Shabbat Symposium XXII: A British Jew during WWII

Save The Date: December 26 Symposium at B’nai Emunah: Naidia Woolf, Presenter

Following Shabbat services on Saturday, December 26, long-term BE member, Naidia Woolf will be discussing her childhood experiences in England, during the Second World War. (Her memoir, “Reverie: A Jewish Childhood in War-Torn England,” has been published by Amazon and is available for sale.)

During the symposium, Naidia will focus on her experience leading up and during the war, including how, on the week-end war was declared on Germany, she (at the tender age of five) along with over a million other English children,  were evacuated from major industrial centers to the countryside for safekeeping.  This was one of several evacuations of children (as well as frail adults) mandated and arranged by the government in anticipation of heavy bombing by the German air force (the Luftwaffe).

Hundreds of other English children were sent overseas – to Australia and Canada, most of whom remained there until the end of the war.  Naidia will also talk about the heavy air raids over her home town of Birmingham – at that time considered a major bombing target of the Luftwaffe because of its munitions factories – and the Coventry Blitz, which razed the entire center of the city and killed thousands of people.  Other topics will include the air raid shelters and food rationing imposed early in the war—also Jewish refugees who’d fled the Nazis and sought safe haven in England, only to be considered national security risk and sent to internment camps – a shameful chapter in English history.

In 2007 Naidia, all of whose ancestors were Polish Jews, went to Poland to visit her ancestral sites. While there she visited the former death camp at Treblinka, to which Jews from the town in Poland where her maternal grandparents once lived, were transported and presumably were murdered there.  Naidia still remembers seeing the first newsreel footage of the liberation of the concentration camps in 1945, when she was only eleven.

The second portion of the symposium will be Q&A. Refreshments will be available during the symposium.

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