The amazing story of Susi Doring Preston, a modern Ger Tzedek, has recently been the subject of various reports in Israeli media, particularly a story on Ynet (https://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-5505162,00.html).
Susi was born and raised in Texas. Her father was German, and her mother was Phillipino. Neither were Jewish, and Susi grew up with little knowledge and interest in anything Jewish.
All this changed suddenly and dramatically in 2004 when she met Tsiki Eyal in Thailand. Susi was in Thailand helping out as a member of the US Peace Corps. Tsiki was on his around-the-world post-Israeli army tour. The areas of Thailand where Susi was stationed were on the beaten path of Israelis seeing the world after finishing their army service.
Their meeting was the proverbial love at first sight. They grew to know each other and were fully committed to building their lives together. The plan was for Susi to convert to Judaism and to build their home in Israel. Tsiki made a few trips to Thailand, and Susi went to Israel. Tsiki told her all about Israel and being Jewish. It was very important to him.
Then tragedy struck, Tsiki was killed in action just a year later, in 2005. Susi came to Israel and spent some time with Tsiki's family, which welcomed her. Susi eventually decided that she would continue with her plan to convert to Judaism and come to Israel to live.
It was hard but she eventually moved on. Susi got married and had children. Tsiki's father walked her down to the chuppah. Her children call Tsiki's parents Saba and Savta.
Susi was interested in finding out more about her German father's roots, and she had her DNA analyzed. She posted it onto My Heritage, and checked from time to time to see if any connections were uncovered. Last Chanukah the DNA analysis of a young man indicated a close family relationship. After some sleuthing, she traced it to the young man's mother who had been born in New York and now lived in Israel. The relationship seemed very close, and Susi realized that twenty years before she was born in Texas her father had a daughter from a Jewish woman in New York! This daughter, the mother of that man, was her biological half sister.
Chana Wego had grown up in New York with her mother. "The words `father' and `sister' were not in my vocabulary," she said recently. She married in the US, but the family later moved to Ra'anana in Israel.
Susi first contacted Chana's husband Steve. When Susi called him up, he was very skeptical of the reliability of the genetic tests. He told Susi that his wife grew up without a father. All they knew about him was the name that appeared on his wife's birth certificate: Fred Doring. "What are you talking about?" Susi gasped. "Fred Doring is my father!"
Fred had died some time ago, but the secret he took to the grave with him was now revealed. After Susi sent her a collection of her father's pictures to the Wegos that included pictures of Wego's family, the truth was clear. Susi Doring Preston and Chana Wego were both daughters of Fred Doring.
There was some nervousness before they met, but the two women bonded immediately when they met just about a month ago. The families are both shomer Shabbos and Orthodox and are comfortable with each other, despite the age difference.