Celia Yewlow, 91, Holocaust survivor
By Sally A. Downey

Inquirer Staff Writer

Celia Peres Yewlow, 91, formerly of Northeast Philadelphia, a Holocaust survivor, died yesterday at Willow Lake, an assisted living residence in Willow Grove.
A native of Shvadis, Lithuania, Mrs. Yewlow married Yude Ibedas, a photographer, in 1937 and moved with him to Kovno, Lithuania.

By 1942 her husband, parents, two brothers and a sister had all been killed by occupying German troops. She thought she and her 3-year-old daughter, Rena, were going to be killed too, she later told Holocaust Museum researchers, when German soldiers forced them onto a truck with other women and children from the Jewish ghetto in Kovno. For reasons she never understood, a soldier pulled her off the truck, forcing her to leave her daughter behind. Her daughter and the others were shot and buried in pits outside of the town.

Mrs. Yewlow was hidden by a Christian couple, Cheska and Jonas Balevicus, in a pig sty for the duration of the war at great risk to their family, which included two small children and a grandmother. After the war, Mrs. Yewlow married Sender Yewlow. For several years the couple lived in Italy, where their daughter was born. Following Jewish tradition to name a child after a deceased relative, they named her Batame, which means daughter of my people. “I was named for all the dead relatives,” the daughter, Batame Hertzbach said. “There was no one left.”

In 1949 the family moved to Philadelphia.

For the rest of her life Mrs. Yewlow was grateful to Cheska, whom she called her little sister, and Jonas Balevicus. She kept in contact with them and sent them packages, her daughter said.

Mrs. Yewlow shared her experience with her daughter and her grandchildren and returned to Kovna for the 50th anniversary of the liquidation of the Kovno Ghetto in 1995. She didn’t want her war experiences to be the focus of her life though, her daughter said, and preferred to have a positive outlook. She was a wonderful cook, her daughter said, and enjoyed reading and art and music.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Yewlow is survived by four grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Her husband died in 1991.