- Mickey Goodman/For the AJC
Buttoning her coat tightly around her to keep out the unrelenting cold of her dingy boarding house room in Hungary, Eva Dukesz, 23, unwrapped the few groceries she had bought for dinner: a loaf of stale bread, a head of nearly spoiled cabbage, a turnip and a few limp carrots. She filled a pot with water, added the vegetables and put it on a contraband hot plate to boil. If the hot plate were discovered, she’d be evicted, but it didn’t matter. The landlady was asking too many questions, and Eva feared her identity as a Jew would be exposed soon. In the morning, she would leave for work and never return.
Her eyes filled with tears. It was the first night of Passover and there would be no bountiful ritual meal this year. No family and friends sitting around a candlelit table reading from the Haggadah, the book that tells the biblical story of the Jews’ escape from Egypt. Nor would she even see her mother, who was also trying to stay one step ahead of the National Socialist Arrow Cross Party members, Nazi sympathizers who routed Jews from their homes and deported them to forced labor camps or gas chambers.
There was no way for her to know that, thanks to her indomitable spirit and a gift for reinvention, she would go on to enjoy a successful life, rich in love and deeply rooted in Atlanta history. Or that she would enjoy many more Passovers to come, giving her ample opportunities to commemorate not only the Jews’ escape from Egypt but their escape from the Nazis and her own flight from a life of fear and persecution.