The controversial Holocaust memorial in Budapest, Hungary..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- I first introduced myself to George and Harriet Gelb at the Wagner College Rosh Hashanah lunch in September 2017. I asked if they would be interested in being interviewed for the Holocaust Survivor Series project.
"Well, George is a Holocaust survivor, but I survived George," Harriet laughed. "You could interview us both!"
And that was just a glimpse into their 58-year-long love story.
George and Harriet met when they were teenagers. They could only go on dates with a chaperone because George was attending a Yeshiva, an all-male Orthodox Jewish school, which had strict rules about dating.
"But I guess my husband was smitten with me because he took me to Radio City Music Hall. And he bought me a gardenia corsage," Harriet jokingly bragged.
They now have seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren -- which George referred to as their "pride and joy."
Yet behind the laughter and love, is a story of a 6-year-old boy from Budapest, Hungary, who survived the Holocaust
by hiding in an attic with his mother and sister.
George still recalls one poignant moment when the Hungarians came into their apartment and yelled: "Jews come out!" All of the Jews had to come out of the building, raise their hands, and walk in the middle of the street.
His mother thought they were going to be killed, but instead the Hungarians just took all of their jewelry and they left.
After that, George and his family went into hiding. And while George was just a little boy at the time, certain experiences remain vivid in his mind.
We invite you to watch the above video to hear both George's incredible story of survival with his mother and sister and his enduring story of love with Harriet.
Shira Stoll, a Multimedia Specialist for the Advance/SILive.com, is the filmmaker behind the "Where Life Leads You" documentary and the Staten Island Holocaust Survivor series.
©2018 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.
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