Monday, July 20, 2020

Awesome Hofstra Story

I am a member of the Hofstra parents class of 2024 Facebook group.  I was the one mentioned at the Thursday coffee that posted the list of get-to-know you questions that now has over 140 comments. I am submitting an interesting story that came out as a result of that post and this wonderful Facebook parents group.

This photo was taken at a wedding reception on July 4, 1920 in Zwickau, a German.  Sadly many of the people in this photo did not survive the Holocaust.  In the front row, left of the center are three girls. Here’s a closeup of that part of the above photo:

On the left is Berta Birnbaum Davis and the center is Erna Moerdler Brandwein. On the left is Erna’s sister Toni Brandwein Hausmann, she did not survive the Holocaust.  Berta and Erna were very close and stayed very close throughout their lives.  They both miraculously survived the Holocaust.  Betta married in Germany, had two children there and one in the U.S. and eventually ended up in Pittsburg.  Erna married and had one son.  Her husband did not survive he holocaust, but her and her second husband eventually ended up in New York.  The two women always stayed in touch and visited each other as often as possible. 

Erna is in the back row on the left.  Berta is in the front row on the right.  Next to Berta is her husband Emil and behind her is her daughter Rose Kay.

After Erna died their families lost touch.

On Wednesday, shortly after I posted the get-to-know-you post, I received a message from a Hofstra 2024 parent named Stacy Browning Stein.  She was showing her mother the Facebook page and her mother recognized my name.  I told her that I remember her grandmother! She told me about my grandparents dancing at her wedding.

Stacy’s mother is Rose Kay, the woman in the photo standing next to my grandmother Erna Schwartz. After texting for a while with Stacy and her mom, I video called my dad and I told him “Erna Brandwein Moerdler Schwarz’s great-granddaughter is going to be an incoming freshman with Berta Birnbaum David’s great-grandson!”  I went on to explained that I was contacted by a woman who said her grandmother was my grandmother’s first cousin, Berta David.  To say he was shocked would be an understatement. I could see all the emotion in my dad’s face as he told me that one of his biggest regrets over the past 25 or 30 years was losing touch with this side of his family.   As my dad talked, all my memories of Berta and Rose Kay flooded back to me.  I texted questions my dad had to Stacy, who, in turn asked the questions to her mother.   My dad asked for her mom’s phone number and email and that information was exchanged.  It turns out we (& our parents) live less then a half an hour from each other!  So hopefully they will get to see each other again soon. 

Instagram handles and cell numbers were also exchanged for the two incoming freshman. Elinoa Moerdler-Green and her first cousin twice removed Isaac Stein have chatted and are looking forward to meeting each other in person. They will even be in the same dorm, the Netherlands!

Thanks to Hofstra’s class of 2024 parents group two first cousins, once removed, have been reconnected after over two and a half decades of separation!

And every time I pass by that wedding picture from July, 1920, I think to myself how happy Erna and Berta would be that their families have reconnected and how they would laugh at the happy coincidence that their great-grandchildren are both members of the Hofstra class of 20204!

Hopefully, once this pandemic passes (or at least eases), our two families can reconnect in person, maybe even on Hofstra campus.  Wouldn’t that be an awesome photo?

Now how’s that for Hofstra pride?

Sharon Moerdler-Green


  1. What an amazing and beautiful story!!! Thank you for sharing with us. We need more happy tales like this.

  2. Congratulations Sharon! As your moderator on the FB Hofstra University class of 2024 - parents and families.
    I'm glad you found your family and will be campus together!!Connection!!

  3. What a beautiful legacy for your families! Hofstra Pride reaches far and wide!! ♥️

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