Monday, August 22, 2011


A few weeks ago I got a message on this same blog from Gene Karshenboym. He said “Hi! My father was born in Yedentzi and I spent my childhood summers there… I have many pictures and would love to chat with you about your experience. I reached out to my dad right now over the phone to see if he knows any of the people you are looking for.”

We exchanged a few e-mails, Gene sent me some pics from his latest trip to Edinitz, and then we finally talked over the phone.

His dad Ruvin was the one who knew more about Edinitz. Now living in Atlanta, US, he told me many things, including well known "celebrities" from Beltsy and Edinitz (where he said people were known for being well educated) and wine making in Moldova. He said most Jews who left Edinitz went to New York, Toronto, Germany or Israel. Ruvin said his father was also in South America, in Argentina (he was a "gaucho", he joked). Actually his father, (still alive, in Israel) when questioned if he had heard about any Tolpolar, said “of course, Fima Tolpolar!” Fima, my dad’s first cousin, was a teacher for Ruvin’s mom, and was like part of the family. Ruvin and Gene also know many of the people we met in our 2008 trip, including Semion Furman and Ana Filipona (in the photo below).

We chatted for a while. At last, Ruvin said the old generation, his parents, never talked about their past. For some reason, they didn't want to or feel like it, he wasn't sure if they didn't want to remember the atrocities committed to Jews or just didn't think it was important. Ruvin regretted that, because now he doesn't know as much as he wanted about the past. I thought about my grandparents, who also never said much to my dad.

My in-laws happen to live close to Atlanta, so when I go there, in December, we will meet in person with the Karshenboyms. We'll eat mamaliga and drink wine. As Gene put it in a later e-mail, “Isn't it pretty crazy to think that after everything my dad told us about your family, that we found each other and that a Karshenboym and a Tolpolar are e-mailing each other? Crazy world.”

Crazy world indeed.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Please follow us for quick updates and curiosities at!/tolpolar

See you there!

Monday, August 8, 2011


The wonders of internet and, I must say, Google. Because of the latter I got a surprising e-mail while in Brazil, from Elina Mendeleev. She said “My name is Elina and I live in Luxembourg. My mother lives in Germany. Today, in the morning, I was telling my mum about an Argentinean Jewish friend that recently moved to Luxembourg and suddenly she said: “It looks like I will never find my relatives from Argentina". And I, absolutely out of the blue, googled -”Tolpolar". Imagine our surprise when your story appeared on the screen! My grandmother's name is (Sosl) Sonja Tolpolar. She was born in Oliscani, but during the WWII they were evacuated to Beltsy, a Jewish town in Moldova. My grandmother's family was mostly from Oliscani and was harvesting tobacco. My mum still remembers my granny telling very often a tragic story of how her dear aunt and uncle were murdered by their employees. She says that their store was probably located in the house where they lived and the robbers came at night and knocked at their door, and subsequently killed and robbed them. “

It turned out that Elina is from a part of the Tolpolars we never heard before, from the brother of Meyer Tolpolar, my great-grandfather. Elina is a direct descendant from Avrum Tolpolar, brother of Meyer, both sons of Haim Topolar.

And then I get another e-mail a few days later: “Hi Cassio, I read your blog and I think we are related. My name is Ella Bernstein, I am the daughter of Leonid Bernstein. His mother Hova (Eva) Tolpolar is the daughter of Leib – the youngest brother of Meir Tolpolar from Olishkany – this makes my father a 2nd level cousin of your father Mauro. Can you confirm my findings?"

It so happens that Ella is from the part of another unknown (at least to me) Meyer’s brother: Leib Tolpolar!

In one week, many answers have just risen in front of me. We absolutely never knew anything about Meyer’s siblings and then, all of a sudden, they appear!

Ella, Elina and I are still in touch and I’m sure there will be much more to come.

And to relax a little, after the many exciting news that made the adrenaline in my blood go to higher levels, my grandma, mother of my mom, came to our house in Porto Alegre to make mamaliga. Her recipe traveled many countries and years, as it is just like her mom and grandmother used to make. Good times! I made a video of it and will post sometime. But here are a few pictures in the meantime!