As the second yahrzeit of our mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Mrs. Bacia Orzel, is approaching, the memories that we have are still vivid: the memories that we have of her that display her care, sensitivity to others – and not just family members. She was there to share in whatever the moments called for, both joyous and difficult. She dispensed wise advice and followed up if material help was the answer.
The following article was written for her shloshim, and nothing has changed.
A rare link to the previous generation has recently been lost, as we were saddened to hear of the p’tirah of our beloved mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Mrs. Bacia Orzel (nee Hirschberg).
Bobby was born in Domborovo (Poland) to Rav Shimshon and Mintza Hirschberg in 1927. As a child, she attended public school, which was required by law, but she also attended the local Bais Yaakov, which she was always very proud of.
When the war broke out, she was a young girl of 12. Needless to say, she suffered greatly, virtually from the onset of the war. The aftermath left her no longer a child, but as a young adult who had experienced what we wish on no one. She was bereft of immediate family, as they had been victims of the concentration camps. She was very alone, but the One who kept her alive did not forsake her.
When the concentration camps were liberated, Bobby received word that some of her relatives had also survived and were to be found in a nearby town. She walked for many hours to meet her uncle, Leib Wolf Orzel, and his sons, Feivel and Mottel. When the opportunity arose, she immigrated, together with them, to the United States to begin life anew.
In 1948, she married one of those very cousins, Mottel (Shimshon Mordechai) Orzel. They settled in the Bronx and eventually moved to Forest Hills to be closer to Zeidy’s father, Leib Wolf Orzel, and their rav, Rabbi Yisroel Yitzchok Piekarski zt”l, with whom they had a very close relationship for many decades, until Rav Piekarski’s p’tirah.
Before the war, the Orzel family were chasidim of Trisk (Chernybol). After the war, Bobby was involved with fundraising for Yeshivas Meor Einayim and helped arrange the annual tea party. At that point, the yeshivah was still small. Eventually, the annual tea became a major fundraising campaign for the yeshivah, which had grown manifold. The Orzel family as a whole was instrumental in the success of the yeshivah’s growth.
As a child, Bobby had learned to knit, as was usual for many girls. Her skills came to good use during the time she had to endure in the concentration camp. She would knit various things including socks for the German soldiers, and they would pay her with food. Many years later, she was granted the opportunity to apply this skill in a pleasurable way – knitting beautiful sweaters for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A few years ago, after Zeidy was niftar, Bobby moved to The Lakewood Courtyard in New Jersey, where she was beloved by all whom she met in her new community.
Although Bobby suffered numerous losses during her lifetime, including that of her son Nachum Dovid at the tender age of seven, and her only daughter Minna, close to six years ago, the tragedies were slightly mitigated by the nachas she derived, seeing and being surrounded by grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.
In recent years, when Bobby would attend grandchildren’s school events, such as Siddur and Chumash mesibos, she would comment on the pleasures she had from seeing all of the children. During the dark days of the war, the thought of seeing new generations flourish in such an atmosphere of Yiddishkeit was less than remote.
Her sterling character could be summed up by a comment made by her son-in-law. He reflected that in the more than half century of knowing Bobby, he could not recall a single occasion in which she had said a negative sentence about another person. Bobby was our teacher for as long as we knew her. She taught in the most effective way possible – by setting an example of sterling character traits.
Bobby had a lot of nachas watching her immediate family helping the Queens community by establishing Tomchei Shabbos of Queens and, many years later, Yaldei Minna (which is named after her daughter Minna a”h).
Bobby is survived by her son, Abe Orzel, and his wife Ellen; her son-in-law Yitzchok Katz, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren, all of whom are following in her ways.
The entire family misses her sage advice and supportive shoulder that was ever present. We hope she is participating in our occasions as a meilitz yosher. In turn, we also hope that the family is generating z’chuyos for her.
Y’hi zichrah baruch.
By Yechiel Kupferstein