Ann Meddin Hellman, having long believed that her father’s side of the family was lost in the Holocaust, experienced an exciting revelation upon taking a MyHeritage DNA test. Five months ago, this test led her to discover an 83-year-old second cousin, Shalom Koray, a Holocaust survivor residing in Israel. This unexpected connection has significantly altered her understanding of her family’s past.

Shalom Koray’s life story is remarkable. He was found abandoned in a potato sack in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1941 when he was just two years old. Lena Küchler-Silberman, a renowned Jewish teacher and psychologist, rescued him. She was instrumental in saving about 100 children during the war. Koray moved to Israel in 1949. His survival and subsequent life in Israel remained unknown to Hellman until the DNA test linked them.

The discovery was made when a researcher investigating the history of the children saved by Küchler-Silberman prompted Koray to take a DNA test. Hellman, upon receiving a notification about a second cousin, was astonished by the closeness of the relationship. The two cousins have since been in regular contact through video calls, WhatsApp, and using translation tools to communicate.

Hellman’s recognition of family resemblance in photos of Koray, particularly noting his similarity to her brother Stuart, confirmed their familial connection. Previously known as Petro Korczak, Koray’s change of name had made locating him more challenging.

The cousins, along with their extended family, plan to meet in person in Charleston this summer, a gathering that promises to be a significant and emotional family reunion.

For those interested in exploring their own family history through DNA testing, several companies offer such services. These include:

  1. AncestryDNA: AncestryDNA Website
  2. 23andMe: 23andMe Website
  3. MyHeritage: MyHeritage DNA Website
  4. FamilyTreeDNA: FamilyTreeDNA Website
  5. Living DNA: Living DNA Website

These tests can provide insights into ethnic backgrounds, genetic connections, and can sometimes lead to unexpected family discoveries, as in the case of Ann Meddin Hellman and Shalom Koray.


Image Source:

  • Photo by Karsten Winegeart: instant images