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Munkatch at the Oak Bay coffee shop

Friday, 27 July, 2012 - 2:51 pm

Michael Schwarcz, a retired teacher from Brooklyn, comes every summer, with his wife Jo, to spend a month in Victoria.

One afternoon last week we got into a conversation about Michael’s family history. “My mother was born in Munkatch to a wealthy Jewish family; her grandfather owned a big brick factory right outside of the city...” When I heard of the brick factory outside Munkatch – it sounded very familiar to me...

Later that evening I was on the phone with George Pal, a holocaust survivor from Munkatch who lives in Victoria. “I remember in the story of your community's deportation to Auschwitz you mentioned that you boarded the trains from a brick factory outside of the city, is it possible that it was owned by a Jewish family? Because I think I know their descendant...”

george.JPGLast Friday, Michael, Jo, George and I sat together at a coffee shop in Oak Bay. George remembered very well the factory owned by Michael’s family at the north end of the city; this is where his father and uncle went on the train...  During this conversation Michael learned about his family and their town more than he ever knew before. “My family spoke very little about their pre-holocaust life, it is really ‘bashert’ that I got to meet George, and from all places, here in Victoria...”

Towards the end of the conversation George sighed. “Can you imagine” he said “If not for this cruel madman, we could have been sitting now in the beautiful city of Munkatch with our extended family! What destruction!”

In 1958, the Lubavitcher Rebbe referred to this thought, but in his amazing way, turned it to a drive for goodness. In his words:

“One individual had brought the world to the brink of destruction, but for the mercies of the King of the Universe, who ordained that, "The earth shall stand firm and shall not fall."

“If such is the power in the realm of evil, surely the potential of any single individual is much greater in the realm of good.” 

Comments on: Munkatch at the Oak Bay coffee shop

Elisabeth Gelb wrote...

Dear Rabbi,
There are so many significant lessons here to absorb; the value of being a good listener, the value of networking aka 'Jewish geography' which leads to connections between Yidden. Above all, (relevant phrase) regarding the Rebbe's words, I hear the message to imagine the power we hold in choosing kindness and chesed.
Shabbat Shalom

George Pal wrote...

Thank you My dear friend Rabbi Meir Kaplan for publishing this story. The grandfather's brick factory was the Kallòs factory. The other of the two in Munkács was the Sajovics factory.
Your story Rabbi is an example of the Jewish zusammenheit. I will keep contact with Jo and Morris.
Thanks again for publishing the story
George Pal

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