Toby Levin and Shalom Rozen met each other for the first time late last week. Reaching through time and space, these two first cousins covered lost ground as they strove to get to know each other and their families - 68 years after the familial connection had been cut.
Shalom Rozen (Rozenblatt) survived the Holocaust and always believed that he was the only remnant of his family. Having lost his parents and five siblings, Shalom arrived alone on Israeli shores in 1946 and built a new life. Shalom's father Yehudah Leib had two older brothers, Meyer and Isaac who settled in the US just before WWI: Meyer to New York, and Isaac to Florida. The brothers did not stay in touch with each other and Shalom's attempts to locate his uncles and his extended family were only partially successful. During the 1940s he succeeded in locating his cousin in New York, Meyer's daughter, but was not able to track down the family of his other uncle, and over the years he continued to wonder - what happened to his Uncle Isaac.
Recently, Toby Levin (of Florida) dedicated her time to conducting exhaustive research
on her family's roots. With only minimal information - her father's name, Isaac Rozenblatt, and the name of his hometown - she conducted a search on Yad Vashem's Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names and to her surprise found Pages of Testimony that Shalom Rozen had submitted for his family, including information regarding their mutual grandmother, Isaac, Meyer and Yehudah Leib's mother.
Toby immediately realized she had in fact discovered members of her family and turned to The American Society for Yad Vashem in South Florida for assistance. With their help, she successfully contacted Shalom and introduced herself. After several emotional telephone conversations, Toby didn't hesitate and booked a trip to Israel for the upcoming Sukkot holiday to meet her newly discovered cousin.
Toby, along with her two brothers Jack and Stanley, met their cousin Shalom and members of the extended Rozen family, for the first time last week in Israel.
Toby and Jack then visited Yad Vashem accompanied by Asaf Tal, Shalom's grandson who is a staff member of Yad Vashem's International School of Holocaust Studies.