The white rose  Sabine brought when we met at the Guldenthal Synagogue

A Mourner’s Kaddish in Three Sacred Places

Rzuchowski Forest, Poland

It is raining on  Monday May 3rd 2010 and together with nine others, a minyan for prayer according to Jewish custom, we say Kaddish for my parents at the site of the burning of their bodies, the incinerator, in the Rzuchowski Forest, Poland, on the anniversary of their death.

Verena  is one of the 10. Verena has travelled from her home in Austria. Her father had been a gate opener for Hitler’s Anschluss, his annexation of Austria, March15, 1938.

Jutta, from Germany says, God weeps, as we stand under the gently falling water and receive His Healing Grace, Verena and I, wounded children of the Shoah.

Kaddish at the incinerator | Photo by Ryan Thurman

Jüdischer Friedhof, Gemünd, Eifel, Germany October 2022

The bright October sun shines through the trees in the Judische Friedhof, Gemünd and falls on Verena and I as we sit together, and spontaneously reminisce even as the cameras stare and our words are recorded. My story, my family story intertwined with Verena’s story, her father’s story, is being filmed.

Together again | Photo by Ryan Thurman

Before the Memorial stone for Marcus and Amalie Zack | Photo by Ryan Thurman

Jüdischer Friedhof Heddesheim-Waldhilbersheim, Germany (Jewish cemetery for the former citizens of Guldental)

Again as filming ends it is raining and we are in a forest distant from human habitation.

We walk on slippery, wet leaves among old gravestones and stop at the smooth, double  stone and read in silence:

August Schneider and Flora Schneider, my maternal grandparents. 

This time the gravestone is placed over real bodies, they both died of natural causes before the Final Solution.

According to Jewish custom we place small, remembrance stones on the black marble. 

It is October 15, 2022.

Kith and Kin | Photo by Ryan Thurman

Read more about my first visits to the three sacred places in “A Garland for Ashes”