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Rita Lerner

Music Kept Them Going

An interesting Jewish Standard article about an orchestra of survivors:

From the article:

Vivian Reisman can picture the emotional Friday night get-togethers at her early childhood home in Weehawken as if they were yesterday.

"They always started out so cheerful, with all the music and the singing and eating everything my mother cooked. Everyone brought instruments. It was an impromptu concert," said the Englewood Cliffs resident.

But as the evening wore on, and they sat around the dining room table reflecting on all they had endured, Reisman, the oldest of Henny and Simon Gurko’s three children, said, "they always ended with the same horrible sobbing."

Lerner’s mother, the youngest of the three siblings and in training to be an opera singer before the war, was fluent in eight languages. Years later, after raising her children, Gurko completed the education that was interrupted, earning degrees from the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University. She eventually went to work as a Hebrew school teacher.

[Rita] Lerner recalled that her mother filled their home with music. "She was never negative or bitter, even though life was hard for them here at first, not knowing the language and without any help. Anything she could possibly sing, in any language, she sang for us."

Read the article here: