New York Times Tribute to Chassidic Matriarch

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When we spin our groggers this Purim to blot out the name of Haman, every Jewish mom should remember the Chassidic matriarch Yitta Schwartz who dedicated her life to blotting out the name of Haman’s great-great-great grandson, Adolf Hitler, by becoming the most prolific Holocaust survivor in history with over 2000 direct descendants. JewishMOM.com AND the New York Times salute Mrs. Yitta Schwartz! Read more below…

A Satmar Mother and Children in Williamsburg, Brooklyn


Based on the article “God Said Multiply, and Did She Ever” by Joseph Berger, New York Times, February 18, 2010

Hitler didn’t realize that his ultimate downfall would not come at the hands of the mighty leaders Churchill or Stalin or Roosevelt, but rather at the hands of one young Chassidic Bergen Belsen prisoner named Mrs. Yitta Schwartz.

By the time Yitta Schwartz passed away last month at the age of 93 in the Satmar stronghold of Kiryas Yoel, New York, she was the mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great grandmother of over 2000 direct descendants, making her personally responsible for bringing more Jews into the world than nearly any other woman, and certainly any Holocaust survivor, in history.

You can just imagine Hitler somersaulting in his grave as Mrs. Schwartz joyfully traveled day after day with her small travelling suitcase to yet another descendant’s Kiddush, another bris, another bar mitzvah, another great-granddaughter’s wedding.

At every occasion, Mrs. Schwartz was the honored matriarch. Following her death, Mrs. Schwartz’s daughter Nechuma recalled, “Everybody was fighting over her.”

To her dying day, Mrs. Schwartz was famous for what The New York Times called “her high-voltage” smile, her unrelenting love for life, and her iron-clad memory for the faces and names of every single one of her myriad of descendants.

Yitta Schwartz was born in 1916 in Kalev, Hungary into a Chassidic family with seven children. During World War II, she and her husband and six children were sent to Bergen-Belsen, where two of her children were inhumanly murdered by the Nazis.

Despite her own personal suffering, and her own daily struggle to simply survive, Mrs. Schwartz was known in the camp for her acts of kindness to others. At her shiva, the daughter of a woman who died in Bergen Belsen recalled how Mrs. Schwartz had selflessly risked her own life in order to prepare her mother’s body and provide it with a kosher burial.

Following the war, the Schwartzes and their 4 remaining children moved to Antwerp, where Mrs. Schwartz provided fellow survivors with a warm bed despite the difficulties of caring for her own growing family in their small, war-ruined apartment.

In 1953, the Schwartzes moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where Mr. Schwartz sold furniture and Mrs. Schwartz dedicated herself to raising their 15 children as devout Chassidic Jews, and ultimately to serving as the matriarch of what is most likely the largest family of any Holocaust survivor in history.

On February 10th, several days after Mrs. Schwartz’s funeral, the youngest of Mrs. Schwartz’s descendants was born. It was a little girl, the first of hundreds of Chassidic baby girls, we can safely assume, who will proudly bear the name of their distinguished great-great grandmother Yitta.

Mrs. Schwartz did not like to be photographed. “Just keep me in your heart,” she used to tell her children. “Remember, if you leave a children or grandchild, you live forever.”

Photo courtesy of WanderingtheWorld of Flickr.com

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One comment

  1. Ora Rachel

    Amazing !

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