BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Eugenia Unger, who usually displays the number tattooed on her arm by the Nazis, covered it with her Shabbat clothes and her tallit as she celebrated her bat mitzvah eight decades late.
Unger, 91, a Poland native who survived the Majdanek and Auschwitz concentration camps and often talks about her experiences at the Buenos Aires Holocaust Museum and in schools, was called to the Torah on Saturday at the Herzliya Jewish community center and temple in Buenos Aires.
She told the Argentine radio program Radio Cultura on Thursday of her upcoming celebration that “the culmination of my whole life is my bat mitzvah. It is a ritual that is very important in Jewish life.”
The temple also organized a birthday celebration for Unger, a co-founder of the Holocaust Museum of Buenos Aires in 2000, on Friday night.
Unger, born Eugenia Rotsztejn in Warsaw, lived in the Warsaw Ghetto as a teen and was later taken to the two Nazi camps with her family, including her parents, two brothers and a sister. Unger is the only member of her family who survived the Holocaust. When she was liberated by Soviet forces, she weighed slightly more than 59 pounds.
After a journey across central Europe, she lived for two years in a refugee camp in Modena, Italy, where she met her future husband, David Unger. Both immigrated to Argentina in 1949.
Unger now has two sons and six grandsons, and has written three books about her experiences. In 2011, she was declared Outstanding Personality by the Buenos Aires city parliament.