July 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Remembering Samuel and Anna Maltz, Holocaust Survivors

My father was born in Sokal, Poland. My mother was born in Sosnowiec, Poland. My father was fondly referred to as Shmelke and he was one of five siblings. My mother was Hanka and she had two sisters. My mother, when uprooted from her home, wound up in several concentration camps. My father went into hiding with a righteous gentile with several family members.

My mother befriended two women in the “camps” — the famous author Gerda Weissman Klein who received a medal of honor from President Obama, and Netka Geldzahler whose husband Leon owned the famous Zayda’s butcher shop in South Orange, New Jersey. My mother was born Hanka Freidel Zielonedrzewo and her parents were Avraham Shaya and Miriam Leah. Her sisters were Rechel and Tzirel. My mother was the sole survivor. She was always selfless and during the war always gave her potato peel rations to her friends. She helped everyone; it was her nature.

My father’s siblings and family were hidden by Francesca Halamajowa, who kept everyone in a hayloft above her home. During the hiding my father’s sister Chaya Dvora became ill and died. My father and my Uncle Moshe in the middle of the night snuck downstairs to bury my aunt. In hiding, my Uncle Moshe kept a diary and those scraps of paper were published into a book entitled “Years of Horror Glimpse of Hope.” Their story is also a documentary called “No. 4 Street of Our Lady” on Netflix and Amazon. It’s very worthwhile to watch.

Our family honored Francesca Halamajowa at the Israeli Consulate. I actually met Binyamin Netanyahu in the elevator that day. The Nazis tortured my mother but in spite of that she was the warmest, kindest, sweetest person. They took a hammer and smashed her wrists. She had absolutely no wrists. She sweltered in the heat and froze in the cold. When she was liberated she was emaciated. My father after the war had a business with my Uncle Moshe in Newark and subsequently Irvington, selling kosher meat and chicken. He always took the time to go to shul, study Torah and maintain a home and take stellar care of my mother and myself.

My father had two very close friends whom he was honored to be associated with. One was the esteemed respected Mr. Joseph Wilf who was known for his wisdom, love of Israel, the Jewish people and his acts of kindness. My father was also friendly with Mr. Arie Halpern, who also was philanthropic and righteous. Those two men of blessed memory and my father formed a trustworthy, very impressive lasting friendship. They were inspirational role models.

My mother stayed in touch.with Gerda Weissman Klein who married Kurt, the soldier that liberated them. Netka Geldzahler and my mother had a lifelong bond. I had the privilege of working for her son Dr. Gerald Geldzaher. Their son Ivan was in charge of Zayda’s. My parents met in night school in Newark and bought a home on Leslie Street there. I have the fondest memories of my childhood there.

My beloved Phil grew up a few blocks away on Summit Avenue in Hillside, New Jersey. Our family went to Rabbi Spitz’s shul and Phil’s family went to Rabbi Carlebach, Shlomo’s twin brother. My in-laws Hilda and Herman were salt of the earth. Phil had an outstanding relationship with my parents. I am an only child. Phil sadly lost his brother Murray in March but has an extraordinary brother Larry.

Phil and I try to follow in our parents footsteps albeit that is impossible. They were very special people that had strong values and always performed acts of kindness. Our last three grandchildren all bear names of our parents for their neshamas to live on.

We learned from our parents to be content with our lot and just be generous, work hard and do the right thing. As a child of survivors I try to keep the story alive and speak Yiddish continuously in the home. We will NEVER FORGET. We miss them every single day but hopefully the future generations will continue the traditions. Family was everything to them.

May the hostages please be released and may we only know of peace and tranquility in this world. May the coming Jewish year bring health, safety and all the good this world has to offer.

Miriam Ryfka Maltz Schiffman
Elizabeth
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