Several Fellowship Freedom Flights have arrived in Israel this past week, bringing Jews from Venezuela, Uruguay, Spain, Lithuania, France, and Ukraine to their new home in their biblical homeland. Among these olim (immigrants) is one family that has a remarkable backstory.
Emmy, a medical doctor, came with her husband, George—a pilot—and their 15-year-old twin daughters Shili and Heidi. Emmy’s mother, named Solange Shuster, was born in Poland in 1938, and escaped with her mother and cousin to France during WWII. At first, they hid out in the home of a French Christian family, and then later they were smuggled into the unoccupied area of France. They were among the few family members who were not murdered at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camps.
Solange then continued her life in France, where she eventually met a man from the Ivory Coast called Triora. The two were married and moved back to the Ivory Coast in 1967, where their daughter Emmy was born and raised Jewish children. Amy then married a local man named George. During the country’s 2012 civil war, they moved with their daughters to France.
Emmy’s husband George also has an interesting story to tell. He leads a Jewish lifestyle and started a conversion process two years ago. Moreover, he discovered that he is a descendent of an African tribe that believes itself to have originated from the Tribe of Dan, with some of its members still conducting a traditionally Jewish lifestyle.
“I am very excited to come to Israel. This for me is coming full circle,” said Emmy. “My mother and her family were persecuted by the Nazis. Later in life I, myself had to leave the Ivory coast and find shelter in France, and now finally I arrive with my family in Israel, where I’ll find shelter and a home as a Jew.”