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In memory of Solly Patrontasch

We were greatly saddened when we heard of the untimely death of Solly who fought for his life like a tiger for so many years. Read more

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Zenya Kahane, Z”L

By Batia Kahane

It has been a year. It took me several months to gather my emotional strength and return home, my home in Tel Aviv.
My mother, Zenya, passed away at her home about a year ago.
She raised two children, lived to enjoy having four grandchildren and was fortunate enough to be blessed by three wonderful great grandchildren who lit up her life in recent years with each visit.

I spent the last weeks and moments of her life beside her, and thought that we said our “goodbyes”. I thought I was able to separate.
This week, on the eve of Yom Hashoa, the Holocaust Memorial Day, as I was asked to write about her, I realized how much I truly miss her.
What a void.

Born in February 1921 in Zulkiew, she was named Sheindle.
People knew her as Sheincha, the Ukrainians named her Zenya, and she called herself officially Charlotte.
But to me she will always remain MY IMA!

Ever since the request to write, I find myself focused on sanctifying the memory of both my mother and father who came to Israel to start a new life.
After years of wars, after the July 1946 Pogrom in Kielce (my father’s home town and my birth place).
With their entire strength and mighty, they wished to overcome what had happened “THERE”.
Especially for my brother and me.

Ima created a loving, kind and warm home. Raised two proud Israeli kids, and enabled us, in- spite of her fears and anxieties to spread our wings and create our own lives.
My brother and I were the essence and the center of her life.
There was no talking, in our household, about what happened “THERE”.
As I close my eyes, and go back about 50 years, I see a little girl, coming home from school, to find a mother lying on a sofa in the living room. Her eyes closed, tears streaming, attentively listening to the radio for days and endless hours.
The Eichmann Trail!

I knew something horrid was being broadcasted. I felt the sadness in the air. The everlasting tension. The unspeakable silence. I knew right then and there, it had to do with what happened “THERE”.
No, I did not ask. In our home, we knew not to ask. They did not explain, nor did they tell the children. Their way of “protecting” us.
As children, we imagined and perhaps even created our own picture, from the bits and pieces of information, what had happened “THERE”.
Otherwise, we talked about anything and everything and when company came over, we were like any other family.
Ima did not hesitate to voice her opinion regarding friends, how to dress, how to live, sit or walk, what to say and where to go and when it came to politics – her opinions were as strong.

In all the many years the I have lived abroad, she has accompanied me in my daily life. Each morning started with me hearing her lovely voice.
When I gathered my strength to enter the home and slowly go through papers and documents, I found a treasure! Letters sent from her brothers; Milek, Mishku and Leopold written to her from the Janowski Labor Camp.
And photos. Faces I never saw, never knew and do not know.

The letters were somehow smuggled to her into the Bunker, under a pig sty where she was hiding with a small group of three other Jews.
She could not answer them.
Ima survived alone. None of her family did.
Her brothers perished in Janowski. Her mother and sisters and very young niece – murdered in The Borek.
I recently brought the letters to “Yad VaShem” for restoration and safekeeping.
They will serve as evidence to what had happened “THERE”.
“Kochana Moja” (my dearest) that is all that I can make out, as they are frail and disintegrating. Proof that she had difficulties revisiting the content and facing the horrors of memories.

From the letters I gather, they worry about her and try to calm her about their fate…
Ima did not want to have anything to do with Poland nor the Poles.
A few years ago, she reluctantly agreed to join the first group of survivors to Zulkiew. She went along so that she could help document what was left in her memory. For all of us to remember and never, ever forget.
And I remained silent – as always. Not asking – as always.
Protecting my Ima.

And now, there none to ask. Not about the letters, not about the people and the faces. Not about my Grandmother nor my Grandfather. Not about my Uncles nor my Aunts whom I never got to know.
Ima chose not to tell.
Life in Israel mattered.

On every Memorial Day she sobbed in silence. In every family occasion, she remained quite, her thoughts floating elsewhere.
That was her way of dealing with the pain.
Today, I vow to remember those who remained “THERE”.
For my Ima who could not utter their names easily.
Her parents; Ida (nee Astman) and Yaakov Wolf.
Her siblings; Samuel (Milek), Yanina, Michael (Mishku), Leopold and Bronka. We will also remember her niece Mela, the two year old daughter of Yanina.
My brother and I live in the USA for many years, and when we asked Ima to come and live near us , she replied; ” I did not survive the Holocaust to live in the diaspora”.

So she said and remained in Israel.
It has been almost a year since her passing.
There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of her, “talk” to her or derive some strength from her.
I miss you, Ima!
I miss your peaceful nature, your incredible wisdom and the enormous strength that you passed on to me.
Always elegant, tall beautiful and well dressed.
Simply noble. A true Lady – this is how we will always remember you.

May your memory be blessed with us, Imale.

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