Israel Reunion – 2001

Cousins meet in person for the first time — in Israel!

In January 2001, Rhea Bottler met cousins Lilian and Ella Novak, face to face for the first time, in Israel.

Rhea Bottler, descended from Sonia Bottler, submitted this first person article.

January 2001, by Rhea Bottler

After arriving in Israel I spoke with both Lilian and Ella Novak (descended from Leizer Majew) on the telephone before actually meeting with them in Tel Aviv.  Mother and daughter are both so friendly and warm that I immediately felt like I had known them always.  That was my feeling last year when I spoke with Lilian and Ella then.  Since we actually did not meet the last time I was in Israel, I was thrilled to be able to meet both women this trip.

Lilian and I described ourselves to each other and made plans to meet in front of the municipal building in Tel Aviv.  Lilian spotted me before I spotted her and we greeted each other with a big, big hug.  Lilian reminds me somewhat of my Aunt Beattie Solomons.  My aunt would be Lilian’s late father’s first cousin.  That was fun for me to see this resemblance.  We walked and talked and talked and walked and then found an outdoor cafe to sit and chat some more.  Ella, Lilian’s beautiful and charming daughter, took time out of her work schedule to join us.

We talked about our families and drew a family tree on a scrap piece of paper so that we could follow ourselves.  We certainly were sorry that we did not have our authentic family tree printout with us and we hoped we were drawing the right branches.  As far as we could figure out Lilian’s grandfather Leizer Majew and my Bubbie Sonia Bottler are sister and brother which would make her late father [Mottle/Max Majew] and my late father [Saul Bottler] first cousins and us second cousins.  We thought it awesome that we were there in Israel together.  We talked about how much our fathers would have liked to have met.  Lilian spoke of her father having expressed his sadness that the Mayoff family name would not be continued because he had daughters who would marry and take their husbands’ names.  She was certain he would be thrilled to have met me and to know that there are so many Mayoffs around the world.  I remember how devoted my father was to the Mayoff clan and I believe he would have loved to be there meeting his cousin’s family.  We felt our fathers’ presence as well as our grandparents’ and great-grandparents’.  Ella of course remembers her grandfather and agreed with her mom that he would be more than pleased to know of the work that has been done on the family tree and how the family has been reunited.

Lilian and I were able to meet once again and we enjoyed sharing a wonderfully delicious lunch at a restaurant overlooking the beach in TelAviv.  We talked more and more and got to know each other.  Lilian is a gentle, kind soul.  Very generous in spirit.  She is a loving mother and a devoted wife and a very interested Mayoff cousin.  We saw the sun setting behind the horizon of the beach.  It was actually a magnificent sunset that we shared which thrilled me as I am a sunset and a sunrise person. . . both speak to my directly to my soul.  When we said our goodbyes we promised to keep in touch.