One afternoon in early 2013, I received a phone message from Rabbi Zell of Tiferet Israel. He said to call him back on his personal cell phone, so I did. He had received an odd e-mail from a man identifying himself as Douglas Parker from New York who believed he was a cousin of a congregant named Bill Pakowsky.
The rabbi, not knowing my maiden name, asked around to see if anyone knew of a Bill Pakowsky, to which Tina (Tobolowsky) Israel replied that the Pakowsky family had been very active at Tiferet Israel. Tina had provided the rabbi with my married name and phone number.
The rabbi wanted to know if it was OK to forward this e-mail to me and I said that was fine. I read it over very carefully. There were several details in it about my grandfather, Morris Pakowsky, and his family; things I didn’t know about, but Douglas Parker did. For example, my grandfather and father kept the original spelling of their last names, but the rest of the siblings (there were 7) didn’t. They ended up with “Parker,” “Parks” and a few other last names. This was all news to me, and I grew more and more interested in what this cousin had to say and what he knew.
Douglas included his phone number in case I wanted to call and chat. I reached him and we began our official connection with each other. He had done some research into his grandfather’s background and family tree, and that’s how he discovered that he had family in Dallas. He looked through newsletters of synagogues here and came across my father’s name – and, as they say, “The rest is history!!”
It’s been a wonderful discovery. I’ve visited my new cousin and his brother in New York, and his sister in California. We’ve kept in touch pretty regularly and I hope some day they’ll come here for a visit and a “Big D” welcome.
The moral? I encourage everyone to look into your family trees; you never know what goodies you’ll discover!!