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Eva Miriam Abelsohn Wechsberg

March 2, 1922 - June 14, 2023

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Eva Miriam Abelsohn Wechsberg passed away on June 14, 2023, at the age of 101.
She was born on March 2, 1922 in Leipzig, Germany to Kate Pinner Abelsohn (z”l) and Hans Abelsohn (z”l) a prominent dermatologist. Her younger brother, Ernst Peter (z”l), was born eight years later. The family led a comfortable, culturally rich, and relatively care-free life until Hitler came to power in 1933, when their life changed drastically. Until then, Eva had been involved in Jewish life, Hebrew studies, youth group, sports and cultural activities; however, by the time she witnessed the terror of Kristallnacht in November 1938, her father had already escaped to the United States to prepare for the family to join him. Fortunately, a very distant relative in Chicago Illinois sponsored their immigration to the US and the family arrived in Chicago when Eva was 17 years old. She quickly found work as a nanny for a local family while adjusting to the new language and culture. At age19, Eva met and married Gerhard Bergmann (z”l), also a survivor of the Hitler era in Germany. In Chicago and Detroit, they raised their two daughters, Judith (b.1943) and Margaret (b.1947), and Eva worked with her husband in their shoe business while pursuing extensive involvement in the Jewish community. She became a leader in several organizations where her Jewish identity could be fully cultivated and freely expressed.

After she and Gerhard divorced, Eva married Rabbi Bernard Wechsberg (z”l) in 1961 and they moved to Rancho Palos Verdes, California. There, she and the Rabbi devoted themselves to the nascent Congregation Ner Tamid of South Bay, helping establish it as a vibrant and growing synagogue in the area. They enjoyed a dynamic social life and communal involvement while also making time to travel extensively. Eva became a Hebrew school teacher at Ner Tamid and a leader in local, regional, and national Jewish organizations, most notably Women’s League for Conservative Judaism. Well-known for her love of entertaining (and baking!), Eva and her husband hosted congregants, friends from around the world, and family in their home for decades. After Rabbi Wechsberg passed away in 1992, Eva’s love of travel found full expression as she worked as a travel agent well into her 80’s. Her remarkable ability to retain childhood friendships throughout her life kept her connected to the rich history they had shared before World War II. At age 74, Eva reconnected with a childhood friend from Leipzig who lived in Israel and with whom she spent several years traveling back and forth from California to Israel and Europe until his untimely passing.

When in the 1990’s German communities began to invite Jewish former citizens to visit and re-establish ties, Eva readily accepted their invitation to return to her native city of Leipzig, and in 1996 she made the first of several visits to the city of her birth. She participated in unique programming during their “Jewish Week,” sharing with current Leipzigers her childhood experiences and viewpoints. She made new friends and connections there and was proud to be the oldest living Jewish survivor born in Leipzig, honored by the citizens of Leipzig, and traveling there until her late 90’s. An eloquent speaker in English and German, Eva also enjoyed many opportunities to share her life experiences with students and others in the Los Angeles area, keeping history alive through storytelling. On the occasion of her 100th birthday celebration at Congregation Ner Tamid, German dignitaries made the trip to California to honor her and to celebrate with the entire community.

Eva is survived by her two daughters, Judith Neimark (Larry) and Margaret Avineri (Natan z”l), six grandchildren: Lisa Weiss (David); Oren Avineri (Danielle); Aaron Neimark (Valeria Estrada); Eitan Avineri (Kate); Tamar Avineri; and Netta Avineri (Eduardo Mancia) as well as nine great-grandchildren: Isabella, Ethan, Noah, Natalie, Camilla, Liliana, Avishai, Jonah, and Javier. After her brother died tragically at the age of 37, Eva continued to retain a close relationship with her nieces and nephews: Mark, Nan, Josh, Gigi, and Johanna.