Journey to joy

While Rena Quint’s life began in the horrors of the Holocaust, she emerged resilient and ready to build a legacy.

RENA QUINT, 81, doesn’t fit the stereotype of a Holocaust survivor we’ve internalized from literature and movies. (photo credit: Courtesy)
RENA QUINT, 81, doesn’t fit the stereotype of a Holocaust survivor we’ve internalized from literature and movies.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
This was, in some ways, a difficult book to read. While making my way through A Daughter of Many Mothers, I experienced a whole panoply of emotions: horror of Rena Quint’s nightmare time in Bergen-Belsen; tears at the loss of her parents and siblings; sadness at the other losses she sustains, especially of her nonbiological “mothers” – women who tried in vain to protect her until they could no longer protect themselves; and inspiration from the courage that brought her through a nightmare worse than anyone can imagine, to create a life for herself that she now describes as “joyful.”
This is the life of Rena Quint, who was born Fredzia Lichtenstein in 1935 in Piotrkow, Poland.
She tells her story in this memoir along with Barbara Sofer, the writer and Jerusalem Post columnist.
Quint, a child survivor of the Holocaust, has not only survived to age 82, but has – together with her loving husband, Rabbi Emanuel Quint – been the progenitor of a family of 55 persons – children; their spouses; grandchildren with their spouses; and great-grandchildren.
What a victory over the evil of the Nazis! Quint spent many years searching for her identity. She has had many name changes over the years – Fredzia, Fannie, Frances, Froim, Freda and finally Rena, making research into her life and her journey very difficult. She has also learned, out of necessity, how to change identities. At one point, as a sixyear- old girl, she had to pretend to be a 10-year-old boy named Froim, so that she could work in a glass factory with her uncle and live a little longer. Yet so many memories are eclipsed by the enormity of shocking chapters that followed the early ones.
Sofer, who is the Israel director of public relations for Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem, is very well known in Israel, especially by readers of the Post. While she tends to write about heartwarming stories of good things happening in Israel, she was able to document the agony of Rena’s early years, help her with research and even accompany her to visits that must have been very painful.
One such visit was a 2015 meeting with Helena, who had also been in Bergen-Belsen as a child, and who remembered Rena from Sweden, where she had been recuperating from typhus and diphtheria.
There were so many “mothers” who tried to help Rena along the way that she has lost count. The good life began for her when she was adopted by possibly her sixth “mother,” Leah Globe, and husband Jacob in Brooklyn. She became a typical American girl and suppressed all her Holocaust memories, never discussing them even with close friends.
In 1958, during Sukkot, she met her future husband, Emanuel Quint, known as Manny. For him, it was love at first sight.
They have been blessed with 58 years of a happy marriage, and today live in Jerusalem.
She is now a much-requested speaker, here and abroad, and has been a guide in Yad Vashem.
How inspirational that she now describes her life as joyful and bears the name Rena, which means happiness.
Dvora Waysman is the author of 14 books, including The Pomegranate Pendant, made into a movie under the title of The Golden Pomegranate. Her latest novella is Searching for Sarah. She can be contacted at