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Helen Freeman

1921 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Helen Freeman Obituary
September 2, 1921 - July 30, 2017 Helen Freeman was born in Radom, Poland to Israel and Leja Borenkraut. She was the fifth of seven children and the only daughter. On September 8, 1939, Helen's young life took a dark turn as the nightmare of the Shoah engulfed her family. Helen's journey carried her from the Radom Ghetto to Wolanow Labor Camp to Skolna Labor Camp to slave labor in the home of a Nazi Squad leader and then to the devastation of Auschwitz. She was selected again for slave labor at the Siemens Motor Works aircraft assembly line. It was here that Helen was liberated. Wandering the wreckage of her former home town, in search of family, she encountered Joseph Freeman, a boyfriend from her youth. Not long after they were married at Feldafing DP camp. From that moment on Helen was dedicated to her dreams for her young family, two baby daughters born in Munich, Germany, Lillian and Rene and her husband Joseph. Helen waited for sponsorship and was eventually aided by the Pasadena Jewish Temple. In a new country, and yet unable to speak English Helen set about creating a home and providing for her growing family that soon included their first son, Louis and their youngest daughter Cecelia. It was for the work of Holocaust remembrance that Helen and her husband would come to be known, travelling to schools, churches, synagogues and civic groups across Los Angeles. And after each visit letters and notes flowed from students who had been moved, changed, even transformed by what they learned. In her soft but durable Yiddish accented English, Helen asked each student to "carry the torch "of Holocaust memory, speak up in the face of cruelty and injustice. After Joseph's death in 2010, as she approached 90, Helen embarked on what would become a 6 year mission to share her own story in all its fullness. With her daughter Cece and grand-daughter Jamie, she was a founding Advisory Board Survivor Elder of The Righteous Conversations Project (RC), an endeavor that connected Helen with thousands of students over a six year period. Through the project Helen inspired students of all ages to "carry the torch" of Holocaust memory and to exercise their conscience by speaking about important contemporary social justice through new media. During this fertile period Helen was also a beloved participant in the UCLA Hillel Bearing Witness program. Helen leaves behind her greatest and most beloved legacy, her daughters Lillian, Rene Grifka (Dan), Cece Feiler (Bill) and son Louis (Peggy (d)); her beloved grandchildren: Jen (Sam), Nikki (Greg), Josh, Michelle, Adam, Jackie, Jamie, Jake; and great granddaughter Riley James. Donations: https://secure.jewishla.org/page/contribute/holocaust-survivors
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Aug. 2, 2017
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