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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cue the theme music from 'The Twilight Zone'

An 'only in Israel' story:

Yesterday our oldest - Ariella - took a class field trip to a kibbutz up north that had been founded by Holocaust survivors.  One of the key components of the visit was a tour of a museum there on the kibbutz grounds dedicated to telling the stories of many of the child-survivors who were saved and brought to Israel.

I don't know at what age Israeli schoolchildren start making organized visits to Yad Vashem (the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem), but my sense is that for younger kids they start with more 'manageable' holocaust-related visits to places like this kibbutz so as not to overwhelm them with the unimaginable enormity of the Nazi's genocide.

As they entered the museum, their teachers told them that they should pay special attention to the pictures and biographies of the children that were displayed on the walls and pick one on which to write a short report for the class.  The object of this exercise was obviously to personalize/internalize a few of the stories for the students rather than allowing them to stand back and view these anonymous faces as some unfathomable 'whole'.

Anyway, kids being kids, most of the students gravitated to pictures of child-survivors that they found cute /attractive or with whom they shared particular physical attributes (e.g. hair/eye color, complexion, etc.).  However Ariella was a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of these picture galleries and wandered from one group of friends to another, listening to her classmates discuss the child-survivors about whom they had chosen to write.

Suddenly, a picture from across the room caught Ariella's attention.  It was a picture of a little boy and nobody was standing near his picture.  There was nothing particularly remarkable about the picture or the little boy in it... but without knowing why, Ariella found herself inexplicably drawn to the picture and without even knowing it was happening, she started walking directly across the room to stand in front of it.

When she got there she was stunned by what she found.  The little six-year-old boy in the picture was named Nachum Bogner.  That in itself would have been enough to generate a chill, but in addition to being from Poland (where our tiny branch of the Bogner family hails from), his birthday was January 4th... the same as Ariella's!

It seems this little boy and his mother had jumped from one of the Nazi trains transporting Jews to Auschwitz and had managed to reunite with their father/husband.  However, during the ensuing months spent hiding in a forest, first the mother and then the father were captured and killed by the Nazis as they were out foraging for food and firewood.  The little boy survived in hiding and ended up being sent to Israel with other orphans. 

According to the information posted under his picture at the museum, the boy had grown up in Israel and had made his home on a kibbutz 20 minutes from where we live.  I know all this because of the breathless phone call I received from Ari minutes after her amazing discovery.

Yesterday evening we did a little research to see if Norman Bogner was still alive... and if so, how we might get in contact with him.  There was, indeed, a phone listing for 'Bogner' on the kibbutz mentioned in the Museum information sheet... but it was a woman's name.  I gently explained to Ariella that it was 2007, and it is very likely that the man is no longer alive.  The woman listed in the phone directory is probably either his wife... or perhaps his daughter (or even granddaughter!).

It was too late in the evening to call the number we'd gotten from the operator... so this afternoon Ariella is going to make the call.  I'll let you know what we find out.

Pretty cool, no?

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Posted by David Bogner on June 13, 2007 | Permalink

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That is cool. Keep us posted.

Posted by: Jack | Jun 13, 2007 11:02:59 AM

and....

I can't believe you are leaving us on this cliffhanger. I don't think I will be able to do any work today constantly checking for the update.

Posted by: Skaj | Jun 13, 2007 11:10:30 AM

If you need any help with the genealogical aspect of this query - let me know. I have some experience in searching in Europe and Israel.

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Jun 13, 2007 11:33:40 AM

i don't believe in coincidence...wowowowow what a post...pls let us know...that is how we found our cousin after 79 years!!! wow...yeah ariella

Posted by: marallyn | Jun 13, 2007 11:56:40 AM

Nice and moving story. Please, do keep us updated.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Jun 13, 2007 12:29:01 PM

Oy, a cliffhanger. OK, you better not forget! :-)

Posted by: Erica | Jun 13, 2007 2:02:29 PM

רק בישראל באמת--

and since you posted his name to the world, I wouldn't be surprised about another rak b'israel moment when you receive a phone call today before you actually get to make yours. ;)

Posted by: Account Deleted | Jun 13, 2007 2:36:42 PM

What an amazing story! I can't wait to hear more! Can you say chills up the spine?

Posted by: Maya | Jun 13, 2007 3:55:03 PM

Ooo this gave me goosebumps. You better keep us posted!

Posted by: orieyenta | Jun 13, 2007 5:07:33 PM

Chills on the spine, man. Chills.

I can't wait to hear "the rest of the story..."

Posted by: Elisson | Jun 13, 2007 5:19:08 PM

Wow...I have chills...can't wait to hear what happens.

Posted by: SaraK | Jun 13, 2007 9:13:17 PM

nu???

Posted by: Katherine | Jun 13, 2007 9:56:56 PM

Wow - what a story! It really touched my heart; please keep us posted.

Posted by: Shmuel | Jun 13, 2007 11:11:09 PM

Wild.

Posted by: Ezzie | Jun 14, 2007 12:42:42 AM

Wow - that's a great story! There were Bogners on several sides in the war, then - my uncles & their cousins fighting in the US army, their cousins who had stayed in Germany and were (most likely) fighting for Germany, and (most likely, it seems) some of your ancestors who were persecuted by the Nazi's. Now we can all, relatively, live in peace.

Posted by: Steve Bogner | Jun 14, 2007 1:12:40 AM

Stand by people... I have stuff to write as a follow up to this story... but it's tough to do from my cell phone! :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jun 14, 2007 1:57:20 PM

I want to know what happened. Suspense is awful . . . :-)

Posted by: AnnieD | Jun 15, 2007 5:56:59 AM

and? AND!?

(David, it's the 15th. We're patient, but not THAT patient!)

Posted by: jennifer | Jun 15, 2007 10:38:34 AM

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