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Translations by Moshe Devere

Karl (Bibi) Ruhm's Story

Childhood memories of Suceava and Transnistria

I finished the traditional kindergarten, studied in the Talmud Torah and finished the first class in elementary school. At the beginning of 1941, I was thrown out of second grade; my late father was arrested and held hostage in the Beit Midrash Synagogue until the deportation to Transnistria. Ironically, the aforementioned synagogue was founded by my grandfather, Yeḥezkel Ruhm, and his brother, Yisrael.

 

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Karl Ruhmr

 

Despite being a child, the horrors of Transnistria were permanently etched into my mind. The daily war of existence and fear, and the expulsion from place to place: Mogilev, Scazinetz, Tyvriv on the Bug, Shargorod, Scazinetz, about 20 km northeast of Mogilev, an extermination camp whose inmates were killed by starvation and poisoned food. The Jewish doctors, among the deportees who discovered the plot, advised people to pour out the poisoned soup. Both camps, one fenced and one open, also housed Suceava veterans.

Jetti Klueger came to ask for food from my mother and collapsed and died on the spot. The Perlman family (who lived in Schotz on Chatsay Street) perished entirely except for Rudy, who had left us before fleeing the camp. He joined the partisans, and in 1946, I met him again when he appeared in a Red Army uniform. When I joined the IDF in 1953, I met Rudy again, this time in an IDF uniform, a sergeant major in the reception camp.

In Scazinetz, they took my father Berl (Bruno) Ruhm to forced labor in Kryzhopil, where they murdered him.

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My late mother and I were led on foot to Tyvriv, a ghost town on the Bug [River], which was a transit camp for Jews to be exterminated by the Germans. Most were killed. On the way, we passed Murafa. There, he noticed a girl from Suceava named Fuchs, exchanged a few words with my mother, and sent a message to my late uncle Berish Keren. He paid the partisans to smuggle us to Shargorod.

The journey lasted about three days and three nights of walking, resting during the day and walking in the snowed-in forests at night. When we finally got to Shargorod, Dr. Teich wanted to turn us over to the Romanian authorities. Luckily, M. Katz, visited Shargorod. He was in charge of the Jewish communities in Transnistria, and he saved us. I was put in the orphanage and my mother lived with my late aunt Zila Brumberg. In March 1944, we left Shargorod and walked until we reached my uncle Hermann Ruhm in Czernowitz. In the meantime, they closed the border with Romania and it was not until April 1945 that we arrived in Suceava.

 

Teenage memories of Suceava after World War II

As soon as we returned to Suceava, my mother opened a grocery store in our house. I completed school and helped with the store. I completed several classes of elementary school and the Jewish High School and graduated from “Ştefan Cel Mare” High School. I remember an antisemitic incident there: the chemistry teacher (Kraush) asked my classmate Artzio Weidenfeld to answer a question in chemistry and then the teacher started mocking him for the accent, and of course, the students in the class burst out laughing and mocked as well. There were only two Jewish students in the class. I got up and asked the teacher to do chemistry, not politics. The teacher demanded that I leave the classroom. I refused, and I was immediately asked to go down to Principal Obeda's office. The principal was furious, but I told him that my late father was killed only because of antisemitism. The next day I complained to the Education Directorate. I was told I was right, but they do not have enough teachers. One thing is clear that Kraush did not sleep well at night since he sent messengers to my mother to restrain me.

At the same time, I was active in the Zionist movement Dror HaBonim and served briefly as a youth counselor under Bibi Fallenbaum's leadership until the prohibition of Zionist activity in Romania. After the prohibition, several members organized: Shimon Wolf, Willy Ruhm, Ḥaim Aryeh Kostiner, Erwin Zwilling, Bianca Zwangler, Yaffa Friedman, Frederica Schauer, myself and others. We set up a room in my house and conducted bi-week activity for about a year until Dr. Zwilling warned us that the Securitata was on to us.

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Aliyah and absorption in Israel

On August 31, 1951, I emigrated to Israel with my widowed mother. From Sha'ar Aliyah in Atlit, they transferred us to the Kfar Hasidim B transit camp. I tried to get into the Technion, but the IDF refused to postpone my service. At the same time, I passed entrance exams to the Higher School for Surveying. In 1954, I graduated from this school and joined the IDF. Luckily, I served in the Engineering Corps in Haifa. That same year, I passed entrance exams to the Evening Technion and studied Building Engineering. After release from the IDF, I worked as a surveyor at the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC), and in the evening I studied. In 1959, I received a scholarship in the Netherlands and in 1962, I was ordained as an engineer at the Delft Geo-Photogeometric Institute. I returned to Israel, worked as an engineer in the Haifa Municipality and as a research assistant at the Technion. At the same time, I finished my master's degree at the Technion. In 1967, I received a scholarship from the City University of London. In 1971, I earned my PhD in civil engineering in the road and traffic track and returned to Israel.

In Israel, I worked for Tahal Engineers as the director of the Department of Traffic Engineering. At Public Works Council (ma'atz), I worked as director of the Organization for Early Road Planning. In the Ministry of Housing, I was Chief Engineer for Roads, Development and Infrastructure. As part of my role at the Ministry of Housing, I could publish binding guidelines for planning streets, intersections and a construction format for urban streets. I also issued guidelines for the planning of integrated streets (pedestrian streets).

 

The Late Adv. Dr. Rivka Ruckenstein-Zinowitz's Story

I am the daughter of one of the oldest families in Bucovina, daughter of Eliezer Ruckenstein, son of Shmuel, who owned estates and the first glass factory in Fürstenthal, Bucovina.

I was raised in a Ḥassidic religious atmosphere; Father was an avid Vijnitz ḥassid. Against his will, I attended high school and continued law school in Czernowitz and then in Cluj. I was the only lawyer who ran an independent firm in Suceava.

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Dr. Rivka Ruckenstein

 

Because of proximity to the border, Suceava was declared a military zone, so visitors needed a special entry permit. Because of my family, I would always be approached by rabbis who wanted to visit the city, so much so that the police chief once asked me. “Where did I take a rabbi every week?” Until 1938, the Jews of the city could run their businesses more or less normally, and relations with the rest of the population were also reasonable.

In 1939, after the Fall of Poland by the Germans, many Poles fled to Romania, and since many Jews in the city came from Poland, they were fluent in the language; therefore, invited Polish refugees home for food and rest. However, there were many Poles who refused to stay with Jews.

Until 1918, Suceava was a border town between Romania and Austria and absorbed Austrian culture, was a well-known cultural center in the district. The Jews of the city, while being true to the spiritual values of their people, also adopted the German language and culture. Suceava had a state High School for Boys, and a High School for Girls. Until 1927, it also had a Jewish high school, which was supported by the community. Before World War I, many Moldovan Jews sent their children to high schools in Suceava because they were excluded from schools [in their vicinity]. After Czernowitz, Suceava was culturally and socially the most important city in Bucovina. It had a district court, a central prison,

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a jury court, and a large hospital. As a result, it had many lawyers. Professional ethics were on a high standard. There were ten synagogues in the city. Two rabbinical families lived in the city and attracted many ḥassidim and sympathizers: The late Rabbi Yaakov Moskowici of the Premischlian dynasty and Rabbi Ḥaim Hager obm, the son of the well-known righteous Moshe Hager obm from the line of Vijnitzer rabbis. A great privilege fell to us that the Gaon Rabbi Meshulam Roth obm served in Suceava as the city's rabbi. I had the privilege of getting Romanian citizenship for him when he came to us from Poland.

The Zionist movement in the city was strong and extensive. All movements were represented and significantly active. Many of the youths went to training farms and emigrated to Eretz [Israel]. All the Jews contributed generously to the JNF and the Keren Hayesod. The WIZO movement united the women of all parties in welfare activities, and the OSE operated extensively under the leadership of Teacher Mrs. Perula.

The Jewish Community's offices were housed in a large and luxurious building. This building had an extensive library and a spacious lecture hall, where lectures were held almost every week, attended by a large audience. The lecturers were local intellectuals. Sometimes, we were visited by personalities from abroad.

I remember that when I was a student at the University of Czernowitz in 1929, the late President, Dr. Ḥaim Weizmann, visited our city. We drove to the train station to greet him. Each carriage had a blue and white flag on it, and the Jewish homes in the city also had Israeli flags and banners with “Welcome” them. When we arrived in the city, the Christians also stood at attention, saying, “The King of the Jews has come.” Relations with the Christian population were generally good. The German language and Austrian culture were dominant among the Jewish people, despite the Romanian government's effort to instill their language in the population.

Most of the Jews of Suceava observed the traditions. It is typical of the fact that only with great difficulty would a Jewish person agree to swear in court. So, most of the disputes were resolved within the community, even if this involved a financial loss. This is how I remember that my late father was debating with partners about a fire that caused him great losses. In the end, they settled, which cost him a considerable amount of money, but they balked at appearing before a courthouse and swearing there.

On Saturdays, all the shops were closed. I remember the holidays, especially the High Holidays, when hundreds of Jews would go to the synagogue. Even the most assimilated felt the connection with their nation on these days and came to be together with their people. But most of these honest and innocent Jews, pure children and youth who were educated to the highest values of Judaism, perished throughout Transnistria and no one knows their place of burial and the day of their deaths. I can

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wholeheartedly say that our city had a great Jewry, nationally, socially, and culturally religiously. Judaism is imbued with virtues of honesty, kindness, and respect.

The destruction of the Jews of Bucovina and the Jewry of Suceava began in the summer of 1940, after annexation of Bessarabia and northern Bucovina by the Soviet Union. Pogroms and robberies were daily events.

On August 9, 1940, a law was issued that prohibited Jewish lawyers from practicing their profession. One day, while I was in the District Court, on the second floor, a professional colleague approached me, one of the city's most respected lawyers, the son of a priest, grabbed me by the collar and threw me down the stairs shouting, “From today just a needle and thread for you, it's over with being a lawyer.” I came home depressed, close to despair, burst into tears and told my late father how I had been humiliated in court by a fellow professional. He comforted me by saying that we would overcome these decrees as well. Meanwhile, each day, the persecutions increased. In the fall, the Russians opened the border for those who wanted to cross into Russian territory. Many Jews closed their homes and businesses and, out of fear of persecution in Romania, crossed the border. There is also a rumor that the Soviets are about to annex southern Bukovina. Following this rumor, the panic increased. People started converting their money to dollars, buying various goods whose prices had risen unimaginably. The Romanians began searching Jewish homes. We were in constant fear. Our house at the time was home to the military governor, who was married to a Jewess. Since my brother Baruch Shalom Ruckenstein was a member of the Community Committee, I was approached by many Jews demanding that I get leniency from the severity of the decrees from the governor.

One day, they searched my house, confiscated my property and arrested me, along with hundreds of other Jews. They kept me in the Community Center's basement. It was winter; we suffered cold and especially abuse from our torturers. Every night, drunks came and abused the Jews. A professional colleague, Lawyer Huttincian, the son of a priest, was the police chief. He demanded from me a list of the wealthy Jews. Since I refused to give names, one night, all the detainees were removed, and I was left alone with the hooligans (members of the Iron Guard and policemen). They put a pillar under my feet, tied my legs, hung the pole, and started beating me murderously on soles of my feet and on the rest of my body. I lost consciousness. When I just regained consciousness, the detainees came back, and they tore pieces of their shirts and dressed my wounds. Outside, it was freezing. One cloudless day, I was sent to walk about barefoot in the snow. I did not get cold, because the troubles had hardened me. So many people were put in the basement that we could barely find a place to sit on the floor. One night, they put us into a disinfecting machine. I became so used to suffering that I no longer felt fear. Once, the Nazis brought in a Christian woman

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who had crossed the Dniester [River] with her baby at night. They suspected she was Jewish and arrested her. She had a nervous attack and started choking the baby with bits of sugar. At that moment, the Nazi policemen came in and asked: “Where's the lawyer?” I overcame my fear and started shouting: “There's a Christian woman here strangling her child!” I dodged out through the open door and went into the community office to call the hospital to send an ambulance. Thus, I survived that night from beatings and torture.

In the end, my late brother, Baruch Shalom, together with members of the community, paid a considerable sum to save us, I escaped to the “Montagna” area {md: mountainous area}, where I lived in various places illegally and in great fear. In April 1941, I returned to my hometown, but when I learned they were looking for me, I fled again, and arrived in Bucharest.

In Sukkot in 1941, I received a postcard from my father about an address of acquaintances, informing me that at that very moment they were waiting for the deportation of the entire Jewish population to an unknown place. “May God help us,” he wrote. With the postcard in my hand, I ran over to Rabbi Rubin, also a refugee from Bucovina who suffered greatly in his [former] place of residence. His home was a meeting place for Bucovina refugees. I entered while they were [reciting] “Yizkor” (memorial prayers) screaming and crying with the postcard and its terrible news being passed from hand to hand.

The outburst of despair of the worshippers rose to the heavens. We immediately gathered to consult on how to help our brethren. Among those gathered were Meir Palik and Sommer Wolf of Suceava, Rabbi Rubin, Dr. Yaakov Schaechter, and Biebring from Czernowitz. We sent an officer or senior official to follow the deportees to find out where they were deported to. This was the beginning of the operation to help the deportees.

It was the first nucleus of the Rescue Committee for Transnistria deportees. Shortly after the deportation, the committee began working to save the children of Transnistria. Besides the starting committee, Mrs. Biebring and Mrs. Landau of Czernowitz, Mrs. Anderman Anna, Mrs. Schuffelberg of Bucharest were added to the committee. We reached out to Romanian Jewry, who remained, asking that every family take part in the rescue project through monthly donations. We suggested that every family adopt a child or give a sum of money to the committee for him. Our appeal to the parents was unsuccessful. So, we tried another way. We began an advocacy operation within the Hebrew schools. I spoke to the children about Transnistria orphans, the fate of their parents, the suffering of the abandoned children, and the need for immediate help. Through the children, we could persuade the parents to join our project, the holy enterprise of saving children. Many people who earlier closed their door to us and sealed their ears to our appeal, now responded to the words of their children.

I also spoke in synagogues, even on holidays, and received donations there. The rabbis

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approved the activity because they saw this operation as a life-saving one. At the beginning of 1944, Transnistria orphans were returned to Romania following the intervention of the Red Cross. I remember how shocked we were when we saw the first transports. A large part of the children were dressed in torn and worn rags. Many had swollen bellies, and the expression of their sad faces caused us great pain. Most of the children were brought to the capital. I organized a “Tarbut” children's institution in a Hebrew school building. With a team of employees, we worked toward the children's mental and physical recovery. We worked hard to instill in their hearts the elementary habits of cleanliness and social relationships. The life of scarcity, the regime of terror and fear, left their mark on their entire being. They had no work habits, and they were gripped by fear and distrust. At first, they stole bread and put it under their pillows to ensure they had food, because the fear of hunger was deeply ingrained in their souls. It was hard to see their suffering and depression. It was interesting to see that these children were not afraid of the bombs. They refused to enter the shelter, but watched the American and British airplanes as they bombed the city.

I worked hard at the institution, but I also received satisfaction, because I saw that my work bore fruit. The children adapted to social life, studies and their positive qualities stood out. I started children's courts, and they were all forced to take part in cleanup operations, to consider the rights of others. I admired the judgment of the children, but sometimes also their cruelty at dishing out punishment. I started giving awards, and this motivated them to make efforts and progress. Among the survivors were children from Ukrainian territories. The names of many of them were unknown.

Some had a chain around their necks with a note with personal details given by their parents before they were killed. Children who ate for a long time from field herbs or theft could not overcome these negative phenomena, such as stealing. The suffering made them very brave. I remember a 12-year-old girl who devotedly looked after a 4-year-old brother, and a 6-year-old sister. She never parted from them and would let no one touch them. She herself punished them and took care of them. The children got better and their mental wounds healed.

In August 1944, emigration to Eretz Israel was organized. On August 3rd, I was sent by the Rescue Committee to Israel as part of the Youth Aliyah, and I traveled as a counselor for 260 children, including 60 children from my institution. I remember the night I said goodbye to my kids that I loved so much. They were very dear to me and how happy I was for any sign of progress in their recovery and development.

We left the city of Bucharest under terrible bombing. It was night, and our exit was shrouded in secrecy. On arriving at the port of Constanţa, we found three Turkish ships (boats)

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waiting for us: The Kasbek, Moreino, and the Mafkur. They were going to sail under the flag of the Red Cross.

My passport had the list of 260 children with the order that we should board the Mafkur. A group of 60 children from my institution and 290 immigrants to Eretz Israel boarded the ship. I put my belongings on board and waited for another children's transport that had to arrive by train from 'Buzău'. While I waited, the SS arrested me and held me for several hours. After my release, I returned to the port, but the captain of the Mafkur removed the boarding plank and would let no one aboard. The 60 children from my institution who boarded the Mafkur wept, and shouted. I quieted my children down and assured them we would all see each other in Istanbul. I boarded with a group of 200 children aboard the Moreino, which had another 150 refugees from Hungary and Poland. When we sailed from Constanţa, on August 3rd, a rumor spread that that night Turkey would also enter the war. We left the port praying that God would take us under his wings and we would reach the Eretz [Israel] safely. The three ships sailed together. They traveled together for about two hours, always near the shore. Suddenly, our captain told us that our ship had a malfunction and could not continue sailing. The other two ships continued on their way.

After a few hours the Moreino was repaired, but the captain informed us he saw the barrages from afar and that he did [not] want to endanger us but travel far at sea and not near the shore. We traveled at great speed and on Shabbat morning, on August 5, we were at the Bosphorus Straits. [Jewish] Agency personnel with Turkish coastal police arrived on board. We told them that my passport and the list of all the children were on board the Mafkur and they decided to wait for the Mafkur and Kasbek to arrive.

The Agency personnel brought us food, but the ship was very hot, and the sanitary conditions were extremely poor. Every day, the children and I washed down the deck and that is where we walked around. Four days later, on Wednesday morning, we learned the Kasbek ran aground and that the Mafkur was sunk by the Germans who bombed it. Only one sailor and a pregnant woman were saved. Agency representatives took us off [the ship] in Istanbul and from there we were taken by train through Syria to Eretz [Israel].

It is difficult to describe my pain and my situation when I was informed that 60 of my dear children perished in terrible circumstances. Sixty children rescued from Transnistria's hell, pupils of my institution, children for whom I was a teacher, a principal, and a mother, and here they were lost and tragically so. But we were forced to continue our journey.

In Syria, we met for the first time with Jewish soldiers, members of the Brigade, but because of the great desperation that gnawed at my heart, I could not feel the glorious moment. After spending

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a few hours in Syria, we went on to Haifa. It is difficult to describe how warmly we were received by our soldiers. Especially the children received a most cordial reception. We were transferred to Atlit and stayed there for a few days. Youth Aliyah representatives came to greet us at Atlit. The then general manager of the Youth Aliyah, the late Mr. Hans Bate, welcomed us, and from there we learned that the late Henrietta Szold, could not welcome us because of her illness. The children were transferred to various institutions in Israel. I went alone to Bet Halutzot in Jerusalem, where I lived for three years.

Three months after my arrival in Israel, I visited several children's institutions where the children who came with me were housed. It is hard to describe the miracle that the Israeli atmosphere worked on these children. I hardly recognized them! They healed, were absorbed nicely in Israel, and easily absorbed the Israeli way of life. I remember that when I visited kibbutzim Negba and Dorot, a child ran toward me and happily served me bread he had baked himself. Most excitedly, I took the bread with me to Jerusalem and, with great forethought, I ate it over the next few days, because it was baked by a child that I brought to Eretz [Israel].

For a long time, I was the center to whom the children turned to confide what was in their heart, or to ask for advice. They wrote to me and came to visit me. I occasionally meet an adult man or woman, who knows me and expresses joy at our meeting, but I do not recognize them, because they have completely changed. Life in the homeland and education in Eretz [Israel] soon erased the sadness from their faces, their look of death and loneliness. Together with them, I also enjoy the fact that the suffering of the camps was forgotten from their hearts and they adapted to the life in Eretz [Israel], established a home and a family for themselves, and became useful citizens of our country.

A note from the Editorial Board:

After her success in exams for the Israel bar, Dr. Rivka Ruckenstein-Zinowitz began working in the Ministry of Social Affairs, later the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. She established the office of the legal counsel in the ministry and represented it in the courts. She founded Lujat {?} Bnot Zion in the Bnei Brit Organization in Israel and was its first president. She was also active in the World Organization of Women Lawyers and was elected as a global vice-president of this organization. She was married to Moshe Zinowitz, the renowned Jewish scholar and journalist who died in 1997.

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Marietta (Coca Freier) Reisman's Story

I was born in 1922 in Suceava, a town where I grew up with my parents Solomon (Shlomo) and Regina Freier, and two sisters of mine, Sidonia (later Herrer) and Minka (later Garfunkel) obm. I also had a brother Izzo (Siegfried) obm, who died in Suceava in 1939, at age 30, leaving behind a widow and a three-year-old daughter.

 

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Marietta (Coca Freier) Reisman

 

My father owned a retail and wholesale glass shop in partnership with Avraham Tennenhaus.

I graduated from Douma Maria High School in 1941, together with my best friends, the late Mata Brucker and the late Clara Hellman.

It started suddenly one morning in September 1939. I saw many Poles walking around the city street wearing slippers, and with no belongings. It was the outbreak of World War II. In 1941, the Government of Antonescu decided to deport the Jews of Bucovina Province to camps in Transnistria. Within two days, by street names, with only handbags and no money, we suddenly became refugees with no property or rights and had to report to the Burdujeni train station, without resistance and without knowing where they would take us; as they say, led us like sheep to the slaughter.

Two days before the Romanian Government's decision to expel the Jews of Suceava, I became ill with typhus. I had a high fever and the doctor, Dr. Hermann, decided I had to be hospitalized because of the danger to my life.

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For lack of choice, my parents hospitalized me. We parted with great pain. The next day, a delegation of officers arrived, and it was decided that all the Jews in the hospital had to leave and join all the deportees and just threw us out. When we were thrown out of the hospital, I did not have any strength and I did not take any of my things. I sat for several hours on the sidewalk until they put me on a cart that took me to the train station. Luckily, that is where I found my parents. I joined my family, and because of my illness, they put us in a separate freight car. Inside the carriage, I lay on the cold floor with no warm clothes and no blanket, no food or water, and the terrifying and horrific journey began.

 

Memories from Transnistria

Three days later, we arrived at the Atachi station on the banks of the Dniester [River]. The train stopped, we got off and stayed there for three days outside, in the open field. From there, they took us on ferries to the other side of the river to Mogilev. They put us in a destroyed building that was previously used as a movie theater. We stayed there for a few days, hundreds of people inside one hall in the worst conditions. After a few days, we were sent to Murafa. Luckily, my parents had some money hidden away, so we could ride on a truck all the way to Murafa.

We settled in Murafa, where my parents went to the market, sold things they could bring with them and bought potatoes, barley and bread. We cooked on a trinichka (a primitive three-legged stove under which we burned twigs). Only one pot per day. For our toilet was along a small stream a few dozen meters away. It was a tiny settlement, without electricity. The water well was at a great distance. The cold was unbearable and because of these conditions, we all had lice. After a few months in the winter, my father decided we would run off to Mogilev, where there were better conditions. Also, my sister- and brother-in-law Garfunkel were there. He worked in an iron-casting factory. We escaped in the dark in a cold winter with a lot of snow, barely reached Mogilev at 6 am frozen and afraid we would be caught. After the war ended, my sister and I stayed in the city for a few months. We got by thanks to my father, who worked for half a kilo of bread a day and also thanks to the money we received from my sister Sidonia, who stayed in Transylvania and ended up being sent to Auschwitz, but survived.

In May 1944, we were liberated by the Red Army. When the Germans retreated, they blew up the bridge over the Dniester, which was close to our house. By order of the Russian army that occupied the city, I had to work on restoring the destroyed bridge, because the men were taken to the army, including my future husband Yosef (Yoshko) Reisman, returning to Romania only two years later.

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Hell of extermination

According to historians, 300,000 Jews perished in the camps in Transnistria, and of 75,000 children, only 25,000 survived. Below is a poem I composed:

לא היה לנו בית, ואיבדנו הכול
ולא היה לנו מה לאכול.
לא היו לנו מים ולא שירותים,
אבל היו לנו הרבה כינים.
היינו מוזנחים, עניים ורעבים.
מה שנשאר לנו מהחיים
הטובים והמבוססים,
זה היה רק הגעגועים,
אלא היו אז החיים.

היה יכול להיות יותר טוב,
אבל היה יכול להיות גם אסון יותר גדול.
אז לא היה נשאר שום זכר ושום קול.
עוד דור אחד וייעלמו גם הצלילים האלה
יישארו רק הדברים הכתובים
עדים, לטרגדיה האנושית
של המאה העשרים.

Remember and never forget!

In June 1944, I returned alone via Czernowitz to Romania, together with Mata and Poldi Brucker. I went back to Suceava, my parents came back a few months later. There we found the house and shop completely empty. My father rearranged the store, but it did not last long.

In 1945, I began working in the Income Tax Department. I married Teacher Yosef Reisman, whom I knew back in Mogilev, and we had two sons. My parents died in 1958, in Suceava.

We emigrated to Israel in March 1959 with two young sons. In Israel, we lived for three years in a shack

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for the academics in Kiryat Amal, after which we moved to Haifa. my husband worked as a teacher at a city high school.

Unfortunately, in 1981, I lost my son, Pinḥas. My husband died in April 2001.

My second son, Petaḥya, lives with his family in Jerusalem. He is a professor in Shaare Zedek Hospital.

Whereas I stayed to live alone in Haifa.

 

Ilsa Reif-Weininger's Story

Josef Reif and his family

I am Ilsa Reif-Weininger. I was born in 1920 in Suceava, at 18 Dargosh Veda Street, the daughter of Josef and Fany Reif. My father owned a grocery store and a deli on the main street (King Ferdinand 1), which was known as “Reif's Pharmacy”. His diligence, integrity, willingness to help others, and kindness will be affirmed by everyone who knew him. His first wife, Mrs. Bursuc, was his great romantic love. She died a few months after the birth of her daughter Sali, who was then entrusted to a nanny. In fact, my father did not want to remarry, but he saw it as his duty to his daughter, and so my mother came into the picture, and then my sister Betty and I were born. Sali died at the young age of 19.

 

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Ilsa Reif-Weininger

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I had everything anyone could wish for; a beautiful home and a loving family.

My father opened his shop in 1911 and one of his first clients was Reverend Trangol. During World War I, when the Russian army attacked the city, he welcomed the Russian army with bread and wine and asked them not to destroy the city, and his request was fulfilled. Reverend Trangol also remained a loyal client of my father until his expulsion. [When we returned {?}] now a sick old man, he came to our house leaning on his stick and on his daughter Costin's shoulder to congratulate my father. It was a memorable moment.

Two of my father's brothers lived in Suceava, Ḥaim and Yisrael (Srul) Reif. My cousins, Ḥaim's children, were Chopy Klueger, Sali, Ella Klein and Berel. I would also like to mention my mother's relatives, the Ellenbogen family: Max, Zuniu, Zigo Gusta Schleier, Clara Waldman, Rika and Erna Rosenthal.

Suceava was a beautiful city with a vibrant historical and musical past. At the time, there were happy dumpling evenings (Pyrogen Abend) and WIZO balls. Then, on one clear day, the Legionnaires appeared with the deportation to Transnistria.

Today I am the last survivor to keep the memories.

Translation from German by Yehudah Tennenhaus

 

Henry Shauer's Story

My name is Henry Shauer, son of the late Isidore (Idel) Shauer and Gusta Shauer. I was born in 1934 and went through the Holocaust with my parents.

 

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Henry Shauer

 

[Page 597]

Our origins are from the Yoḥanan Shauer family of Siret. Yoḥanan had three sons: Mordechai, Shmuel, and Simḥa. Mordechai settled in Rădăuţi and Shmuel in Suceava. They both had laundromats in Suceava.

Shmuel married Rachel Hellman of Iţcani, whom he met on his trips from Suceava to Rădăuţi, at her parents' restaurant where she worked. They had: Anna, Nathan, Moritz (Moshe), Marcus, Sali and Gusta. Later, Moritz became an electrician and worked at the municipality and the power plant, and he also had an electrical goods store. His brothers Nathan and Gusta became partners in the family laundromat, which specialized in dying clothes and dry-cleaning. Marcus became a veterinarian and moved to Topliţa. Hannah married Marcus Leizer, the manufacturer. Sally married one of Mordechai's sons (Shmuel's brother) and moved to Rădăuţi. Mordechai's second son, Isidor, married Shmuel's second daughter, Gusta. They made their home in Suceava and later became my parents.

Until his marriage, my father worked as an electrician, but then moved to the family business, the laundromat. It was only after emigrating to Israel in 1962, that he returned to his profession as an electrician.

Mordechai and Samuel were religious people and served as sextons in the synagogue: Mordechai in Rădăuţi and Shmuel in Suceava. Both were also members of burial society.

Before World War II, there were pogroms where they beat my father, seriously injuring him, and nearly killing him. My mother decided not to stay in Suceava. In 1940, they fled to Czernowitz, but at the beginning of the war we were sent to Transnistria. Nathan Shauer and his family, Hannah and Sali, and her family were also sent there. Marcus and the family and two sons perished in Auschwitz.

In 1944, after the liberation of Ukraine and part of Romania, my mother traveled with the army train from Mogilev to check the road to Suceava. While on the train, the Germans bombed the trains, so her train did not stop at the station where she intended to disembark (Atachi) and continued until Czernowitz. That is where they took the people to work in the mines. My mother escaped and walked from Czernowitz to Suceava. That is where she found that our house became a horse stable, and with no windows.

My mother found a job in a household and slowly restored the house and the laundromat. In 1945, I returned with my father to Suceava. We found the house tidy, and the laundromat was again operating in partnership with Nathan, who also returned from Transnistria. In 1947, my parents divorced, and my father remarried to Clara Zucker, who was a war widow with two young children. Her first husband, Shimon Gougle Reicher, was killed as a soldier in the war. My father remained in partnership with Nathan at the laundromat, and my mother left town.

In the first two years after the war, I studied privately and completed the first grades,

[Page 598]

then attended a Jewish school, but I left after a while and moved to the state school. As a boy, I played soccer for Maccabi, but I left because of the physical difficulty. I was a member of Shomer Hazair and from there, I got a glimmer of Zionism.

When I graduated from elementary school, I heard about a petroleum technology school in Ploieşti and since I loved chemistry and physics; I studied petroleum processing technology there. After graduation, I started working at the Oneşti refineries and married Felicia Wagner, a teacher by profession, who was originally from Czernowitz and later lived in Gura Humora.

My mother was very active in the Communist Party and contributed to them, but in the 1960s when she came to the party and asked for help with personal arrangements, the response was: “What are you doing here, go to Palestine?” She told them that if that is what she deserved after what she contributed, she would go to Palestine and her son would go with her, too. By 1965, I was married with a daughter and holding a good job, but my mother convinced us we had nothing to look for there and our place was in Israel.

We arrived in Israel in 1965, together with our daughter Odette, and this is where our son, Avi Shalom, was born. I immediately started working at the refineries in Haifa and continued working there until I retired. After my retirement, I studied photography and video editing. Today I am busy at the “Haifa Time” Club in photography and video programs for the local television [station].

Translation from German by Yehudah Tennenhaus

 

Schaumann Family's Stories

Sarah (Maddy Schaumann) Freud's Story

I am the daughter of the late Ḥaim Yosef (ben Yisrael and Shifra Shaumann obm) and Rivka (Ravcha) bat Zvi-Hersh Hacohen and Ḥayya Sara Palik née Lecker obm, and a sister of the late Israel Shaumann.

My father was born in 1896, in Vizhnitz, and was orphaned at a very young age. He moved to Suceava and was educated in the house of Elimelech Singer, who was his uncle. When he reached adulthood, he met my mother, Rivka Palik. They married and established a family in Suceava. My late father was a ḥassid of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe. As a child, I remember the courtyard of Rabbi Chaim Hager obm, where my parents and grandfather Hersch Palik used to pray; the extensive garden with fruit trees. I especially remember the synagogue on the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur holidays.

[Page 599]

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Ḥaim-Yosef and Rivka Schaumann

 

My grandmother Ḥayya Sara passed away at a very young age, and my grandfather, Hersh Palik, moved in with us. My grandfather was a very amiable man, and we loved him very much. He especially spoiled me because I was the youngest granddaughter. My father was engaged in trade and my mother was a housewife. My mother was a righteous woman who was fluent in Hebrew, knew chapters of the Bible by heart, and also wrote and read Gothic German. The mother tongue at home was German and Yiddish.

As a little girl, I remember that every Friday my late mother would make a basket with ḥalla (twisted bread), cakes, and other things for a needy family. I happily waited for the moment they came to get their things. I ran toward them and helped my mother deliver the basket. Our home was a religious Zionist one and always full of guests. I remember the Shabbat table on Friday night and Shabbat morning. After prayers, our uncle Yosef Palik, my mother's brother, joined us for kiddush, and the sounds of the family's Vizhnitz-style of Sabbath chants still ring in my ears.

My late brother Yisrael, as a young boy, was influenced by the Bnei Akiva Zionist movement. I remember that on Shabbat afternoons, girls and boys would gather in our house and conduct Zionist activities there. One Saturday night, just as they were sitting around the table for the melave malka, Romanian policemen arrived, apparently following up on a denunciation, arrested all the boys, detained

[Page 600]

them and beating them mercilessly until we freed them after many bribes.

When I was in the first grade at school and we were studying, Jewish and Christian children together, one clear day, the school principal came into the classroom and asked all the Jewish children to get up, arrange ourselves in pairs and leave the school, because a message was received from the Ministry of Education in Bucharest that all Jewish children had to leave the school. We all burst into tears. We walked along the main street and cried all the way home. So we then felt what it was like being Jewish.

Before the deportation to Transnistria, I remember it was a Wednesday afternoon. I was at a friend's house and my mother came to take me home. When I entered the house, I found my father and grandfather reciting Psalms. It was very sad at home. My mother explained to me that the next day we had to leave the house because we were being expelled because we were Jews.

We were sent to Transnistria and after much suffering along the way, we reached Murafa. In Murafa, my grandfather, Zvi Hersh Palik, fell ill and passed away on 15 Menaḥem Av, 5702 (July 29, 1942). A year later, my mother fell ill with typhus and died on 20 Tevet 5703 (December 20, 1942). Exactly 30 days after my mother's death, my father also passed away from typhus on the 23 Shevat, 5703 (January 23, 1943). I, a little nine-year-old girl, remained without parents, with only with my late brother Yisrael, who was like a father and a mother to me, and thanks to him, I stayed alive.

Since we were in Murafa, it was possible to take the orphaned children out of Transnistria to Romania and from there to bring them to Eretz Israel. Since I was an orphan, I was included in this group. My brother, 11 years older than me, joined us in the group even though he was not entitled to it, and so did others his age. When we got to Mogilev, they searched the train, and all those who were not eligible to travel with the orphans to Romania were taken off the train, gathered in a building, and were beaten vigorously. When I heard their screams, I jumped off the train and ran to my brother. My brother begged me to go back to the train. When I wanted to get back on the train they called my name, but a girl older than me answered to my name and got on the train. I was left off the train. Luckily for me, my cousin Janio Palik, who lived in Mogilev, came to me and took me to his house. When they released my brother, we returned to Murafa.

In Bucharest, my cousin, Kehat Palik, transferred the orphaned children from Transnistria to Israel. When he saw my name on the list of, he assigned me to move to Eretz [Israel] on the first departing ship. Unfortunately, this ship sank. In retrospect, it turned out that my brother's arrest, my reluctance to part with him and the inability to get on the train saved my life.

[Page 601]

My brother and I returned from Transnistria via Dorohoi to Suceava, together with my mother's sister, Aunt Rachel and her husband Feivel Meyer, daughter Bella and son Yitzchak (Zeidel) from Iţcani. In Suceava, another of my mother's sisters, Aunt Mali Merdinger, came to us from Czernowitz with her son Isiu, and we lived together. I continued to attend school. My brother was engaged in business and became active in Bnei Akiva. He was one of the founders of the Suceava branch and also established other Bnei Akiva branches throughout Romania. He was also a member of the “Hechalutz” in Bucharest.

In 1946, my brother married Adina Hechtlinger of Câmpulung and immigrated to Israel after a stay in Cyprus. In Cyprus, his eldest daughter Rivka (who bears my mother's name) was born. When he arrived in Israel with Adina and his young daughter Rivka, he settled in Jaffa. He ran a grocery store together with Adina's parents, Ephraim and Tsipora Hechtlinger obm.

On November 21, 1952, my brother and sister-in-law had a son, Ḥaim Yosef (Sefi), who bears my late father's name. Sefi enlisted in the army, reached the rank of lieutenant-major general and fell in the Peace for Galilee War in 1982. Sefi left behind two children, Ayelet and Ofir, who are now both married. Ayelet has two sons: Avyah Ḥai, who bears Sefi's name, and Gilad Aḥikam.

Today, Rivka is a doctor and married to Teddy Vadmani. They have three married children: Amir, Yifat and Aḥi-Yosef. Yifat has four children: Elia, Tamar, Issachar Dov Dvir and Yisrael Yair, who bears my late brother Yisrael's name.

As for myself, I traveled with the Youth Aliyah to Holland. From there I immigrated to Israel on October 18, 1948, and arrived at the Kefar Hano'ar Hadati (religious youth village) in Kfar Ḥassidim. After two years there, I went to my brother and sister-in-law Adina's house in Jaffa, and found a warm home with them. I continued my studies and started working at the Jewish Agency, where I worked for nearly 40 years.

In 1954, I married Feivel Freud of Vizhnitz, a graduate of the Vizhnitz Yeshiva in Romania. We had two children: Rivka, who bears my mother's name; Yosef Ḥaim (Yossi), who bears my father's name and my husband's father's name. My daughter Rivka is married to Moti Huberman and we have four granddaughters: Ortal, Tsipora (who bears the name of my sister-in-law Adina's mother); Inbar-Ḥen, Ma'ayan-Vered and Li'tal.

My late brother Yisrael was a charitable person and contributed greatly to the Vizhnitz institutions in Haifa and to various bodies, and also discretely gave charity. He died on 18 Av 5762 (July 27, 2002) (see the following article).

[Page 600]

About Israel Schaumann: The man and his works

(by his daughter Dr. Rivka Vadmani)

Yisrael Schaumann, son of Rivka née Palik and Ḥaim Yosef, was born in Suceava on November 15, 1922. His father, Ḥaim Yosef, was born in 1896, in Vizhnitz. At a very young age, he was orphaned by his father and raised by the Singer family in Suceava. His mother, Rivka (Rivchi), was the fourth daughter of Zvi (Hersh) Palik and Sarah (née Lecker), a sister to Avraham Natan, Rachel, Meir, Yosef (Yossi) and Miriam (Mali). Yisrael has a sister, Sarah-Madi is 11 years younger than him (see her article above).

 

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Yisrael Schaumann and his daughter Rivka

 

Yisrael grew up in a religious home. He began studying; reading, ḥumash and prayer at the ḥeder from age three. The joie de vivre and playfulness characterized Israel as a child, qualities that also stood out during different periods of his life. From an early age, Israel loved ball games, and was a talented football player. Even when he became a father and later a grandfather, he loved to dribble and play with his son and grandchildren as a goalkeeper.

Yisrael attended elementary school in Suceava, and at 12, he continued studying at the yeshiva in Vizhnitz. The mother tongue at home was German, and Yiddish was the father-tongue. The language spoken in primary school was Romanian, and Yisrael already learned Hebrew in kindergarten. After studying at the yeshiva in Vizhnitz, Israel studied for four years at a trade school in Suceava.

[Page 603]

In October 1941, the Jews, including the Schaumann family, were expelled from their homes. Yisrael, together with our mother Rivka, our father Ḥaim Yosef, sister Madi (Sarah) and our maternal grandfather Zvi (Hersh) Palik, who was so beloved by Yisrael, were put in cattle cars, and arrived on Sukkot with the third shipment to Atachi on the border between Romania and Ukraine. From there, the family was transferred to Transnistria between the Dniester and Bug Rivers. After a two-and-a-half-hour journey, the destitute family arrived at the ghetto in the town of Murafa and settled in the home of a local Jewish family.

The energetic Israel found a way out of the Murafa ghetto after befriending Kolya, who owned horses and a wagon. With his innate and advanced business sense, he developed extensive business outside the ghetto. Putting himself at risk every night he left for Mogilev, a city 64 km from Murafa, where he shopped. The next night he returned to Murafa with Kolya. Sometimes Ukrainians ambushed them on the way and confiscated his merchandise, which included cigarettes and newsprint. On one occasion when Yisrael traveled to Mogilev through the town of Zhornyshche, he and Russian partisans who fought against the Romanians and Germans were arrested by the Romanian gendarmerie. The officers took all the money he had in his possession and tried him and all the people they caught in a field trial. The 72 people who were tried before him were executed, while the young Yisrael, who was the 73rd, a Jew, was released. The pretext for his release was that, luckily, his horse kicked him hard and his leg was injured. Israel told the judge that because of his injury, it was difficult for him to get to the doctor as quickly as possible. After examining his leg, the judge released him and thus he survived!

In 1942, at 20, he even began dealing in oil. This became known to the local Romanian governor, who sought to put him on trial. Israel hid for three weeks with a family in Murafa. No one (including his family) knew of his whereabouts. The governor gave a reward of 20,000 Marks to anyone who would bring him in alive!

Our parents, Rivka and Ḥaim Yosef, died in Murafa, Ukraine, after a serious typhus illness. Our mother died at the end of 1942, 20 Tevet 5703, and our father passed away immediately afterward, at the beginning of 1943, 23 Shevat 5703. Yisrael was left alone with his sister Madi (Sarah). He acted as a father to her for her whole life. We continued living in Murafa even after the liberation until after Passover 1944. When we could not return to their city of Suceava because of the war between the Germans and the Russians, we moved to the town of Dorohoi. After the surrender of the Romanians on August 23, 1944, and the occupation of Romania by the Russians, Yisrael and little Madi returned to Suceava and continued to live in our home with Aunt Rachel (Rivka's mother's sister) and Uncle Feivel Mayer (Hameiri).

At the time, representatives from Eretz Israel from Bnei Akiva and other movements

[Page 604]

arrived in Romania. Yisrael joined the Bnei Akiva movement. His house became a center for activists' meetings, with most of the activities centering on planning and organizing Shabbat and summer camps for the Jewish youth in Romania. Soon, Israel was appointed youth leader of Bnei Akiva in Romania.

He met Adina (née Hechtlinger) in 1943, in Murafa. No meaningful friendship developed from this acquaintance. As part of his successful activity in Bnei Akiva, Yisrael traveled throughout Romania, visiting Jewish communities to establish branches. Thus, he even reached the city of Câmpulung in Bucovina.

Ephraim Hechtlinger, Adina's father, was a merchant and devoted many hours a day to studying Torah, the Gemara and Maimonides. He was proficient in the Hebrew language and passed it on to his students and even served as a cantor in the synagogue and read the Torah. Efraim Hechtlinger served as chairman of Hapoel Hamizraḥi and chairman of the Zionist organization in the city. His wife Fanny-Tsipora (Adina's mother) was active in WIZO. His son Emanuel (Adina's brother) and his parents helped Yisrael recruit youth to the Bnei Akiva movement in Câmpulung.

In 1946, Adina came to visit her brother Emanuel at the Bnei Akiva summer camp in Dorna. It was there that the romance between Adina and Yisrael began, ending in their marriage in Câmpulung on November 3, 1946. Yisrael and Adina's parents lived in Suceava until September 1947. In October 1947, Adina and Yisrael, together with their parents Ephraim and Fanny and brother Emanuel, illegally emigrated to Eretz Israel via Bulgaria on the Geula, with 1388 illegal immigrants on board. When arriving in the territorial waters of Palestine on the outskirts of Haifa, the British captured them and transported them on a prisoner ship to Cyprus. On Simḥat Torah in 1947, they arrived in Cyprus at POW camp ¹ 70 and stayed in tents called Kassoulotombo. This camp was isolated from all the other camps. In Cyprus, Yisrael was also very active in the Bnei Akiva movement.

Their eldest daughter Rivka (named after my paternal grandmother) was born in Cyprus on December 13, 1948. On February 1, 1949, the extended family arrived in Haifa from Cyprus. They joined my mother's parents, who arrived in Israel in July 1948 with their brother Emanuel and settled in Jaffa. His sister Madi, who immigrated to Israel as part of the Youth Aliyah in October 1948, and was studying at the Kefar Hano'ar Hadati in Kfar Ḥassidim, also joined the family home in Jaffa.

Upon immigrating to Eretz Israel, my father joined the family business, the grocery store opened by his father-in-law Ephraim, and continued his activities in the Hapoel Hamizraḥi movement at the Jaffa branch. He enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces and served as a reserve soldier in the infantry as a signalman. In 1956, during the Sinai Campaign, he experienced tough experiences and trials that strengthened his faith.

On November 21, 1952, my brother Sefi was born. He was named after my paternal grandfather, Ḥaim Yosef. In the summer of 1954,

[Page 605]

the family moved to Tel-Aviv. In 1956, my father established a candle factory called “Chemical Products – Ner Zion” in Kiryat Gat, and “Candles of Israel” in Haifa. He developed a thriving factory and was presented with the Outstanding Exporter award. He also established and developed a petrochemical products factory in Kiryat Bialik near Haifa.

My brother and I received a national Zionist religious education based on the Jewish heritage and traditions. We were educated in state religious schools and were members of the Bnei Akiva youth movement. The Schaumann family's warm home was open and served as a pilgrimage site for all family members, many friends, and anyone who needed help and support, both financially and spiritually. Giving without limit is one of the key characteristics of my father's so special personality. Such giving serves as a model for his children, grandchildren, and all family members.

On June 9, 1982, 19 Sivan 5742, a major disaster occurred, when my brother, Lt. Col. Sefi (Ḥaim Yosef), fell in the Peace for Galilee War while leading his trainees as commander of the armored officers' school in the Battle of Ein Atina in Lebanon. Even in such a deep crisis, my father's strong faith in the Creator of the universe did not wane, but even grew stronger and radiated powerfully on all those around him.

Since the fall of his son Sefi, my father devoted his time and energy to commemorating the memory of his dear son in many places across the country. He also volunteered to serve as the treasurer of the “Bnei Or” association of the armored corps at the Shizafon base. My father, who studied at the Vizhnitz Yeshiva and was one of the students of the Damascus Eliezer, continued to visit the court of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe in Haifa (who was also a close friend), and was one of the most important and distinguished donors of the yeshiva. He was also very active in the congregation of the “Gevurat Mordechai” synagogue on Herzog Street in Givatayim and was one of its supporters. He served as the sexton of the synagogue for many years.

In December 1999, my father retired from the business world and devoted all his time to studying Torah and Gemara, doing charitable works, helping others and giving to the needy. At the end of 1998, he fell ill with a serious illness and fought it heroically with the devoted help of his beloved wife, while continuing to lead a routine life and constantly engaging in Torah, mitzvot, and charity.

On Friday evening, 18 Av 5762, July 26, 2002, after the evening prayer, his heart failed him. His beloved family accompanied him with love and admiration during the last moments of his life.

My father was a glorious husband, an excellent father, a revered and amazing grandfather (Opah) and a happy great-grandfather who always instilled faith, joy and optimism around him, was happy at the wedding of his granddaughters: my daughter Yifat with Ariel, and Ayelet (Sefi's daughter) with Lior. He even got to enjoy three great-grandchildren: Elya, Tamar, and Avya-Ḥai. Blessed be his memory forever.

 

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