Lillian and Irving Bienstock
The decision to create a Jewish legacy was an easy one for Lil and me. We have a lifelong connection to Judaism, synagogue life and the world Jewish community. My earliest memories of Dortmund Germany are sitting next to my father (OBM) at Shul each Shabbat. On a Thursday in September, 1938, my life changed dramatically as my father, fearing imminent arrest by the Gestapo, fled to Belgium. Two days later, when I did not dress for Shul, my mother (OBM) asked me why. I explained that I couldn’t go without Papa. “Where would I sit?” She eased my concerns suggesting I sit where we always did or with my uncle. I attended that first Shabbat without my father, and I continued to until the 9th of November, 1938, Kristal Night, when there was no longer a Synagogue to attend.
On January 15, 1939, at the age of 12, I fled alone to Holland. I was taken in by an orphanage in Amsterdam where there were other Jewish children. The orphanage’s Director, who was not Jewish, allowed me to attend Shabbat services. I became a Bar Mitzvah on June 24, 1939, with my younger sister, Sylvia (OBM) who was the only family member in attendance. It was the Jewish community that took care of me. I was fortunate to receive a visa to the US and was reunited with my parents and sister on April 17, 1940. My father and I resumed our synagogue attendance, and I did my best to celebrate Shabbat while serving in the army.
Lil and I met in 1947. She was born in the US to immigrant parents and like me was raised in a traditional Jewish home attending Synagogue on Shabbat and Holidays with her Mother. We were married in 1949. In 1975, we moved to Charlotte and joined Temple Israel.
Throughout our 60 plus years of marriage, we have been blessed to live in a free country and have lived the American dream. As a holocaust survivor, I strongly believe that the continuing survival of the Jewish community will depend on educating future generations about the beauty of our Jewish heritage. I experienced firsthand the generosity of others reaching out to help. Throughout our lifetimes, we have volunteered to reach out to others. It is our hope that by creating endowments to support both Temple Israel and Jewish Family Services, we will continue to support Jews and Judaism in perpetuity.
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