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Debbie Leffler’s parents and grandmother were Holocaust survivors who tried to stay one step ahead of the Nazis.

Debbie’s mother, Helga, was born in Essen, Germany. Helga’s family moved to Amsterdam to aboud the Nazis, but their new lives there were interrupted in 1940 by the Nazi occupation.

Debbie’s father, Erich, was born in Vienna, Austria. His family moved to Belgium where their lives were also interrupted when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis in 1940. Miraculously, Helga, Helga’s mother and Erich survived the camps, but they lost most of their family members in the Holocaust.

Helga and Erich met in New York City after the war. They married and had three children. They did not speak about their experinces to their children; instead, their strategy was to go on with their lives and raise a family. Eric, changed from Erich, made fine jewelry at this workbench for many years, while Helga went on to become a Reform Rabbi. She was ordained through Hebrew Union College in New York City in 2000, at age 67.

The Holocaust Speaker Series is held each Wednesday at 11 a.m. on Zoom. The series is sponsored by Margaret & Michael Valentine in partnership with the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Center and the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.

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