Golden Gate Wing Guest Speaker Archive

Presentation Date: November 20, 2014

Doctor Dora A. Sorell

Dora A. Sorell is a 93-year-old retired physician who moved from New York to California to be with her grandchildren. Dora was born in Sighet, Romania, into a very traditional Jewish family with seven brothers and dozens of extended family members living in the surrounding villages. During World War II this part of Romania was occupied by the Hungarians, and in 1944, by the Nazis, who ordered the deportation of the entire Jewish population of the occupied region. At that time she was deported to Auschwitz along with her parents, four brothers who were home at the time, and some 40 members of her extended family.

Dora was liberated at the end of the war, the only survivor of her immediate family, and one of four of the extended one. She returned to her hometown that had became Romanian again, married her high school boyfriend, went to medical school, and started a family. But she was stuck in what was to become one of the most repressive Communist regimes in Eastern Europe. For years, she and her family tried to join the rest of the brothers in the West. In 1961, they finally got permission to leave. She worked for years as a physician in New York and built a prestigious career.

When her first grandchild Miriam was born, Dora started to write her letters to tell her and the future grandchildren about the family, life in prewar Romania, war, deportations, return, life under Communism, and the hardship of trying to emigrate. Each letter was triggered by a recent event that took her back to the past and contains a story, a vignette. The letters are the basis of her book “Tell the Children: Letters to Miriam”. Some of the letters are based on a journal she wrote immediately after liberation.