12/12/2006

The Ganze Mishpocha

My paternal grandmother, a”h, was the youngest of 15 children. Although much of her family perished in the Holocaust, a significant number escaped or survived and made it to the U.S. or Israel. By now, it’s extremely difficult to keep track of the entire family (I have enough trouble keeping in touch with my own sisters), especially since there are very few people left who bear the family name, Mihaly (of Michaeli). Obviously, none of my grandmother’s descendants bear that name.

Nevertheless, the Mihaly family, descendants of my grandmother’s father, is very large and very, very diverse. Greg is a member of the Mishpocha as well – his wife is my second cousin once removed. Needless to say, the fact that we consider ourselves ‘cousins’ is more ‘cutesy’ than anything else. It’s like a novelty item.

Anyhow, Greg pointed out (and I had no idea, though my father recognized the name right away) that Judith Glassgold, Psy.D., who contributed the appendix to the recently approved Conservative Responsum on Homosexuality, is a Mihaly as well: my second cousin. While discussing heterodox family members, the late Rabbi Prof. Eugene Mihaly (RIETS musmach) of HUC was my father’s first cousin.

Oh, and occasional commenter Yaakov – you know that you’re mishpocha as well. You and Greg are third cousins. Dr. Glassgold, Psy.D., is second cousins with your mother, Psy.D. They would both probably come in handy if there was ever a family reunion, which there won’t be (the last time all 19 of my grandmother’s grandchildren were together was at her funeral 12 years ago. Two of my grandmother’s great-grandchildren are in seminary together this year, and didn’t even know each other beforehand.) Anyhow, this is more about interesting connections than about any kind of specious claims to yikhes. For all I know, my alter-zayde Aryeh was a horse-thief, though I know of at least 10 people named for him, and have occasionally introduced two to each other (Arnie, meet Arthur, you’re cousins and named for the same man). For example, Yaakov’s brother, z”l, and yblch”t, Greg’s father-in-law, share that man’s name. This is what makes being the awkward distant relative at a chasanah fun.

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