Pulling Back the Veil
Updated: Jul 14
Excerpt "Pulling Back the Veil", from Letters to My Father: Excavating a Jewish Identity in Poland and Belarus is appearing in a Polish translation in Poland's prestigious literary journal, KARTA. See excerpt in English and Polish below.
"For the American researcher, the Jewish identity rejected by her father becomes an impulse to travel to the country of the ancestors and observe how the Poles perceive the common Polish-Jewish past forever."
By Kathleen A. Balgley
My father died on October 4, 2014. He was 102 years old. My three siblings, Michael, Janie and Lisa, were at his bedside. I was not. I was in Europe. Somehow over time my father and I had exchanged places; I was regularly in the Old World from which he had come, he in the New. I realized it was a risk to be out of the country given his age, but so much of my life had been influenced by my father that I told myself I should go ahead with my plan to be in Europe anyway. Still. It was strange I shouldn’t be there, the daughter who had spent so much of her life seeking out his story so that her own could also be told.
And his story, veiled as it was, revealed a life began as a Jew in Poland in 1912, a shtetl existence of extreme poverty, hunger and the absence of a father. The arduous journey he, his mother, and three siblings made to the US was in 1920; he mercifully escaped the Shoah, though many of his family did not.