A 104 year-old Holocaust survivor went viral on the internet Thursday when a photo was publicized showing her and her 400 descendants gathered at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
According to Yeshiva World News, the family of centarian Shoshana Ovitz is “well known among Vizhnitzer Chassidim” and was brought together when the matriarch made a birthday wish that the whole family convene by Jerusalem’s holiest site.
Grandson Meir Rosenstein contacted Israeli reporter Sivan Rahav Meir and told her Ovitz’s story, which quickly spread along with the picture of hundreds of men and women, boys and girls gathered together for a group photograph.
Ovitz survived the Auschwitz concentration camp, where she saw her mother handed over to Nazi doctor and war criminal Josef Mengele, who was known for his cruel and bizarre experiments on prisoners. After liberation, Shoshana met Dov Ovitz, whose wife and four daughters had been murdered. They married and lived in Austria, before moving to Haifa in Israel, where they had two daughters and two sons.
“We do not have an exact number, but there are probably 400 grandchildren and descendants,” Shoshana’s oldest granddaughter, Panini Friedman, who lives in Belgium, told Israeli news site Walla.
According to Friedman, she and the other children worked hard to organize the event, but were not able to gather everyone. “We’re missing about 10% of them,” she said.
The gathering was described as “very emotional,” with Shoshana getting up on a platform in her wheelchair to cast her eyes on all her descendants.
She reportedly told her children that she wanted to give each of her offspring an individual blessing, but was convinced to bless them all together. Friedman said she prayed that “everyone gets everything they need.”
Ovitz said she believes she merited long life due to the great respect she showed her parents prior to their murders, according to Yeshiva World News.