Hands belong to a third-generation survivor.
Born October 27, 1927 | Mako (Makov), Hungary
Died February 23, 2022 | Nesher, Israel
I have a lot of strength and a lot of will to live.
Mari was one of six siblings born to Esther Malka and Itzchak Zeidenfeld, landowners who grew and exported mainly onions. The Zeidenfelds led a quiet life, enjoying time with family and proudly observing Judaism. In 1944, Mari and her family were forced into a ghetto and subsequently transported to Auschwitz. Their father, mother and younger brother were murdered. Mari and her older sister, who were deemed fit for work, suffered starvation and thirst so extreme that they squeezed dew from the grass. Expelled from the soup line, Mari responded with, “I am hungry.” The guard slapped her to the ground. In a subsequent attack, she was punched so hard that she lost four teeth. Mari was sent to the gas chambers but spared when an emergency request came for 200 forced labourers at a nearby factory. She is said to have been saved by industrialist Oskar Schindler.
Following liberation, Mari returned to Hungary to search for family. She found her sole surviving brother, but he died later the same night. “I think my brother couldn’t say goodbye to the world until he saw me,” Mari later said. She worked in her sister Lola’s dressmaking shop and soon met and married Itzchak Zeidenfeld. In 1948 they immigrated to Israel, joined by two of Mari’s surviving sisters; another settled in Canada. Mari worked as a cook in Tel Aviv, later partnering in a successful catering company. She took much joy in feeding others and generously shared her recipes with all who asked. Mari and Itzchak’s first-born son died of malaria at the age of three. They later had two more sons, Chaim and Uri, and, eventually, six grandchildren. Today their legacy includes 19 great-grandchildren.
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