The Eulogizer: Centenarians Sol Saks, ‘Bewitched’ creator, and Hudesa Gora, a Holocaust survivor

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Eulogizer is a new column (soon-to-be blog) that highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Learn about their achievements, honor their memories and celebrate Jewish lives well lived with The Eulogizer. Write to the Eulogizer at eulogizer@jta.org. Read previous columns here.

Sol Saks, 100, TV writer

Sol Saks, creator of the classic sitcom, “Bewitched,” and writer of other TV and film scripts over a long career, died April 16 at 100 in Los Angeles.

Saks wrote only the show’s pilot episode, “I, Darrin, Take This Witch, Samantha.” 

"That was it: He just sat back and took in the royalties," friend and writer Paul Wayne said.

Saks also wrote the screenplay for “Walk Don’t Run,” a 1966 comedy starring Cary Grant in his last film, and “The Craft of Comedy Writing” in 1985.

Earlier TV shows Saks wrote for included "Duffy’s Tavern," "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," "Beulah," "My Favorite Husband" and "I Married Joan."

Saks, a native of New York, received a journalism degree from Northwestern University and worked in radio in the Chicago area before moving to Los Angeles in 1943.

He was active as a writer into his 90s, and saw his play, "A Dream of Butterflies," produced at Theatre West, a nonprofit arts organization in Hollywood, in 2003.

"Sol was the elder statesman of the group, an amazing man," said Stu Berg, who directed the play. "One of the interesting things about him was the incredible amount of energy he had and how sharp he was well into his 90s. He was always busy.”

Saks’ family ran a paint store and was helped to settle in Chicago by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. He said he went into comedy writing as a career because “he would have done anything to avoid entering the family business and always wanted to write essays for obscure literary magazines … [but] wanted to get paid well, and found his niche as a ‘joke man.’ "

Saks was sanguine about the life of a writer. In an oral history interview, he said, “with writing, when it ‘works’ you’re anonymous. When it doesn’t work you’re fired.”

Hudesa Gora, 100, Holocaust survivor

Hudesa Gora, a Holocaust survivor who ran a fur business in the Cleveland area for many years, died April 24 at age 100. Her hometown of Beachwood, Ohio, issued a proclamation on her last birthday, Nov. 29, declaring “Hudesa Gora Day.”

Gora was an “avid reader and card player”and could recite long passages of poetry in Polish. She belonged to Kol Israel Foundation,  a Cleveland-area group of Holocaust survivors, and to ORT.

Gora was born in Krasnik, Poland, a town of 5,000 at the time, half of which was Jewish. After the Nazi occupation at the beginning of World War II, Gora obtained false gentile identity papers so she could work outside the ghetto. According to a story in the Cleveland Jewish News, Gora raised the suspicions of the Catholic family for whom she worked when she “baked a loaf of bread and did not put a cross on the bottom of it per their custom. She left that job quickly.”

The Gestapo once rounded up a group that included Gora, her sister and her sister’s two children, almost all of whom had false identity papers. She was not able to get them for her nephew.

“When an officer discovered this and asked who the boy belonged to, Mrs. Gora prevented her sister from claiming him because she realized the Nazis would know she was Jewish and kill her. The boy was taken away and killed,” the Cleveland paper reported. Gora lost the majority of her family in the Holocaust.

She met her husband, Charles, and married him in Germany, came to the United States in 1949 and settled in Cleveland the next year.

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