Thus began my journey to find and meet my long lost relatives.
article above appeared in the January 28 edition of the Australian
Once Jenny and I had decided to go to Australia on our
contacted Rabbi David Stern, our Rabbi at Temple Emanu-El, and the
Rabbi that would marry us. I told Rabbi Stern the story of my
relatives in Australia, and asked if he had any contacts within the
Jewish community that could facilitate a search for me. He directed
me to a former classmate of his, Jeffrey Kamins, the Senior Rabbi at
Temple Emanu-El in Sydney.
Rabbi Kamins forwarded my story to relevant organizations
South Wales and Queensland.
Several weeks later I received the following email:
I received a copy of the letter you sent
to Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins
at the Congregation of the Temple Emanuel in Woollahra,
Sydney Australia. I am a journalist with the Australian Jewish
News (Sydney edition) and would like to put together a story
about your search for family in Australia.
Please let me know any other relevant details
as well as any other information you feel should be included in
the article. I am eager to include a photograph for the story
also. Do you have any photographs of the relatives you are
searching for? If not, then a photograph of you would be
Australian Jewish News"
Excited and fearful would best describe my reaction to
email. Excited that the article could truly lead me to Rosa and
Hana; fearful of letting my hopes get too high. I discussed this
with Jenny and she said, "You'll never know unless you give it a
Subsequent to my reply, Samantha wrote that she would
to have the article appear in the January 28th issue, so with any luck,
I would be able to pick up a copy while in Sydney.
In Sydney, we picked up a copy of the newspaper which
came out a
day early. That same night we attended shul at Temple Emanu-El
and met Rabbi Kamins. Before services ended he made a point of
announcing our marriage, and publicizing the article and my search
for family to everyone in the congregation.
After nearly two weeks in Australia, and only one full
day left on
our honeymoon, Jenny and I arrived back at our hotel in Cairns after
a day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. On the floor in the
entryway was a note. Well, all throughout the honeymoon we had
received written confirmations of our pickup the following day for
whatever day tour was scheduled, and thought this was no exception
since we had a day tour scheduled the following day.
The note read:
Guest Name - LACHMAN MR L/MRS J
Your message is as follows -
ROSA LACHMAN CALLED
HER CALL ON ...
One is fortunate at some point in their life to have one
these moments; surprise, disbelief, astonishment ... joy.
Needless to say, Jenny and I called immediately and the
us had a wonderful conversation. We spoke with Rosa and
Hana, and amazingly, my Aunty Genia; we found out that their
mother, my Aunt, is still alive at 88 years old. All three still live
A woman who lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane had
the article and remembered my cousins from the South Brisbane
Synagogue. She phoned one of her brothers in Brisbane who still
had a connection to them and who was apprenticed to a fellow
who was married to Rosa and Hana's half sister. This couple, in
turn, had a son who is a dental technician in Brisbane - who
called Rosa and Hana and told them about me and the article.
Fortunately, this man misspelled my email address to them,
Hana attempted to send me email three times, only to have it
bounce back each time because of an invalid address. This was
fortunate because had the email been successfully sent, they would
have waited for a reply which would not have come until my
return to America. After the third rejection from the email server,
Rosa and Hana called the Australian Jewish News.
The very last thing that I did before I left work
wedding) was send Samantha a note detailing our itinerary of dates,
cities, and hotels, just in case someone did contact her. So they
informed my cousins that we were currently in Cairns.
Rosa asked if there was any way we could come to Brisbane.
we were leaving for America in less than 48 hours, I told her,
unfortunately not. Afterwards, Jenny and I decided to call and try
to reschedule our plans.
We spent almost 2 1/2 hours on the phone with Qantas Airlines.
Initially, we were told that we had two options. Buy a round trip
ticket from Cairns to Brisbane (since our flight back to America
originated from Cairns) at $1200 US for both of us; or restructure
our existing tickets so we could fly back to America directly from
Brisbane at $1500 US for both of us. Having just spent over $4000
in airline tickets for our honeymoon, these were very undesirable
After dinner I called back and asked to speak to a supervisor
Qantas. I was connected with a woman named Deborah Jenkins.
I told her the whole story and implored her to restructure our
tickets to at least give us a layover (even if it was just an hour) in
Brisbane so we could meet my relatives, and not charge us $1200.
Deborah put me on hold for what seemed like an eternity.
she returned, she said, "Okay, if you're willing to do this I will
waive all of the fees and penalties, and sell you two one-way
tickets to Brisbane as if you had bought them 21 days in advance,
and restructure your existing tickets so you can leave from
Brisbane and not return to Cairns, for $300 ($150 for each of us).
Of course we were more than willing to do this and at
the next day, Jenny and I were bound for Brisbane. Hana and Rosa
were there to pick us up at the airport and Jenny captured the
event with our new camcorder. We stayed with Hana and Rosa,
at their house, ate dinner and breakfast with them and departed
for America at 11:10 the next morning.
I want to conclude my story by thanking Rabbis David Stern
Jeffrey Kamins, Samantha Baden, and Deborah Jenkins for all of
their help; and my bride for all of her love and support in the
major decision-making and energy that went into attaining my
Hana, me, and Rosa - finally united at the airport in Brisbane.
Me holding the original picture of Hana & Rosa as little girls.
Aunty Genia and me at her home; adjacent to Hana and Rosa's house.
Hana, me, and Rosa at a restaurant in Brisbane.
Hana, me, Jenny and Rosa at a restaurant in Brisbane.
Rachmil and Charles Lachman, circa 1945
Rosa and Hana framed this picture and gave it to us as
a gift. I
had never seen a picture of my uncle before. I also had never
seen a picture of my father when he was so young. Uncle
Rachmil did indeed die around 1970; in fact it was the day man
landed on the moon, July 20, 1969. How happy they both
would be to know that their children had found each other.
Email to: TheLachmans@sbcglobal.net