IN MEMORIUM

SARA ROSS (SARA ZUCHOWICKI ROSJANSKI)

Born in Kossovo, Poland (Belarus) on May 15, 1913 to Abram and Razel Zuchowicki and died on December 22, 2005 at the age of 91, in Allentown, PA, with services in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has joined her family who survived and those unnecessarily taken during the Shoah. At the age of 28 she survived by escaping the Ivatsevicki Poland Ghetto liquidation in July 1942 and then as a partisan until July 1944. She openly and actively told her story of the Shoah to all who would listen including students which became her mission to bear witness as the last survivor from Ivatsevichi. Her struggle did not end with the Shoah and I therefore wish to share the following letter to my mother on the simcha of her 90th birthday.

5/24/2003

Dear Mom,

Today, we celebrate your 90th birthday with your family. It is a special time to honor you for all you have done and given us.

You were the forth of five children and grew up surrounded by your sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts and cousins which I have seen through your stories. You had a rich and beautiful Jewish culture in eastern Poland/Western Belarus which was the home of your family for many centuries.

Between the turmoil and devastation of WWI and WWII your parents provided you with a comfortable and rich Jewish life. Your family was actively involved in the Jewish and non-Jewish community and were well respected and trusted.

With only a formal third grade education, due to availability and accessibility, you command four languages, Polish, Russian, Yiddish and English.

At the age of 25, in August 1938, you married the love of your life, my father, Yankel (Jacob) Rosjanski and lived in Lubiechiev and Ivatsevichi with and near your parents and siblings’ families. Yankel loved your family and was very bright, articulate and a scholar in Yiddish literature besides his education in Hebrew, Polish and Russian.

WWII began in September 1939 with the Russian Army occupying your town of Ivatsevichi, Poland until June 1941. Your first born, Samuel, was born in April 1941 during the Russian occupation. Nazi occupation and establishment of a ghetto occurred in June 1941 until July 1942 which removed all aspects of civilized life. Brutality, harassment, dehumanization which inflicted physical and emotional torture culminated in the liquidation and mass murder of our entire family six weeks before Rosh Hashana inJuly 1942 (23rd of AV). Samuel died of deprivation in the Volcha Nora Forest in 1942.

You survived for two years as Partisans in the Volcha Nora Forest by overcoming persecution, horrific and brutal conditions, disease and Nazi man hunts. You physically and emotionally resisted near death conditions and actively fought the Nazi’s. Dad developed Typhus Encephelopathy in 1943 which he survived but left him with Parkinson’s Disease. Only you, Dad and your brother, Aron, survived when you were liberated by the advancing Russian Army in July 1944.

After liberation in July 1944, you worked in the back lines of the Russian Army until the war ended in May 1945.

The almost impossible task of bringing order to your life that was destroyed by Nazi insanity, prejudice and world indifference began when you returned home to Ivatsevichi. You and your family’s homes were burned to the ground, yet penniless and with only the clothing on your back, you found courage and strength to rebuild a new life. Aunt Sara was liberated from Auchwitz and you began the nucleus to rebuild our family.

The incredible courage of the survivors to bring children, myself, Aron and Phyllis into the war torn world of Europe showed unbelievable strength and belief in humanity. The next difficult decision was to move west by paying off individuals to make passage and cross borders you arrive in Linz, Austria’s Displaced Persons (DP) Camp in 1946. Initially, we stayed in an abandoned barracks without doors, windows or heat which was very difficult but became our temporary home. My Dad’s advancing Parkinson’s Disease did not allow us to immigrate to Israel. In 1951 we immigrated to Cincinnati, Ohio with the assistance of my father’s Uncle, Aaron Simons, and his family who signed immigration papers as our sponsor and by an act of President Harry S. Truman that allowed ill individuals to immigrate to the U.S.

Coming to America was a dream come true to you, especially you as since you dreamed of coming to America as a child.

Life continued to be very difficult. My father could not work due to progressive Parkinson’s Disease. You cared for two young children and became a full time care giver for my
Father providing all activities of daily life with physical and emotional support, until he died in May 1965. We had to rely on public assistance and social agencies for financial support. You made each penny count and did not spend anything on yourself. You sacrificed so we could have an education. You had no personal life for yourself.

Although America became our land of opportunity, you had to start a new life and overcome language barriers, cultural barriers, financial barriers and discrimination. You and Dad wanted Aron and I to have a Jewish education and showed us the beauty of Jewish life at home.
You and Dad wanted desperately to become U.S. citizens so Aron and I would be naturalized citizens. Dad triumphed over his movement disorder and limitation of speech and we all became citizens in 1956.

Today, we, your family, celebrate with you beyond your age of 90. We celebrate your motivation and strength to resist adversity, to rise above the world’s inhumanity and to see beyond darkness, despair and the evil of the Shoah. Your vision to start a new life and bring children into this world provides inspiration to our lives and to humanity. We honor you for your personal sacrifice and unyielding devotion to our father, which exceeds any of our own measures.

You single handedly raised two children with minimal assets and gave us a wealth of education and guidance to appreciate our rich and beautiful Jewish culture and respect of our country’s opportunity and freedom. Your love gave us a nurturing childhood which was instrumental for our development and growth and expanded our own potential. Your limited education was no obstacle in helping us in school assignments and projects. You taught us to treat all people equally and to give back to our country.

You have risen above an impossible adversity and a third grade education to raise two sons, a doctor of philosophy and a doctor of medicine. Your family now has 5 doctors and who knows how many more to come. You have nachas from your family (myself, Aron, Phyllis, Nancy, Anita, Mike, David, Debra, Melissa, Aaron, Josh, Jackie, James and your great, granddaughters Sydney Hannah and Zoe Chaya. Even though Aunt Sara could not be with us, she joins us in the simcha.

On the occasion of your 90th birthday, I say “Mazel Tov.â€? I thank you for all you have done and all you do. What you have accomplished and lived through is beyond my capacity. You are and will always be a “Woman of Valor.â€? Today and everyday is a celebration of life.

All my love and respect.

Abe