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Eva Nelson

Eva Nelson

Eva Nelson (Brauner), 82, of Livingston died June 5, 2020. The daughter of Shlomo Zalman and Bayla (Bertha) Brauner, she was born in Zolochiv and shortly afterwards moved to nearby Brody, Poland (now both in Ukraine). Her father was killed in 1942 by the Nazis; Eva and her mother escaped from the Brody ghetto after hearing rumors of its imminent liquidation. They hid in the woods and traveled at night to a farm they knew of, hiding in a hayloft above the animals for 18 months, and then in the corn fields when they heard the Nazis were approaching. They remained there until Russians liberated them in the spring of 1945.

The only two survivors from families of 10 aunts and uncles in Europe, Eva and her mother made their way to an American-run DP (displaced person’s) camp near Munich, Germany. It was the first time she attended school, a Jewish school run by the Joint Distribution Committee. In April 1949, they immigrated to the United States to live with an uncle in Pittsburgh. She entered fifth grade and started to learn English. She and her mother lived with her uncle and his family for about a year, until her mother remarried.

After high school, Eva started working, and she attended the University of Pittsburgh at night for two years. The following year she received a scholarship to attend Stern College of Yeshiva University. She earned a degree in education and became a public school teacher on New York City’s Lower East Side.

After marrying her husband, Ivan, in 1965 and spending a year in Arlington, Va., she moved to Queens, where she obtained her old teaching job back and decided to get her master’s degree at City University of New York.

After having children, the couple moved to Passaic, where they remained for 38 years. She was newsletter editor at their synagogue, Adas Israel, president of the Hillel Academy PTA, and vice president of education and chair of the school’s board of education. She helped spearhead a monthly women’s book club.

She later returned to school, earning a certificate in Guidance and Testing from Montclair State University. Her last job before retiring in 2006 was as a learning disabilities (LD) teacher, and eventually head of the learning disabilities department at Verona High School.

She moved to Livingston in 2008. She became involved with the Sabbath afternoon women’s study group at Synagogue of the Suburban Torah Center, with which she became affiliated. She volunteered to teach new immigrants English at the Livingston Public Library, started a new book club, and enjoyed attending classes at various synagogues and playing canasta.

Although she taught about the Holocaust at Verona High School, she was reluctant to talk about her own experiences until two years ago, when her youngest grandchild, Gabe, was in the eighth grade at Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston. She agreed to participate in their “Names, Not Numbers” program, in which students interview Holocaust survivors and produce a documentary film.

She is survived by her husband of 54 years; two sons, Shalom (Yael) of Washington, D.C., and Ariel (Melissa Feldman) of Livingston; her daughter, Esther (Doug Tomchuk) of Red Bank; a brother, Eddie Wunsch of Lawrence, N.Y.; and four grandchildren.

A private burial was held June 7 with arrangements by Jewish Memorial Chapel, Clifton. Memorial contributions may be made to Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy for Holocaust studies.

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