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Finding strength to reach the finish line
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Finding strength to reach the finish line

Inspired by mother’s survival, daughter achieves ‘heroic’ goals

From a very tender age, Rochelle (now Rochelle Goldschmiedt), our third child, was an active and agile child. She entertained us while “performing” headstands, cartwheels, and somersaults. She swam well, rode her bicycle, loved to jump rope, and played lots of different ball games.

It seemed natural that Rochelle would choose a career that would involve physical activity.

Getting married quite young, raising four children, she chose a career that allowed flexible hours and would not interfere with the daunting task of providing proper attention to the growing family. She chose to be a personal trainer and thus was able to organize her own schedule.

Now that her three children are married and one is away at university, Rochelle decided to take on the challenge of running in the New York Marathon, a distance of 26.2 miles.

A week prior to the marathon, Rochelle called me to ask for the number burned in my arm in Auschwitz concentration camp. Rochelle has been very empathetic about my Holocaust experiences and the six million souls of the men, women, and children who perished in the Holocaust just because they were Jewish.

I was perplexed: Why would Rochelle want to know my Auschwitz number? Rochelle answered, “Mom, I want to tattoo your number into my arm with henna. In case I get too exhausted to continue, your number will remind me of the hardship and peril you endured and will encourage me to go on.”

What a profound thought to find inspiration to run on, to reach the finish line. I was stunned and deeply moved.

Rochelle made it to the finish line! In addition, she raised a great sum of money for Chai Lifeline, an organization that helps children suffering from cancer.

Rochelle undertook a second challenge: the New York Triathlon. The triathlon consists of a one-mile swim in the Hudson River, 25 miles of bicycling, and the final six miles of running.

My husband Yakov and I looked at each other in absolute amazement. How will our daughter meet this strenuous task? Does this kind of experience prepare you to be a champion of life’s challenges?

Rochelle repeated writing my Auschwitz number with henna onto her arm; she also added the name of my little sister, Gabriella Rachel, who perished in the Holocaust and after whom Rochelle is named. Yael, our oldest grandchild, along with her siblings, realizing the strength those numbers gave their mother, surprised Rochelle with a gold bracelet with my Auschwitz numbers. Rochelle finished the triathlon within her goal time!

Rochelle committed herself to raising a great deal of funds for Sharsheret, an organization that assists Jewish women suffering from breast cancer. Rochelle and Philip (her husband) are also the proud grandparents of numerous grandchildren.

Rochelle is a great champion!

Remembering the hell of the tragic history of Auschwitz and learning the positive lesson of life, to confront and overcome difficult obstacles is an admirable achievement. May we in the coming New Year reach our noble goals.

We, her parents, and the entire family are proud of Rochelle. Baruch Hashem, Thank God, she is our hero!

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