b'WESTERN MARBLE ARCH SYNAGOGUELeft:Meshulem1924 - 1942Right:Pepi1927 - 1942treated appallingly and ultimately died in Auschwitz in 1942. Separated from her husband, Blima was declared stateless dispossessed of her home and belongings and deported with Meshel and Pepi to Auschwitz where they died. My father and his brother Sam managed to escape to England to fight with the British army. Nysni Apsa was far away from sophisticated Belgium but the end was as brutal for my family. The Hungarians, allies of the Germans, occupied the village early in the war and life was extremely difficult for the 978 Jewish residents. There were several actions with devastating implications, the main one during Pesach 1944 which swiftly removed all remaining Jewish residents to a school where they were stripped of their possessions in a terrible fashion by local Nazi loyalists. The community beaten and exhausted were moved to a nearby ghetto in Slotvyna and then on to Auschwitz in May 1944. And there you have itfrom a continuous presence since 1648 to a devastating and abrupt end in 1944. A few Jews did make it back, the deal the family made was that survivors should meet in the village after the war. My fathers cousin did and found himself trapped in what became the Soviet Union until the mid 1970s. He remained profoundly religious and kept kosher through all the years. Eventually he got to America with his family.To get a sense of the scale of the loss from just one family, look at the Yad Vashem Shoah name database, put in the names Fried, Adler or Vegh and Apsa.Theres no meaningful evidence of centuries of Jewish life in Nyzni Apsa today, the cemetery is locked up, the synagogue is used as a social hall. But, the story of our family didnt end in 1944.What the Nazis tried to extinguish has survived and thrived, we have amongst the offspring of the Survivors, a famed member of the Haganah and a national football coach. Family clusters in Tel Aviv, Bnei Brak, Netanya (of course), London, Borough Park Brooklyn, Monsey, Five Towns, Atlanta, Los Angeles and on and on. We have found each other and retained our faith, our WhatsApp group brims with messages wishing each other Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach.26'