From Europe to Israel: A Journey of Over 100 Years
Three of Avichai’s great grandparents on his mother’s side were born in Europe. One was born in South Africa.
Lilli Eckstein Stern and Friedel Stern were born in Germany; Herman Neimann was born in Belgium; Rachel (Ray) (Ezra) Neimann was born in South Africa.
Friedel, born 1910, came to South Africa with his parents, Salomon and Johanna (Oppenheimer) Stern and 2 brothers, in 1936. The 3 brothers used to go down to the Cape Town docks to meet the immigrant ships arriving from Germany. And that is where Friedel met Lilli “the prettiest girl on the boat” in 1939. They were married later that same year!
Salomon and Johanna (Oppenheimer) Stern
Lilli, born in 1921, came to South Africa in 1939, a few months after Kristal Nacht. Lilli’s brother, Ernst, had left Germany a few months earlier. Lilli's father, Gustav Eckstein, was arrested on Kristal Nacht, but miraculously one of the policemen who had arrested him came back to tell his wife where to find him. So the next day Lilli and her mother, Bertha (Speier) Eckstein, went to the address they had been given and spoke to the guard at the gate. They showed him that they had documents to go to a place called Swaziland in South Africa. He told them to go home and that the father would come home the next day. And so it was, and the family was able to leave Germany in January 1939.
Gustavand Bertha Eckstein
Herman and his family escaped from Belgium in 1914, when he was 11 years old. They went to Liverpool in England. His father and mother, Shmuel and Itta (Bernhardt) Neimann, died of illnesses the following year, leaving five orphan children. The eldest, Rose, was 19 years old and looked after the other four. Eventually they all came to South Africa and found a safe haven to live.
Shmuel and Itta (Bernhardt) Neimann
Ray's parents, Phillip and Hinda Leah (Nochomovitz) Ezra, were born in Bellarus. Phillip even served in the Tzar’s army as a saddle maker for war horses. However he and Hinda Leah knew that Russia was not a place where they wanted to bring up Jewish children. Therefore in 1903 Phillip left for South Africa and after a few years Hinda Leah joined him. Ray was born in 1910 in Cape Town. She had 3 younger siblings.
Phillip and Hinda Leah (Nochomovitz) Ezra
Grandson Avichai: יש לנו קשר מיוחד
Grandmother Hilda: We wish each other a long and happy life.
a pogrom against Jews throughout Nazi Germany on 9–10 November 1938, carried out by SA paramilitary forces and civilians wikipedia/