Eva Nelson

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Eva Nelson

Eva Nelson of Livingston passed away on June 5 at the age of 82.

She was born in Brody, Poland (now Ukraine) to Shlomo Zalman and Bayla (Bertha) Brauner. In 1941, the Nazis took her father on a train; it was the last time she saw him. When her mother heard rumors of the imminent liquidation of the Brody ghetto, she and Eva escaped. They hid in the woods and traveled at night to a farm they knew of. Eva and her mother hid in a hayloft in a barn, above the animals, for 18 months. When they heard that the Nazis were approaching, they hid in the corn fields. They remained there until the Russians liberated them in the spring of 1945.

The only two survivors from families of ten aunts and uncles in Europe, Eva and her mother made their way to a DP (displaced persons) camp near Munich, Germany run by the Americans. It was the first time Eva went to school. In April 1949, they immigrated to the U.S. to live with an uncle in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She entered fifth grade and for the first time started to learn English. Eva and her mother lived with her uncle and his family for about a year, until her mother remarried.

After high school, Eva started working, since her family could not afford college. 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’s Lower East Side.

Eva met her future husband, Ivan, in 1964, and they were married in 1965. After a year in Arlington, Virginia, the couple moved to Forest Hills, New York. Eva got her old job back on the Lower East Side. After a semester (and pregnant), she decided to get her master’s degree at City University.

As the family grew, they moved to Ivan’s hometown, Passaic. They remained there for 38 years. Eva became quite active in Passaic. She was editor of her synagogue’s newsletter. She was president of the Hillel Academy PTA. She was vice president of education and chairwoman of the Hillel Board of Education. She was the driving force of a monthly women’s book club.

As her children grew more independent, Eva went back to school, getting a certificate in guidance and testing from Montclair State University. Her last job before retiring in 2006 was as an LD teacher, and eventually head of the learning disabilities department at Verona High School.

By 2008, the couple’s younger son had been living in Livingston and was urging his parents to move to be close to the grandkids. They moved to Livingston in August 2008. Eva made a group of new friends, mostly through the Sabbath afternoon Women’s Study Group of the Synagogue of the Suburban Torah Center. She volunteered to teach new immigrants English at the Livingston Public Library. She started a new book club in Livingston. She enjoyed attending classes at various synagogues and playing canasta.

Eva is survived by her husband, Dr. Ivan Nelson; her son Shalom (Yael) of Washington, D.C.; her daughter, Esther (Doug Tomchuk) of Red Bank; her son, Ariel (Melissa Feldman) of Livingston; and her brother, Eddie (Fern) Wunsch of Lawrence, New York. She also is survived by four grandchildren, Jacob, Molly and Gabe Nelson of Livingston, and Lana Tomchuk of Red Bank.

Burial was private on June 7. Arrangements were by the Jewish Memorial Chapel of Clifton.

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