LIVIA SHACTER celebrates her 100th birthday in the company of some of her family members last Thursday..
(photo credit: EUGENE WEISBERG)
At one point in time, it looked likely that Livia Shacter would not see the age 28.
Forced into the labor camp at Auschwitz at 27 years old, Shacter could not imagine that in 73 years from that moment, she would be celebrating her 100th birthday surrounded by family in the Jewish state.
“Livia always really wanted to make aliya, but circumstances didn’t permit her to,” Steve Brown, Livia’s son-inlaw, told The Jerusalem Post on Holocaust Memorial Day.
Shacter was born in the small town of Taiche in 1917, in what would soon become Czechoslovakia. At the age of 27, after her family members were moved to a Jewish ghetto, they were transferred to Auschwitz to await their fate.
Her mother and father were immediately taken to the gas chambers and two of her brothers perished shortly thereafter.
After some time in Auschwitz, Livia was transferred to a labor camp where she was put to work in a factory, later learning that she was building land mines.
Through terrible hardships, Livia managed to survive the camp’s forced labor and was eventually liberated in 1945 by the Americans.
After the war, Livia met her husband, Yitzhak (Irving), in a refugee camp and after returning to her hometown and realizing she was no longer welcome there, the two decided to move to Los Angeles, where she had a brother who had escaped the war.
There the two raised a family and lived for more than 50 years.
In 2010, however, Livia decided to fulfill her lifelong dream and make aliya to Israel with the help of Nefesh B’Nefesh, officially becoming an Israeli citizen.
“She called us one day and said, ‘I really want to be in Israel,’ so my wife and I packed our bags and flew over to the US and with the help of Nefesh B’Nefesh, we flew her over here within a few weeks,” Brown recalled.
Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, cofounder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh, said that Livia was a “shining example of a woman who, despite witnessing the unspeakable evil of the Holocaust, did not give up on her positive spirit, her dream to live in Israel, and her desire to contribute so greatly to the Jewish nation and Holocaust education.”
Livia, who made aliya at the age of 93, now resides in Ramat Beit Shemesh with her daughter Liba and just celebrated her 100th birthday on April 2, surrounded by her two daughters, 11 grandchildren, 56 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.
On Tuesday, the Melabev Foundation, a nonprofit that assists Israel’s elderly and those with Alzheimer’s and dementia and has been helping Livia since she made aliya, will host a 100th birthday celebration at their local Beit Shemesh branch in her honor.
“She loves the country, she likes the fact that she is living among the Jewish people and she loves seeing all the Jewish children going to school in the morning. It really gives her a lot of pleasure,” Brown said. “She loves being here.
On Shabbos she has visitors – various people who all enjoy talking to her. There is so much positive input that she has here, and it is really nice to see.”