Hands belong to granddaughter Reesa Lerner.
Born November 20, 1912 | Sacel (Sitshl), Transylvania, Romania
Died June 18, 1993 | Calgary, Canada
A man ahead of his time, Eli was deeply involved in the upbringing of his daughters and cherished sharing new experiences with them.
Eli was the eldest of four sons born to Maier Jankov and Frieda Feuerwerger, who were deeply religious and hard-working, though very poor. Eli, a furrier, married Roza Walzer in 1937. Four years later the couple was forced to billet a German soldier following Nazi occupation of their town. They were later deported to Transnistria—a Romanian-administered area that became a concentration point for Jews, most of whom were pressed into slave labour and ghettos. Food was scarce in the ghetto where Eli and Roza were forced to live. Skilled and resourceful, they scavenged for discarded clothes, redesigning them into garments they then bartered for food.
After the war, Eli and Roza went home, hoping to find surviving kin. Knowing that Jews were still being robbed and shot by Romanian guards, the couple sewed knapsacks, concealing within the straps the money they had managed to earn. They smeared manure on themselves and the knapsacks. The tactic worked; fearing disease, the guards allowed them to pass unmolested. Eli learned that his brother Wolf had been shot to death in a concentration camp; his brothers Solly Feuerwerger and Benny Katz survived. Eli and Roza’s daughters, Frieda and Penny (Penina), were born in Romania. Fearing continued antisemitism, the Feuerwerger family immigrated to Canada, settling in Calgary in 1962. Sponsored by Benny, who had preceded them by 14 years, they even took the Katz surname, though they spelled it differently. Eli Kates worked in partnership with his brothers at two businesses previously established by Benny: Viennese Furriers—which did alterations for The Bay and Eaton’s—and Shoprite Grocery. Quiet, and possessed of a dry wit, Eli remained a man of faith, always honouring the Sabbath. Family came first for Eli, whose legacy includes three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
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