I was 10-years-old on a regular visit to my grandparents’ house for Sunday dinner. Jewish by name, Tarshis, I was always the target of name jokes in school. Sarah Tarshi* I was often called. I say Jewish by name because my Jewish grandparents were atheists who celebrated Christmas, and ate matzos on Easter.
I sat spinning around on the 1960’s-esque black pleather chair half- listening to the adults in conversation when I heard the word “adopted.” I stopped the chair suddenly. “Who was adopted?!” I asked with a sick feeling in my stomach, more from shock than from being half-bolloxed from the chair ride. “Your Dad was adopted.” my grandmother said. Everything I knew about my world had crumbled. I was no longer Sarah Tarshi* and ever since that moment, I longed to know who I really was. I was 23 when my Dad passed away, and I was determined to find his birthparents. Not simply to find my identity, but as a gift to my father.
My adopted grandparents knew very little about my Dad’s birth parents except that his birth-father was Jewish and his birth-mother was Irish. “Irish?” I thought. “Now that’s a far cry from matzos on Easter.” I began the exhausting search. One spark of hope after another was extinguished and I knew I was in a race against time. I had no idea how old they were and if they were even still living.
Not long after our search began, we found my Dad’s birth certificate and the story began to unfold. My grandmother was in fact Irish. Dulin was her surname. We located her living less than an hour from me, but she had no desire to meet. My heart saddened, I continued to put the remaining pieces of the puzzle together. My Dad’s father’s name was not on the birth certificate and until recently, the search was hopeless. In 2014, I joined Ancestry.com and did DNA testing and waited for a match that would lead me to answers. I began building my family tree, researching genealogies, and immersed myself in Jewish and Irish history and culture to learn as much as I could about my missing roots. My heart deeply connected to Celtic music, taking me to places to long-lost places I have never been.
Finally, in 2015, a first cousin DNA match, and his grandfather’s last name, Rosenbaum. I finally knew who I was, Sarah Tarshi-Rosenbaum Lively. And with the picture finally coming into view, I realized that that was who I was all along. Unfortunately I never got to meet my grandparents but I continue to absorb the history of my roots. I long to go to Ireland to complete the final pieces of the puzzle build a legacy for my children. I long to walk the streets that my ancestors walked, discover history, hear Celtic music in a real Irish pub, and eat authentic Irish food, a far cry from matzos on Easter, and yet it all paints a picture of me.
Whether you’re from an Irish family or simply connect with Ireland in your own unique way, taking a trip to Ireland can be a life-long dream. For many people, taking a vacation can be a pretty tough decision to make, which is why last year we gave one lucky traveler the chance to take a week long trip to Ireland on us! There were so many replies last year, we decided to run another travel sweepstakes this year, go check it out!