Shiva was completed Monday morning for Frieda Hikind, 95, a Holocaust survivor and mother of Assemblyman Dov Hikind of Brooklyn.
She was born in Czechoslovakia in 1918 and came to the U.S. in 1947, where she raised three sons, Dov, Pinhas and Moshe, with her huband, Mayer, who died in April, 2000. Her passing was announced June 17th on Dov Hikind’s blog last week without comment from the politician.
But in a brief phone interview with The Jewish Week Hikind said tearfully “She was an amazing woman. The Holocaust and what happened to my mother and her family who were brought to the gas chamber, all of that is totally who I am and what I am and why I do the things I do.”
In February, 2010, marking the 65th anniversary of liberation of Auschwitz, Mrs. Hikind appeared on her son’s radio show and spoke of being taken with her family by the Nazis from her village in Checoslovakia. “Did i kill somebody? Did I rob somebedy?Why? Answer me why.”
She continued that she thinks about her parents and eight siblings every night. “I don’t have nobody, I lost everybody. Three sisters and five brothers.” She recalled how, when the Nazis arrived in her village, on Tisha B’Av 1941, a day of jewish mourning for the ancient temple, her father told her mother to gather any food that was cooked and the family fled. but three years later, the Nazis returned and deported the family to a ghetto and eventually Auschwitz. Neighbors, who got along well with the village’s Jews, did not try to help, she said. Later in Auschwitz, she encountered the notorious Dr. Josef Mengele.
“Over the past 30 or 40 years I never stopped reading about the Holocaust,” Dov Hikind, a former Jewish Defense League activist told The Jewish Week Monday. “It gets me angry. I feel an obligation to read and learn.” He said that while his mother was initially reluctant to talk about the Holocaust, over the last 20 years “she never stopped.” The radio interview, he said, is “her last testimony.”
Mrs. Hikind lived to see 10 great-grandchildren and until recently, when she suffered a stroke, lived on her own in good health. “We begged her to have someone live with her, even for an hour a day, and she always said ‘God is with me.’ “