On Sunday, June 21, friends and family gathered to pay their last respects to the righteous Mrs. Elka Braun, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor. The funeral was held in front of Congregation Yirei Hashem in Brooklyn, where many distinguished rabbis and family members eulogized her. Grand Rabbi Chezkel Roth and his son Rabbi Moshe Roth were lavish with their praise of Mrs. Braun who was an active participant of the synagogue for the past 40 years. Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, spiritual leader of Linden Heights and an Aleh Foundation board member, commended Elka bas Moshe HaLevi for the legacy of true faith and courage she maintained throughout her entire ordeal in the Auschwitz concentration camps as a teenager. Her endless passion for mankind in need was exemplary. She was an example of an eishes chayil (woman of valor) that linked us to the previous generations of her parents’ and grandparents’ rich lineage.
Mrs. Elka Braun was born to Moshe HaLevi and Yita Klein, prestigious landowners in a suburb named Siewa in Romania. In addition to taking care of many farms, he was also a manufacturer of religious articles (tallis and tzitzis). Mrs. Braun’s father, Moshe, was lovingly called Moishe the Tzitzis Macher and traveled statewide to provide the religious articles.
During the war, Hitler’s regime conquered territories and severely oppressed the Jews in Romania. Romanian soldiers carried out brutal pogroms. Troops herded at least 200,000 Jews from Bukovina and Bessarabia–who were considered Soviet traitors–across the Dniester River and into miserable concentration camps where many starved or died of disease or brutality. During the war, about 260,000 Jews were killed in Bessarabia, Bukovina, and in the camps across the Dniester; Hungary’s Nazi government killed or deported about 120,000 of Transylvania’s 150,000 Jews in 1944. Despite rampant anti-Semitism, Mrs. Elka Braun and her father, Moshe Klein, her sister Sarah Ganz, and her brother Nechemya Klein survived the war, while her mother Yita and her sisters Esther, Miriam Blima, and her brother Meier perished in the war. (http://countrystudies.us/romania/22.htm)
After the war was over, Mrs. Braun married a close relative, Yaakov Braun, whom she knew since she was a child, and they established their residence in Satmar, Romania where they were blessed with five children. Once the Jewish community in Satmar began to dissolve, they realized that they needed to find a proper Orthodox environment to raise their children. They immigrated to Israel. This was a difficult change and they lived in dire poverty, leaving them no choice but to seek a more comfortable life which led them to immigrate to Montevideo, Uruguay. While R’ Yaakov was accommodating all the needs of the Jewish kehillah in Montevideo, Mrs. Braun insisted on providing community services as well. She helped young mothers with household tasks and cooked for all festive occasions and holidays for the needy in the community. In order to provide the best religious education for her young children, the Brauns once again relocated to the United States.
Mrs. Braun worked tirelessly to help provide for the family for many years. When she was unable to physically work any longer, she continued to be a constant ray of hope to all those in her presence. Her door was open to all who needed a listening ear and she constantly gave encouragement to those who had a heavy heart. She was lavish with blessings to her fellow friends and family and put hope and joy on the faces of everyone she encountered. Mrs. Braun was a giver in every sense of the word. Although she had limited income, she gave charity to the poor and was a generous donor and admirer of the work Aleh Foundation does for disabled children in Israel.
She is succeeded by close to 200 descendants and had the merit to see four of her grandchildren become grandparents already. May her holy soul be a blessing to all of mankind and to Klal Yisrael. All contributions in memory of Elka Braun should be sent to the Aleh Foundation, 5317 13th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11219.
org/PRG_sponsorAchild.html for more information. v