Updated: Aug 14
Written by JEAN WEBER 4/18/23
Whenever my mother spoke to me of a mystery in her past , she only uttered 3 sentences. “My grandfather was a Rabbi. He came to the United States but he didn’t like it here. He went back to Europe and we never heard from him again.”
Many of us have fragments of someone’s life stored in the document file in our brain. It stays
dormant for decades. Then one day a volcano erupts and our brain spills forth; we plunge
forth in a new direction to a lightened path where the fragments of the puzzle become whole and the painful truth is resurrected. And the story of Shaya Farbman, my great grandfather, has a conclusion. A heartfelt, painful truth emerges. Our twisted, tormented, sad souls unravel the mystery of the past confusion and simultaneously we feel as if a miracle has happened and we are touched by the hand of God.
Walking on the Paths of Peace today, in front of Temple Emanuel in Westfield, N.J. I easily discern the rose-colored brick where my husband Jerry Weber’s name is engraved in black letters.I feel a sense of peace to find it easily as there are hundreds of bricks in various hues oxidizing from the sun. It says: JERRY WEBER, The Giving Tree, Loved Forever, surrounded by all our family’s names and initials except for Josie’s as she wasn’t born at the time of his death. Josie is named for Jerry.
I’m on a mission today. It is Holocaust Remembrance Day and I have volunteered to read the names of those who perished in the death camps for a 15-minute time slot. The sun is shining brightly and I’m thinking of my daughter Danielle and how proud I am that she volunteered to read as well. We both felt as sense of history and duty in our Jewish blood calling us to say the names into the microphone and give a few seconds of life to the memory of a person we did not know.
Familiar Jewish surnames appeared, and the torturous places of Treblinka, Dachau, Bergen
Belson, Theresienstadt were in the column to the extreme right. Other names had the names of the people’s towns or countries of their origin.
I thought back to my great grandfather Shaya. Having been to Yad Vashem, a second time, in 2022, I noticed at the end of the visit, that there was a list of hundreds of names of those who perished on a website that was accessible to all. I was determined to search. One search revealed 17 thousand pages of names. Then I narrowed the search and just typed in Farbman and left out his first name and country Poland where I guessed he went back to. And less was more. And continuing the search I did. And two minutes before reading the names from the voluminous books I found him. On page 6 of 10 of the list of Farbmans his name jumped off the page.
SHAYA FARBMAN and U.S.S.R. (Ukraine) appeared to the right of his name. My great grandfather. My heart leaped out of my body. WAS HE THE ONE? I was in disbelief. Momentary doubts invaded. Maybe it wasn’t him.
What a sense of peace yet devastation penetrated my entire being, knowing what we imagined actually happened. RABBI SHAYA FARBMAN belongs to history now. While he has no grave, no headstone, he belongs to the millions of those slaughtered by people who hate, deprive, imprison, torture, and murder. By people who have no conscience and believe they are superior to others. ONE DAY SOMEONE.
WILL READ HIS NAME ON HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY. AND HIS GRAVE WILL BE THE SOUNDS OF SHAYA FARBMAN touching the air and reaching the heavens. REST IN PEACE GREAT GRANDFATHER.
I stood on the platform and read aloud the names with as much honor and dignity as I could muster. Before stepping down I was compelled with reverence and a deep-rooted wish to let the name SHAYA FARBMAN leave my lips, journey to the heavens and be added to those remembered, honored and found so God can give them their angels to carry them HOME.