Robert & Inta Lidz
I have no memories of my hometown of Tukums, Latvia. I was six months old when my twenty-two year old pregnant mother and my grandmother put my two sisters and me in a horse and buggy to escape the rapidly approaching Russian army. It was the spring of 1944. My father, who I later met in 1993, was forced to stay behind and join the German army. For eight months, a number of different German families protected us from the Russian army as we traveled from town to town. When the war ended we found ourselves in American-occupied Germany. After six years in displaced persons camps, the First Lutheran Church brought us to Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Upon arrival in this country my siblings and I were taken away from my mother and grandmother and put in separate foster homes. We spoke no English. Each Sunday my mother took the bus from house to house to visit each of her children. There were so many people who helped us along the way. In the camps we received Red Cross care packages, churches paid our rent and people gave us clothes. I was so appreciative and became determined to repay all those people by helping others.
Bob and I met in Dallas in 1978 and were married in the next year. Bob, a Mt. Vernon, New York native, moved to Texas and in 1985 we arrived in Charlotte with no children and few friends. Bob suggested we join a religious organization and that is how we found Temple Beth El. Having been born Lutheran and raised Presbyterian I had no prior exposure to Judaism, while Bob was a non-observant High Holiday Jew. We felt an immediate sense of community and became actively involved. We embraced the Jewish community and it embraced us. Bob was the first co-chair of Mitzvah Day and was a Temple board member, while I became involved with Jewish Family Services.
Given my experiences I feel blessed and appreciative for the life I have lived. It is much more than I ever dreamed of and has inspired me to give back to others. In my heart I believe in the Jewish traditions of repairing of the world and making it a better place for all. From an early age my family had to do everything on their own. We want to help and share what we’ve accumulated with others to improve their lives in recognition of those that helped my family and me.
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