My mom didn’t know what year she was born. Family legend has it that it was actually 1937, but, since her parents were married early that year, they figured better to avoid gossip by saying 1938. My mom’s mom was one of eight kids—four girls—Meryl, Channah (my bubbe), Yitta and Baila—and four boys—Avruham (who we always called Willie), Meyer (Martin), Ari (Al) and Moshe Hess. They lived in Znaceva near the “big town” of Mukacheve. It was then part of Czechoslovakia and is now part of Ukraine, but my mom’s family considered themselves Hungarian. It didn’t matter—they all spoke Yiddish.
When my mom’s dad, my zayde, had nowhere to live, my bubbe’s parents took him in. That’s how they did it then, even with eight kids. What difference did one more make? That’s why I’m alive today. The reason my zayde had no family is that his mom was dead and his dad had come to America. When the Nazis marched into Czechoslovakia as the first act of World War II, my mom was able to escape. Read More