During two of the Amherst Writers sessions I participated in last week, I drafted my second of #52snapshots. This was a different kind of essay, because it needed factual information about my ancestral shtetl of Kozlow (from a page of the Polish Encyclopedia, written in Hebrew, that a friend of a friend translated for me). This page gave me the total population and Jewish population from 1765 (64 Jews) until 1921 (about 700). At most, there were about 1500 Jews in Kozlow. By 1921, they migrated into the interior of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to America, or to Palestine.
Because Kozlow has no Yizkor book (Holocaust memorial book), I used books from surrounding Galician communities: Buczacz, Gliniany, Jezierna, and others. I found these in translation of the JewishGen site.
This essay turned out to be one of mostly speculation. I repeated a line, “If the Baron Hirsch school in Kozlow operated like the one in [name of other community], then…” In this way I was able to describe the nature of these schools funded by 12 million francs from the Baron Hirsch Foundation.
But I also had to speculate about my paternal great-grandfather, Henoch Zuckerkandel of Kozlow. I know little about him: He was the father of seven children. He went to America with a younger brother in 1893 but returned. He was a kosher butcher. He was a trustee of the Baron Hirsch school in Kozlow. Here, too, I used a line: If Henoch looked anything like his younger brother or his son Chaim Leib, he was tall, thin, with a noble, aquiline nose and wide-set eyes.
It’s going to take a bit of work to revise this little piece, but I do yearn for that moment of “Aha!” That point where I uncover something important. I think Henoch was a change agent, because I think he allowed my grandmother to attend. I know from my mother that my grandmother, Chava (Eva) Zuckerkandel Krasner, was educated. As a trustee, Henoch may have been able to push against the boys-only tradition.
This week I’ll either be writing an addition to #52snapshots about family visits on Sunday afternoons or about my grandmother having three sons in World War II service: the Army Air Corps, the Army, and the Navy. For the latter, I have plenty of photos at least.