Tag Archives: Leo Groen

Nothing left to say but Thank You..to a whole lot of people

Ancestry_00004A

My Uncle Bram Rodrugues, killed at the age of 18 in Auschwitz in 1943

How do I sum up an incredible trip in which my family and I were presented with the violin of our lost uncle ( https://www.timesofisrael.com/ )    better than saying thank you to everyone around me that helped make it the trip of a lifetime.  So here it goes.

Thank you…

Eli Baran, for not only giving me a place to stay in London but for being a great friend for over 40 years.

Thank you to David, Giel and all the crew of the production company filming the documentary for helping to make this feel like even a bigger deal and for making me feel like a celebrity from the moment I got off the plane in Amsterdam.

Thank you to my cousins Eli, Aanya and Bettie for making this part of your life for a few very special days, and an additional special thank you to Eli and Aanya for their hospitality.

Thank you to Bar, the young Jewish man who gave a special private tour and review of documents from the Spanish Portuguese Syanagogue to me and my sister and her kids.

Thank you to Els, the woman who, 5 minutes after I met her,  showed me around the last neighborhood my mother worked in before fleeing Amsterdam.

Thank you to Rabbi Amiel and Susan Novoseller for coming from Philadelphia just to be at the ceremony. You are true friends.

Thank you to the magic 12 representing the te Kieftes. A special thank you to Harm Kuiper for his help in the process.

Thank you to Nico de Haan, an unsung hero in the entire process.

Thank you to my nephew Jackson for being the artwork hero.

Thank you to Nina Staretz of the Israeli Embassy, David Simon of Friends of Yad Vashem in Holland and Peggy Frankston of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC for not only attending but for sharing their beautiful and meaningful thoughts.

Thank you to Huize Frankendael for hosting a tremendous event in a professional and friendly manner.

Thank you to various friends and family who came from far and wide to witness this special occasion.

Thank you to Jennifer, Ami, Matan, Becca, Jack and Josh for representing the grandchildren and great grandchildren of Mom and Dad, their Oma and Opa (and Uber Opa).

Jantien van de Berg and her family for opening up the home where my mother and Bram grew up to me and my family.

Thank you to all my siblings, blood or otherwise for being on the same page from day one.  I’m proud to be the brother of such good people.

Thank you Wim de Haan. Of all the things you did to make this happen and all you accomplished, I think the one thing that exceeded everything else and what you may be happiest about is that you would have made your father proud.  Your decency and character is not only a tribute to you but a tribute to where you come from.

Thank you Oom Bram.  To relate to this thank you may need to believe in souls and the power they have, potentially forever.  Thank you Oom Bram for being a presence that stayed in our lives even before something so tangible presented itself, and thank you for having such character that your short life ultimately presented an opportunity to see the best that life has to offer.

Thank you Mom…..Just thank you.

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Generations of Love and Family

generationsAs many of you reading this already know, the 
book Jew Face is the story of my parents 
journeys and survival during the Nazi 
occupation of Holland between 1940-1945.  
There are many reasons this story is 
important.  Some are general for a large 
group of people, while others are more 
pertinent to the individuals in the story.  
The most significant being the impact it has 
on all the family members involved and the 
generations that have followed.

My parents, Nardus and Sipora Groen, started a 
new world with the birth of their first son, 
and my oldest brother Marcel.  He would be 
followed by Leo, Ruben, my one sister Debby, 
and then me.  Between the children my parents 
would get 12 grandchildren, and as it stands now, 
8 great grandchildren.  It should be noted that the 8 great grandchildren 
come from only 3 of the grandchildren, the 3 oldest children of Marcel and 
his wife Bernice, so there is still plenty of opportunity for the remaining 
grandchildren to add to that number.  It is a story of survival in the 
greatest sense.  A world almost destroyed now stands at over 30 people and 
growing, and that is without counting extended family.

The reason for this post today is because some events and family 
members represent the glory and greatness that is the survival of a 
family.  This weekend my nephew Justin and his fiance Kim will be 
married.  Justin, who is the youngest of Marcel and Bernice's children 
is one of those people who is loved and respected by those who know him,
and has the great ability to show that love and respect in return on a 
regular basis.  Nothing symbolizes it more than the relationship he had 
with his "Opa" and still has with his "Oma".  Opa and Oma are the Dutch 
words for grandfather and grandmother and in this case represent my 
parents, Nardus and Sipora Groen.  I still remember when my father had 
his heart attack about 15 years ago on the 7th day of Passover, and 
walking up and finding Justin holding him in his arms in the back of a 
police car right outside Beth Shalom synagogue in Elkins Park, Pa. 
until the ambulance arrived.  Their relationship would always be 
close and even though my father passed away close to 6 years ago, 
Justin still wears the pin he gave him on the lapel of his suit in 
synagogue and intends to use his Opa's Talit (prayer shawl) at his 
upcoming wedding.   His relationship with his Oma may be even more 
special.  This is a relationship of mutual affection and respect rarely 
seen between 2 people separated by 58 years, be it relatives or not.  
They not only love and respect each other but they enjoy each other's
company in a very special way, and as a son and a uncle it always warms 
my heart to see.

As I write this piece, a few days prior to the wedding, the best news 
of all may be that Justin is marrying a woman with the same wonderful 
qualities he possesses and someone with the same values of goodness and 
love for family and friends we wish everyone possessed.

As Kim joins the family this weekend the family grows and the 
significance of what was saved so many years ago becomes even more 
significant and beautiful.  It is said that when you save one person 
you save an entire world.  As I write this I have joy in my heart for 
the world of my parents that was saved, and the world that it has 
become with the generations to follow.

Congressional Tribute to Nardus Groen


[Congressional Record Volume 153, Number 112 
(Friday, July 13, 2007)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1512]
From the Congressional Record Online through the 
Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                     TRIBUTE TO 
                 RABBI NARDUS GROEN

                      ______

                            HON. JOE SESTAK

                            of pennsylvania

                    in the house of representatives

                        Thursday, July 12, 2007

  Mr. SESTAK. Madam Speaker, I rise today to recognize and honor the 
life of a husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, 
son, veteran, and community leader--Rabbi Nardus Groen, who passed away 
on Wednesday, June 13 after living a full life of community service.
  Rabbi Nardus Groen was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on 
December 18, 1919 and grew to become a hero and a family man. As a 
member of the Dutch Underground during World War II, Rabbi Groen was 
captured by German soldiers multiple times and heroically managed to 
escape each time. One particular act of heroism occurred in 1940 when 
Groen was guarding a Jewish hospital in the Netherlands during its 
evacuation. Although the patients had escaped, Groen was protecting a 
group of Jewish nurses as the Nazis approached. Selflessly, he slipped 
on a Red Cross arm band and escorted the nurses into a room. When the 
Nazis asked who was in the room, Groen explained that he was caring for 
patients with Scarlet Fever. Fearing the illness, the Nazis spared the 
Jewish nurses, including Groen's future wife, the former Sipora 
Rodriguez-Lopes.
  After World War II, Rabbi Nardus Groen served at Camp Lejeune, North 
Carolina under the American Marine Corps. Following his stint with the 
Marines, Groen worked as a psychologist at a Jewish orphanage for 
Holocaust survivors. He helped countless youths cope with one of the 
greatest tragedies in human history. Two years later, he began to serve 
as a rabbi at the oldest congregation in the Western Hemisphere in 
Surinam. Groen led a mixed Sephardic Ashkenazic congregation in Surinam 
until 1952 when he served as a rabbi in Einhoven, the Netherlands. He 
became one of the foremost leaders of his community, uniting two 
different cultures in one synagogue.
  Nardus Groen moved to Lansdale, PA as a renowned rabbi in 1963 where 
he served as Beth Israel Synagogue's rabbi for 13 years. He provided 
guidance and spiritual leadership to Beth Israel's community, helping 
his community grow to the vibrant Jewish center it is today. Groen 
moved back to Europe and retired in 1986 as the chief rabbi for the 
eastern six provinces of the Netherlands. He lived what he preached and 
will be remembered across the Netherlands.
  After his retirement, Rabbi Groen and his loving wife Sipora lived in 
the Netherlands and Delray Beach, Florida after his retirement before 
permanently settling in Florida in 2005. Rabbi Groen spent his last 
years as a loving father to Marcel Groen, Leo Groen, Ruben Groen, David 
Groen, and Debra Groen; a loving brother to Meyers Groen and Sophia 
Groen; a loving grandfather and great grandfather to twelve 
grandchildren and six great grandchildren; and a loving husband to 
Sipora Groen.
  Madam Speaker, I ask you to join me in honoring and remembering Rabbi 
Nardus Groen. Through his hard work, Rabbi Groen has spread hope across 
three continents and will be remembered as a strong leader, a caring 
mentor, and a true mensch.

Complete List of Names in “Jew Face”

This page is a listing of every name mentioned in the book “Jew Face:A story of love and heroism in Nazi-occupied Holland.”

The book is the story of Nardus and Sipora Groen.  They are the first 2 names mentioned in the book.  The following is a listing of every other name mentioned in the book.

1-Leendert Groen – father of Nardus

2-Maryan Groen -Zeelander-mother of Nardus

3-Meyer Groen -brother of Nardus

4-David Groen -brother of Nardus

5-Sofia Groen -sister of Nardus

6-Elizabeth Groen -sister of Nardus

7-Meyer Roos -librarian in Jewish ghetto(unconfirmed first name)

8-Becca Roos -librarian in Jewish ghetto(unconfirmed first name)

9-Marcel Rodrigues -Lopes-father of Sipora

10-Deborah Rodrigues-Lopes -mother of Sipora

11-Abraham(Bram) Rodrigues-Lopes -brother of Sipora

12-Emmy -housekeeper in Sipora’s house

13-Hans de Jong -fiance of Sipora

14-Hetty de Jong -sister of Hans

15-Neville Chamberlain -British Prime Minister

16-Jacques Baruch -Brother in law of Nardus (married to Sofia) and Active member of Dutch and later French resistance

17-Dirk Jan de Geer -Dutch Prime Minister

18-Queen Wilhelmina -Queen of the Netherlands

19-Pieter Gerbrandy -Dutch Prime Minister

20- Arthur Seyss-Inquart -Austrian born  Nazi  leader. Top official in the Netherlands

21-Adolph Hitler -Head of Nazi party

22-Benito Mussolini -fascist ruler of Italy

23- Francisco Franco -fascist leader of Spain

24- Anton Mussert Head of Dutch fascist party (NSB)

25- David Van Hasselt -cousin of Sipora

26-Aaron Mozes -brother in law of Nardus. (Married to Elizabeth)

27-Ferdinand aus der Funten -Nazi administrator in Amsterdam

28-Sam Abram -friend of Nardus

29- Nettie Abram -sister of Sam Abram

30-Block -Dutch Nazi informant (first name unconfirmed)

31-Cornelius Gugjes -Alias of Nardus

32-Jan Coopman -Underground contact (unconfirmed name)

33- Roe Groen -sister in law of Nardus (married to Meyer)

34- Martha Groen -sister in law of Nardus (married to David)

35- Thea -niece of Nardus (daughter of David & Martha)

36- Lilly -friend of Sipora

37- Jan Van de Berg -best friend of Marcel Rodrigues-Lopes

38- Reina Van Creveld -friend of Nardus and Directress of NIZ (Hospital)

39- Schapman -Black marketeer in Zwolle

40- Jan Henraat -Alias of Nardus

41- Joop Van de Berg -farmer near Zwolle (unconfirmed first name)

42- Jan Boekman -owner of boat where Sipora worked and found shelter (unconfirmed name)

43- Spegt -alias of high level operative in Dutch resistance (real name believed to be Stoker)

44-Minister Vogelaar – Religious leader from Lemerlerveld

45-Kruithof -Resistance operative who provided shelter to Sipora

46- Den Olde -Young couple that provided shelter to Sipora

47-Tinie -Alias of Sipora

48-Albert Jan Immink -high level Resistance operative

49-Jansje Immink -wife of Albert Jan

50-Lubertus te Kiefte -high level resistance operative. Provided shelter to Sipora

51-Geeske te Kiefte -wife of Lubertus. Provided shelter to Sipora

52-Gerrit te Kiefte -Son of Lubertus and Geeske

53-Jan te Kiefte -brother of Lubertus

54-Tina te Kiefte -wife of Jan te Kiefte

55-Gerrit Jan te Kiefte -son of Jan and Tina

56-Lies te Kiefte -daughter of Jan and Tina

57-Aaltje te Kiefte -daughter of Jan and Tina

58-Carly -Jewish boy in hiding at home of Jan and Tina

59-Kryn Hoogeboom -mobile supermarket owner in Lemerlerveld

60-Minister Keres -religious leader in Lemerlerveld

61-Schapman -NSB (Dutch fascist party) member in Lemerlerveld (unconfirmed first name)

62-Oosterwegel -high level resistance operative in Lemerlerveld (unconfirmed first name)

63- Aunt Anna- relative of Lubertus and Geeske and mobile nurse in Lemerlerveld

64-Aantje te Kiefte -daughter of Lubertus and Geeske

65-Johann Baptist Albin Rauter -top Nazi SS leader in the Netherlands

66-Joop -nephew of Lubertus and Geeske (unconfirmed last name)

67-Marcel Lubertus Groen -son of Nardus and Sipora

68-Rabbi Tal -Chief Rabbi of Holland after the war

69-Leo Groen -son of Nardus and Sipora

70-Bernice Groen -wife of Marcel Groen

71-Ruben Groen -son of Nardus and Sipora

72-Professor Jacob Marcus -high level Director at Hebrew Union College and religious leader in Cincinnati

73-Rabbi Eleizer Silver -Head of Agudah North America, Orthodox Rabbi and religious leader in Cincinnati

74-Rabbi Goldfeder -religious leader and Conservative Rabbi in Cincinnati

75-Deborah Miriam Groen -daughter of Nardus and Sipora

76- David Groen -son of Nardus and Sipora