AJDELBAUM email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-12-29 published
By Marilyn HERBERT, Monday, December 29, 2003 - Page A20
Born in Wierzbice, Poland, in 1908, 1910, or 1912 -- depending on the document consulted. Died November 4, in Toronto, of general decline, aged (about) 95.
Ben HOCHMAN lived a very long, healthy (and unmedicated) life to the end. In his prime, his first 90 years, he could out-walk, out-carry and out-smile any of us. He loved being in his garden, or at his sewing machine, caring for his grandchildren or simply reciting aloud all the street signs while riding in the car. He cherished life and always faced it with a positive outlook.
He was born in Wierzbice, Poland in 1908, 1910, or 1912 - -- depending on which government document you were looking at. Birth certificates were expensive and especially difficult to come by. On my father's 75th birthday, he laughed and said he was sorry but he could not accept our gift because he was not yet 75. He had been drafted into the Polish Army at 19 instead of the obligatory 21. The only way he had of pinpointing the accurate date, was to recall the celebration of his bar-mitzvah.
Born to Naftali and Rivka HOCHMAN, Ben was one of a family of four boys and one girl. After their father had an accident that claimed the use of his hands, Ben and his brothers took up tailoring. In time, Ben married Hennele GREENBERG and they had two small boys, each born while he was away in the army.
War brought bitter times to the Jews of Europe, but Ben had always enjoyed good relations with his Polish neighbours. In the end, it was a good Polish family who saved Ben and his surviving brother, Yosef, by keeping them hidden in their barn for two years. During this time, two of the family's children were arrested and detained, but never gave up Ben and Yosef; the brothers, protected by the family dog, slept each night in the fields far from detection, returning to hiding at sunrise.
The war cost Ben the lives of his parents, his remaining brothers, sister and sister-in-law, his wife and young sons, but not his dauntless spirit. Ben and Yosef left Poland in search of a way to rebuild their shattered lives. When they arrived at the displaced persons camp in Feldafing, Germany, Ben met and married Fanny AJDELBAUM, a young woman he had previously known from his old neighbourhood.
Desperate to leave Europe's destruction and mayhem, Ben put his name on every emigration list he could find. Salvation came from Canada: Jews with experience and skills in the garment industry were able to enter Canada. An uncle, Mendel HOFFMAN, sponsored him, and so while his only surviving brother finally arrived in Israel, Benny, Fanny and Marilyn disembarked at Pier 21 in Halifax and moved on to Toronto, where six years later, Harry was born.
Life was never easy but, by working extremely hard, Ben made a good living, first as a tailor and, finally, as a smoke-shop proprietor. Ben never minded working 14 hours a day, seven days a week and 51 weeks a year, because he was in Canada. Although he missed his brother, he was forever grateful for the opportunities and Friendships he made here.
He raised two children, Marilyn and Harry, who gave him the loves of his life -- his six grandchildren: Jenny, David, Adina, Laura, Mark and Steven. He was a proud and doting grandfather who babysat, drove them to their Friends and enjoyed watching them in their various activities.
Everyone's life is unique, but survivors of any of history's atrocities will always have a special place. Regretfully, Ben and his brother, Yosef, both passed away this same year. Despite living half a world apart for more than half a century, their bond continues to be unbreakable.
Marilyn HERBERT is Ben's daughter.
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