Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

She’ll Stop at Nothing

Shira Yehudit Djlilmand

From when I first arrived in Tzfas, I knew about Judy Knauer — everyone did. She was the one who helped produce the community’s amazing plays, acting and singing in them with dramatic professionalism. Later, I got to know a different side to Judy, the passionate, fearless side that brought her back from New York during the Second Lebanon War to run around delivering food and toys to families trapped in bomb shelters. I was curious to get the full picture.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

“I was born in Brooklyn, in an area called East New York, an immigrant neighborhood, in 1932. My mother was born in New York, but her parents came to the Lower East Side from Poland. My father was born in Kishinev; one of my earliest memories is when he told me about April 6, 1903. He was three years old, and his family was ready to sit down for their Pesach Seder when they heard the hoof beats of the Cossacks. They heard the smashing of glass in the streets, and the screams of women. My father’s family found refuge with non-Jewish neighbors.

“Both my parents grew up in very religious homes, but after my father moved to America he became angry with G-d and stopped observing the mitzvos. The only religious observance I remember is making Kiddush Friday nights, followed by my mother’s chicken soup. My mother was a simple cook, but everything she made was wonderful; I have not tasted her gefilte fish anywhere in this world.

“We lived in a good neighborhood and I went to a good public school where most of the students were Jews. But I was restless. I remember asking my father questions like ‘What is G-d?’ We had just one Jewish book at home that answered a few of my questions. But I was always restless, a restlessness having to do with why were we living, why were we born, that I couldn’t get over until many years later when I started studying Torah. But until then I let it go, thinking, I have to adjust, to get on with life.”

Judy’s adjustment to life carried her through college at UC-Berkeley where she studied general education and experienced anti-Semitism for the first time, from a student who made politely snide comments about her “Hebrew” descent. “I didn’t know what to say to him. I said something slightly nasty, but not nasty enough. I never felt I knew how to defend myself and the Jewish People.”


To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"