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Lasting Imprints An appreciation of Mrs. Miriam Elias a”h

Riki Goldstein

It might not have been clear to Mrs. Elias herself, but the many people who were drawn to her knew why they came. Perpetually curious about the world around her, spirited, and warm, Mrs. Elias reveled in every aspect of life. Her artistic soul expressed itself in beautiful paintings, original literature, and a love of nature. But more than she loved nature, art, and writing, she loved Hashem’s Torah and His People.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Amsterdam or London? Where would they be safe? The question of where to move his family preoccupied Mr. Heinrich Eisemann in the wake of the Nuremberg Laws, which prohibited him from pursuing his business in antiques and valuable manuscripts. His little daughter Miriam was just eight years old when the decision was made: London. It was a choice that would shape her life profoundly. While the Nazis never reached England as they did Amsterdam, their blitzkrieg wreaked havoc on the capital. On September 1, 1939, Miriam’s class was evacuated to the village of Shefford, where she was billeted with a non-Jewish family; her younger brother Mario, today Rav Moshe Eisemann of Baltimore, was sent to another. Charged with caring for her brother, Miriam figured out a unique system. Moshe would pass by every morning, whistling a tune they had selected, and then they said the Shema and brachos together. After more than three years of separation from their children, the Eisemanns moved to a rented farmhouse in the nearby village of Chesham so they could bring Miriam and Moshe home. There the family stayed until peace returned and they could resume life in London.  Trailblazer Schooldays over, Miriam enrolled in college to pursue her interest in photography. The summer before beginning her course, she spent some weeks in a Bais Yaakov camp in the English countryside. While in camp, an interesting opportunity presented itself: A Mr. Kohn from Gateshead arrived to recruit the girls for a new venture. The girls listened as he explained that he was opening a seminary to train vibrant young kodesh teachers. Swelled by hundreds of refugee children who had arrived in Britain on the Kindertransport, and families who had hidden or survived the war and made their way over from Europe, the community needed Torah educators.

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