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Helen and Sol Krawitz Holocaust Memorial Education Center

Shimon and Sara Birnbaum Jewish Community Center

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Descendant Profile








    Itaya (Taya) Friedman was born in Israel and immigrated to the US with her parents when she was in elementary school.  She appears with her mother, Tova Friedman, in schools and community centers to talk about her mother’s experiences during the Holocaust, and her trips to Poland with her children. She has collaborated and appeared in several documentaries including:


    Surviving Auschwitz: Children of the Shoah  (WGVU 2005) The Second Generation…. Ripples from the Holocaust (RVCC 2011) Conversations with The Other  (RVCC 2013) and Auschwitz Muzeum  (Les Docs du Nord, 2017).


    These films have been used all over the world to educate children and adults on the lingering effects of genocides.

    Taya works as a Strategy and Innovation Manager at Ferrero USA and resides in Bridgewater, New Jersey with her family. Taya has birthed two sets of twin boys– Aron and Noah, the oldest and Eitan and Ari, the youngest. Refer to grandchildren photographs with Tova and Maier in Related Media. Maier, Taya’s father, of blessed, memory passed in early 2021.

    Reference Related Textual Materials Below for Friedman 3 Generation Heritage Trip to Auschwitz



    The following speech delivered by Taya Friedman references her Heritage trip of August 2016. She frequently shares this speech with audiences when she joins her mother in Holocaust educational forums.


    This year, I decided to celebrate my birthday in Auschwitz. Approximately 40 years after my mother celebrated her 6th birthday at that camp, I celebrated my birthday there as well, with my mother and my children. This was a sign of strength and triumph against a man and a nation that tried to destroy us.

    This August, I took Ari, Eitan, Noah and Aron back to Poland for a heritage trip with my mom. We landed in Warsaw and spent two days there with an amazing guide touring the Jewish museums and the Warsaw ghetto. After that, we drove to Tomaszow-Mazowiecki where my mom’s family had lived for years.  As many of you know, my mother was actually born in Gdansk but left that city on August 25, 1939 to go to Tomaszow in order to celebrate her first birthday with her extended family. This was done based on my grandmother’s intuition that something bad was going to happen.  That premonition saved their lives as Gdansk was bombed and destroyed the following day. Coincidentally, that day has extra significance because Aug 25th is also my birthday.

    In Tomaszow-Mazowiecki we saw the location of the store that my great grandfather owned in the square and the apartment that they lived in with two other families while in the ghetto. The whole town seemed to be under construction, all the roads and sidewalks are ripped up and it was difficult to even walk. Many of the street names had been changed which made things even more difficult. We were able however, to see the spot where my great grandparents were murdered (right outside their front door) and walk down the street to the ‘selection area’ in the church courtyard. The church has been rebuilt and there is no sign of what had occurred there years ago. No sign that that courtyard was covered in blood where Jews were sent to death. We tried to access the Jewish cemetery where our ancestors are buried; it was quite difficult to find, and when we did, it was locked up with no access. I guess this is good because at my last visit, (some 12 years ago), it was being used as a soccer field by the local kids.

    From there we drove to Skarzysko-Kamienna, where my grandparents worked as forced laborers in a munitions factory. While it was closed, a kind guard let us in and gave us a brief tour and allowed us to visit a memorial site inside the complex where unnamed laborers were buried when they died on the job. It was unreal to think of my grandparents actually working there… much of the original structure still existed. I subsequently found a book by Christopher Browning called, Remembering Survival that documents this labor camp and actually mentions my mother and helps clarify her situation there including her transport to Auschwitz (reference Norton books). We then continued to Krakow. The boys were amazing troopers as we spent nearly eight hours on this drive from Warsaw to Krakow!

    On Aug 25th, we went to Auschwitz. We were greeted (by pre-arrangement) by the Records & Archives committee, and they were able to share documents with us concerning my mom and even her parents. They knew a lot about her entrance, her journey and her stay. It was unreal. A French film company happened to be there and they documented my mother’s experience that day. We also found out that another girl that my mother had known in the camp survived the war and testified on behalf of my mother. We will contact her as well.

    The experience was more than I had hoped for in that our guide, Renata, had studied up on my mother and was able to take us to all the areas that my mother had been encamped. She knew where she arrived, where she was housed, and where she had marched. It really helped me and the boys get a true understanding of my mother’s experiences. She was even able to fill in gaps in my mother’s ‘fuzzy’ recollections, as she was just a small child at the time.  Memories came flooding back to my mother, and at one point, she and Renata began singing some Polish songs that my mother had recollected from childhood and the camps. I managed to video some. Renata had provided us with a shuttle car and a driver and she accompanied us on our journey throughout the camp, listening to my mother as she explained her story and filling in gaps where my mother faltered. It was more than a history lesson; it was like living in history.

    After Poland, we continued to Amsterdam and visited the Ann Frank house – realizing that Ann Frank was in Auschwitz at the same time as my mother, but died just two weeks before liberation.

    This was an amazing and an emotional trip for all of us, and I trust that the boys will remember the stories and pass them on. We had a lot of help making this trip happen including Peppy Margolis from RVCC who helped arrange with Archives in Auschwitz, and Michael Walenta WGVU who supplied me with much of the information on Tomaszow-Mazowiecki and Skarzysko-Kamienna.

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  • related textual material:

    Friedman Heritage Trip to Auschwitz with Three Generations

    Tova, Itaya and Children

  • Sources and Credits:


    Biography and Testimony by Taya Friedman.

     The Center gratefully acknowledges the donation of the 3 Generation Hertiage trip to Auschwitz document by Taya Friedman.