to get the phone at first, but she insisted and then I got it.

The caller sounded also frustrated for not being able to communicate. I understood “Russian… Yiddish..?” I don’t speak Russian or Yiddish, but I learned some German a while ago, and that could help. So I went ahead with my poor German, better than my non-existent Russian. I don’t know how, but I was able to understand this man was Mikhail Talpalar, from Kiev, who was calling us. The communication was very difficult, but I managed to get his e-mail and he mine and we promised to e-mail each other with more details later on.

Needless to say how confused and excited we were. Whereas the call was totally unexpected, it was not purely magical. It happened that when we were in Moldova, as some of you may have read, we discovered the name of Volodya Tolpolar, dececased, but with a brother in Kiev. More than that, this Tolpolar had a cousin in Philadelphia, Zefira Parnas. Months later after our trip, I used US Search to get Zefiras number and then gave it to my sister who was living in Pittsburgh. If they needed to meet, it would be easier, I thought.

So Kerley called Zefira, who said was going to get in contact with Mikhail for us. And then many months later Kerley got this call, like this, all of a sudden. Zefira had given Mikhail my sister’s number. And then a whole new Tolpolar connection started right there.

After we returned from New York, Mikhail and I started to e-mail each other information and pictures (see two of them here: 1-Mihail’s father and mother 2-His mother and siblings) to try to find a connection between our ancestors. We talked on skype once, and he had his grandson next to him to help with English. But it wasn’t enough. However, Mikhail sent me basic information about his family and I could not find a solid connection. The cities where he and his parents were born are in the same area as my grandparents (Orhei), so besides having the same family name, there must be a relation. It’s like a puzzle that I’m still trying to solve.

A man named Aaron found out this blog and to my surprise e-mailed me saying he knew Volodya and can get in touch with Mikhail for me. Having this valuable supporter of my cause, that can communicate both in Russian and English, I will try to put some pieces together and see what I can do.

OK, the family names are not exactly the same, Talpalar-Tolpolar, but there can be something else behind it, some association, some correlation to be established with some time and research. I do hope so.

Next: The man from Brichany.