To meet a cousin you never dreamed you had, does not happen every day. For both Shlomo Goldberg and Idul Lis, this is what happened last Sunday. They spoke by video phone, between Seattle and Marki, Poland.
When the Nazis arrived in Bagatele in 1939, there was chaos in the small farming village. The Nazis were burning houses and shooting. People ran in every direction. In the chaos, Idul, age six, was separated from his family. He found himself alone in the forest.
He survived by hiding in the forest and in barns of Polish farmers. Some farmers were kind and some were less kind. One farmer allowed him to hide in his barn in exchange for watching his animals and an occasional beating. He was a boy, but he knew he was being hunted. He never knew which adults were safe and which were enemies. He hid until 1948 because he did not realize the war was over.
Idul felt abandoned by his family. After the war, he discarded his Judaism, served in the Polish military, married and had three daughters. One of them, Marta, was with us on the phone call and served as translator. But Idul never lost his feeling of abandonment. He waited and hoped that someday his family would find him.
“Do you remember my grandparents, Zelig and Faiga Goldberg?” Shlomo asked him.
“No,” he said. “But I remember that when I would walk down the street to my Goldberg grandparents’ house, there were some people who stopped me and gave me hugs on the way.”
That may well have been Sam Goldberg’s family, as they lived a few houses down from Idul’s family, on the way to his grandparents.
“I hope to come and visit you,” Shlomo said at the end of the call.
“Yes, please,” Idul said. “Don’t wait so long.”