Ethel was born to a Jewish family living in Warsaw. When she was 9, her family moved to the town of Mogielnica, about 40 miles southwest of Warsaw. Ethel's father spent much of his time studying religious texts. His wife managed the family liquor store. Ethel attended public school during the day and was tutored in religious studies in the evening.
1933-39: Ethel had always wanted to be a teacher. At age 14, after attending religious school in Lodz, she began to teach in the town of Kalisz, where her brother lived. There she was introduced by a matchmaker to Zalman Brokman, who first asked his rabbi and then Ethel's father for permission to marry her. In March 1939 they were married. When war began in September, Ethel returned to Mogielnica, six months pregnant.
1940-44: Ethel gave birth to a baby boy in January 1940 in Warsaw. By November, the Jews in Warsaw were confined to a ghetto. Ethel's husband traded gold pieces for food and goods. When mass deportations began in late 1942, those with sewing machines were allowed to remain in a factory to sew military garments, so Ethel's husband bought two machines. Ethel worked at the factory until it was liquidated in 1943.
In May 1943 the garment factory workers were deported to the Trawniki labor camp near Lublin. Ethel was never heard from again.