Monday, July 11, 2011


During my latest visit to Brazil I found out, by talking to relatives, that Yeshaya Tolpolar's wife was aunt of Cecilia's Nisemblat. Cecilia is cousin of my dad on his mother's side (Nisemblat). It actually never crossed my mind that besides my grandparents' wedding there was any other relation between a Tolpolar and a Nisemblat. But there was. And much more than this.

Visiting Cecilia at her daughter's apartment, she showed me a bunch of old pictures, letters and documents. These materials are simply amazing, beautiful in the aesthetic side, but also contains a lot of history. Everything is either written in Romanian, Hebrew or Russian, so I could not understand anything, but she would tell me that some letters were from my grandfather to her father, and vice-versa, and even from my grandfather to her grandfather (my grandma's father). There were also some identity documents, postcards and the invitation to my grandparents' wedding in Bessarabia. I selected about 50 of these documents and scanned everything. Hopefully someday I'll have them translated.

But my dad was also keeping a few surprises from me. He had found new documents of his parents, including their ketubah, my grandfather's Brazilian naturalization document and the original picture of the "lost" grave, that now we know it's in Vadul Raskov. I wish I knew Romanian and Russian and Hebrew and Yiddish...

Being in Porto Alegre you see that some old memories are still alive. For example, we were having lunch at a Israeli restaurant (maybe the only one in town), and a friend of my grandmother stopped by to say hi and stared at me: "are you by any chance Mauro Tolpolar's son?" Her name was Berta and said she was a very good friend of my dad when they were children. "We used to play in the street", she said. When I mentioned that to Mauro, he said "Yeah, and I caught pertussis from her". It's things like that that makes every trip back to Porto Alegre a journey into the past as well.

Next: surprising e-mails and grandma makes mamaliga in Brazil!