Elias and Felicia Friedman

Elias and Felicia Friedman… A Story of Triumph

FriedmanE.F.PhotoA1.WEBElias and Felicia Friedman - the early yearsProhibited from owning a business and relegated to the factories of the Polish Ghetto, Eli and Felicia met during a lunch break from the work and agreed to find each other after the war.  Indeed, after surviving Auschwitz and Theresienstadt, a forced march through snow and interment in a German prison, they eventually reconnected in Czechoslovakia where Eli had been sent.  They traveled to the Landsberg/Lech Displaced Persons Camp in Germany.

Under a moonlit sky and surrounded by American Military Police in a liberated Germany, Felicia and Eli were married in October 1945.

Felicia and Eli set sail to the United States in 1948 aboard the Marine Tiger, would sleep in separate areas of the ship on hammocks, and were sick for most of the 14-day journey.  At last they saw the Statue of Liberty.  They would enter this country with one dollar in their pockets, a fresh start on life, and their love for each other.

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Entrance to the Krakow Ghetto

Felicia saw the Statue of Liberty and the buildings that she’d recognized from books at school and knew she was home.

Felicia and Eli struggled to finish their education at night while working during the day.  Eli worked cleaning toilets at Barton’s Candy Company in New York.  He eventually became Vice President of Production at Barton’s and remained in this position until he retired in 1980.  Felicia had found employment as a payroll manager for many companies including Singer and Litton Industries.

Felicia and Eli purchased property in Orlando in 1980 after reading an ad about new retirement communities in the New York Times.  They helped found the Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation, doing home visits to potential members in the early days, and meeting for services at hotels on and near International Drive for Shabbat and Holy Days.  Through their efforts, a thriving congregation and shul were established in that community.  Just as important, their willingness to reach out to others helped many newcomers to the area become part of a larger family of love.  The two often visited schools in the area, speaking to local students, teachers, and community organizations about their experiences.

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