The changes in communication in the last 100 years are astounding. On our January 8, 2019, flight from Portland, to Los Angeles, we surprisingly had free Wi-Fi access on our smartphones for the first time ever on a domestic flight. Never could it have come in handier. Just after the bris, while high up above the clouds, I received a message clear across the world, from my cousin Pavel, in Israel, announcing the name of his baby boy. He wrote, “The name of the newborn is Daniel (Dima) Temnogorod. Officially his name is Daniel Temnogorod.” Speaking of being above the clouds, it was such a thrill that I got goosebumps.
Temnogorod, our ancestral name, which means “dark city,” lives on after the travails of our family in Eastern Europe. With the birth of Daniel comes a new generation of Temnogorods. Daniel is a shining light.
Daniel takes his place on our family tree, carrying the Temnogorod name to a new generation:
Yehudah Hersh Temnogorod
Yellik Temnogorod (brother of my grandma Sarah)
Dimark Temnogorod (brothers Bronislav and Lev)
Our dining room wall is filled with amazing keepsakes from my paternal grandmother Sarah Temnogorod Muravina (“Mark”). Along with my infant father and his toddler brother, she carried the documents across the ocean from Chudnov, Ukraine, in 1912, to reunite with my grandfather. Here in America, they had four more children.
On a prominent wall, my grandmother’s birth certificate is surrounded by her passport and my grandfather’s, plus their ketubah from 1908, as well as my grandfather’s, and father’s, citizenship papers. Several photographs from back in the day accompany those treasured documents.
In 2007, I snapped the shot of Pavel (below), almost incredulously reading the family name Temnogorod in the framed pieces. He had not seen the name anywhere else before but in his own family. His grandfather Dimark with his two brothers Bronislav and Lev were the sons of Moishe, my father’s first cousin and pen pal. Moishe’s father was my grandmother Sarah’s brother Yellik Temnogorod.
Amongst my grandmother’s stockpile of letters were some that, although they never met, Moishe had written to my father and uncle in the early 1920s, when the three were around bar mitzvah age. They documented his Hebrew studies and accomplishments at playing the violin.
Pavel, Moishe’s great-grandson, visited the States in 2007, as a gift from his parents, shortly after winning the teenage Maccabiah Table Tennis Championship for Israel. Our cousin Yuriy, Bronislav’s son, living in Brooklyn, brought him to meet us. Since first meeting Yuriy myself, after finding him through my family tree research just months after his 1995 immigration with his wife, their young daughter and toddler son, he has consistently brought visiting family members to our house, always eager to show more relatives the historic display on our dining room wall.
As soon as his parents, Bronislav and Anna, emigrated from Ukraine, in 1997, Yuriy brought them to our family gathering. That was timely, as merely a month before my father’s demise, he had the good fortune to meet a son of his cousin Moishe, whom by the way, is my father’s doppelganger.
As the years rolled around, Yuriy has brought his uncle Lev Temnogorod, on a visit from Israel, as well as Lev’s daughter Vita and then Vita and her daughter Tali. Lev reminisced about Torah stories his grandfather Yellik, my grandmother’s brother, read to him during the war. Most recently, thanks to Yuriy, we entertained Dimark’s son, with his wife and daughter (Pavel’s parents and sister).
As Yuriy and I are both set to become first-time grandparents in April, he from his daughter and me from my son, we are all so happy that our unique ancestral name — his family name, “Temnogorod,” sheds new light in the world with the birth of Daniel. We wish baby Daniel and his family, many years of good health and nachas. A win in the table tennis championship wouldn’t be bad, either.