Absalom "Sol" Finkelstein, a resident of Vineland since 1951, died June 5, 2013, at Kennedy Hospital, Stratford. He was 87.
Sol, a Holocaust survivor, was born in Pulawy, Poland, the youngest of five children, and grew up in Radom, Poland, a city one hour south of Warsaw. He was 13 years old when the Nazis occupied his hometown. He suffered his teenage years in ghettos, forced labor camps, raids, selections, cattle cars and death marches, and survived the infamous concentration camps of Auschwitz and Mauthausen. After liberation, he met his future wife Goldie in a displaced persons camp in Stuttgart, Germany. They were married for 66 years.
Sol and Goldie came to the United States as refugees in 1948, and after a brief time in New York City, moved to Vineland. Sol and Goldie, along with Sol`s brother Joe, his sister Ann, and their spouses, all Holocaust survivors, rebuilt their lives as chicken farmers and egg processors. Sol rose to leadership positions as the president of the Jewish Poultry Farmers Association of South Jersey. Later in life, Sol became involved in real estate ventures, manufacturing of industrial deodorizers, and wax products and crafts. Sol was prominent in local civic and political affairs. He served several terms on the city of Vineland Planning Board, receiving appointments from different mayors. Sol was devoted to rebuilding Jewish life. He was an active member of Beth Israel Congregation in Vineland, the United Jewish Appeal and the Zionist Organization of America. He was especially devoted to young people, and pioneered the establishment of the Young Judaea Youth Movement in New Jersey.
He was committed to Holocaust remembrance, and published his memoir, entitled "I Choose Life," in 2009. The book title refers to an incident in Auschwitz, when the Nazi commandant told Sol he had a choice to be shot or hanged. In response, Sol said, "If I have a choice, I choose life!" Sol often spoke to schoolchildren and teachers about the Holocaust. He asked them never to forget, and never to allow such evil to happen again to anyone.
Sol was known for his sense of humor, wit and charming demeanor. He loved playing bridge, and was a Life Master bridge player. He is survived by his wife Goldie; children Jack and Gail, Joe and Sara, Eve and Craig (Thomas); grandchildren Adam and Hilary, Julie, Seth, Ilana, and David; and great granddaughter Mina.
Friends will be received at 1 p.m., followed by the funeral services at 2 p.m. today at Beth Israel Congregation, 1015 E. Park Avenue, Vineland. Interment will be in Alliance Cemetery, Norma. The family will receive friends after the burial at the Ramada Inn, Fairmont Room, 2216 W. Landis Ave., Vineland. Shiva will continue to be observed at the residence of Joe and Sara Finkelstein on Saturday evening at 9:15 p.m. and Sunday and Monday evening at 7:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Beth Israel Congregation, 1015 E. Park Ave., Vineland, NJ 08360; or the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW Washington, DC 20024.
Arrangements are under the supervision of Rone Funeral Service, 1110 E. Chestnut Ave., Vineland.
To send online condolences, please visit the "Book of Memories" Tribute/Condolence section on the funeral home website at www.ronefuneralservice.com.