This past JWRP MOMentum trip, JWRP participant Margarita Gerzhina from Krasnoyarsk, Russia visited the Kotel with her group. She shared that she prayed at the Wall to find her long-lost family.
When Shabbat arrived, Margarita found herself at Shabbat lunch in Jerusalem at the home of Pablo and Sara Dues, a newlywed couple who had moved to Israel from Baltimore. The newlyweds’ mother-in-law, who was also present, had learned Russian while working for the U.S. Foreign Affairs Department and spoke comfortably with Margarita.
During their conversation, Margarita explained that her last name originated from Tishvin, a small Russian Jewish shtetl. As Margarita shared her family’s history, her hosts listened in stunned silence.
Margarita’s story was exactly the same as Ilya’s, her host’s father, who had spent his whole life searching for his family as well. It turned out that Margarita and Ilya’s grandmothers were sisters who had lost contact with one another in Russia. Margarita and Ilya both feared that their families had perished in the Holocaust, but they continued to look for each other for over 30 years.
Over Shabbat lunch, they even realized that they owned identical family photos!
Amazingly, Ilya planned to be in Israel the following week, and on Monday, after Margarita’s MOMentum Trip ended, the two sides of the family reunited.
Margarita, her newfound family, and the JWRP sisters who witnessed the reunion were all in tears. It was a true HP (Higher Power) moment!