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Esther Tuz​man, 87, Survivor, Businesswoman, Philanthropist

February 5, 2009
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Esther Tuzman, 87, a Holocaust survivor and an active businesswoman, died Jan. 9 at Sunrise of Abington.

When Tuzman was 15 in Nazi-occupied Poland, her mother instructed her to flee to save her life, knowing that there was little chance the family would survive the next pogrom.

In 1944, she met Arnold, the man who would be her husband for 63 years, when she tried to sell him shoe polish.

Marrying in 1945 in Lodz, Poland, the couple immigrated to America in 1947. Tuzman was six months pregnant with their first child at the time.

Within two years, and with a second child, the family made its way to Vineland, N.J.

There, they joined a second wave of Jewish immigrants -- the first having been Russian Jews with socialist ideals who had settled in Vineland after World War I to form agricultural-based collectives inspired by the kibbutz and moshav movements in Israel.

Tuzman worked side by side with her husband, raising three children and thousands of chickens, and saving enough to eventually buy a business in Jenkintown.

Commuting between the farm and the "office," Tuzman helped Arnold resuscitate a dying business, often sleeping on the office floor, until the couple could afford to move the family to a rented duplex in Northeast Philadelphia.

Some years later, the Tuzmans turned over Jenkintown Window Cleaning to their son.

Over the years, Tuzman supported a number of Jewish humanitarian, cultural and religious organizations, including the Jewish Poultry Farmers' Association; Hadassah; Boys' Town Jerusalem; Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life; the Chabad Lubavitch movement; the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.; the Holocaust Survivors' Association of Philadelphia; and many others.

She became a member of the Oxford Circle Jewish Community Center, and later, of Congregation Adath Jeshurun of Elkins Park.

She was a lifelong supporter of Israel, honored as a member of the Golda Meir Prime Ministers' Club, as well as for her work with Israel Bonds.

In a tribute to Tuzman, her family has recently endowed the Esther Tuzman Holocaust Education Fund.

This endowment will underwrite the costs of the Esther Tuzman Memorial Holocaust Teach-In, a program of studies hosted by Gratz College in Melrose Park, aimed at providing public-and private-school educators with the tools needed to effectively incorporate Holocaust education into their respective curriculums.

Tuzman is survived by her husband, Arnold Tuzman; daughters Ani Tuzman and Rochelle Tuzman Sauber; son Marty Tuzman; and nine grandchildren.

Contributions in her memory can be sent to: the Esther Tuzman-Gratz College Holocaust Education Fund, 7605 Old York Road, Melrose Park, PA 19027, or online at: www.gratz.edu/giving.

 

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