SAN DIEGO – Funeral services were conducted Friday for Betty Horne, 83, a Holocaust survivor whose remarkable love story with Isadore Horne, who predeceased her, was retold to mourners by Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal, spiritual leader of Tifereth Israel Synagogue, their congregation.
In the eulogy, Rabbi Rosenthal related:
”Betty was born in Milsona, Poland, which is located about a dozen kilometers out of Warsaw. Her childhood was a happy one and was pretty typical for a Jewish girl living in Poland. Her father was a farmer and she grew up on the farm he owned, which exists until this day. She had Jewish and Christians friends and went to a school with both. She excelled at reading and writing and dreamt of going to an advanced school and earning a degree. She had a rich and fulfilling life until 1939. That’s when the Germans invaded Poland and the war changed everything. She survived the first couple of winters hiding out in the neighborhood. She also spent some time in the Warsaw ghetto. Some of her Polish neighbors were gereit tzedek, righteous gentiles, and gave her food and a place to hide and sleep.
“In 1995 she visited Poland with her son, Harold. They went to Milosna and saw the farm on which she grew up.She walked through the town and remembered much of what was there and what happened to her, although she and Hal were not able to find the synagogue. It was either destroyed or converted to another use. They also visited a nearby church were a priest during the war hid her, fed her, and helped her survive. He was no longer there, of course, but when they told the story to the current priest he smiled and said his predecessor had told him the exact same story.
“When Betty finally found her name in the school records she told Hal: 'Everything before 1939 always felt like a dream. Now I know it was true. Here is the proof that I was here.'
“In 1944 the Russians captured parts of Poland and a Jewish partisan by the name of Isadore Horne was inducted into the Russian army. He was eventually put in charge of the PX. Izzy used his important position of authority to search for Jews as the Russians advanced against the Germans.
“In Minsk Mazovietzk he came upon a house in which four Jewish girls and five boys were living. Their physical condition brought tears to Izzy’s eyes. However, as soon as he set eyes on one of the girls, Betty Ostrezega, he fell in love and knew that he would marry her. He told her: 'I am not Russian. I am a survivor like you. I have a good job and I want you to come with me.' He brought her to another home where she was given everything she needed to nurse her back to health.
“Izzy called her ‘Basha’ Soon after he said to her: 'You have lost your family and so have I. We only have each other so let’s get married.' Betty said 'yes' and they cried together. However, since their families were gone who would attend the wedding, and more importantly, who would marry them? There were no rabbis to be found.
“From his years in Yeshiva Izzy knew that all that Jewish law required for two Jews to marry was for the groom to give his bride a ring in front of witnesses. So Izzy and Betty fund two Jewish witnesses and with a small group of their friends surrounding them, Izzy gave Betty a ring and said to her: 'Harei at medudeshet li btaba’at zo kedat Moshe v’Yisrael. - With this ring you are consecrated to me as my wife in accordance with the
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law of Moses and Israel.' And with that, Izzy and Betty married in the eyes of God and the Jewish community. It was to be one of four marriage ceremonies that Izzy and Betty celebrated. They subsequently were married again in Russia, Poland, and Germany to satisfy the civil authorities.
“Although their Jewish wedding during the war was valid, Kosher, and binding, for the first fifty years of their marriage they did not have a Ketuba, a Jewish wedding contract. We rectified that back in 1994 at Tifereth Israel Synagogue at their 50th Anniversary party at which time I was privileged to bless them under a Chuppah with a Ketuba that was signed by the original two witnesses of their marriage back in Poland.
“They married on Nov. 14, 1944. The war was over in 1945 and Betty and Izzy lived in Lutz, Poland for a while. They were, however, sick of Poland, and moved to the American Zone in Germany, near Munich, and lived in a DP camp from 1945 to 1949. In 1949 they decided to come to America. A friend of theirs was already living here and helped them get their immigration papers. They lived with him in Philadelphia, and then aided by th U.J.F., moved to Pittsburgh to be close to a nephew who lived there.
“Izzy found work at a glass company. After a couple of years he decided to strike out on his own. Betty was a stay at home mom and devoted her life to caring for Izzy, the home, and their children.
“Izzy and Betty were married for 63 years, and during those years they were inseparable. They traveled together, shared the same circle of friends, and were members of a Gin rummy club together.
Besides by Harold, Betty is survived by daughters Sheree and Ronna, and her children by marriage, respectively Shari, Bob, and Avi, and grandchildren Adam, Julia and Elijah. A daughter, Chaya, died in 1951.
Rabbi Rosenthal went on to say in his eulogy “As we all know the synagogue, New Life Club, Israel, and Jewish Community were central in Izzy and Betty’s lives. Betty was also an active member of Hadassah and B’nai Brith Women.
"I remember the Bar Mitzvah celebrations that Izzy and Betty shared, and Hal and Shari’s intimate and beautiful wedding ceremony in Betty and Izzy’s back yard. Here, at the synagogue, Betty and Izzy, have been devoted members. Attending services regularly, until they were unable, and Izzy being accorded the honor several times of leading the mourner’s Kaddish on Yom Kippur, and chanting El Maleh Rachamim for the martyrs of Israel. A couple of years ago Izzy and Betty decided to join our Chevrat Bonim, Legacy Society, but instead of choosing to leave a gift to the synagogue from their estates, they choose to give it during their life time so that they could witness the good deeds accomplished by their contribution.
Betty Horne was a caring and loving human being, whose life was "guided by the compassion she felt for those she loved and those in need. She never thought of herself or put her own needs first, but always the needs of others. She was sensitive, humble, down to earth, and kind. Truly our world and lives are diminished because she is no longer with us.
As we close the sefer hachaim, the book of life of Betty Horne, let us remember that its chapters, the memories we have of her, does not leave this earth with her but are rather ours to treasure forever. Let us always look into that book and remember her life, love, and goodness, so that we may learn from Betty the secrets to continue making our own worthy inscriptions in our own books of life in the years to come."