Holden Honors Sierra Madre Holocaust Survivor at Capitol Ceremony

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sacramento – Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) today honored Holocaust survivor Helen Rotenberg Lewin of Sierra Madre at a ceremony at the State Capitol. For the past ten years, the California State Assembly has honored survivors and their families during California Holocaust Remembrance Week. 

“I am honored to be able to share Helen Rotenberg Lewin’s story – a story of triumph over unspeakable evil,” said Assemblymember Holden.  “Helen lived through extreme privation and horrific experiences that are often neglected in history.  We are here today to raise awareness of these events and honor Helen Lewin by saying, ‘We will never forget’.

Sierra Madre resident Helen Rotenberg Lewin was forced into hiding in a forest outside of Krasnik, Poland with a band of Jewish partisans to escape certain death at the hands of the Nazis who had ordered all Jews into camps. She and her family had little food or water, and lived in makeshift underground shelters always fearful of betrayal, capture and death. Her parents and six other brothers and sisters were killed during the war; she and three other brothers survived extermination by the Nazis.

At wars end, she and her surviving brothers made their way to the American zone in Berlin. Three years later she and her husband Harry Rotenberg, moved to Northern California where they purchased a chicken ranch and then, later a confectionary store. Several years following Harry’s passing in 1988, Helen met Martin Lewin, remarried and eventually relocated to Sierra Madre to be near her son, Fred Rotenberg, daughter-in-law Lori and their three children.

Her son, Judge Fred Rotenberg of La Cañada accompanied his mother to the ceremony and was honored by Assemblymember Gatto.   Her other son, Dr. Keith Rotenberg lives in New Jersey.