Hedy Epstein – a Woman who was a Saint in her Lifetime

Hedy Epstein – a Woman who was a Saint in her Lifetime

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hedy Epstein – Childhood Survivor of the Holocaust and Jewish anti-Zionist RIP
In
the Roman Catholic Church you have to wait until you are dead before they
canonise you and make you into a saint. 
Hedy Epstein was one of the few people who became a saint during their
lifetime. A holocaust survivor, she became an implacable opponent of injustice.

Because
she was Jewish she, like so many of us, felt a particular need to speak up against racism perpetrated in the name of Jews.

But
Hedy was to be found wherever injustice showed its head.  She went on the boat to Gaza and was arrested
in Ferguson, Missouri.
Above
all Hedy learnt the lesson that the Zionists could never hope to understand.  The Holocaust should have been the reason to oppose all racism, not to justify or condone Jewish racism.
Hedy,
I salute you.  You will be missed.
Tony
Greenstein
Hedy Epstein (Photo: Humans of St. Louis/Lindy Drew)
The
following obituary for Hedy Epstein was sent to us by Dianne Lee. Epstein
was a friend and mentor to us at Mondoweiss, and she will be sorely
missed. 
Holocaust
survivor Hedy Epstein, 91, died at her home in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, on May
26, 2016. An internationally renowned, respected and admired advocate for human
and civil rights, Hedy was encircled by friends who lovingly cared for her at
home.
Born
August 15, 1924, in the Baden-Württemberg region of Germany, her
lifelong commitment to human rights was formed by the horrific experiences she
and her family endured under the repressive Nazi regime.
Unable
to secure travel documents for themselves, Hedy’s parents, Hugo and Ella
(Eichel) Wachenheimer, arranged for 14-year-old Hedy to leave Germany on a
Kindertransport. Hedy credited her parents with giving her life a second time
when they sent her to England to live with kind-hearted strangers. Hedy’s
parents, grandparents, and most of her aunts, uncles and cousins did not
survive the Holocaust. Hedy remained in England until 1945 when she returned to
Germany to work for the United States Civil Service. She joined the Nuremberg
Doctors Trial prosecution in 1946 as a research analyst.
Hedy
immigrated to the United States in 1948. She and her husband moved to St. Louis
in the early 1960s, and shortly thereafter Hedy began working as a volunteer
with the Freedom of Residence, Greater St. Louis Committee, a nonprofit
organization dedicated to housing integration and advocacy for fair housing
laws. Hedy worked for many years as a volunteer and board member, and
ultimately served as the organization’s executive director during the
mid-1970s.
During
the 1980s, Hedy worked as a paralegal for Chackes and Hoare, a law firm that
represented individuals in employment discrimination cases. As an advocate for
equality and human rights, Hedy spoke out against the war in Vietnam, the
bombing of Cambodia, and overly restrictive U.S. immigration policies. She
spoke and acted in support of the Haitian boat people and women’s reproductive
rights, and, following the 1982 massacre at Sabra and Shatila, Hedy began her
courageous and visionary work for peace and justice in Israel and Palestine.
During
her later years, Hedy continued to advocate for a more peaceful world, and in
2002 was a founding member of the St. Louis Instead of War Coalition. Much of
her later activism centered on efforts to end the Israeli occupation of
Palestine. She founded the St. Louis chapter of Women in Black and co-founded
the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee and the St. Louis chapter of
Jewish Voice for Peace. She traveled to the West Bank several times, first as a
volunteer with the nonviolent International Solidarity Movement and repeatedly as
a witness to advocate for Palestinian human rights. She attempted several times
to go to Gaza as a passenger with the Freedom Flotilla, including as a
passenger on the Audacity of Hope, and once with the Gaza Freedom March. Hedy
addressed numerous groups and organizations throughout Europe and returned to
Germany and her native village of Kippenheim many times.
Three
days after her 90th birthday, Hedy was arrested for “failure to disperse.” She
was attempting to enter Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s St. Louis office to ask
for deescalation of police and National Guard tactics which had turned violent
in response to protests following the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown
in Ferguson, Missouri.
Hedy
was a member of the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center’s speakers’
bureau and gave countless talks at schools and community events. She shared her
Holocaust experiences with thousands of Missouri youth as a featured speaker at
the Missouri Scholars Academy for more than twenty years. She ended every talk
with three requests: remember the past, don’t hate, and don’t be a bystander.
Through the years, Hedy received numerous awards and honors for her
compassionate service and relentless pursuit of justice.
Hedy
is survived by son Howard (Terry) Epstein, and granddaughters Courtney and
Kelly. She was beloved and will be truly missed by countless friends in St.
Louis and around the world.
Hedy
often shared her philosophy of service with these words: “If we don’t try to
make a difference, if we don’t speak up, if we don’t try to right the wrong
that we see, we become complicit. I don’t want to be guilty of not trying my
best to make a difference.”
Hedy
always did her best, and the difference she made is evident in the commitment
and passion of those called to continue her work. Her friends and admirers
honor and salute her deep and lifelong dedication to tikkun olam, the just
re-ordering of the world and promise to remember, to stay human, and to never
be bystanders.
A
memorial service will be held in Forest Park at a date and time to be
determined. Donations in Hedy’s name may be made to Forest Park Forever to
establish a permanent tribute, 5595 Grand Drive in Forest Park, St. Louis, MO
63112; American Friends Service Committee, 1501 Cherry St., Philadelphia, PA
19102; American Civil Liberties Union, 125 Broad St. 18th Floor, New York, NY
10004; and/or American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri Foundation, 454
Whittier St., St. Louis, MO 63108.
Much of her activism was focused on advocating for
Palestinians under Israeli occupation.

Michael McLaughlin Reporter,
The Huffington Post

Hedy Epstein fled
Germany during the Holocaust and later protested injustice in the U.S. and
abroad.
Hedy
Epstein, who fled the Nazis as a child in Germany and later protested what she
saw as injustice in the Middle East and near her home in St. Louis, died
Thursday, her friend Dianne Lee told The Huffington Post. She was 91. 
Epstein’s
long career in activist circles began when she was a teenager and continued for
the rest of her life. At 90, she
was arrested
 in St. Louis for “failure to disperse” while
protesting Gov. Jay Nixon’s deployment of the National Guard to quell protests
in Ferguson, Missouri. 
“I’ve
been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it
when I was 90,” 
Epstein told The Nation. “We need to stand up today
so that people won’t have to do this when they’re 90.”

Thank
you for fighting for Justice, @hedyepstein!
From the Holocaust to #Ferguson,
Hedy fought for Peace! RIP pic.twitter.com/bLgq7UQo5M
— MariaChappelleNadal (@MariaChappelleN) May 26,
2016
Advocating
for Palestinians under Israeli occupation was one of her core
commitments. She traveled to the West Bank and attempted several times to
sail to Gaza in recent years to protest Israel’s blockade of the area, according to an obituary that Lee wrote
Along
with dozens of other Americans, Epstein boarded the Audacity of Hope in 2011 on
one of her trips to the region. The boat departed from Greece in
an attempt to join a flotilla trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza. 
Greek
authorities quickly stopped the vessel and returned it to port, but Epstein
tweeted about the experience.  
Our
wonderful captain negotiated with them. We were in a holding pattern for
probably 3 hours when the commandos arrived with drawn weapons.
— Hedy Epstein (@hedyepstein) July 1, 2011
I’m
below deck surrounded by a doctor and a nurse and wonderful other people. Our
spirits are high. I’m calm, unafraid, hopeful.
— Hedy Epstein (@hedyepstein) July 1, 2011
Epstein
was born in the Bavarian region of Germany in 1924 as Hedy Wachenheimer. Her
parents sent her to England at age 14 to escape the rule of Adolf Hitler,
according to Epstein’s
personal webpage
. Most of her Jewish family, including her parents, did not
survive the Holocaust.
In
1945, she returned to Germany to work for the occupying U.S. forces, and the
following year she became a researcher for Nuremberg prosecutors in the war
crimes trials of German doctors. 
Epstein
immigrated to the United States in 1948 and eventually settled in St. Louis in
the 1960s. In that city, she volunteered with the Freedom of Residence, an
organization demanding fair housing laws and an end to segregation. In the
1970s, she became executive director of the group’s St. Louis chapter. 
According
to Lee’s obituary, Epstein’s advocacy knew no limits. She took a stand against
the Vietnam War, spoke up for the plight of Haitian boat people, and demanded
women’s reproductive rights. 
Epstein
often spoke to young people about her life through the Missouri Scholars
Academy. She ended each talk with the same advice, according to Lee.
“Remember
the past, don’t hate, and don’t be a bystander,”
Epstein often said. 
Epstein
is survived by her son Howard “Terry” Epstein and granddaughters Courtney and
Kelly. 

 

 

 

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