Symcha (Sam) Rusinek, 99, of Maplewood died June 14, 2019. Born in Sosnowiec, Poland, he lived in Bedzin, fleeing his home on the brink of the Nazi invasion in 1939. Travelling east, he survived by engaging in hard labor in coal mines in Russia, surviving in the forests, living among indigenous peoples, and listening to his self-made short-wave radio.
After the war, Mr. Rusinek tried to return home to Poland, but none of his family had survived the Holocaust. He then made his way to Italy. His mission was to find a sea vessel that would take him, along with other Jewish Holocaust survivors, to Palestine. They found a boat, where they hid under tarps and rags so as not to be discovered. As they approached the shore of pre-state Israel, they were captured by the British and imprisoned in Cyprus behind barbed wire. In Cyprus, he and his peers tunneled out and smuggled guns in, coming together to form the Haganah and fight in Israel’s War of Independence. He was one of the founders of a former kibbutz, Shvilim, near Nes Tziona, and was a policeman in the young State of Israel.
He met his late wife, Malka Kaminska, a survivor of the Auschwitz death march and Birkenau concentration camps, when she traveled from Sweden to Israel to meet him. They moved to Sweden after their marriage before immigrating to the United States and settling in Newark and later Maplewood.
He obtained his plumber’s license and worked as a plumber for Newark Beth Israel Hospital, Seton Hall University, Litzbauer Brothers, and others. He was also proficient as a builder, electrician, carpenter, and tailor. He was fluent in English, Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish, Swedish, and Russian.
He is survived by his daughter, Birgitta (Bonnie), and two granddaughters.
Services were held June 16 with arrangements by Bernheim-Apter-Kreitzman Suburban Funeral Chapel, Livingston. Memorial contributions may be made to Jewish National Fund.