My Heroine – Rivka Hoffman (Kapusta)

My heroine is my grandmother, Rivka, who was born in Lokachi Ukraine (then LokatshRivka Hoffman, Poland) in 1914, and passed away in 1999 at the age of 85. While she is no longer here, her spirit and guidance remain with me and my family.

I chose my grandmother because she always showed amazing resilience and personal strength in dealing with the unprecedented hard circumstances she faced throughout her life. My grandmother left her parents, sister, and family at the young age of 18, and followed her husband, immigrating to what would later become the State of Israel. This act saved her life, as almost everyone left behind was lost in the Holocaust.

She then faced the harsh physical conditions and emotional demands of living in a collective (Kibuts), where she showed compassion, initiative, and leadership. She took on management roles and became responsible for providing food for members on a tiny budget, took an active part in the defence of the settlement, and cared for the sick. Throughout, she gave birth to 3 children (my mother Dalia was the eldest), and later faced additional personal hardship including health challenges. She developed a brain tumour and went through a complicated operation which left her with sight in one eye. This didn’t stop her from sewing and knitting beautiful clothes for her six grandchildren.

At the age of 82, she ran and managed a hotel shop, which included being responsible for finance, inventory, and sales. She went on to learn English, which allowed her to speak with her new grandson who was born to my Uncle who had migrated to the USA.

I remember sitting on her bed when I was 20; my boyfriend had just broken up with me, I had moved back in with my parents, who following work obligations, had decided to move to the other side of the country where I knew no one. This required me to change university, and it felt like my entire life had been turned upside down. I can still hear her telling me, “Tultale (her nick name for me) you know what I’ve been through, and I know the only way to live is to look forward, and always move forward!”  So I did, and I continue to do so today.

I'm very grateful to her for being my role model, and for showing me the way in the past and forever.