Holocaust survivor Shoshanna Ovitz had requested ahead of her birthday that “all of her children, grandchildren and descendants come together to the Western Wall.”
On Wednesday, hundreds heeded the call, flocking to the holy site days before Ovitz’s 104th birthday.
“We don’t have an exact number, but there are about 400 grandchildren and descendants here,” Pnina Friedman, Ovitz’s eldest granddaughter, told the Walla news site, as a photo of the gathering swiftly went viral.
“It wasn’t easy to organize such a one-time event. We started sending out emails, messages and making phone calls. It was important for us to contact everyone. She asked us to put together a list of all the names of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren so that she could look and pray for them,” Friedman said.
זאת שושנה אוביץ, בח׳ אלול היא תחגוג את יום הולדתה ה-104. לפני כשבוע הגיעו כ-400 צאצאיה אל רחבת הכותל אחרי שזאת הייתה בקשתה היחידה. ״שכל צאצאי יגיעו לכותל המערבי״. אוביץ שרדה את אושוויץ ועלתה לחיפה ולה 4 ילדים וכ-400 צאצאים. שנזכה pic.twitter.com/YLApyKwHB9
— גלעד כהן | Gilad Cohen (@GiladCohenJR) August 7, 2019
Some of Ovitz’s descendants lived abroad and couldn’t attend, Friedman added.
“It wasn’t until we got to the middle that we realized what a big undertaking this was. Everyone had tears in their eyes. It was very moving,” Friedman said.
One of her grandchildren told Israeli journalist Sivan Rahav Meir of Channel 12 that Ovitz survived Auschwitz and was separated from her mother, who was killed, by Josef Mengele.
Ovitz met her husband while the two were searching for surviving relatives after the Holocaust and married when she was in her early 30s. Before moving to Israel, they lived in a transit camp in Austria, where their first daughter was born. They later moved to Haifa, where they established their family, which grew to include two sons and two daughters — and decades later, hundreds more descendants.