95 years old on the 25th of Cheshvan and the 18th of November, my mother is starting a new cycle in her life (to 120). Every 19 years the lunar and solar calendars align to allow us to celebrate our original day of birth and start a new cycle. And so, in honor of her life I would like to tell you her story.
My mother, Ida, has a lot in common with the biblical Miriam. Miriam was not only a life savior but a savior of the future generations of the people of Israel.
Ida, who was born in Romania and is a Holocaust survivor, chose life at every step along her journey to the land of Israel. When she was growing up, in spite of the protection of her name and looks (she was blond and blue eyed with an Austrian name of Glasser), she never hid her Jewish identity. She and her mother, after having miraculously escaped the labor camp in Transnistria, fled the front on foot ending up on the eastern Russia, Chinese border. Giving up was not an option. She and her mother literally kept each other alive when there was no physical means to survive.
Ida knew her future husband since childhood. He was her older brother’s best friend and they stole her cake cooling on the window sill for her naming ceremony. After the war he went to Israel and after fighting in the 1948 War of Independence called for her to come. She chose to follow him to Israel, marry and gave birth to a son and a daughter. Her attitude was; “we need to prove to those who wanted to wipe us out that they did not succeed.” She was thrilled to be living in a Jewish State. But when medical issues necessitated her to move out of the country, she refused. Only when her husband made her realize that she will not be able to live a normal life in Israel without the treatment she needed, did she agree. The family moved to Canada in 1962.
Ida’s son (who went to Israel to serve in the IDF) met his wife in Canada, and her 4 granddaughters and 1 grandson, were born in Canada. But with a strong belief that Israel is the only place in the world for Jews to live, the family returned to Israel in 2009. Sadly, Ida’s husband, Joseph, Z”L, died in 1996 in Toronto, and is now in the Ra’anana cemetery.
Ida’s oldest granddaughter just completed her service in the IDF and the second oldest just started hers. Ida’s grandchildren are the third generation since the Holocaust to serve in the IDF. A petite woman, she continues to be strong and continues to fight for the right to “live freely as a Jew in my own country, with our own government and our army to protect us”.
This past Simchat Torah (as in all the years since she made Aliyah), Ida was in the center of the women’s circle dancing, singing and crying with both arms wrapped around the Torah, her whole being embracing life.