by Sonia Pressman Fuentes

In the 1970s, after my father’s death, when I told my mother that I planned to go to Poland someday, she said, “What for?â€? Both she and my father had been born in Poland in a shtetl [village] called Piltz, but to my mother Poland meant poverty and antisemitism.

My mother died in 1975, but the urge to visit Poland stayed with me. This pull to return to my roots was, of course, not unique to me. Many, if not most, people share it. Frank Viviano, the author of Blood Washes Blood, A True Story of Love, Murder, and Redemption Under the Sicilian Sun, wrote as follows about his trip to the Sicilian town of Terrasini, where his family had lived for generations: