Waterfalls Brighten My Days

19 Aug

(My fourth favorite experience in Hawaii .)

Something about waterfalls makes me happy. Watching the energy of the water as it rushes to the falls and then seeing it come over the edge is exhilarating.

So when I saw that among the tours offered on the Big Island was a Tropical Waterfall Tour, I knew I had to sign up.

Years ago, when we went to Hawaii, we visited Akaka Falls State Park. We loved the seeing this high, over 400 foot, fall. But this would be different, we would visit four different waterfalls.

So on this trip I was delighted to find this trip.

It was lovely. Our tour guide, Kurt from Hawaii Forest and Trails, was wonderful.

Among the falls we saw were Rainbow Falls, known for the rainbow that firms when you see it at certain times of day. We saw it from the private Oak Ranch.

My favorite falls was the duo Falls of WaiLuku and WaiAu. We also saw these from a private viewing site on OK Ranch.

Another favorite was the falls we saw from the grounds of a bed and breakfast. We were able with walk down to bottom of this waterfall and even swim in the pond.

It was an excellent trip and I recommend it.

My Third Grand Canyon: Waimea Canyon, Kauai

15 Aug

(As well as my third favorite spot in Hawaii.)

I guess I am on a roll to see every “Grand Canyon” there is!

I finally saw the true Grand Canyon two years ago.  And I loved it.  We went to the West Rim and were able to walk at above the Grand Canyon on the Skywalk, and also visited Eagle Point.  These are located on the grounds of the Hualapai Tribe’s Reseravation, and are not part of the Grand Canyon National Park.  But it is a wonderful experience.  The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and as much as 18 miles wide.  The deepest part is 6,093 feet.  It is a very big canyon.

Last August I was in Yellowstone National Park, and visited the Yellowstone Canyon, where the Yellowstone River flows in to a valley forming a canyon. This is called the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.   A beautiful site, we were able to view the magnificent waterfall that helps create the canyon.  This canyon is 24 miles long, as much as ¾ of a mile wide and up to 1200 feet deep. Yellowstone Canyon is in Yellowstone National Park.  It is where I finally got my senior park entrance card!

So, of course, when I knew we were going to go to Kauai, I knew we had to go to Waimea Canyon to see the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.  This canyon is 14 miles long, one mile wide and up to 3600 feet deep.  It is part of the Waimea Canyon State Park.

 

From the Waimea Canyon Lookout, you can see, off in the distance, some of the waterfalls that feed the river below and form the canyon.  But it is much easier to seem them with binoculars.

The biggest difference between this canyon and the other canyons, is that these mountains and canyon is all volcanic material.  So there is really no strata of stone like you see on the rocky canyons, like the Grand Canyon.

But it does not matter, all three of these canyons are magnificent in their own ways.   I am so glad that I have had the experience to see them all.  I will let the pictures explain.

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

14 Aug

(My second favorite stop on my Hawaiian trip.See link to first one below.)

On the Big Island of Hawaii, we visited the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park.  This is the site of a Pu’uhonua, a Place of Refuge, as well as Royal Grounds for the rulers of the islands.

I love history and learning about other cultures.  So on this trip, I tried to learn as much as I could about the Hawaiian culture.  As with our visit to the birthing stones, the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau is also a scared site that should be treated with respect.  It also met another bucket list item of mine, I am trying to visit a National Park in every state!

In ancient times if a person broke a kapu, or a scared law, they often would be punished with a death sentence.  But there was a chance of survival.  If the person was able to escape and get to a place of refuge, a Pu’uhonua, a priest there could save him/her by absolving him/her of the kapu.  It was not easy to get to a place of refuge.

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Looking toward the place of refuge and the lava reef that surrounds it.

At Pu’uhonua O Honaunau the easiest access was from the sea.  However, you had to conquer the waves crashing ashore and a field of tough lava to reach the safety of the priest.  At the same time, you could not step over to the Royal Grounds, or you would be breaking another kapu.

Over the years, most of the refuge sites were destroyed by missionaries who wanted to dissuade these practices or neglect from disuse. Although other sites still exist, nothing remains of the refuge buildings.   In 1961, the National Park Service opened this National Park with a restored place of refuge, as well as the royal grounds that were next to it.

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The Royal Ground’s Keone’ele Cove

It is a lovely site with a small, natural cove, Keone’ele Cove, once used by the ali’I, the royal families.   Throughout the site, the lava rocks and flows create beautiful formation.  There are recreations of some of the buildings and wooden images, ki’i, representing the gods.

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Stone wall, ki’i and mausoleum

The Great Wall, a long, high wall built of rocks, without any mortar, separates the Royal Grounds from the Pu’uhonua.  The wall is over 400 years old!  My husband thinks that those who were rescued by the priests probably had to help build the walls.  He could be right.

Several times each day, visitors can hear a talk by a park ranger.  That was not available the time we were there. But you can download a guided tour on your smart phone, or just follow the guided tour in the park brochure.  We used the park brochure, following the trails and looking for the items that were numbered. It took about an hour to walk the site.

There is also a little gift shop run by the Park Service.  Children can receive a junior park ranger workbook and fill it out.   When we were there two sisters turned in their booklets and were made official junior park rangers!

The Pu’uhohua is well worth a visit. It takes you back in time and helps to understand the culture that was Hawaii before Western civilization changed it forever.

 

https://zicharonot.com/2018/08/13/a-burst-of-emotion-kukaniloko-birthing-stones-sacred-site/

 

A Burst of Emotion: Kukaniloko Birthing Stones Sacred Site

13 Aug

(We recently cruised around the Hawaiian Islands.  This is the first of five blogs about my favorite spots.)

Fertility, pregnancy, healthy births, all topics that are important even today.  Childbirth is, at times,  life threatening for the mother and for the infant.  In ancient Hawaiian times, women went to sacred spaces in an effort to safely give birth.   In Oahu, there is such a space dedicated to the women of the royal family.

Fertility for those who cannot conceive is also a painful topic.   At the Kukaniloko Birthing Stones Sacred Site, these two quests: a safe and pain free birth, and the request for a pregnancy come together.

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Before we arrived at this sacred site, our guide pointed out part of the Wai’anea Range on Oahu.  As you drive along the Kamehameha Highway, part of this mountain range looks like a giant sleeping pregnant woman,  the “Wahine Hapai.”  You can see her head, then breasts then pregnant belly rising to the sky.  She embodies fertility and health.

He told us that Wahine Hapai overlooks a sacred site that many tourists do not go to but thought we would like to see.  (Perhaps because my husband is a pediatrician.)  The  Kukaniloki Birthing Stones Site is unmarked and is not easy to find.  There is just a small indentation of an  entrance off the highway, with a gated road.

Before we walked down a bright red dirt road to reach the site, we read the warnings that this was a sacred site and we should respect it. “Do not sit on the stones. Do not move or wrap the rocks. Do not trample the plants.” These were the top three rules.  I thought I was ready to visit.  But in reality, it was much more emotional than I thought it would be.

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It is a quiet spot, an oasis of trees and stones in the middle of a field. The first indication that you are entering the sacred site, is two stones standing by the entrance.  These were two of the birthing stones: One to sit on and one to lean up against. They have been moved from their original place in the grove of trees.  Just past these stones are two parallel lines of smaller stones, leading to the tree-shaded main site, where the trees surround a group of large stones.  Behind the site, watching from above is the Wahine Hapai, the pregnant woman, helping those in labor.

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In my effort to know more, I looked up information on line when I returned to the ship.  I read that the two line of stones were for the chiefs to sit on, while a royal woman gave birth.  The chiefs came to help her through this time. It is also said that women who gave birth here felt no pain.

My husband and I were not alone in our visit.

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Walking along the two lines of stones, I noticed a woman squatting by each stone, touching her forehead to the stone and praying.  She went down each line, holding the stones between her two hands, resting her head, then moving on.   I was not close enough to hear what she said. I tried to give her space, but I knew in my heart what was happening.  I could almost hear her prayers for a pregnancy and for a child of her own. And my heart opened.  I began to pray silently with her.  Sending my positive energy to comingle with hers.  Hoping perhaps a stranger who knew her pain could add to her prayers.

Do Not tell me this is a ridiculous quest. 

I too suffered from infertility and prayed to become pregnant.  I spent days, weeks, months and years wondering why everyone else was able to get pregnant but me.  I hated family gatherings, where all the new babies would be the center of attention and people would ask me when I planned to start my family.  Little did they know of the emotional pain I was in just being there.  I lost my faith for a time.  At the high holidays when we read about Hannah, I left the service.  It was just too difficult to bear.

Although I am now way past the age of giving birth, and I do have two children, I carry that black hole of pain in my heart.  I keep it covered.  I try not to visit it.  I moved on, I believed.  But watching this woman in her prayers removed the cover I keep over this abyss of pain, and I felt tears rise to my eyes. No one could truly help her.  No words can ever make that pain go away.  Watching your friends and relatives get pregnant is a slap. Each month a new cycle is just a reminder that you failed once again.  It is an enormous, deep black hole of grief.  And I saw that grief on this woman’s face.

She was not alone.  A young man squatted close to the square enclosed area where the trees and many birthing stones were assembled.  You cannot enter this sacred area.  But he sat just outside the roped off area, watching.

I felt the spirit of their prayers around me.  It would be hard not to feel it.

We did not spend too much time at the site.  I took a few photos, and then told my husband it was time to go.  I wanted to give them the privacy they needed. (I learned later that although tourists might not visit it, the site was well visited by locals who celebrated the birth of their children or who were wanted to have children.)

As we walked away, my memories and my prayers rose up.  I hope that the Kukaniloko Birthing Stone Sacred Site, and the energy of life and birth within it, helped her move forward.

This was my most memorable spot in all of Hawaii.

Discovering Karola’s Kielce Pogrom Testimony

12 Aug

In February 2017 I published a blog about discovering my grandmother’s cousin was in Kielce, Poland, during the Pogrom in July 1946. (See blog link below.) Since then I have been continuing my research on the lost remnants of my grandparent’s families.  Along the way, I have discovered more about Karola.

First off, I now know her entire name, which brings me more understanding. Korala’s mother and my great grandmother were sisters.  My grandmother was her first cousin.

Our families did keep in touch.  My father often went to Paris on business, occasionally my Mom would accompanied him and would visit a cousin who lived there.  That cousin was Karola.  She had changed her name from the Polish sounding to a more French name, and of course I recognized the last name.

In any case, it was when I found the village where my great grandmother was born, that I found also the Viroshov Yitzkor Book published in 1970.   In it, written in Yiddish, was Karola’s testimony about the Kielce Pogrom.   I must thank my friend, Blumah W., the local Chabbad rebbetzin, who spent several hours with me as she translated this moving memory.

I think with what is going on in Poland today, with the country’s wanting to deny their people’s involvement in the Nazi’s intent to destroy and annihilate the Jewish population.  Karola’s story and memory is even more important because it tells the truth of what really happened in the years pre, during and after the war.

The Kielce Pogrom By Karola Manes F. as translated by Blumah W.

 “A lot has already been told about the ferocious anti-Semitism of how the majority of Polish treated their Jewish neighbors during all the years of the Polish existence. It is still fresh in memory.  The anti- Jewish politics in pre-war Poland using power against the Jewish workers and merchants, and the hooligans acting against the Jewish young students. 

        Also, during the time of the War, being under the German occupation, the Poles did not forget their anti-Semitic tradition.  They were very much supportive of the Nazi program and worked with the Nazis for the annihilation of the Jewish nation.  (“G-d forbid,” added by Blumah.)

          When the war finished, the Jewish remnants were hidden in different places. A few Jewish people who were saved began to look in their birth places for their relatives; their flesh and blood.   Also, then there came upon these survivors, unruly/wild Polish bandits, bands of Poles, who murdered these few left over Jews.

           The culmination point of this ferocious Polish behavior was the tragic well-known Kielce Pogrom, which was accomplish over these few ‘leftovers’ in the summer of the year 1946.

            Being be that I was in that time in Kielce where I lived through this tragic chapter, then I will tell what happened during this incident.

            After the war, in Kielce there was the concentration of a larger group of Jews.  The portion of them came from hidden places and from the forests, where they were involved with the armed partisans combat.  Larger groups from back from Russia, where they found themselves during the time of the war.  In order to deal with stream of survivors, a Jewish committee was formed that found themselves on Planty Street. 

           The Polish people right away, in the first days, immediately began to agitate and incite against the Jews.  “TOO many of you remained!”  They said with extreme hate.

           The first provocation was when someone threw the dead body of a Christian woman into the Jewish compound.  It was accompanied with an incitement that they said the Jews murdered this woman.

           Only at night, Russian soldiers came dressed in Polish uniforms and made order. They arrested a number of Polish hooligans.   The next morning, on the way to the funeral, the Jewish people accompanying the dead, were guarded by the Russian soldiers in order to avoid any further incidents by the wild and unruly Polish population

            May these words act as a monument for the holy martyrs of the Kielce Pogrom; May G-d avenge their blood. “

In the last paragraphs, Karola does not talk about how people were murdered or what truly happened on the day of the pogrom.  Instead she talks about the fact that it was Russian soldiers who stopped the pogrom by dispersing the Polish hooligans.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed.  I wanted to know from her mouth/her pen what truly happened. What she as a survivor saw.  But then, I realized, it was too much.  She had survived a ghetto, a concentration camp and now a pogrom, who am I to want more from her?

https://zicharonot.com/2017/02/27/what-happened-to-karola/

 

No Lava For Us

8 Aug

A year ago we booked a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands, not knowing that two months before Kilauea would erupt. Thousands of people have been displaced. Homes destroyed. Land masses changed. Roads blocked. Luckily not many hurt or injured!

Eighteen years ago we spent a week on the Big Island. We spent hours on Kilauea walking around the rim of the caldera, going to the museum, walking through a lava tube. The park is closed now due to the eruption. We have heard that the museum has massive damage due to the many earthquakes that have assaulted the volcano area.

No one is allowed close to the volcano and the lava.

During our day in Hilo visiting a bevy of waterfalls, we were able to see steam rising from Kilauea from a distance. We were high above Hilo with a view to the volcano. Our guide told us then that the lava flow was decreasing and almost ceased.

But we thought we would still be able to get a glimpse of the glowing lava from the ocean and our ship.

That evening as the ship set sail, we rearranged dinner schedule to be able to stand in the starboard side of the ship as we sailed pass the lava flow. Hundreds joined us waiting to see the lava. It was a joyous atmosphere.

Then the announcement: the lava had stopped flowing the day before. They were hoping we could still see the glowing embers. But no, the crust has solidified and the red hot embers of flowing lava could not be seen. If it was daylight, we might have seen steam. But now nothing!

Everyone left the deck. Except a few including us. My husband lifting his binoculars and stared intently into the pitch black and stared across to the land, where there was no sign of life. No lava flow. The disappointment was keen. There was nothing to do but go inside to eat a late dinner and continue on.

I must admit two nights before I had a dream that the advent of Hurricane Hector put out the volcano. When I told my husband the dream, he laughed. He is not laughing anymore. But the good news is the hurricane went way south of Hawaii. And for the people of the Big Island, peace from Pele the Goddess of Fire and volcanoes has come.

Viroshov/Wieruszow: A Jewish Community Destroyed

20 Jul

With the days quickly leading up to Tisha B’Av, I cannot get the destruction of my grandparent’s families out of my mind. After writing about Boleslawiec and its small Jewish community, I feel it is important to write about a town that lies six miles away.  The town where my great grandmother Sarah Manes grew up: Viroshov/Wieruszow.

When I realized there were so few Jewish citizens of Boleslawiec, I had to reconsider some of the stories my Grandma told me about growing up.  She always talked about all her cousins and spending time with them.  Then I remembered, she told me about spending time with her grandmother Klindell Manes, and that is where she saw her cousins, in the town of Viroshov.   It took me a while to figure out that Viroshov, was Yiddish for Wieruszow.

All those stories she told me were about her Manes cousins. Those were the cousins I had met in Israel so long ago.  (See blogs below.)

I was right.  And once again I am forced to forgive my 20-year-old self for not paying enough attention.  For not wanting to hear the horrible stories.  For tuning out, while trying to escape from the seemingly endless number of survivors who insisted on seeing Grandma during our month-long stay in Israel in 1976.

I have written about several of these survivors and what I discovered. (See blog below.). And I even wrote about my Grandma’s cousin Dora before.  But now I need to revisit Dora and tell more of her story.

I now understand why her daughter was so protective of her when she called to set up a meeting with my Grandma.  I now have rachmanes, in my mature years, that I did not have as much in my youth.  I tried to be as courteous as possible, but I truly did not understand the undercurrents of everything that occurred.

Grandma had survived the war by being in the USA. She had saved her father and her sister by bringing them out of Europe in 1936.  In fact, their family did not know that my great aunt had escaped, and had even added her to the Yitzkor book of the town!

My grandmother and her children were safe.  She did not need to remake her life.  But Dora and so many others had had a different reality.   I now know Dora’s reality.  And I feel, once again, the burden of knowing someone, but not really understanding and knowing what happened.

Dora was married before the war, in 1924, a few months before my grandparents.  She and her husband survived.  But her mother, who was my great grandmother’s sister, Mascha, did not survive.  Her father, Eliazer, did not survive.  Her brother, Wolf, and her sister Yocheved, did not survive.  In all 13 people with the last name Manes, and more related to the family,  from Wieruszow were murdered.

Before the war, in 1921, there were 2300 Jews in the community of Wieruszow, making up 36 percent of the population.  In 1939, before the Nazis invaded there were 2400.  That all changed.  The Jewish community was slowly decimated. By 1940 there were 1740 Jews.  In September 1941 a ghetto was opened where 1200 Jews were imprisoned.  Then between August 11 and 23 the ghetto was ‘liquidated.’ I hate that word.  Just say the Jews were killed and moved to Concentration Camps.  This time, Chelmo.   But before they were taken, the old and sick were shot.

In April 21, 1942, there was a mass murder of Jews and a mass grave for 86 people was dug in the Jewish cemetery.   But, of course, that did not survive because the Nazis also had to wipe out cemeteries to destroy the memories.  The tombstones were used for pavers. The cemetery was dismantled.  But 100 tombstones still remain.   I doubt I would find my great great grandparents and great grandparents gravesites.

However, that mass grave gave me another clue to my family.  A stone was laid on the mass grave by a man with the last name Majerowicz.   That sent a shock through me as well.  Because in Israel, I also knew a man with the last name Majerowicz.   He was also my Grandma’s first cousin.  But he was a bit different.  I wrote about him because his sister was Grandma’s first cousin and best friend. His mother and my grandmother’s mother were sisters.

In all there were 135 names in the Yad VaShem database with the last name Majerowicz, or some similar spelling that perished in Viroshov/Wieruszow.  I noticed that many were duplicates, so perhaps only 80 people were listed.  And although not all were related to me, once again I will claim them as being related. Because I feel I must.

Now there are over 8600 people live in Wieruszow.  In a town that was once 36 percent Jewish, there are no Jews.  The cemetery is destroyed.  The original mikveh, where many Jews were murdered by the Nazis is gone.  There is just a list, a yitzkor book and some memories.

Once again thank you to Virtual Shetl, the Yad Vashem Database, Jewish Gen, and the Viroshov Yitzkor book.

https://zicharonot.com/2014/04/28/speaking-yiddish-always-brings-me-holocaust-memories/

https://zicharonot.com/2015/11/03/who-are-you-these-photos-call-out-to-me/

https://zicharonot.com/2016/10/01/the-rosh-hashannah-card-has-a-story/

https://zicharonot.com/2018/06/07/the-sorrow-of-shalom-hollander/