• Survivors Meet Again at Chabad

    Nearly 74 years ago, a pair of young Jewish women left their hometown in southwest Poland, on a transport to a Nazi concentration camp. Both survived the Holocaust, but went their separate ways after World War II • Full Story

    The Jewish Week/Steve Pilman

    Nearly 74 years ago, a pair of young Jewish women left their hometown in southwest Poland, on a transport to a Nazi concentration camp. Both survived the Holocaust, but went their separate ways after World War II.

    A random conversation on Long Island last month led to their unplanned reunion.

    Shanie Ellerton, a member of Chabad of West Hempstead, brought her mother, Roz Speiser, to one of the synagogue’s Sunday morning social programs for seniors for the first time a few weeks ago. Mother and daughter sat at a table next to a stranger, Ann Welner, a 90-year-old West Hempstead resident who regularly attends the events.

    Ellerton detected an accent.

    “Where are you from?” she asked.

    “Poland.”

    “Where in Poland?”

    “Sosnowiec,” Welner answered.

    “My mother-in-law is from Sosnowiec,” Ellerton said. “Maybe you knew her.”

    Ellerton’s mother-in-law, Bella — maiden name, Baila Steiglitz — was at home that Sunday morning, but Welner remembered the name Baila Steiglitz from Sosnowiec. “You have to bring her,” Welner told Ellerton. She did, the next week.

    While they hadn’t known each other growing up in their hometown, Welner (née Hanka Jerzy) and Steiglitz were together later.

    “We were together on the transport, we were together in the camps,” Welner said.

    Welner and Bella were on the first major deportation of Jews from Sosnowiec in May 1942. The pair of teenagers was sent to Waldenburg, a labor camp in what is now southwest Poland. They remained together until liberation came in early 1945.

    The two women eventually found husbands, immigrated to the United States, had children and made careers. Several years ago they both moved to West Hempstead to be near their children. Although they live about a half-mile from each other, they never crossed paths.

    Until Ellerton brought her mother-in-law to the Chabad seniors program.

    When Bella was introduced to Welner, she “lit up,” Ellerton said. They started talking in Polish.

    “I was just shocked. I didn’t think this was possible,” Welner said.

    They’ve since gone back each Sunday, renewing their long-interrupted friendship.

    What do they talk about?

    They’re not telling. And since the conversations are in Polish, Ellerton doesn’t know. Probably not the war years. Bella never talks about that time, Ellerton said. She said her mother-in-law was born in 1922 or 1923. “No one knows.”

    Bella’s memory about details of that time is fuzzy. “I don’t want to remember,” she said.

    Ellerton has managed over the years to put together scraps of information about what happened to her mother-in-law during the war — a series of concentration camps and escape from a death march, a story that parallels Welner’s. Both women lost their parents in the Shoah.

    Sosnowiec had a Jewish population of 28,000 in September 1939, at the start of the war. About 700 returned after, but most quickly left for the United States or Israel. Today, only a handful of Jews live there.

    Both women enjoy the weekly reunion.

    Watching the two women get together after all these decades is “an incredible feeling,” said Rabbi Yossi Lieberman, who has served as the Chabad emissary in West Hempstead for the past 14 years. If you do something to bring people together, sometimes they come together in surprising ways, he said.

    Welner believes the reunion was not random.

    “There are no coincidences,” she said. “Everything is being made above.”

    95

    Tags: ,

    Related Posts:

    *Only proper comments will be allowed
  • Event Calendar

  • Tuesday, Oct 27th, Wedding – Shlome Wolvovsky – CH & Rochel Leah Matusof – Madison, WI @ Oholei Torah
  • Thursday Oct 29th Wedding: Devorah Bennish – Detroit & Mordechai Rubin – London @ Royalty House, MI
  • Sunday, Oct 25th, Sholli Miller – Chicago, IL & Batya Korf – Miami Beach, FL @ Bais Rivka 310 Crown Street
  • Thursday, Oct 22 Wedding: Chaim Boruch Bar-Chaim – CH & Shoshana Pimentelli – CH/TX @ Oholei Torah
  • Thursday, Oct 22 L’Chaim: Sruli Finck – CH & Chaya Mangel – Dayton, OH @ Chovevei Torah 885 Eastern Parkway
  • Tuesday, Oct 20th Wedding: Dovid Kaminetzky – Melbourne, AU & Chaya Okunov – Crown Heights @ Oholei Torah
  • Monday Oct 19 L’Chaim: Ari (Aaron) Levertov – Crown Heights & Debby Rabinowicz – Sao Paulo, Brazil @ Choivevey Torah
  • Monday, Oct 19 2015 Wedding: Mendy Zippel – Salt Lake City, UT & Fraidy Shagalov – Crown Heights @ Oholei Torah
  • Sunday 18th Oct. L’Chaim: Chananya Niassoff – CH & Tzirl Brennan – CH @ Bais Rivkah Crown St
  • Sunday Oct 18th – Wedding: Mendy Edelman – Crown Heights & Sara Lozenik – Miami, FL @ Oholei Torah
  • Tehilim

  • Dov Chaim Ben Rivkah
  • Tzvi Hirsch Ben Guttel
  • Charna Alexandra bas Chana Esther
  • Ettie Bas Alte Miriam
  • Zissel Yehudis Bas Masha
  • Chaim Yosef Yitzchok Ben Sarah Elka
  • Devorah Bas Sarah
  • Boruch Ben Sarah
  • DovBer Ben Dina
  • Sender Ben Chaya Devorah
  • Lost and Found

  • Lost Men’s Heavy Black Winter Jacket Size Large in 770
  • Lost in 770 before Pesach, a black Bradley Jons long coat size 38R. No lining and no belt. Almost brand new! Please call zalman at 347-788-0749
  • Found black hats outside 770, behind the Hatzalah ambulance
  • lost – Chitas bearing a blessing to Shmuel from Sarge. (Sargent Zvi Fisher z..l.v) geulanow@012.net.il or +1-7869427070
  • LOST: in 770 a black Lenovo Intel core i5 laptop in a dark grey laptop bad together with a WD hard drive, if found please call Zalmy 347-788-0749
  • Found: Maroon Chitas
  • Found: Bag of Clothes
  • Found: Leather-Bound Pink Siddur
  • Lost: Box with Mini Shas from YSP
  • Lost: Rose Gold Bangle/Bracelet
  • Classifieds

  • Cook position for a local Mosad
  • Looking for a cook/kitchen manager
  • Administrator for a local Mosad Experience a must, and preferbiligual a bonus poconosmountains@gmail.com
  • Looking for a cook/kitchen manager Experience a must. poconosmountains@gmail.com
  • ‘Beis Mosiach’s’ to give away for free
  • Private Rooms for Men
  • Newly renovated Basement for rent
  • Judaica Store in Crown Heights is Looking to Hire
  • Looking for Work? Opportunity available, for a quick & efficient typist in Williamsburg. For more info: 201-800-1774
  • Lost in 770 Last Week: Transparant Bag of Tefillin, Rashi, R”T, Chitas – in black/grey 770 pouches