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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






  • DESCENDANT BRIEF BIOGRAPHY BY miriam dobin, author of I am because of you

    My name is Miriam Dobin. I am a Hebrew school Program Director and have been an Early Childhood Educator with over twenty-five years of experience. My husband and I raised three children and we are the proud grandparents of three delicious little girls. However, that’s just on the surface. My real story began 75 years ago.

    I didn’t come into this world easily. In fact, I never should have been born at all.

    When my mother was in her twenties, during World War II, she was a prisoner, her health irreparably ruined in the Auschwitz concentration camp. She was starved and weakened, and her menses ceased, never to return. Though my mother survived the Holocaust, came to America, married, and began to make a new life, she never dreamed that she could have a child. But then, in 1964, ten weeks shy of her forty-eighth birthday, my mother gave birth to me, her miracle baby, her only child.

    My memoir, I Am Because of  You, is a tale of survival and faith despite terrible odds. My family’s journey from near extinction to thriving new generations, from faith to anger and back again, is about ordinary people with the courage to overcome incredible challenges that would permanently derail others. It is about seeing sparks of light in the darkness, about recognizing miracles in this world.

    Editor’s Notes:

    Refer to Descendant Submission Below for Eulogy to Morris Gottesman.

    Refer to Miriam Dobin’s memoir, I Am Because of You or website at www.Iambecauseofyou.net


    For Descendant Submission, Select Remembrance Above by Miriam Dobin

    My father, Morris Gottesman, would often introduce himself as Avrahom Moshe Goittesman and he would say “Gottesman, Ish E-lo-kim” (man of G-d).  He was born in 1907 in Svalyava, Czechoslovakia.  He was one of nine siblings.  His father wore a kaftan and a bekesha on Shabbos.  He told me his mother would go before Pesach to wash their dishes in a pond in the cold weather and the Rabbi would tell her husband, “Tell Frieda the dishes are kosher.”


    My grandparents ran a grocery store in the back of their home, and my father would help out. Times were difficult, influenza was rampant, and my father lost four siblings during that time.  My father told me his mother would dip bread into whiskey and give it to the children to keep away the flu.


    My father lost another brother who fought in World War I.  He lost his parents and two more siblings during the Holocaust.  My father’s one remaining sibling Arieh passed away about twenty years ago.  Arieh was survived by a daughter Nomi.  My father also had a nephew Hershey who survived the camps.  Nomi and Hershey are my two first cousins.  My father was the only survivor of his large, immediate family.  Along with other Jewish men, he had been taken by force by the Hungarian police, who were working under Nazi occupation.  They were sent to the forced labor camps in Yugoslavia.  He survived by his wits and sense of humor.  When he talked about his experiences, it was with a sense of pride and an attitude of “I survived, I won, and you couldn’t kill me.”


    Although his formal education was only through eighth grade, he had a keen intellect.  He knew nine languages, mostly of Eastern European origin.  Every time a new regime took over, he was taught in that country’s language.


    After the war my father lived in Yugoslavia, and came to America in 1951.  He met my mother through mutual friends, and they married in 1953.  My parents were unable to have children for eleven years, but as my parents always told me, a miracle happened.  My mother was close to forty-eight years old and my father was fifty-six years old when my mother gave birth to me.  I would tell people my parents were like Abraham and Sarah when they had me.


    My father was a true businessman.  He was quick, astute and knew how to handel, to bargain.  When I was maybe three or four years old, my father owned a men’s clothing store in Prospect Place in Brooklyn.  His store had been burglarized.  The criminal cut a vein on my father’s neck and knocked out his teeth.  Miraculously, he survived.  We moved to Perth Amboy to be near my aunt and uncle.  He continued to work in New York on Orchard Street on the Lower East Side.  In the 1980’s, shortly before I got married, he retired and sold our house.


    In 1985, about the time Yaakov and I became engaged, Daddy moved to a new apartment complex in Perth Amboy adjacent to Raritan Bay, and one block away from the new shul that had been built after the fire.  He lived there for the next thirteen years.  Daddy missed his garden, so he asked the president of the shul if he could plant some tomatoes in the backyard.  He was allowed, and shared the harvest with the shul.  He had his daily routine: go to shul in the morning to daven, have breakfast, do errands, check on his investments, have lunch, take a nap, visit Aunty and Uncle, go back to shul for afternoon and evening prayers, dinner and bedtime, quite a full day for a retired man.  


    The one change to his routine that he welcomed was when I would bring the kids, usually once a week, to visit their zaidy, as they called him.  He loved and cherished this time with his eyniklach, grandchildren.  He would take them down to the water to look at the boats and walk on the pier. While they were visiting, Zaidy would squeeze fresh oranges on his juicer and serve the juice with cookies while the children watched TV.


    I found my father’s habits very interesting.  When he counted money, he would always lick his fingers first.  He didn’t carry a wallet.  The bills were folded over and when counting, he would unfold them towards himself and count in Yiddish.  He was a fast walker.  I would always have to walk quickly to catch up with this spry man.  


    At 1:40 on a Shabbos afternoon, my father died.  They say when someone dies on  Shabbos this means he was a righteous person. My father loved going to shul and would daven constantly at home.  He lived a hard life, but saw much happiness.  He was so proud of the family I married into and he loved Yaakov.  My father could not have been more blessed than to have a son-in-law like Yaakov.  Yaakov has been an exemplary son to my father. 


    My father deeply adored his grandchildren, and they loved and respected him and gave him so much pleasure.  I don’t think my father ever imagined he would have had children, let alone meriting having grandchildren.  He was blessed, and we and our children are blessed to have had him for as long as we did.  He turned ninety-six years old this past August.  He lived a long and full life, and now it is time for him to rest.
  • Sources and Credits:

    SSBJCC Holocaust Memorial and Education Center gratefully acknowledges the donation of Miriam Dobin’s memoir, I Am Because of You  along with extensive digital historic and family photographs and documents therein.


    The Holocaust Memorial and Education Center gratefully acknowledges permission to publish eulogy to Morris Gottesman and donation of the memoir, I Am Because of You by Miriam Dobin. I Am Because of You is available at Amazon.