From Košice to Brooklyn

Silvia Fishbaum fought her way to freedom and a new life in America

By RIVKAH LAMBERT ADLER
July 5, 2018 19:46
3 minute read.
The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty. (photo credit: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)

 
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After World War II, two Holocaust survivors settled in Czechoslovakia and had three daughters. The youngest, Sophia, “was known as the little rabble-rouser.” Born with an impulsive nature, Sophia, now known as Silvia Fishbaum, fought, practically from birth, against the limitations of her life as a member of the only Jewish family in a small Czechoslovakian village. Her memoir, Dirty Jewess: A Woman’s Courageous Journey to Religious and Political Freedom, tells the story of her life and her adventures.

Though Fishbaum’s mother worked hard at it, keeping Shabbat special and maintaining a semblance of the preciousness of Judaism was a constant challenge in rural Czechoslovakia. Even as a child, she was already accustomed to being publicly insulted for being a Jew. In Chapter 6, she describes a particularly offensive encounter with an old man on a tram in the relatively large city of Košice.

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