Westwood Cinderella

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A Buddhist Wedding, Christian Baptism, and a Jewish Funeral

by Elizabeth Stephens

File0538

Bebs and David celebrating on the Day of the Wedding in Israel.

 1.0    Auslander Up!
 2.0    Meet David
 3.0    Introducing my Mother the Brave and Beautiful Bebs
 4. 0   Helen and David’s Rendezvous in Tel Aviv
 5.0    I Got the Message

File0577

Elizabeth Lascar born in Los Angeles.

6.0 I Named You After Queen Elizabeth

7.0 Bebs Premature Adieu

8.0 Blackout~The Fairytale Abruptly Ends  

 9.0  Invisible Children

10.0 No Hopskotch, No Curls Child! Big Brother is Watching You!

11.0 Toilet Talk and Bath Time Torchure

12.0 Junior’s Deli It Was Not, Nasty Food It Was

13.0 Outcastes at the Ice Show

14.0 TV Dinners, Sunday at the Movies, and I Still Hate Baby Ruth Bars

15.0 An Uneasy Alliance with My Sis Living in a Parallel Universe

16.0 Say the Magic Word

II. BUDDHISM

File1496

A Young Buddhist Radical living in West LA.

   

17.0  Free at Last! 

18.0  Kibbutz, Kosher Kitchens, Masada and a Pilgrimage to Mount Fuji

19.0 Stockholm Syndrome, Baloney Sandwiches and Sunday at the Movies

20.0 Angel Corps, the Big Apple and Study Exams

James and I at his 10 year reunion at James Monroe High School.

21.0  Do You Have My Copy of Human Revolution, Still?

22.0 The Wicked Stepmother’s Last Bite

23.0 Are You Kidding? Tracy Shiffman Designed Your Wedding Invitations?

24.0 A Perfect Day for Our Buddhist Wedding

25.0 Flowers from Heaven

26.0 Hawaiian Leis, the Hustle and Wedding Cake in Pacific Palisades

27.0  Do You Want an Unbloody Lip or a Baby?”

28.0  The Accident Report Read, “Act of God”

III. CHRISTIANITY

File2498

James and I being baptized in the Pacific Ocean by Pastor Clarence in October 1984 in Santa Monica, California.

   

     29.0  Goal to Be First Buddhist Amway Diamonds

     30.0 Christian Enlightenment
     31.0 Baptism, Christian Wedding and the Pursuit of God
     32.0  The Witch’s Hat

33.0  Out of the Blue
     34.0 An Awkward Reunion

IV.  A JEWISH FUNERAL

35.0 A Jewish Funeral

 

File3001

Advertisements

1.0 “Ausländer! Up!

by Elizabeth Stephens

There was no laughter for them in the concentration camp that New Year’s eve. They huddled together in their overcrowded bunks as the cold Artic wind howled through the night carrying with it the raucous laughter of the guards who were celebrating and toasting their Führer. As they awoke the next morning at 4:30 AM, the guards were not all present. There was an unusual stillness after the storm as David and the other laborers shuffled to go eat their meager ration of gruel and drink the bitter black liquid that faintly resembled coffee.

At first break of light David stepped outside into the biting cold air and noticed two sparrows on the camp’s high barbed wire fence. The night had left behind a fresh blanket of snow and some of the usual guards were slow to get up after the previous night’s festivities.  As he trudged through the snow across the yard to his post as a pipefitter for the gas lines, he would normally steal a glance at the infamous tower which they were herded into during the air raids, but for some reason he couldn’t take his eyes off the two sparrows. Suddenly, the sparrows darted off into the clear blue morning sky and then he heard the sound. It was a familiar sound that he’d heard over 63 times before. But this winter day was somehow different.

January 27 2013 Elizabeths Biography Research WWII Aerial Photographs Bombing Concentration Camps GermanyIt was like a dream. He was much further away from his post as his keepers were not doing their vicious ritual prodding. Suddenly, the camp was alive, men flying out of their bunks, pulling on their pants as the unmistakable roar of British Spitfires swooped down upon the camp. The Nazi guards shouted their customary command—“Ausländer! (foreigners) UP!”  But this time, David was further from the tower they normally used as a human shield above the guard’s bomb shelter. It happened so fast, but strangely was like slow motion at the same time. Many bombs fell, though one struck the hanging rail where so many victims had been strung up over his time at the camp and left as examples. Suddenly he saw his chance as the gate and  guard tower were decimated and a way of escape appeared. David didn’t hesitate, he ran–ran with all his being.

David didn’t stop running until  the next morning when he saw a dead horse along the way. He was ravenously hungry and attempted to eat it raw, but without the necessary fire to cook it found it impossible to stomach.  The next thing David remembers was making his way to the Alps, where he fought for the French Resistance. Soon after the allies had taken Italy, the Dictator Mussolini was shot in a firing squad by Italian partisans.  David then made his way back to Torino to see if anyone else in his family had survived. Finding little to hope for, he knew then that it was time to join fellow Jews in Israel’s fight for independence.


2.0 “Meet David”

File0947

by Elizabeth Stephens

Introducing My Father Vasco

My father Vasco “David ” Lascar, was born on March 6, 1926 and grew up in Torino, a city in Northern Italy near the border of France. It was Italy’s first capital city, home to the Shroud of Turin, and the automotive capital of Italy (Fiat, Alpha Romeo). However, following the Great War (WWI), the control of the automotive industry became the nexus of a serious dispute between manufacturer’s and a complex alliance between the communist and national Socialist movement. David grew up in the middle of “Fascist Italy” during the era of National Fascist Party rule from 1922 to 1943 led by Benito Mussolini their totalitarian leader.

At one point in the early twenties over 80,000 automotive workers were locked out without a paycheck. In response, a general strike was declared in Turin of over 500,000 workers. During those tumultuous years, many families struggled to make ends meet. David’s family was no exception. His parents were forced by severe economic circumstances to place two of their sons, David being one of them, in a local orphanage in order that they not starve. His father was a salesman, but success eluded him as many of his countrymen at the time didn’t even have a paycheck during what would become known as the Great Depression.  Little else was discussed about his childhood.

From 1935, Italy became increasingly aggressive in its foreign policy demonstrated by its invasion of Ethiopia showcasing Mussolini’s National Socialist agenda. The League of Nations was hesitant to sanction their attack as they didn’t want to drive Italy into an alliance with Adolf Hitler. Nonetheless, during the summer of 1938, Italy entered into the Munich Pact with Germany, which the allies had signed as an act of appeasement with Hitler. Already the wheels were rolling behind the scenes in the Italian Parliament.

On July 14, 1938, when David was twelve years old, legislation was passed expelling foreign Jews from Italian soil and depriving Italian Jews of their civil rights. World War II was to break out only a year later. During the ensuing five years, thousands of Jews left Italy, as Mussolini tenaciously implemented his Nazi plan for Italy.

On October 16, 1943, when David was seventeen years old, there was an infamous roundup of 1300 Italian Jews on 44 trains under the cover of the Vatican by specially trained SS. He had a girlfriend who believed the Fascist propaganda and boarded a train along with her family to go to a vacation camp until the war was over. The Fascists were trained to cheerfully encourage the Jewish community that in these camps they would be safe and that the government would protect their lives and interests. David tried to reason with the family, but to no avail. It was the last he would see them. Recognizing his plight, he quickly escaped into the hills and joined the fight as a member of the resistance. Ill-equipped and poorly trained, the resistance faced well trained troops who hunted them down. Sometime later he was captured by the Fascists and carted off to a work camp.

The Germans didn’t know that David was Jewish as he had blue eyes and blonde hair. As expected he was not about to volunteer any information.  I was told that his sister had previously appeared in a Fascist publication showing what the true Aryan race looked like. It was a private joke in the Jewish community, if you could laugh at anything at the time. I don’t know if this was “the” poster, but this Italian girl didn’t look happy kissing the Fascist flag.

 

girl kissing flag

While reviewing his old records from the International Tracing Service, I was grieved when I read the faded grey lettering on a copy of what was an envelope. It read, “LIST of 7368 Jews who have been taken away from Italy by the nazi-fascists.”  He was listed with eight other Lascars by number and name.  Evidently, they were all rounded up from Genova on March 20, 1944 and then taken to various camps in Italy and Germany.

  • 3888 Lascar Ada
  • 3889 Lascar Bruno               Romolo=Emma Lascar         Genova
  • 3890 Lascar Luciana
  • 3891 Lascar Flora
  • 3892 Lascar Mario                 Romolo=Emma Lascar         Genova
  • 3893 Lascar Renzo Leone    Romolo                                    Genova
  • 3894 Lascar Umberto
  • 3895 Lascar Vanda
  • 3896 Lascar Vasco

David “Vasco” never mentioned all of his other relatives by name, so this was shocking. These are family, but where are they now?  Another ITS document listed David “Vasco” as working at Hilfs-Schlosser B’schl.f.Gascompressoren, a forced labor camp in Torino until June 6, 1944, the date according to another ITS document when David “Vasco” and his older brother Renzo (31.7.20) were transferred as forced laborer to the same camp, I.G. Farbenindustrie A.G., Ludwigshafen, Germany.  David was interred there from June 6, 1944 until January 4, 1945. Occasionally, David would leak details about his painful experiences in the camps. He briefly shared about being so hungry that he tried to eat dirt.

At one point there was a turn coat working with the Germans who was a Judenrat (a council appointed by the Nazis to conduct their operations within the ghetto who were later forced to deliver their fellow Jews to deportation trains that took them to their deaths). He knew David and his brother’s lineage, but didn’t tell the Germans because the war was going badly for the Nazi’s at the time and he wanted some leverage if he ever had an occasion to use it. Fortunately for David, he escaped before that opportunity presented itself. I don’t know if David’s brother escaped as well. According to the I.G. Farbenindustrie A.G. his last official date of employment was 4.1.45 (January 01, 1945).

The company is known today as BASF, the ‘friendly, green chemical’ company. On their current website it revealed that, “Ludwigshafen, by the end of the war in 1945, the extent of the damage was enormous: Of 1,470 buildings, 33 percent are completely destroyed.”

Only recently, did I read about the experiences of British POW’s at the camps which began to shed a bit more light on David’s horrific treatment. Evidently, the Nazi’s treated the British POW’s according to rules of the Geneva Convention and were used as psychological weapons and were even allowed to eat their Red Cross rations. They would never eat the gruel that the Germans fed them, so quite often they would pity the cruel treatment of the Jewish POW’s whom they affectionately called “stripees” based on their thin blue-grey striped uniforms, and fed them their rations.

Douglas Bond, a British POW at Auschwitz recalled, “We did learn about the Final Solution, especially on burning days when the wind was in the right direction.” Many British witnessing the extreme cruelty against the Jews which Winston Churchill called “the crime without a name” were beaten and some killed for performing the simplest act of human kindness such as offering his rations to a Jew.

“When familiar faces were missed we were informed that they [had been] deemed unfit for work at the morning check and sent to the “showers.’  Cyril Quartermaine reported similarly. “We could talk to slave laborers and if we missed one after some days we questioned others about where he was, and the answer would be ‘smoke up chimney.’

A Dutch Jew admonished him “to tell the rest of the world what had happened.” Many of them kept copious notes and those British POW’s who survived kept their promises and testified of the heinous Nazi atrocities at the infamous Nuremburg Trials.

“Manna,” was how Norbert Wollheim described British generosity and encouragement, adding that: “England can be very, very proud of these men,…who really proved that even in Auschwitz…humanity could prevail.”

Prime Minister Churchill had been a strong supporter of Zionism and after Weizmann’s invention helped save Britain, he gave his word that a State of Israel would be set up in Palestine after the war with three to four million Jews (Eddie Chumney Restoring the Two Houses of Israel).”

Unfortunately, in 1945, Churchill was voted out of office by a landslide and although the Labour Party made promises to the Jews to secure their vote, after Ernest Bevin was appointed the policy Czar of the Mideast, he repudiated all the pledges made by the Labour Party and “fiercely opposed the creation of a Jewish State.”
David_tankAfter the war, David continued on to Israel where he fought in the war of Independence in 1948.

David saw Ben Gurion declare Israel a state and watched the last British ship leave. He drove a truck and a tank and experienced the whole Arab world waiting to take over when the British left. But that’s not how it happened, miraculously.

3.0 Introducing My Mother the Brave and Beautiful Bebs

by Elizabeth Stephens

 “What is hateful to thee, do not unto thy fellow man. This is the whole law; the rest is mere commentary.”

Hillel the Great

 “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Yeshua Ha’Moshiach

Helen "Bebs" Yaffe as a young girl growing up in Madison, Wisconsin.

a Helen “Bebs” Yaffe as a young girl growing up in Madison, Wisconsin.

My mother Helen Yaffe grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, daughter of Minnie and Louis Yaffe. I knew very little of her early life except that her parents owned a grocery store that she and her sisters worked in after school. Helen, aka “Bebs” was the second of the four daughters. Her eldest sister was Doris, followed after her by Sharon and then Miriam, also known as “Mim” who was quite close to her sister “Bebs.”

Mim recalls, “For some reason I always felt especially close to Bebs. We never called her “Helen.” Helen was Aunt Helen, your Grandma Minnie’s sister. The story of where the name Bebs came from is that Doris was not yet two when Bebs was born and instead of saying “baby”, she said “Bebs.”

Doris_Sharon_HelenBebsSharon and Doris both had dark hair, Bebs and I were blond. Maybe that made me feel close. Also there was a time when we could fit into each others clothes. Bebs and I often worked in our parent’s grocery store. We liked doing that. Doris and Sharon preferred doing things in the house.”

Grandma Silverman & BebsMy Great Grandmother Libby Dora (Press) Silverman was married to Aaron Silverman. She was the youngest daughter of Benjamin and Chiah (Ida) Press who lived in Kovna, Lithuania in the 1890’s. They had five children (three sons and another daughter. I don’t know their names).

My Grandmother Minnie (Silverman) Yaffe was born in Des Moines, Iowa and was the oldest of seven children. She had four sisters, Mary, Helen, Lillian, and Belle; and two brothers Harry and Mose.File4297

Minnie’s parents, Aaron and Libby Dora (Press) Silverman were from Des Moines, Iowa. They lived on 1136 Street.  Here’s a photo of my Mother “Bebs” visiting “Grampa Silverman” around 1940 or 41.

Grandmother Libby Dora Press Silverman and her husband Aaron Silverman. They lived in Des Moines Iowa.

Grandmother Libby Dora Press Silverman and her husband Aaron Silverman. They lived in Des Moines Iowa.

One of their sons, Mose who was born on May 6, 1893  served as a lieutenant in Company B. One Hundred Sixty-eighth Infantry in WWI. In one of their newspaper clippings the headlines read, “SILVERMAN IS LUCKY.”  Des Moines Officer Saved From Capture by Armistice.  Lieut. Mos Silverman escaped capture by the Germans by the signing of the armistice, according to a letter received Friday by his parents Mr. and Mrs. A. Silverman, 1136 14th Street. He writes that while out searching for the assault battalion for whom he had armistice orders, he wandered behind the German lines and ran into three German officers. All that saved him was the arrival of the battalion, to whom he delivered the orders, which notified the combatants that the war was over.”

After the war there was a wedding announcement in the local newspaper which read, “Of interest to DesMoines friends is the marriage of Mr. Mose Silverman, son of Mr. and Mrs. A Silverman, 2401 High Street and Miss Rose Goldstein of Denver, Colo., which took place June 5 in Denver, where the groom is engaged in the advertising business. Mr. Silverman is a graduate of Drake University and was a member of Company B. One Hundred Sixty-eighth Infantry.”

Rose Goldstein Silverman and Mose Silverman, my Aunt and Uncle during their early years in Denver, Colorado.

Rose Goldstein Silverman and Mose Silverman, my Aunt and Uncle during their early years in Denver, Colorado.

Dan Rottenberg, a genealogist in Finding Our Fathers, A Guidebook to Jewish Genealogy wrote,

  • “As European Jews moved from country to country, they would continue to name children after ancestors but would alter those names to suit their new homelands.
  • ‘Names would be modified by only using the first initial, e.g., Abraham becomes Arthur or Alan.
  • Until the nineteenth century, whether or not to take on a family name was left to the individual Jew. Many family names were adopted from the town where the family came from.”
The Patriarch and Matriarch of the Silverman Family

The Patriarch and Matriarch of the Silverman Family

“Emperor Joseph II of Austria, who issued the Edict of Toleration for the Jews in 1781, was the first to require Jews to take family names—in Galacia, in 1785. Jews were given names based on the size of the registration fee they could afford. The most expensive names derived from flowers and gems, like Rosenthal or Goldstein; for a smaller amount, you could get a name like Stahl (steel) or Eisen (iron); and if you had no money at all, you would be saddled with a nonsensical name…”

File4201

William Silverglatt, their daughter Sarah Elizabeth, and Miriasha (Schulman) Silverglatt

It may very well be that my Great, Great Grandfather William Silverglatt, may have had to purchase the right to use Silverglatt as his family name. Later he changed it to Silverman, which his three children, Aaron, Mendel, and Sarah Elizabeth were known by.

Rottenberg mentions that “In 1808 Napoleon required all the Jews of his empire to take family names, but his decree forbade Jews to take names based on localities or adopt names of famous families.”

On the other hand, in some parts of Europe, especially southern Germany, Jews were forced to change their names if they were of Biblical origin.

Under the Baden law of January 13, 1809, for example, Levites who customarily were named Levi were forced to choose new family names, most of which were derived from place names. Thus some Jews have had family names for less than 150 years.”

In attempting to figure out when the Presses, Silvermans, and Yaffes left Lithuania, Dan Rottenberg points to the historic migration of Jews during two periods.

  1. “By the laws of 1795 and 1835, the Russian government limited its new Jews to the newly annexed areas, since known as the Pale of Settlement” which included Kosvno, the district the Press family lived bounded by the Baltic Sea, Germany and Russia.
  2. To the south, was a town called Brody, located in the Austria-Hungary region. This was the “principal town from which in 1880 began the exodus of over 2 million Jews from the Pale to the United States, Britain, Europe, South America, and Palestine.”
  3. According to Rottenberg’s map notes, “In 1882, 500,000 Jews living in rural areas of the Pale were forced to leave their homes and live in towns or townlets (shetetls) in the Pale” [much like those in the film/play Fiddler on the Roof”]. 250,000 Jews living along the Western frontier of Russia were also moved into the Pale. 700,000 Jews living east of the Pale were driven into the Pale by 1891.“In 1882 more than 1.5 million Russian Jews who had managed to live outside the Pale were forced into it, so that by 1885 there were 4 million Jews living inside the Pale.”

    File4215

    Finding Our Fathers, A Guidebook to Jewish Genealogy by Dan Rottenberg. Map of the Pale, page 119.

  4. “Prior to 1918, Russia had no government bureaus to register births, deaths, and marriages. If pre-1918 records do exist, the Communist government there has been reluctant to share them with the rest of the world. It is know that in czarist Russia, Jewish communities kept their own circumcision books, marriage and divorce registrations, records of burials, cemetery lists and so on…few of these records seems to have survived (Rottenberg:120).”
  5. “The greatest single source of Jews since the Middle Ages, by far, has been Poland. In 1939 the Jewish population of Poland was 3.25 million. The Jewish population of the Soviet Union was about 2.8 million—but virtually all Soviet Jews then (and now) lived in areas that had once been part of Poland. Thus on the eve of World War II, nearly 40 per cent of the world’s Jews lived in Poland itself or in formerly Polish territories, and at least another 20 percent were descendants of Polish Jews who had emigrated to America.
  6. “Medieval Jews lived in Poland and Lithuania because they were among the last countries to be Christianized. Poland was still a pagan country until the end of the tenth century, and Lithuania did not accept Christianity until about 1400. Pagan kings, having no religion of their own to promote, were much more tolerant of Jews than Christian kings, who believed their salvation depended on the elimination of heretics. While the land of Israel may be the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people, Poland is the more immediate ancestral homeland of most of today’s Jewish population.

“Jews have been in Lithuania since the eighth century, and in the eighteenth century their population numbered 250,000. For virtually all of the past six hundred years, Lithuania has been under the rule of some other country. It was once a grand duchy, but in 1385 it was united with Poland. When Poland was dismembered, the section that had been Lithuania came under the aegis of Russia in 1796. In 1918 Lithuania finally became an independent country, but this arrangement lasted only twenty-two years: Lithuania was overrun by the Nazis in 1940, was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1944 and is now a Soviet Socialist Republic.”

Benjamin and Chiah (Ida) Press. Taken in Kovna, Lithuania sometime before 1890. Notice the Torah in his right hand.

Benjamin and Chiah (Ida) Press. Taken in Kovna, Lithuania sometime before 1890. Notice the Torah in his right hand.

Great Grandmother Libby Dora Press’s parents were from Kovna, Lithuania. This photograph was taken sometime before 1890. Evidently, they had five children, three boys and two girls. The youngest was Libby who married Aaron Silverman.

I’m not sure exactly when Louis Yaffe came over but it may have been during the great migration out of Lithuania prior to World War I, since Grandmother Minnie’s brother Mose served as a US Lieutenant in 1918.

According to Mim, my Grandfather, Minnie’s husband, “Louis Yaffe was from Lithuania where he was apprenticed to a man who had orchards.”

Dan Rottenberg in his genealogical index, wrote that Yaffe is a variation of “Jaffe (also Jaffa, Jaffin, Jofe, Joffin, Ioffe)—Widespread rabbinic family whose branches in Italy, Russia, Austria, Germany, U.S.A., and Britain all descend from Mordecai Jaffe of Prague (1530-1612) and his uncle Moses Jaffe, who traced their ancestry to Samuel ben Elhanan, great-grandson of RASHI (1040-1105).* The name is Hebrew for “beautiful.”

Mim recalled, “I think he was around 19 or 20 when he came to the U.S. He had a cousin in Milwaukee who was married to a cousin of Minnie’s. That’s how Minnie and Louis met. When they married Grandpa Louis was a farmer and took Minnie—a city girl—to the farm. Doris and Bebs remembered living on the farm. I don’t know if Sharon remembers it. I don’t. I was probably only 2 or 3 when we moved into the city of Madison.”

“Bebs majored in math in college, Doris in humanities (she was Phi Beta Kappa!) Sharon majored in music. She’s amazing. She can play anything she hears.”

File0517File0518

Your mother suffered from asthma all her short life. It was she who got us all to move to California. She first went to Colorado but the altitude was too much for her, so she went on to California. There she met your Grandma Minnie’s first cousins. She determined to stay in California, so soon after Aunt Lily and Belle and I with my grandfather Aaron Silverman drove from Madison, Wisconsin to Los Angeles.

Mim continued, “Bebs booked passage on a freighter after living in Los Angeles for some time. The freighter took her around the world and she got off at Haifa, Israel.

“Bebs” had saved her money to go on vacation to Hawaii, but the family told her she needed to spend her money in the homeland, Israel. As soon as Britain hauled down their Union Jack on May 14, 1948, Israel raised its flag featuring the Star of David. Israel’s engaged in a War for its Independence and she needed to support the cause. I am sure they wanted her to find a nice Jewish boy and settle down there.

The family seemed to have some means, so I was surprised that she was traveling alone during such perilous times. She must have been very brave.

From historic photos, I pieced together that my mother had traveled to many places before arriving in Israel. She had secured passage aboard a freighter bound to Tel Aviv.

Bebs aboard the LaSalle.

Bebs aboard the LaSalle.

From Tel Aviv she wrote on August 4, 1949, “It’s pretty doggone hot in Tel Aviv, but tomorrow I’m going to Jerusalem where they tell me it’s cooler. Here I am definitely not making the most of my time because I really don’t have the energy to move. Attended the transcription of the Town meeting of the Air Sunday-you’ll hear it in the USA in about 3 weeks. Also saw La Boheme put on by the Hebrew National Opera. I enjoyed it. More another time. Love, Helen (“Bebs”).

postcard_1

So far this is the story that I’ve pieced together of my brave and beautiful mother Bebs early years thanks to Mim and others.  Although, I don’t remember her, my youngest daughter Taylor has said on many occasions, “Mom, she must have loved you very much.

*”No family can trace its ancestry back to Rashi in an unbroken line (Dan Rottenberg).

Regarding Rottenberg’s research on Rashi: “While it’s exciting to think about being related to Rashi, “consider the lineage I constructed after discovering in some old Hebrew books that the Marguilies branch of my family claimed to be descended from Rashi, the famous Talmudic commentator of eleventh-century France. Rashi is supposed to have been descended in the thirty-third generation from Johanan ha-Sandalar, who lived in second-century Egypt. Johanan was a great-grandson of Rabbi Gamaliel the Elder, who was in turn the grandson of Hillel the Great, the sage who lived in Jerusalem during the time of King Herod and Jesus”  (Dan Rottenberg in Finding Our Fathers).

4.0 “Helen and David’s Rendezvous in Tel Aviv”

by Elizabeth Stephens

A Whirlwind Courtship on an Israeli Beach

On “May 14, 1948 the British hauled down their Union Jack. And then the same day, Israel proceeded to raise its newly designed flag featuring the Star of David. My father David saw  Ben-Gurion declare Israel a State and become Israel’s first Prime Minister. Chaim Weizman later became the first President of the new Republic. Within minutes, President Truman issued a statement extending de facto recognition to Israel as a sovereign nation. ” Few would have believed that a nation could be born in a day. Before the day ended, Egyptian planes were already bombing Tel Aviv.

File0540

My Mother Bebs’ adventure onboard a Cargo Ship in 1949.

“Bebs” had saved her money to go on vacation to Hawaii, but the family told her she needed to spend her money in their ancient homeland, Israel as it was  engaged in a War for its Independence and she needed to support the cause. I am sure they wanted her to find a nice Jewish boy and settle down there.

The family seemed to have some means, so I was surprised that she was traveling alone during such perilous times. She must have been very brave.

When my Mother Bebs stepped off the cargo ship in Haifa, Israel in August 1949, there was a heightened sense of euphoria in the air as the modern State of Israel experienced rebirth.  As soon as my Father David saw Helen it was love at first sight.  He immediately told his buddies that she was the girl he was going to marry. There was no time to lose as there was a nation to build.

According to her sister Mim, “Maybe meeting David–love at first sight–made her decide not to get back on board the ship for the next port. She was a very independent thinker.”

File0535

It was love at first sight. David told his army buddies on the beach, “She’s the one.”

Helen spoke no Hebrew or Italian; David spoke no English, so they conversed in French. After a whirlwind courtship during a two week period, they fell in love and were married.  According to a relative, Helen and David met the day she arrived in Israel. They made a very handsome couple.

Helen wrote on the back of one her last single photos,

“Tel Aviv—8/13/49~ When I (Helen) was still free & unmarried.

Taken at a sidewalk café on Ben Yehuda St. after we decided to be married the 15th.”  

 

The wedding of my parents.

How beautiful my Mother Helen looked in her veil & her groom, David so very attentive.

File0534

David Lascar do you take Bebs Yaffe to be your lawfully wedded wife as long as you both shall live so help you God? I do.

David and Helen’s Marriage Certificate.

David carried this piece of paper around in his wallet. It was found among my mother’s things. It seemed very special and it made me believe that he had truly loved his wife.

File0538

David and Helen at a table celebrating

The Celebration

Helen then returned home and later David was to follow her to America. I have several postcards beautifully written in Italian sent to my mother from her new husband.

  Don’t Forget Me 

He seemed to be saying, ‘Don’t forget me.’ When I studied some of the addresses I wondered how these postcards ever got delivered.

I am sure the family was in shock that she had married a soldier.  I don’t think they were pleased at all. But then David was finally was on his way to be reunited with his beloved Helen.

5.0 “I Got the Message”

by Elizabeth Stephens

File3134

David preparing for arrival at Ellis Island in New York.

David had a favorite expression. It was, “I got the message.”  When David arrived by way of Ellis Island on July 19, 1950 (yes, he came over on the boat), the relatives in New York picked him up and took him out to an Italian restaurant so he could order in his own language. As David tells the story, one of his favorite, he said he only knew one thing on the menu, “beef steak.”

After the relatives had an attack over the price, he changed his order to spaghetti. For the next 40 plus years, David complained that the dish was really from Sicily, made with red sauce, full of spices, and not to his liking.  He was from the town of Torino in Northern Italy and they loved white sauce.  After his first disastrous encounter with the family, Helen and David settled on the other side of the country.

They first moved to an apartment in Los Angeles and later to a house in Venice, California, complete with canals, reminding him of Venice, Italy.

File0597

Venice, California

According to some old receipts they lived at 1208 Venice Blvd and then bought a house at 2408 Cloy Street in Venice. David worked for a furniture business, doing deliveries. I knew this because it was on my birth certificate and from the following picture.

In the fifties, there were a lot of photos with men showing off their muscles and their cars.    David was no exception, with the addition of a plane as well. He later told me, ‘Make your photos interesting.”

6.0 “I Named You After Queen Elizabeth”

by Elizabeth Stephens

Two new arrivals at the Queen of Angels Hospital

File3026

A more recent photo of the Queen of Angels Hospital where I was born on May 08, 1952.The Queen of Angels Hospital was founded by the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart in 1926 and served celebrities and poor immigrants. It’s now the Dream Center of Los Angeles.

 After some months, Helen got pregnant and they had a little girl, Adrianna, my sister. Nine months later I, Elizabeth Lascar came on the scene.

I was born on May 8, 1952 at Queen of Angels Hospital in Los Angeles. David told me I was named after two Elizabeth’s, Elizabeth Taylor and Queen Elizabeth. David felt he owed his survival to the strategic bombing of a British Spitfire enabling his escape from a Nazi Concentration camp on one winter’s day.

Here’s a photo of VE Day (Victory in Europe) which occurred on May 8, 1945. Pictured are Princess Elizabeth and Queen Elizabeth standing next to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, King George and Princess Margaret. I was born 7 years later on May 8, 1952. That’s why David told me I was named after Queen Elizabeth.

October 17 2013 Queen Elizabeth Princess Elizabeth VE Day May 8 1945

My youngest daughter Taylor has said to me on more than one occasion, “It’s very obvious that your Mom Bebs and Dad David loved you very much.”

File0596

They were so happy to have two daughters as you can see by all the photos. Living in Venice, the family loved going to the beach for recreation as well.

David was very skilled with his hands and after he would see something in a store, he’d go home and make it from memory. Here is the wooden rocking horse he made for Adrianna and me. They were thrilled having two baby girls.

File0602

I don’t remember much from my early childhood as I was very young at the time. Here I’m holding a couple of my favorite stuffed animals.

File0616

I did see an old video tape which provided a brief glimpse us as kids jumping up and down in our crib. My past came alive for a moment.

These photos are all that exist in my memory of my time with my Mother Bebs.

I didn’t know I had ever visited Tijuana, but one of the final pictures in this gallery is evidence that I’ve been south of the border. I recently read on the back of the picture that the photo was taken while we were on my Dad David’s vacation.

File3127