NEW YORK - On April 19, 1921, the world was recovering from the 1918 Flu pandemic when Sarah and Moshe Rosenzweig gave birth to their sixth and youngest child Esther in Cologne, Germany. 100 years later Esther is here on Long Island. Now vaccinated, she has survived a new pandemic while celebrating that huge milestone — turning 100. She says her family is her secret to longevity.
"I have children, that’s why I’m still alive, my kids are wonderful," said Esther.
At her home in Melville, which she shares with one of her daughters Naomi, Esther tells us her remarkable story. First, her family’s experience living in — and escaping from — Nazi Germany.
"I was a little girl and it was very nice until Hitler came. We had to go to the street and say ‘Heil Hitler.’ If you didn’t, they came after you. When I went to school the kids said ‘dirty Jew’ and they called us ‘dirty Jew’ and then they started to beat us, which of course we beat back."
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Her parents were able to get papers for them and for Esther to flee to what is now Israel. Her five older siblings had already moved away and weren’t able to travel with them. One sister named Rosa was killed in a Nazi camp. In the city of Haifa, Esther had several jobs. She worked in a matzah factory, cleaned houses and eventually volunteered to take care of wounded soldiers in Northern Israel. During that time she remembers hiding in bomb shelters in the middle of the night. When she was 17, she met her future husband, Siggy Kosiner.
"I had one dance with him and then we started talking and he took me home."
They eventually made their way to New York after learning that Siggy’s brother who survived Auschwitz Concentration Camp was living here. The rest of Siggy’s family was killed at the hands of the Nazis. Esther spent much of her adult life in America selling clothing. Siggy died in 1988. Together they had three children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. The family has recorded interviews with Esther, promising to always keep her story alive.
"I want the kids should not forget, young people should not forget, never, this is history but it was true," said Esther.
A legacy that will live on.