From the FACES OF DYNÓW series:
oil on canvas, 48 x 42 inches
Moishe Neger 1913-1993, Menahem b. 1946,
Menashe b. 1950, Batya Neger 1955-2001
Moishe is Mendel Neger’s son, and was born in Dynów. He was in the Polish Army at the outbreak of WWII. He was stationed outside of DynZłoczeww, joined the Partisans, and then was picked up by the Russian Army, and fought the Germans.
After the war, he lived in the Polish city of Chojnów, where he met a beautiful young Polish woman, Chana. They married and had three children. Moishe was imprisoned for five years for receiving a letter containing money from his sister Bella Fishman in New York. Poland, then under Communism had regulations about people getting extras from outside the country. Moishe worked in a tool factory at the time, and one of his co-workers, who he thought was a friend, and who regularly joined the Negers for Sabbath, ratted him out to the authorities about the package. Years later, Moishe ran into this man in Israel. The man said nothing about what he had done.
The family emigrated to Israel in 1957 when their eldest son was eleven years old. The two sons, Menahem and Menashe were pilots in The Israeli Army, and taught American pilots in Atlanta, Georgia in the 1970s. Menahem and Menashe fought in many of the Israel wars in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, including The Six Day War (Menahem), and both brothers were in The Suez War of Attrition, The Yom Kippur War, The Golan War of Attrition, and The First Lebanon War. Their sister Batya was a paratrooper, also in The Israel Army. She died young of illness, leaving three children.
I met the two cousins in Israel in April 2015. We shared family information. Menashe invited my husband and I to his annual Israel Independence day party at his home in a suburb of Haifa. He served delicious food that he cooked. He and his brother Menahem argued passionately about whether we were second or third cousins.
Menashe Neger and his wife Miri joined me in Dynów this past year, 2015 for the Rosh Hashanah memorial and the installation of my mural at the Polish Jewry Heritage Center. We also travelled together the following week to Kraków, Wrocław, and Warsaw.
…we met there in Dinov in Poland and then we go together with the mayor of the city and we see all the past of our family- where they walk, where they eat, where my family was in the school, was in the cheder [Jewish study house], we see the place of the houses. They tell of how the Germans in the rynek take all the Jews in Dinov and connect them to one place and take them to the end of the city they shot them.
It was very interesting, and this broke my heart and I even cry. I’m sure I’ll come again to Poland maybe with my children and grandchildren that they know is where the beginning of our family. That’s all.*
* Excerpt from interview with Menashe in Warsaw, September 20, 2015.