Woodland’s resident Edith L. is an incredible, kindhearted woman and an inspiration to us all here at Kensington Park. Edith constantly strives to learn and grow and gets excited to participate in both K-Club and Woodlands activities and outings. She is an avid painter, writer, and speaker, and enjoy spending time outside in the sun telling stories with her friends.
Edith was born in December 1928 and lived in Poruba, a small town in Silesia, Czechoslovakia. She lived with her parents, Rudolph and Irena, and her younger brother Erik. The family owned a general store inside of their house, which they shared with Edith’s aunt, uncle, and cousin. Edith talks about how much she adored her parents. Her father spent several hours at a time teaching her about life, nature, and education while her mother passed on a love for music and language. Edith speaks seven languages, including Czech, German, Polish, Hebrew, Russian, English, and a bit of Spanish.
When Poland occupied Silesia in the fall of 1938, the Jewish population was ordered to vacate the area. Edith explains that her memories of this time are very blurred, but she distinctly remembers the first time she had ever encountered antisemitism. On September 1st, 1939, World War II had started. When Germany invaded Poland, hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees fled, including Edith’s family. In 1942, Edith and her family went into hiding, where they were separated from her mother, Irena. Tragically, her mother died in Belzec, one of the many concentration camps. In 1943, Edith, her father, and her brother were taken to the concentration camp Plaszow, where her brother Erik died at only 12 years old.
Edith and her father survived and returned to Czechoslovakia in 1945, where they were greeted by their neighbors with open arms. She then attended school and secretly trained for the Israeli army, where she eventually moved to in 1948. A few years later, Edith met and married George, who was also from Czechoslovakia but had escaped before the war. Her husband George was a physicist who designed, developed, and presented instrumentation used in medical and scientific research. Edith and George then had two daughters, Orit and Nomi, born after the family emigrated to the U.S. in 1958.
Edith and her family lived in Silver Spring, MD, where she taught Hebrew and Judaic studies to first graders at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. While teaching, Edith also took college courses in Judaic Studies, earning her bachelor’s degree, with honors. Her students absolutely adored her, one of whom was so moved by Edith’s life that 20 years later she wrote a play based off Edith’s experiences during the Holocaust.
After retiring from teaching, Edith and her husband took up watercolor painting, and even held exhibits where they sold some of their work. They had the opportunity to travel all over the world and the U.S., where Edith spoke of her experience during the war to schools, synagogues, and churches. Edith wrote a beautiful autobiography, titled Living in Different Worlds – Reflections on My Life.
Edith’s husband George passed away in 2016. Today, she enjoys spending time with her two daughters, five grandchildren, and Kensington Park friends.