Pnina Fixler Lesser, late 1930's
The house where Pnina was born that her father built
My aunt Pnina was born June 7, 1916 in Vishni Bystra, in a house that her father, Smuel Fixler built and which is still standing. Her mother's name was Judith Freilich Fixler but she died in childbirth when Pnina was about ten.
After making her way to Israel/Palestine as part of the Zionist youth movement, Pnina and Smuel helped found Kibbutz Gevaram, in the Negev near Aschalon. Their eldest daughter, Judith, died when she was a teenager of leukemia. Pnina lived the remainder of her life on the kibbutz and was a well-beloved member of the community.
Pnina died on December 18, 1994 at Kibbutz Gevaram, surrounded by her two surviving daughters, Irit and Miriam, their husbands, her grandchildren, and lifelong friends. Her husband, Smuel Lesser, had died on July 4, 1990.
Upon her death, Moshe Godinger, who grew up in the same area as my aunt and my mother, wrote the following letter to Pnina's daughters.
To the memory of your mother Pnina Lesser Fichsler [sic]:
After the death of your mother Pnina I want to honour her memory by telling you a little bit about her life and family back in Karpeth-Russ. I also want to recite the words from Naomi Shermer's song: [in Hebrew] because as you know, I also grew up in the same part of the world as your mother.
We Jewish children in this particular village began to learn in the cheder at the tender age of 3, 4 years old. We studied about 8 years and had various teachers. The last teacher we had in school was your grandfather Shlmiel [sic] Fixler. He was a very special person who made a great impression on all of us children and who also decided about our future. Apart from history, Tenach, reading and writing, he also taught us Talmud, mathematics and reading and writing in German, something no other teacher could teach. He was a man whom we could never forget, even now after 81 years I can still see him before me. He did not have an easy life. I remember that his wife fell ill with tuberculosis which was in those days and under these circumstances a deadly illness with no hope of recovery at all. So he had also to take care of his children which was altogether a heavy burden on him.
Smuel Fixler in the 1930's
"Another member of your family was Sheindel, your mother's mother. She was a very courageous and able woman who was known and loved in the whole village.
When I lived in the kibbutz I noticed that your mother had a lot from her father's character which she later transmitted to her children.
Again I want to say that the memory of your grandfather Shmuel and your mother Pnina will remain with me till my last day.
May their memory be blessed forever."
Copyright © 2003 Karin Wandrei
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