Sonia Goldman

"Don’t give up!"

Name at birth
Sonia (Sarah) Cirkman
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Neuschtadt, Lithuania
Name of father, occupation
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Chaya Ginsberg, Homemaker
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents and three daughters: Ella, me and Raizel
How many in entire extended family?
A large family – aunts, uncles, their siblings, and their children
Who survived the Holocaust?
Only Ella and me
I was working in the Prosecutor’s Office and heard the Germans were coming. I rushed to check on my sister and daughter. My younger sister was a pharmacist who went to check on our parents. They were killed. Ella’s husband disappeared, possibly in Siberia. His daughter, Luba was hidden in Neustadt by their nanny, Elisha, and neighbors.  
The war came, and Ella and I, the only remaining family, escaped by train to Uzbekistan. Luba was turned in by neighbors.  I met my husband while he was in the hospital recovering from wounds during fighting in the Russian Army. I was visiting someone in the same hospital. We got married a few months before the war ended.  I hoped to see my family after the war. I had a lot of survivor guilt. 
My husband and I decided to go to Vilna and went to the train station. It was mobbed with people trying to leave Poland.  He told me to wait while he went to try to get tickets. Later, while I was still waiting, I was approached by a stranger who asked if I needed tickets. I said my husband had gone to buy them, and the man told me that he had tickets for us. I said that we would pay him back, but the man left the tickets with me and did not come back for the money after that. I always felt that the man was Eliyahu ha-Navi (Elijah the Prophet). 
In 1946, our oldest child Joseph was born in Bethuen (pronounced “Boyton”), Poland.  My husband was able to find work in his profession in Oslo, Norway, so we moved there.  We had many adventures but, happy as we were, we decided to come to the United States instead of staying in Oslo to better ensure that our children were going to stay Jewish.  A guest at our Passover Seder (festive meal when the story of the holiday is explained) later sent us a Jewish newspaper in which there was an advertisement concerning an agency in Detroit looking to sponsor a Lithuanian refugee. My husband contacted the agency, and he got the job.  We came to Michigan in 1948, thanks to the efforts of Rabbi Leizer Levin and Mr. Louis Berry.  The next year, our daughter Vivian was born and our daughter, Rose, was born in 1956. I became the head of a nursery school which I ran for twenty years.                          
Where were you in hiding?
Where were you in the Former Soviet Union?
Where did you go after being liberated?
Poland, Vilna, Norway
When did you come to the United States?
Where did you settle?
Detroit, Michigan
How is it that you came to Michigan?
An agency in Detroit was looking to sponsor a Lithuanian Refugee. The Rabbi got the job and the family moved to Detroit.
Occupation after the war
Homemaker, then ran a nursery school
When and where were you married?
March 9, 1943 in Uzbekistan
Rabbi Leo Goldman, Rabbi, mashgiach (someone who supervises the production of kosher food), mohel (Jewish ritual circumciser), teacher, and chaplain
Joseph, has two Masters Degrees and is now a mashgiach in the New York/New Jersey area; Vivian, clinical social worker in Indianapolis, Indiana Rose, lawyer and housewife in Oak Park, Michigan
Twelve: Joseph’s five children are Yacov, Chaim, Dov and Rivka in New York, and Sarah in Israel; Vivian’s children are Brian in Chicago, Amy in Indianapolis, and Deborah in Chicago; Rose’s children are Sonya (in Israel), Moishe and Daniel in New York, and David in Oak Park, Michigan; Twenty-nine great-grandchildren: Joseph has thirteen grandchildren, Vivian has fourteen, and Rose has two
What do you think helped you to survive?
Strong belief in G-d.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Don’t give up!
Information provided by Rose Brystowski, daughter of Sonia Goldman.
Interview date:


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