US envoy meets long-lost nonagenarian survivor relative thanks to Israeli initiative

Diplomat united with his late grandfather's 94-year-old brother thanks to Magen David Adom.

michael wasserman 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy MDA)
michael wasserman 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy MDA)
An American diplomat stationed in Moldova who has been searching for Holocaust survivors from his family for years has been united with his late grandfather's 94-year-old brother at an old-age home in Bat Yam, thanks to Magen David Adom and Yad Vashem. In March, MDA's search department received a message from a young man named Joel Wasserman, who identified himself as a US diplomat. He said he had chosen to serve in Moldova because - among other things - he wanted to find a clue to the whereabouts of family members lost in the Holocaust. He said he had spent years poring over state archives in the former Soviet republic, and by chance found information in the electronic archive of Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, indicating that his grandfather's brother Michael had provided pages of testimony in 2001. Until that moment, the diplomat hadn't known of any family members who had survived. The testimony showed that Michael Wasserman had lived at a Netanya geriatric facility in 2001. Volunteers in MDA's search department contacted dozens of old-age homes in the North and finally found he had moved to Bat Yam and was indeed Joel Wasserman's great uncle. When contacted, the old man was excited, but afraid of being disappointed. Only after he met personally with MDA search officer Boris Kozokin and saw his uniform did he believe that the story was true and not a ruse. Joel and his sister Barbara came to Israel recently and met Michael and his family, accompanied by MDA officials. "There couldn't be a more suitable or symbolic event than the uniting of the family on Israeli soil with a Holocaust-survivor family member - after more than 60 years of separation," said Barbara. MDA director-general Eli Bin said that "the pain and longing [survivors feel] for their family members from whom they were torn have not been relieved. MDA invests much effort in reuniting them, and it has to its credit a number of very emotional successes," he said.