My mother’s family was like any other large, poor family, or so they thought, living in a small house in Poland just prior to WWII. The family shared household responsibilities, played together, and prayed together. Then
one horrible day, the Nazi Party launched their well thought out plan to spread seeds of hate. The Nazis succeeded in blaming the Jews for anything and everything that went wrong in the lives of the Polish people.
Suddenly their neighbors of years were no longer their friends. Neighbors threw rocks at their windows shattering the glass. Dirty Jew was painted on the walls of their home. Neighbors stopped talking to them and anti-Semitism was on the rise. They had to do something quickly but what, where and when?
Relatives in America were cognizant of their situation and worked endlessly to raise as much money as they possibly could to bring the whole family to America. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough money and time was not on their side. It was decided that my grandmother and six of the youngest children were to be smuggled out first while the rest were to follow soon after.
During the night the family was led to the boat that would take them to America. They were told to go the very bottom of the boat where they could hide effectively from the Nazis. The bottom of the boat was packed with people of all ages along with pigs. The family escaped from Poland on a pig boat.
My mother was the youngest of the siblings. I learned about their story years later by eavesdropping on my mother and grandmother while they whispered to one another at night in our apartment in New York. Each person on the boat had limited space, food and water. Sufficient bathroom facilities were nonexistent. Inwardly frightened the family never thought they would reach American shores.
Weeks or perhaps even months later, the boat finally reached America. All cried for joy as the boat docked.
My mother was eight years old when the boat docked in America. When the people were allowed to leave the boat, my mother ran ahead of everyone. She wanted to be the first to touch and kiss American soil and she thanked G-d for bringing them to America.
The family settled into an apartment in the tenements of New York. While the older children worked and eventually married, my mother still attended school. My mother was the only one of the siblings who graduated from high school and she was the only one who didn’t have an accent.
My beautiful mother, who experienced much pain in her life, didn’t talk about the past for a while after my grandmother died, but when I was older she started to confide in me. I felt privileged to be her confidant and I wanted to know everything.
To have known my mother was to have loved her. She was highly intelligent, kind, caring, creative, loving and the list goes on and on. Whatever my mother did she did extremely well whether it was in her family life, or in her business life. We shared so many precious unforgettable moments together. We often went to the library, or the zoo, or to the movies, or to a show on Broadway, or just talked. I loved being with her.
Since I was a good student, my mother encouraged me to further my education on a university level. My mother knew how important that was to me. Prior to her passing, she did see me earn my doctorate.
My mother was my lifelong inspiration and the wonderful example upon which I patterned my life. G-d bless you mom. I love you!