Growing up in Israel, Alex Kafri had always assumed that aside from his parents and sister, he was alone in this world. His mother’s entire family, he knew for a fact, had been wiped out during the Holocaust. Although his father never discussed the family members left behind in Lithuania, Kafri was given to believe they had fared no better.
Imagine his surprise, then, when he suddenly discovered many living relatives on his father’s side. A huge number, in fact. After meeting 500 members of his newfound family members at a reunion in London last week, Kafri is still pinching himself in disbelief.
“I may be 71 years old, but when I was first notified that there was this big family I never knew about, I cried,” says the grandfather of nine. “And every time I have told the story since, I get overcome with emotion.”
The story begins about 10 years ago when Kafri, a retired engineer from Haifa, sets out to investigate whether anybody on his father’s side of the family has survived the Holocaust. David, his father, had left his family in 1920 to immigrate to Palestine with a group of young Jewish pioneers. Kafri believes his father felt guilty about leaving his family behind and, therefore, never spoke about them. By the time he sets out on his mission, his father has been dead for many years.