Lilke Majzner English-subtitled 10-minute excerpted interview.
The creative, active, and long-time director of the Los Angeles Yiddish Culture Club, Lilke Majzner (pronounced Meizner), died last Friday evening, July 17, 2009, after a difficult but not lengthy illness. She was 87 years young.
She was born Lilke Nutkevitz in Lodz, Poland, to a Bundist family and grew up with an expansive education in Yiddish language and culture. She herself was active in the Bund her entire life. Her studies to become a nurse were interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War. She was initially in the Pietrokhov Ghetto with her father and younger brother. In the Ghetto,, as a quite young woman, she worked for the Jewish underground (resistance) until she was deported to a concentration camp. She was in six concentration camps and barely survived Auschwitz. (Her experiences in Auschwitz are relayed in the acclaimed documentary film, Swimming in Auschwitz)
After the War she spent some time in Brussels, Belgium, where she married Szalomon Majzner, whom she had met in the Ghetto when they both took part in the Jewish resistance. She then moved with her family to Detroit, Michigan, where she went to university and received her Teaching Certificate in Early Childhood Education.
Since 1955, she lived in Los Angeles, where she was very active as a nursery school teacher with Jewish schools and organizations and with the LA Yiddish Culture Club, both as a leader and essayist/writer. She wrote extensively for the literary journal published by the Club, Kheshbn. She also published numerous articles in the Yiddish newspaper, Forverts (The Forward).
She was known for her passionate oratory, her colossal humanity, her generous hospitality, and her cholent.
In recent years she was also a member of the Boards of the California Institute for Yiddish Culture and Language and Yiddishkayt Los Angeles, two organizations dedicated to the revitalization of Yiddish.
She is survived by her daughter, Helen Shulman, son-in-law and two grandchildren, and many, many friends who will miss her terribly. The funeral took place on Tuesday, July 21, at 4 PM, at Mt. Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery, Los Angeles, CA.
Lilke Majzner Memorial LA August, 2009
Tribute to the Late LA Yiddish Culture Club President and CIYCL Board Member, Lilke Majzner, filmed 8/23/09