Michele Seligmann writes
My name is Michele Lowy Seligmann. I am
retired and live in Port Chester, NY. My
younger sister Ellen Lowy Fishman lives in Pepper Pike
are the "adopted grandchildren" mentioned in Esther Wiesenfeld's obituary.
Esther and Leon Wiesenfeld had only one child, a
daughter who died in infancy before Leon emigrated to
in 1920. Their daughter's death was caused by an
infection which also left Esther deaf.
But let me explain how
my sister and I came to be
Esther and Leon Wiesenfeld's "adopted grandchildren".
My mother Sandra Amsterdam was born in Krakow, Poland in
1918. Her father, Adolf Amsterdam, was Esther Wiesenfeld's
brother and Sandra was Esther's oldest and most favored niece. In 1938,
having declined many invitations to come and live with the
Wiesenfelds in Cleveland, Ohio where they had relocated, 20
year old Sandra reluctantly left her family in Poland.
She arrived in
America in early January
1939. My mother told me she never would have gone if her
father, fearful of what he saw developing in Europe, had not
insisted. At first Sandra she felt sad and rejected by her
parents, but when Germany invaded Poland on September 1,
1939, she began to realize how fortunate she was and how wise her
father had been to make her leave Poland.
She continued to live with the Wiesenfelds,
working as a clerk in American Greetings. She quickly made
friends in Cleveland.
In 1940 Walter
Lowy escaped from Prague, Czechoslovakia, traveled to
Holland and left Holland on a travel pass on the last ship
that came to England. Later his cousin Sidney Andorn, a well-known
sent him papers that permitted him to come to America. In
the summer of 1941 he met my mother at a swimming pool in
Cleveland. They married here on November 30, 1941
and after a one-night "honeymoon" in a downtown hotel lived
with the Wiesenfelds. My father joined the army so he could
remain in the United States and left for training in the
south. Soon my mother followed him to his army base. When my father moved to another base before going
overseas, my now-pregnant mother returned to Cleveland to live with Esther
and Leon in their apartment on East Boulevard. I was born in
Cleveland November 1, 1943. My father had a short leave to
return to Cleveland to see me, then returned to his base and
soon went to England. He landed in Normandy 19 days after
D-Day, in General Patton's Third Army.
During the war
my mother and I lived with Esther and Leon Wiesenfeld who were thrilled to have my
mother and her little girl (me) living with them.
When my father returned from the war
in 1945 he lived with us at the Wiesenfelds until we
moved to our own home on
Lee Avenue in Glenville, near East 105th Street, not far
from the Wiesenfelds. Soon after, Leon and Esther moved to an apartment on
Mayfield Road at Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights.
My sister Ellen
(born in June 1947) and I had no
living grandmothers. Sandra's father Adolf, who managed to
survive the war in a Soviet labor camp in Siberia, never
came to America. It was only natural that the Wiesenfelds,
having looked after our mother,
would think of us as their grandchildren and that we would
think of them as our grandparents.
When Esther died in 1980 our mother wanted Esther's obituary to honor this
loving relationship. Thus she had the Cleveland Jewish News obituary end with "two adopted
children and five great-grandchildren".
Fortunately, I inherited many of my
grandfather Leon Wiesenfeld's letters and documents, even
his old Yiddish typewriter. I also inherited his fierce love
of Israel which I have visited 40 times. When I am there I
feel as if I am home. Sadly, Leon, a life-long Zionist,
would never get to see this land he loved so passionately. ē