L eib was so blindsided by what he saw in the Jerusalem Post that he nearly got knocked over by a passing car.

Only halfway down the street did he realize he’d been walking directly into traffic, that vehicles on all sides were beeping and their passengers screaming. It probably didn’t help that in Tel Aviv, especially in 1957, horns were as common as birds. And yelling even more so.

He looked again at the large ad placed directly in the center of the classifieds:

Isaac Pogrebinsky looking for his brother Leib who was born in Ruzhin, Ukraine, it said, along with an address in Kiev. Another vehicle — a large black van — beeped at him. But all he could see were the words Isaac Pogrebinsky, Isaac Pogrebinsky. It was like reading something from a forgotten language.

“Leib!” A voice, a woman’s voice, called out to him. “Are you trying to get yourself killed?” It was seconds before he realized the voice belonged to his wife, Anica. “Leib, sit down, please. You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Leib collapsed onto a hot metal bench, too shocked to speak. Instead, he reached out a trembling hand, and gave her page ten of that day’s paper, a paper he’d been reading every day for nearly 40 years, since the day he arrived in Israel on worn-out soles and a beard down to his clavicle. Around him, the world became so loud he could hardly breathe.

He could hear the feral cats jumping from trash can to trash can, scratching the tops of the tin lids. He heard the nearby falafel-stand owner’s six Arab children running past him down the sidewalk in some sort of race. He heard the whistle of a teakettle from the window of an upstairs apartment. By the time he could focus on his wife, he realized she’d been speaking for at least a minute.

“Leib? Are you listening?” she was asking. Her face was pale and kind, and she was much heavier than she used to be, but still beautiful in her floral cotton dress. Looking at her brought his brain back into his body.

Leib shook his head. “I’m sorry. What did you say?”

Anica shook the newspaper in her hand, a drop of sweat slowly falling down her neck. “I said, I thought your family was dead.”

“So did I.”

“We’ve sent letters.”

“I know.”

“We’ve called the Red Cross. We’ve called the government.”

“I know.”

“All the Jews in Ruzhin died on September 10, 1941, when the Germans invaded. We saw pictures of the mass grave!”

Leib took the paper from his wife, placed it on his lap. “I know.”

The two of them sat there in silence for a long time. Finally, Anica said, “How wonderful that he survived. Miraculous.” In her eyes, tears threatened to escape; she blinked them away. They had to get to Jabotinsky Street for their Shabbos meal and should have left minutes ago. Allowing the news to sink in, the two of them walked silently down Sheinkin Boulevard, past closed café stands and young couples with dogs, past boys on large, creaky bicycles. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 555)