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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Friday, June 17, 2005
Happy Father’s Day
My dad has lived the Chinese curse of living during interesting times. He was born in 1929 in Bucharest, Romania to a life of relative wealth and comfort. His dad owned a textile factory. As a young boy he would have been reasonable to expect a relatively uneventful and pleasant life. World War II, like for hundreds of millions of others, erased those expectations.

My dad still has the newspaper announcement reporting that my grandfather's factory had been "nationalized" (i.e. confiscated) by the Romanian government at the beginning of the war. The article is just a single column and reports (in Romanian, of course) that the factory of “the Jew, Grandpa Bean” had been appropriated. Nice. Keep that in mind when radicals here accuse the U.S. government of fascism or Nazism.

I had always learned that the Jews of Romania were relatively spared during World War II compared to other Eastern European countries, so I never realized the odds that my dad beat as a Holocaust survivor. It was only recently, when I read Johnson's A History of the Jews that I realized what relatively spared meant. Half of Romania's Jews were murdered. Elsewhere, like Poland, it was much worse. My dad and his family were deported to a concentration camp in Belarus. They were able to bribe their way out and spent the rest of the war hiding in Bucharest.

My dad went to university and became an electrical engineer. He met my mom and proposed marriage on the condition that she understood that they would leave Romania as soon as they were allowed. They married and asked permission to emigrate. They were finally allowed to leave when I was 5 and my sister was 1. (How they finally got permission to go is another interesting story.) We all arrived in Israel shortly before the Yom Kippur war. That war, as well as other facets of Israeli life, convinced my dad that he could not stay in Israel either. So at the age of 9 I arrived in California. My dad then spent the next two decades commuting and working so I could get through college and medical school.

He is now 74 and lives with mom in a suburb of San Diego, about 5 minutes from my sister and her family. He is enjoying retirement and is a loving grandfather to his six grandkids.

Thanks for everything, dad. Happy Father's Day.
What a story! Your family is amazing for going through all this.

Johnson's book opened my eyes quite a lot in that respect. I'd like to say "hopefully, never to repeat", but judging from the world's reaction to Israel, it already does. : (
Wow... I'd gotten bits and hints of the story from things you've said here and on my site, but just, wow!

May he he live a full and happy life until 120!
A heartfelt and well-written tribute to you father. Thanks for posting.
Irina: I don't think my sister and I get any of the credit, just the rewards.

David: Thanks. I may pass that along.

Glory: Welcome to the Coffeehouse. Thank you for your sweet words. I take it you found me through our mutual blog pal, Torontopearl.
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