Those are two words that describe Dorothy Dola Jordan, better known as Mema. It proves what a special, brave and warm person she was.
Mema, as she was affectionately called, grew up in Poland on a farm with a loving family. She loved animals, especially her horse, and family pet lamb. She was most fond of her father.
All of this was abruptly taken away without warning during WWll when Hilter’s reign invaded most of Europe. Mema was taken from her family where she was forced into concentration camp. She was a prisoner of Auschwitz in Poland, and Ebenser and Styer in Austria. While spending 3 years in these horrific camps during which she saw 58 immediate family members perish as well as 1000's of others. Mema suffered unimaginable things and was forced to watch her parents being murdered. She endured years of abuse and unthinkable acts. She could translate and write German and Polish, this ultimately contributed to her survival. She also worked in the kitchen and was able to nourish herself with leftover scraps from the soldier’s meals. She was a survivor.
Just as the camp was being liberated her love story with Grandpa George began. A former polish soccer player, engineer and part of the resistance to liberate the imprisoned Jews. He rescued Mema. He assisted with nursing her back to health. They went from Austria to Italy to England. They married in England. On January 28, 1951 they bored the SS America and immigrated to the US.
when they first arrived in the US - a large part of the family met them at the ship. They went to live with an Aunt, her name was Pauline. They lived there for a few months while finding jobs right away. Mema was a seamstress and George worked at Orange Roller Bearing. And quickly were able to rent their own apartment. Through their hard work they were able to secure citizenship with the help of the Brodsky's and Gladstein’s. She viewed these family members as sisters and brothers. Helen Betteil’s father also wrote letters on their behalf to ensure they would become citizens. shortly thereafter they purchased their first house in Lake Hiawatha.
Seven years later George and Mema adopted Anne with the help of Harry Brodsky. It was fate that they were able to receive Anne. They were both at the cutoff for the age to adopt. This made their family complete. Grandpa George and Mema achieved the American dream in seven short years. Family was the most important thing to both of them. She was a loving and supportive wife, mother, grandmother and friend. After my mother got married to my father, Stephen, they had Tara. Mema and Grandpa George were over the moon. The family was only getting bigger. Sadly, three months after Tara was born, Grandpa George passed away unexpectedly. Mema was devastated. She had to rebuild her life again.
Mema moved to Freehold NJ to be closer to her family. She was very close to my other grandmother and Pop-pop as they shared a similar story. Survivors supported each other and this was very important in the foundation of our family.
A number of years later, Mema met her childhood friend Manny in Israel and together they traveled back to Poland to her hometown of Gorlec and RE LIVED nightmares of the past. Can you imagine the courage this took?
Mema really shined in the kitchen. Her baking was amazing. She introduced us to chewies. They are world famous. If we were sick, sad, happy or just bored she would be over in 20 minutes. Armed with challah, blintzes, broth, and coffee cake. Everything she touched tasted better. Mema would take the most basic thing like noodles with butter and go, “wait, wait here’s some sugar.” Don’t judge, it was delicious. Mema made sure each One of her grandchildren shared time with her. Her love was strong and she gave that to our friends as well. If we or one of our friends enjoyed a special treat, she would make sure she had it ready before we came over.
Mema was always so happy to share good memories of her childhood. She always wanted everyone to know how proud she was to be an American citizen. She felt honored to rebuild her life here and treasured all that came with it.
Mema loved to tan at the Surrey Downs pool. She won the Senior Olympics at Surry Downs and had many "pool friends" she met daily. She taught us how to ice skate and play rummy cube. She made the best buttered rye toast. Mema could be found in her sun room watching wheel of fortune and working on her puzzle books. she loved watching old movies, like singing in the rain and listening to the radio. Her favorite song was "music, music, music.” Even on Mema’s last day she sang this song.
Her spirit was never broken and her warm and loving soul continued to shine through, regardless of the things she endured. She was always a kind and loving person. She never let hate and anger take over her life. Her kindness attracted everyone. There isn’t a childhood friend, relative or neighbor who doesn’t remember her warmth, grace and kindness.
Dola is predeceased by her loving husband George Jordan. She will be missed by her daughter Anne Siers and son-in-law Stephen Siers, grandchildren Tara, Kevin, Alana, Doug, Jacqueline and great grandson Axl.
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