Back in 1997, before the internet was ubiquitous, the IJN received a letter from a woman in England seeking information about Leonard and Miriam Harris, son and daughter of Minnie Shibko Harris. Little did this woman know that her letter could not have landed at a better address, for Miriam Harris was Miriam Goldberg, then editor and publisher of the very same IJN.
Jacqueline (Shibko) Gill, a relative of unknown pedigree, was a serious hobbyist genealogist. She knew that her Shibko family was related to Miriam’s Shibko family — the same, sometimes unusual, given names appeared on both of their trees — but to this day we still haven’t worked out how. That hasn’t stopped a relationship from forming. Various relatives of mine have met Jacqueline on trips to London. When I lived there, I saw them fairly regularly — coincidentally, Jacqueline’s daughter Vicky and I are the same age.
Fast-forward a decade or two.
A comment was posted on the IJN site. Eran Sterer of Israel came across the obituary of Ralph Auerbach. Eran was seeking to reestablish contact with the Auerbach family. I forwarded Eran’s message to Jeff Auerbach, Ralph’s son, and when Jeff and his wife Terri were recently in Israel, “We had the pleasure of reacquainting ourselves with my cousin Eran Strerer,” Jeff wrote me upon his return.
“He is the cousin whose email you gave me several months ago after he left a message at the IJN. We had a wonderful time and would have never reconnected had it not been for you, so Todah Rabah!”
I love how newspapers bring people together — and back together.
Recently, as I was going through some of my grandmother Miriam’s papers, I found that original typewritten letter from Jacqueline Gill. Coincidence? Serendipity?
Shana Goldberg may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.