Hands belong to grandson Saj Shapiro who is wearing family jewellery.
Born December 18, 1926 | Belzec, Poland
Died May 17, 2020 | Ramat Efal, Israel
A passionate Zionist, Sara was devoted first and foremost to her family.
The eldest of three children born to Eliezer and Rivka Gortler, Sara was raised in a small village near Belzec. An exceptional student, she won a national writing contest but because she was Jewish, Sara was denied the honor of reading her essay to the Polish president. In 1939, Sara’s family moved deeper into Eastern Poland to avoid the Nazi advance. In 1940, her family were among the Jews in Rava-Ruska rounded up by the Red Army and transported to Siberian forced labour camps. When Russia entered the war in 1941, an amnesty was declared, and the family found their way to Uzbekistan. Sara’s family suffered typhus, malaria and starvation and her father died in 1943. While attending a school for Polish refugee children in Samarkand, Sara developed a crush on Sevek, a popular boy in her class. When she broke her hand, he was kind to her. Sara ensured he stayed close to carry her books and take care of her. They fell in love, and when Sara became pregnant, they eloped to Kazakhstan, where they married under assumed names.
After the war, Sara convinced Sevek that their future was in the nascent state of Israel. They tried to board the Exodus with her sister Rachel but were refused because their first-born son, Eliezer, was ill. When they arrived in Palestine, they lived in Jaffa, eventually settling in Ramat Aviv. Sara worked in a laboratory and research facility until retirement. She and Sevek split their later years between Ramat Efal, Israel, and Canada, where they enjoyed spending time with family in Lake Simcoe, Ontario, and Calgary, Alberta. They were proud imma and abba to Eliezer and Israel, and safta and saba to five grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.
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