A branch of this family has its origins in the Transcarpathian Region (Subcarpathian Rus) of Ukraine.

My father was born in Bilky. He was a polyglot. That’s a fancy word for someone who speaks lots of languages. He spoke Hungarian, Czech, Russian, German, Yiddish, and English. The history of the region explains the reason for his multilingualism.

In the early 1900’s, Bilky was located in Hungary. After World War I, it moved to Czechoslovakia. In the late 1930’s, it returned to Hungary. Post World War II, it was adopted by the Soviet Union. In 1991, Bilky became Ukrainian.

There’s this old sad joke that has become relevant to the current world with the 2022 Russian invasion. ”I was born in Hungary. Went to school in Czechoslovakia. Had a family in the Soviet Union. Expect to die in Ukraine. And never left my hometown.” I can see Tevye the Milkman sighing after the Broadway audience stops laughing to this line.

Anyway, here’s a map of Bilky, Ukraine with distances to different places. It was made on March 16, 2022 - the 21st day of the Russian Invasion.

And to paraphrase the Rabbi in Fiddler on The Roof when asked if there was a proper blessing for the Tsar, “May Hashem keep Russia - far away from us.”

Map Of Bilky

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