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Fridays with Eva
Caring for and Learning from My Mother-in-law, a Holocaust Survivor

by Bethanie Gorny ©2009, Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-935232-11-7, 161 pp

Fridays with Eva is the warm, sometimes hilarious, and poignant story of Bethanie Gorny's Fridays with her mother-in-law, Eva, an octogenarian Holocaust survivor. When Evaís advancing age necessitates a move closer to her son and daughter-in-law, Bethanie begins the routine of assisting Eva on Fridays. A surprising and beautiful relationship blossoms between two women who are very different from each other physically, culturally, and spiritually. Bethanie is a middle aged, pragmatic professor while Eva is an observant Jew, joke teller, and widow who has survived some of lifeís worst tragedies. Whether this odd couple goes shopping, visits doctors, or sips tea, comical scenes and wrenching emotional ones will resonate with readers.


The story takes place during the last ten years of Evaís life supplemented by flashbacks that reveal Evaís early idyllic life in Poland, her escape to Russia, and her incarceration in a harsh, bleak, Siberian forced labor camp. Bethanie learns that although the Holocaust ended in 1945, the survivors and their children were affected for the rest of their lives. As their relationship develops, the practical professor discovers a spiritual, intuitive side to herself that she had neglected. She begins approaching life using some of Eva's everyday survival strategies. There is a gradual role reversal and Eva unwittingly becomes the teacher with Bethanie the student. Much to her surprise, Bethanie learns that the role of caregiver provides more benefits to her than to Eva.


Fridays with Eva is a heart warming and charming story that will entertain, educate, and inspire caregivers and people of all ages. It is ultimately about how relationships have the power to change us, what makes life meaningful, and how to survive life's vicissitudes.

Preface i


Maps iii


Chapter 1 Kristallnacht in Vineland 1


Chapter 2 Th oroughly Modern Eva 14


Chapter 3 Friends for Eva 24


Chapter 4 Passover Memories 35


Chapter 5 Siberia 46


Chapter 6 Th e Power of a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake 56

Chapter 7 Joey 64


Chapter 8 Eva the Standup Comedian 74


Chapter 9 Th e Baron de Hirsch Connection 81


Chapter 10 Psychiatrists, Medication, and Depression 91


Chapter 11 Th ings Fall Apart 100


Chapter 12 Home Sweet Nursing Home 110


Chapter 13 Th e Doctor Doesn’t Always Know Best 119


Chapter 14 Eva Lives on in Spirit 125


Photographs 132


Endnotes 147


Glossary 154


References 157


Reader’s Guide 158

Bethanie Gorny, daughter-in-law of Eva, has written an excellent book about the memories Holocaust survivors live with on a daily basis. Bethanie, who is a role model for all those who care for Holocaust survivors, has shared for the reader the transmission of the painful memories from the Holocaust survivor generation to their children, l’dor v’dor—from generation to generation. This second generation aft er the Shoah has a special responsibility to care for their parents. Often, as their parents age, the pain and memories control their parents’ lives. Fridays with Eva examines the impact of the Holocaust on the survivors and their families. Yes, we all age but Holocaust survivors have different needs.


Eva and Bethanie developed a special relationship. Bethanie was her mediator, guide, and consultant. This book exposes the reader to the lessons and legacies of the Holocaust and it goes one step further. It shows how one person can make a difference in the life of an aging Holocaust survivor. Bethanie Gorny has made a huge contribution not only to her family but to all those who care about Holocaust survivors. Bethanie’s close bond with her mother-in-law, Eva, is an example for all those who care for parents, especially second generation, showing how mutually enriching the relationship can be.


Bethanie has retold Eva’s story with empathy. Eva had many accomplishments and she felt joy in her final years of life. May Bethanie go from strength to strength as she spreads the message of respect and dignity for those who survived the Shoah.


Gail Rosenthal

Director, Holocaust Resource Center

Richard Stockton College of NJ

Fridays with Eva

  • Fridays with Eva

Price: $17.95

Fridays with Eva is a heart warming and charming story that will entertain, educate, and inspire caregivers and people of all ages.

Bethanie Gorny




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