In March 1989, thanks to the efforts of my father's first cousin, Alice (Marder) Mileikowsky, the first gathering of the descendants of Dov Berel and Elka Ajzenberg of Telechan, occured in Framingham, Massachusetts. Many people present did not know one another, though they shared common ancestors. Dov Berel and Elka Ajzenberg were their grandparents, great grandparents (in my case), great great grandparents, etc. That weekend we shared memories, information, old photographs and other mementos about our families and Telechan.
My father had led me to believe that his native town of Telechan was a tiny village, not much more that a mud hole somewhere in the Pale of Settlement. Its only claim to fame, according to my father, was its proximity to Motol (Motele), the home of Chiam Weizmann, the first president of Israel. Weizmann described his native home as "half-townlet, half village, in one of the darkest, most forlorn corners of the Russian Pale of Settlement."  Could Telechan be much different? My father rarely spoke of Telechan since he felt it was the past and best forgotten. I suspected it no longer existed. It certainly would not be found on any map because of its small size and insignificance. One day, as I viewed my old Scholastic World Atlas, I spotted it. There it was in the upper right corner of a map of Eastern Europe. (next page)
At this family gathering I made an important discovery when I first learned of the existence of the Telechan Memorial Book published in 1963. It would prove to be a major impetus in my research. In collusion with my mother, my father chose to keep the books existence a secret from his children. As Alice and her sister Sara Plen explained it, the article about his father, "Azriel the Mute." (Page 168) embarrassed him. Although my father had contributed towards the publication of the book, he was mortified for himself and his children by the finished product ‘deaf mute’ reference He ripped up the book. As a result, the Telechan Memorial Book was not a part of my life.
In this Book of over 200 pages, only 12 are in English. The other 180 pages are mostly in Yiddish. My siblings and I grew up in an extended family in which both maternal ‘grandparents’ lived with us in the same apartment and spoke Yiddish, as did our parents. Yet we were neither taught nor encouraged to learn the language. The opposite was true. The United States of the 1930's and 1940's was the great ‘Melting Pot.’ First generation children were Americans. Yiddish was not considered to be relevant. To speak Yiddish was not to be an American. Americans were expected to know English, not Yiddish. How tragic!
I decided to have portions of the Telechan Memorial Book translated into English so that it could be shared with others. Incorporated into the text you now hold, is material from the Memorial Book, other relevant articles, results of my genealogical research, along with my thoughts and interpretations. By presenting my family's history in the context of world history, I hope to better understand the times in which they lived; their daily lives; their tzorres and how they became ensnared and swept up events of world history.
It is my hope that family
members in the next generation will update and add to the family’s legacy and
thereby continue the tradition.