Righteous Gentile's son reunited with girl his parents saved

Yad Vashem helps arrange visit, 50 years later, between Wim Hordijk and Rosa Deshowitz in Israel.

By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
September 27, 2007 22:28
2 minute read.
Righteous Gentile's son reunited with girl his parents saved

shabbat candles 88. (photo credit: )

 
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They had not seen each other for more than half a century. Back then, he was a young boy, and she was in her teens. Although they lived apart for two generations, Wim Hordijk, 65, from Southern California, and Rosa Deshowitz, 78, of Bnei Brak, became forever linked during the 1940s, when Hordijk's parents, Leedert and Elisabeth, rescued Deshowitz and her family from the Nazis in their native Netherlands, hiding the family for two years in a secret room in their house in Monnickendam, 30 minutes from Amsterdam. Hordijk's father decided to save Jews - Deshowitz's family and another, unrelated Jew, after seeing Jews being rounded up in Amsterdam during an outing to buy produce for his fruit store, despite the risk to his wife and three young children. Deshowitz immigrated to Israel in 1953 and went on to marry an American rabbi, while Hordijk and his family moved to the United States in 1955 after their heroism in saving the lives of five Jews became known and a visiting American Jewish businessman offered to help them get settled in California. Although the two families kept in touch by mail - most recently in 1998, when Hordijk's parents were posthumously honored by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations in ceremony that took place in Los Angeles - more than five decades had gone by without them meeting. Last month, Hordijk's wife's cousin signed up for a trip to the Holy Land. He immediately thought about joining the voyage in order to visit Deshowitz. Deshowitz's parents and brother had already passed away. With the help of Yad Vashem, Hordijk contacted Deshowitz and the two arranged to meet at the Holocaust Authority during his 10-day visit to Israel this month. "It was very emotional to hear from him and to hear that he was coming to Israel," Deshowitz said. The time for the reunion came. Deshowitz made the trip to Jerusalem from Bnei Brak accompanied by her children and grandchildren, while Hordijk travelled to the capital from the Kinneret with his family members. As Hordijk approached Deshowitz, she stunned onlookers by telling him: "You are a Hordijk." "For some reason, I was able to recognize who the person was," she said. "I do not know why or how, but I did." The two quickly fell into reminiscences over the war years, starting when he was but a boy of two and she 14, sharing stories that had stayed with them for a lifetime, much to the amazement of both families. "It was the highlight of the whole trip," Hordijk said.

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