Flora Mendelovicz

Flora Mendelovicz

Born: August 16, 1930

Berchem, Belgium

Flora's Romanian-born parents immigrated to Antwerp, Belgium, in the late 1920s to escape antisemitism. Flora's father owned a furniture workshop. Antwerp had an active Jewish community. There were butcher shops, bakeries, and stores that sold foods which were prepared according to Jewish dietary laws. Flora was the oldest of three girls, and the family spoke Yiddish at home.

1933-39: When Flora arrived for her first day of kindergarten at public school, she was shocked to learn that there were other languages besides Yiddish! Every day after school she went to a Yiddish school where she learned about Jewish culture. In 1937 her father lost his shop. He found work as a ship's carpenter and began to travel the world. In November 1938 Flora and her family learned that her papa had stayed in America, hoping that they could join him there.

1940-44: After the Germans invaded Belgium in May 1940, Jews had to wear a yellow star. When Flora started fourth grade in September, kids pushed and insulted her because she was Jewish. One day that winter they were forbidden to go to school. Flora took her sister and said, "It's o.k. if we can't study, we'll go to the park." A sign at the park said "No Jews or dogs allowed." Then they went to the movies, but the same sign was posted. Flora said, "Don't worry, we'll get ice cream," but at the shop a sign said Jews could not be served. Flora and her sister returned home in shame. In 1942 Flora and her sister had to wear a yellow star.

On the advice of a friend who was in the German army, the Mendelovicz family fled to Brussels. Flora was hidden in convents in Belgium and was spared deportation because of the efforts of resistance fighter Georges Ranson, Father Bruno Reynders (a Benedictine monk), and others. In 1946 Flora and her family immigrated to the United States, where she first worked as a dressmaker, then completed her schooling, and became a teacher.