By Linda Lehrhaupt
Dear Rony, I was recently teaching in Warsaw and met someone who also knew your mother Alma. We spent some time talking about her and the center where she lived. Just today he sent me the link to "I Googled My Mother."
I met Alma in 1988 when I attended a Zen retreat there. The retreat was so large that we used both your mother's center and the mill at the bottom of the hill that belonged to a woman named Joanna (who later emigrated to America).
At that time the food situation was quite desperate in Poland. I remember going into a supermarket in Jelenia Gora and there was no food on the shelves, only some candy. And so it was a miracle that we managed to find food for the more than 100 people who attended the retreat. I remember standing in the kitchen and watching the participants arrive. They would always come to the kitchen first and give their offerrings (2 carrots, three potatoes, some onions). I remember breaking down in tears as I saw how slowly enough food accumulated that we would have enough to eat for our time together.
I met Alma several times after that when I came to retreat later at Sosnoweska, which was in the area.
I was so touched to read your account of how you found her. And to see so many pictures of her when she was young and learn about her past. I remember her as a clear-eyed, direct and dedicated woman. Her love of nature was strong. I also remember her saying that she was sorry for how "modern" Poland was becoming, and she hoped it would not develop too rapidly. I also remember her telling how she loved the spirit of the Polish people and that she felt truly at home there.
I have very fond memories of Przesieka, I came to have a strong feeling of the community of Zen practitioners and what kind of support it offerred practitioners. Alma was one of those people who made it possible for us to practice by offerring her home to us. For that I will be always grateful.
Just a short word about myself. I am American from New York City, 64 years old, and have been living in Germany for the past 30 years, when I married a German. Today I am a Zen teacher. I am also the director of an educational insitute called The Institute for Mindfulness-Based Approaches, which is a training institute for professionals such as doctors, psychologists and nurses to learnto teach health-education programs such as mindfulness-based stress reduction, etc. My father's family was Jewish and from a town near Krakow named Limanowa. I lost my grandfather and most of my aunts and uncles and their children in the Holocaust.
I hope to come to Israel this year for the first time. I hope to meet some relatives as well as to do some touring and visiting Yad Veshem. Your quest for Alma has inspired me to take up the quest to find out more about my relatives. Today with the Internet and all the web sites it might be easier since the first time when I started in 1995.
I am attaching the story I started to write about the 1995 trip to my father's home town in Limanowa. It is not finished, but I thought you might find it interesting. It is also about a search to find and connect to one's roots.
Perhaps when I am in Israel we can meet. I would be honored to meet Alma's son.
All the best,