Y has made arrangements with Andre, who has the keys to the Trzebinia Jewish cemetery. Andre is a tall man in his seventies. He kisses my hand and my sister-in-law's with a flourish, then tell us what he knows about the graves, which isn't much. He is writing a book about the Jews of Trzebinia, he says--he was a child during war, and remembers almost everyone.
"Do you recall the Bobover Rebbe?" my brother asks.
"Tak." Andre nods. "He lived in that big house on Novoskaya. We always heard singing."
We glance at each other. If we had any doubts, they are gone. That was our grandfather's house.
The cemetery is long and narrow, overgrown with shrubs on which fallen tombstones lie. Many graves are unmarked, the tombstones destroyed by the Nazis and used for building materials. Very economical and practical, the Nazis. We search for the graves of my father's family who died of natural causes before the war and find the grave of my paternal grandmother's ancestor. We recite Kaddish and "K'el Moleh Rachamim" ("God Full of Mercy").
Andre accompanies us back to that pretty square and points out what used to be the cheder where my father probably learned his aleph-beis. From the square we drive to a building that houses memorabilia--some of it Jewish. Entering the building, we see a see a trio of Polish women, wearing the traditional festive peasant garb. They are singing (we find out they're celebrating the 50th anniversary of several couples), and as we climb the stairs to the museum, I hear the familiar refrain:
"Stola, stola." It's the song my parents always sang at birthdays and anniversaries. If I remember, it means, "May you live a hundred years." We all look at each other and laugh.
We browse through the museum. It doesn't hold much of interest for us, but we don't tell Andre. We don't want to insult him. Soon we leave and drive Andre to his small house. He kisses my hand again, and my sister-in-law's, and wishes us well.
"Are there any Jews in Trzebinia?" we ask Y when we're back on the highway.
"Two," he says. "Jesus and his mother."
We return to Krakow. Y takes us to a large square on which are a number of empty chairs--dedicated to Krakow's Jews, he tells us, who were expelled and later taken to Plaszow camp, the one made famous by Steven Spielberg in Schindler's List. At the far end of the square is a pharmacy whose gentile owner saved many Jewish lives. Y also shows us the Bais Yaakov School for Girls--the first of its kind--founded by Sarah Shenirer. He points out remnants of the ghetto wall, its arches symbolizing the holy Temple in Jerusalem. We also see Schindler's factory. Y has some criticism of the film's inconsistencies, and of Schindler, who he says brutalized the Jewish factory owner to wrest control of it. (I mentioned this the other day to my cousin, who was a hidden child during the Holocaust. She She knows people who were saved by Schindler. "Maybe he changed," she told me. She's probably right.)
Before Y drops us off, he takes us to a minimarket near our hotel, where we buy soda and bottled water and spot American products that are kosher back home but may not be kosher here. Back at the hotel, we eat dinner together in our room--La Briut meals. Not great, not awful. The meatball one is okay, actually. I knock my shin against another bedpost and go to bed, but not to sleep, since outside our windows people are noisily assembling a stage along with audio and video systems for a grand concert that will take place this coming Saturday evening, the highlight of the 17th annual Krakow Jewish Cultural Festival. The din doesn't end until 2 a.m. and resumes at six in the morning.
This had better be some concert, I think.