Our Last Seder
ebration that he was fed with the
spoon flattened by dancing feet
on the table during his bris. He
was a link to a different world.
Because he survived two brutal
Nazi concentration camps and a
and his daughter,
Death March, I somehow believed
Elizabeth, years ago
Elizabeth J. Liwazer
with his team of doctors and the nurses
that he would outlive the nursing
Special to the Jewish News
and administrators who assist them.
home, too. He was a survivor.
My father, Jakob Liwazer, known as Kuba
The radiation treatment for a cancer-
he call came the week before to close friends and family, had extraor-
ous lesion on his tongue a few years earlier
Passover. It was not unexpected. dinary discipline and resilience. When he
systematically drained him of his extraordi-
At 95, my dad's health had been could no longer maintain his daily 3-mile
nary vitality. Although he developed lockjaw, Raising his cup of water in tribute to the
more rapidly deteriorating. walk outdoors, where he always wore sun-
he used the same discipline to exercise his
customary wine, I wondered if he was
Between the call and the cemetery, we
screen because he "didn't want to wrinkle,"
muscles that he had in saving his bread
thinking about the likelihood of this being
celebrated our last seder together.
he turned the downstairs level of the house rations in Stutthof and Dachau.
our last holiday together like I was?
After five days in the hospital, my dad
into his track. His diet reflected his com-
I took deep breaths between bites of cold
was transferred to a long-term care facility.
mitment to staying strong and healthy and
The Last Seder
chicken the kitchen had arranged for me.
I drove from my home in Chicago to see
productive. "Retirement" was a dirty word
Through the veil of normality, my sister
The Passover story of the Jews freed from
him in West Bloomfield and understood
in our home. Until a few months before
hosted the Passover seders for friends
slavery did not hold symbolic meaning for
that however hotel-like it appeared, the
his death, he continued going to his office
and family while I created one for the
my father. He lived that story. Pesach fell
building could not mask its reality as a
where he was employed for more than 55
two of us beside my father's bed. Weak
in mid-April last year and I am grateful he
years because he loved the work and was
and clear-headed, he graciously ceded his
lived through the first week of May. He cele-
Because my dad was significantly older
proud to contribute to strengthening the
leadership role, having conducted all the
brated May 2 — not his February birthday
than my mother, I grew up with the fear my financial might of Jewish organizations and seders throughout my parents' 47-year
— because that day marked his liberation
father would die a more imminent death.
the State of Israel.
marriage. He recited the prayers and sang
from Dachau. I'm not sure he knew it was
My mother regularly took my father's blood
My father was born into a family of the
the familiar tunes — the words sung at
his 64th anniversary, a date I always recog-
pressure and he was on a first-name basis
Ger Chasidic sect; his birth was such a cel-
tables on that night throughout the world.
nized with a call or note.
The few details my dad revealed were
how the American soldiers threw chocolates
and cigarettes to the starving on the Death
March who had taken step after arduous
step on that spring day. Even "nature was
against us," he said often about the snow
that fell the night before. Between Passover
and his personal milestone, Israel celebrated
its Independence Day — three meaning-
ful events in his life, which was filled with
almost as much devastation as riches.
Few dining experiences are as elegant as a Champagne Brunch and
I frequently think about the eventual
death of the last Holocaust survivor. My
on April 10, you can indulge in this delightful experience at Heritage
father appreciated and understood it was a
Southfield. Enjoy our Chef's special menu and see why so many have
for an Eastern European Jew of his
made Heritage Southfield their choice for retirement living.
generation to die of old age. The youngest
survivors are now in their mid- to late-60s.
When will I hear and mourn that anony-
mous person's death?
The obituary section in this newspaper
Seating is limited.
the survivors steady trickling
Call Bridgett Embry at (248) 727-2008 by April 8th.
away. Their deaths are acknowledged by
a designation and rendering of the eter-
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nal flame. In almost every edition, there
are more names beside the torch, which
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included my dad.
Absent from our Passover seder will be
one more voice from another era.
Along with other members of the Second
Generation, I expect to bear the burden and
steward the Holocaust and its legacy with
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even greater responsibility, once the last
eyewitness is gone. Cl
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Elizabeth Liwazer grew up in West Bloomfield,
25800 Eleven Mile Road, Southfield, Michigan 48034
graduated from Hillel Day School in Farmington
(248) 727-2000 • For Events/RSVP use (248) 727-2008
Hills and the University of Michigan and has
lived in Chicago since 1989
Father's Holocaust experience now rests
with the second generation.
Exec tional E ricnccs Every Da is a Service Mark of Brookciale Senior UvIn Inc., Nashville, TN, USA. ® Re r. U.S. Patent and TM Office. 187I0•ROPOI-0410
16 April 1 2010