By Paul Tennant email@example.com, CARL RUSSO Staff photo. Apr 4, 2016
ANDOVER — Fay Glick, a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor, has a gift for beating the odds.
As a young woman in Nazi-occupied Poland, she stood in line for a train that was headed for a death camp. Instead, a German soldier pulled her out of the line and she ended up in a work camp, where she and other prisoners made munitions for the Third Reich.
“I never saw my parents again,” she recalled. Neither did she see her three sisters. They were all most likely murdered, she said.
Many years later, after migrating to the United States, she and her husband Benjamin Glick, whom she met in Germany after World War II, took a bus from Haverhill, where they had been living, to Framingham.
She didn’t know anybody in the town, but she walked into the Fitts Insurance Agency and asked the owner to help her husband set up a tailoring shop.
“He said, ‘I’d like to help you,'” she recalled – and sure enough, the insurance man helped Benjamin Glick establish his business, which went on to thrive for more than 30 years.
A few years after Benjamin started his tailor shop, Fay decided it was time for them to buy a home of their own, so she looked at a house that was for sale, liked it and offered the owners $14,000, which they accepted.
“I bought the house without my husband,” she said with a laugh. There’s a Yiddish word for that kind of pluck: chutzpah. Today, Fay Glick lives at Atria Marland Place, a senior living community on Stevens Street. Age does not appear to have diminished her zest for life. Mary Mazza, activities director at Atria, said it’s remarkable that this woman, who suffered so much during her younger years and lost all of her immediate family members, always has a smile.
During the last few months, Glick has struck up a close friendship with Kyle Mittelman, a young man who made his bar mitzvah at Temple Emanuel on Feb. 28. Kyle, a seventh-grader at Doherty Middle School, explained that bar mitzvah is “when a Jewish boy becomes a Jewish adult.” In preparation for this milestone, he was expected to carry out a service project. Kyle decided that for his project, he would visit and make friends with the elderly residents of Atria Marland Place. “It was Kyle’s idea,” Mazza said. Kyle and Glick quickly formed a bond. When he made bar mitzvah at the temple, he had to read from the Torah in Hebrew.
Written Hebrew does not have vowels, making it very challenging for people who don’t speak it every day. Kyle’s friend at Atria Marland, however, speaks Hebrew – besides English, German, Polish and Yiddish. She helped her young friend with conversational Hebrew, thus giving him more confidence with the language. Now that he has made bar mitzvah, Kyle could have ended his visits to Atria.
That has not happened, however. He helps prepare meals on Saturdays and continues to visit Glick and his other friends at the community. He gladly participates in games with the residents. “He has a deep compassion for seniors,” Mazza said. “They look forward to him coming here.” Kyle will turn 13 later this month. Mazza said it’s rare for a person so young to have such a large store of compassion and empathy.
From Glick, he has learned firsthand that being Jewish can be dangerous – and too often fatal. This woman was a girl of 16 in Poland when the Nazis conquered her homeland and began putting Jews in ghettos and concentration camps. Her family was initially taken to a ghetto in Czestochowa. “I was trying to work to get food,” she recalled. She swept streets among other tasks. Eventually, the Germans segregated parents from their children.
Kyle paid rapt attention as his Hebrew tutor described her experiences as a prisoner, stripped of her freedom and dignity because of her religion. Describing the treatment she suffered as “horrible” and “cruel,” he said it troubles him that people can be tortured and killed because they are different.
Kyle said he would like to be a chemist some day, “but I’ll probably be a casino dealer,” he said with a chuckle. Glick, who used to love going to casinos when she was more independent, laughed, too. “He’s a good boy,” she said. Kyle is the son of Joel and Beth Mittelman of Andover.
Benjamin Glick, who died in 1995 at 77, had a brother Leo Glick, who operated the Louie the Tailor Shop on Merrimack Street, Haverhill, from 1950 until he died in 1987 at 75. Benjamin was imprisoned at Auschwitz, where he was forced to make uniforms for German soldiers. Leo survived eight Nazi death camps, according to a July 27, 1987, Eagle-Tribune article.