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From the Holocaust to Westminster: A Life of Hope and Survival

From the Holocaust to Westminster: A Life of Hope and Survival


Monday, May 6 is Holocaust Remembrance Day, also known as Yom HaShoah. This internationally recognized date honors the 6 million Jewish lives lost in the Holocaust and marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In honor of these days of remembrance, we would like to introduce you to an inspiring woman who lived this experience during her early days before moving to Westminster to spend her golden years. 

Estelle Nadel was a Holocaust survivor who didn't shy away from telling her story. From chatting with friends at City Park Fitness Center (10475 Sheridan Blvd.) to publishing a book that was released earlier this year, Nadel was determined to share her life experience.  

In her book, “The Girl Who Sang,” Nadel details how she and some of her family members survived when so many others didn’t, through her own courage and the kindness of strangers who risked their own lives because they believed in fighting against the brutality that surrounded their small town in Poland.  

When Nadel was only seven years old, she should have been in school, learning arithmetic and playing hopscotch with her friends. Instead, she was forced to flee the only home she ever knew and go into hiding as secret police looked for Jews.  

Throughout her book, Nadel describes the deaths of her parents, her sister, and a brother due in part to Auschwitz concentration camp and to neighbors who turned in Jews for a reward. Despite all the loss at such a young age, Nadel describes how she and two of her brothers ultimately survived and immigrated to the United States while they were children and teens who didn’t speak any English.  

Nadel calls her book a “Holocaust memoir of hope and survival.” In spite of all the darkness she and millions of others experienced, the takeaway from her book truly is that of hope. There will always be good people to counteract the bad. 

Nadel was an active member of the Westminster community. She regularly attended yoga classes at City Park Fitness Center, something her instructor remembers fondly.  

“She was definitely part of the chatty group,” said Westminster Parks, Recreation and Libraries Fitness Instructor Tammy Hovey. “She liked having her spot in the front. We would spend time just chatting with each other, she liked to talk about her sons and grandchildren.” 

Despite coming face to face with the evils of a genocide, Hovey says Nadel’s life was defined by so much more. “It’s about how she approached life, she was always so funny and liked to talk about the Kardashians,” Hovey remembered. “She also liked to talk about technology and would say, ‘you know, you got to keep up to date Tammy, right? Because you got to know what's happening out there, so you don't fall behind,” Hovey said with a laugh. 

“I think that’s a progressive point of view because it's easy for all of us to get set in our ways, and being almost 90 years old for her to continue to have that growth mindset of, ‘yeah, I'm going to  come to yoga, I'm going to do these things that I'm not perfect at, but it's not about being perfect.” 

Nadel passed away on November 26, 2023.  She was 88 years old, just five days shy of her 89th birthday, and only a couple months before her book was published.  

In her own words, as an excerpt from the afterword in her book, Nadel explains why she decided to tell her story: “I’m not going to be here forever. Someday, there will be no Holocaust survivors still living. We will be gone. I want you, the young people, the next generation, to carry our stories on and someday tell your own children that, yes, you knew a Holocaust survivor. She was real. It really happened.” 

You can find “The Girl Who Sang” at both College Hill (3705 W. 112th Ave.) and Irving Street (7392 Irving St.) libraries. To view the library catalog, please visit:  

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