Arrivals: ‘No one promised me a rose garden’

Otto I. Eovaldi

‘I am in my 96th 12 months, and I can’t believe it.”

Sitting down reverse Sarah Zivitz in her tiny but tidy condominium in Jerusalem’s Wager Tovei Ha’ir Residence, I am acquiring a difficult time believing it myself.

Sharp as a tack and elegantly coiffed, she sits calmly in her chair and recollects dates, individuals and events with terrific accuracy. Tirtza Jotkowitz, Zivitz’s daughter who life in Jerusalem, has joined us for the job interview, but it is clear that her mom can hold up her conclude of the conversation rather properly.

Sarah Seltzer was born in Salem, Massachusetts. Her mom, just one of 11 young children of a Belz Hassidic relatives that lived in Jerusalem’s Old Town, married Reuven Seltzer, a university student in the Hebron Yeshiva. Before long after their relationship, they moved to New York, and her father been given rabbinic ordination (semicha), starting to be the rabbi of a synagogue in Salem, Massachusetts.

The family still left Salem just after tragically shedding two little ones in one particular year – a single in the 1918 influenza pandemic and just one in an incident – and moved to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville, which was nicknamed “Little Jerusalem,” because of to the substantial percentage of Jews residing there. Her father left the comprehensive-time rabbinate and became a pharmacist, signing up for his brother’s business enterprise. Sarah attended the Crown Heights Yeshiva elementary college, a person of just three ladies in a course of 15.

Referring to her relatives, Sarah proudly displays a framed correspondence from 1936 amongst her grandfather, Rabbi Yehuda Leib Seltzer, secretary of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, and Sen. Robert Wagner of New York, requesting a visa for a Rabbi Moses Feinstein who was stranded in Riga. Rabbi Feinstein arrived in the US shortly thereafter and grew to become recognised as the preeminent halachic decisor of his era.

Sarah married Avraham Moshe Spiegel in 1945 and has five children – three women and two boys. Her husband was lively in Agudath Israel, serving as the first director of Camp Agudah, and was 1 of the founders of the Agudath Israel synagogue in Considerably Rockaway. Sarah taught early childhood education and learning for many a long time in Spring Valley and Lengthy Beach, New York. Sarah’s spouse died at age 47, and she remarried and moved to Deerfield Beach front, remaining there after her next husband died.

SARAH Commenced to consider about transferring to Israel several several years ago.

“About 6 or seven a long time ago,” she says in her distinctive New York accent, “I determined that I eventually wished to go to an assisted residing facility. Daily life had altered for me. I arrived to Deerfield Seashore with a team of close friends, but everyone died. I started off to look into distinct spots, but almost nothing pushed me.”

Sarah relates that she had good friends whose lives grew to become disrupted when their mom and dad became ill, often traveling household to take care of them. “I made up my head that I would not do that to my children.”

Daughter Tirtza picks up the tale and relates that although traveling to Bet Tovei Ha’ir, she inquired if any apartments had been for sale. They explained to her that an condominium experienced turn into out there, but many folks preferred it. Tirtza contacted her mom that afternoon.

“My daughter received me at a weak minute,” recalls Sarah. “She named me on a Wednesday and explained,‘Get on a airplane and attempt it out.’ My 1st response was,‘Are you are insane? It’s practically erev Shabbat!”

Sarah thought it over, identified as El Al and booked a flight – “I paid top dollar” – and arrived in Israel on a summer time Friday.

She signed on the condominium and returned to Florida. Her daughter from Virginia arrived to enable, and her son in Israel flew in.

“I couldn’t have performed it with no them,” claims Sarah.“I did not own the place in Florida, as it belonged to my late husband’s estate. I didn’t have to provide it. I even left canned vegetables in the cupboards.”

6 weeks later on, she flew back again to Israel, accompanied by her son, many suitcases, and two duffel baggage.

“I simply cannot think I did it,” she exclaims. “My son did not want me to occur on your own. I was 93 then. I instructed him I could do it on my very own, but he mentioned no, and I am happy he did. I think if I experienced imagined too significantly, I would not have manufactured it.”

How does she like living in Israel?

“I have hobbies,” suggests Sarah. “They have an excellent arts and crafts system, and I took up beading.”

Daughter Tirtza adds that her mom has built some 60 necklaces for her children, grandchildren, wonderful-grandchildren, and wonderful-wonderful-grandchildren.

Sarah has three youngsters dwelling in Israel – daughter Tirtza and two sons, and two daughters residing in the United States. She does not know the exact number of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and fantastic-great-grandchildren – “kenaynahara,” she intones, to ward off lousy luck. Tirtza volunteers that there are 33 grandchildren.

Working with the corona pandemic was tricky, Sarah admits. “I expended last Passover [2020] in my place. We have been quarantined, and I manufactured my own Seder by myself.”

Sarah does not have a laptop, but she just lately acquired a Television, and she enjoys looking at. “I never like studying about the Holocaust. I want to love what I am examining. I like Danielle Steele, Nora Roberts, almost nothing excellent. They have a pretty nice English library below.”

Equally owing to corona and issue strolling, she has not absent out significantly in the space. She has a team of close friends in the building with whom she visits frequently.

Some of the people at Bet Tovei Ha’ir are Hebrew-speakers, but Sarah manages reasonably properly.

“I’ve been finding out Hebrew since I was 7 decades previous,” she claims, which means she has been studying the language for 89 years. “I took it in substantial college and school. I understood that I have a incredible know-how of vocabulary. I used to be fantastic at dikduk [Hebrew grammar]. If you really don’t use it, you eliminate it. I missing it. I can get alongside with the Hebrew that I know if I’m relaxed with the people today, and I really don’t care if they giggle.”

When questioned irrespective of whether she is pleased that she came to Israel, Sarah replies, “I think so. I never dwell. Am I happy I arrived? It’s some thing that I experienced to do. No person promised me a rose backyard. So I attempt to make the ideal of what I can. In in between arrived the virus, so I could not go to my children to where by I usually would have wished to go for Shabbat and yom tov.”

At the age of 96, Sarah claims that it is incredibly critical to continue to keep a feeling of humor. What would make her chuckle?  “Anything that is funny,” she deadpans. “I like individuals.”

She by no means thought that she would end up residing in Israel, and is reminded of her mother, who wished to return to Israel to stay when she was in her 80s but wouldn’t go away Sarah and her brother. “She never arrived again to Israel to dwell, and below I am.”

From Salem to Considerably Rockaway, from Crown Heights to Jerusalem, Sarah Zivitz has witnessed and seasoned quite a little bit in her 96 yrs.

To what does she attribute her longevity? Zivitz gestures with her hand and points upward. “
I have no information. There is a Man earlier mentioned. It’s mazel.”

But when it arrives to acquiring results as a mother or father, she remembers an essential lesson she figured out a long time in the past. “A psychologist said, ‘The only way you know if you did a superior career is when your small children mature up and get married. If you can make a daily life of your very own, and your little ones can make a lifestyle of their own, then you were being productive.’ That always stayed in my head.”

Immediately after 96 yrs, 5 little ones, 33 grandchildren, and quite a few fantastic-grandchildren, and excellent-fantastic-grandchildren, she can assert achievements in that spot – kenaynahara. 

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