In a photograph currently hanging in the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMH), Holocaust survivor Sophie Zeidman Hamburger drapes a garment she wore while escaping from a Nazi death march over her arms, one of which bears a number tattoo. In another, Toby Fainzylber Tambor holds her mother’s shawl and a handmade spoon, given to her by a friend tasked with caring for Tambor during the war should her mother die.
When the first Holocaust survivors arrived in the United States at the end of World War II and tried to speak of their experiences, they often encountered a complete disconnect, such as when an American listener would respond, “Oh, that must have been bad, but we had rationing here during the war.”
The propensity for Jewish organizations to have complicated names and frequently overlapping missions can be seen in the complex area of obtaining restitution for Holocaust-era crimes and looting of personal and communal possessions.
For Israeli Shifra Fyne, 83, this week’s journey to Los Angeles will be her first time leaving Israel in 56 years, and her first trip ever on an airplane.
Yehuda Goldstein is making the same trip. He hopes to reconnect with John Gordon, an L.A. resident he met last year in Israel. They think they grew up in the same pre-World War II neighborhood in Budapest.