Little Girl Lost

Given away as a child by her Holocaust-survivor parents, and then adopted by a bereaved Israeli couple, Nitza Kaplan fought to build herself a new identity and free herself from the past. But the surfacing of legal documents gave her story a new dimension when she discovered her biological parents actually won her back in a highly publicized trial

November 5, 1950, the Rosh Pina ma'abara immigrant transit camp. Destitute, Chaya and Yehezkel Bornstein drag themselves toward the camp's decrepit, mud-sunken huts. Both are natives of Lodz, Poland; both escaped to the Soviet Union before the Nazis entered their hometown, and managed to survive the Holocaust.

Nitza Kaplan at her home in Kiryat Haim, Michal Chelbin
Michal Chelbin

She is a short 40-year-old woman with light hair and layers of makeup on her face to conceal her impoverishment. He is a tall 38-year-old man wearing worn-out clothes. Not long after arriving in Israel as immigrants they visited the Youth Aliyah offices in Tel Aviv, where they wondered in anguished Yiddish whether Yona Langer, the official responsible for children adopted through Youth Aliyah programs, might find any traces in her records of their daughter Lusia.

During the first year of the war, Chaya and Yehezkel managed to escape to Kharkiv, in the USSR. They married in 1940; for Chaya, it was her second marriage. Youth Aliyah officials told her that her first husband and their three children had been murdered by the Nazis. Two years after the Bornsteins married, their daughter Lusia was born. They lived on a kolhoz (collective farm ) in the Saratov district, on the banks of the Volga. After the war, in 1946, they embarked on an arduous journey to Poland, eventually settling in the southern city of Dzierzoniow.

At that time, economic duress alongside fears stirred by the pogrom in Kielce, which left 42 Jewish Holocaust survivors dead, compelled the Bornsteins to send their daughter, who was not yet four years old, to the Zionist Coordination for the Redemption of Jewish Children.

The organization had been created to retrieve Jewish children who had been hidden with Christians, in monasteries and private homes, during the war; once recovered, the children were brought to Israel. Years later, the Bornsteins stated that their intention was for their daughter to be brought to Israel, and that they would subsequently find their way to the Jewish state where they could be reunited with her. Chaya Bornstein left her daughter in an agency office not far from Dzierzoniow. As the organization only helped children who had lost a parent, Chaya lied and said the girl's father had been killed during the war.

Young Lusia was kept at that site for a month or two, where she met a Jewish Agency caregiver named Ida Rosen. Lusia and some other children were then transferred to an area in Germany occupied by the Americans, to a camp where some 500 children under the care of the Coordinating Agency were then kept. In 1947, Lusia suffered from a skin disease and was taken, with a few other ailing children, to a hospital in Munich. Ida Rosen, who accompanied these children, left Lusia in the Munich hospital and returned to the camp.

On January 18, 1948, after embarking from Marseille, France, a ship named the Alexandria reached Israel carrying a group of Youth Aliyah children. This group included a young girl listed on rosters as Nuta Bolestet; in Haifa, she was transferred with a few other children to the Youth Aliyah camp in Ra'anana. Moshe Ya'ari, a Youth Aliyah official, recorded the few available details about the girl. He listed her mother's birthplace as "Poland," but put a question mark next to this entry. He recorded her year of birth as 1944, meaning this person, Nuta Bolestet, was two years younger than Lusia Bornstein; to make matters more confusing, on an Israeli roster, the girl's year of birth was listed as 1943.

In March 1948, young Nuta Bolestet was moved to a Youth Aliyah camp in Pardes Hannah; a few months later, she was relocated to a youth program in Kfar Sava.

Identity inspection

Soon after the Bornsteins brought their daughter to the agency, their economic situation improved and they decided to retrieve her. Via the Red Cross in Poland, they sent letters of inquiry about Lusia, and learned that their daughter was already on her way to Israel. In November 1950 they immigrated to the Jewish state and turned to the Youth Aliyah offices to locate their daughter. Yona Langer, who kept track of the children's details, reviewed the case and determined that Nuta Bolestet could be their daughter. Some details in Nuta's file seemed to match Lusia's profile: there was a reference to parents named Yehezkel and Chaya (and the father was said to have died in the war ); and the girl was said to have come from the Soviet Union.

Some time later, Ida Rosen stated that while in the German camp, she changed the girl's name from Lusia to Nuta, to differentiate her from another girl whose name also happened to be Lusia Bornstein. In March 1951, the Bornsteins were called in to a Jewish Agency office in Haifa, where Hava Cohen, who headed a Youth Aliyah social work unit, showed them a picture of Nuta Bolestet, along with photos of two other young girls. The parents, greatly excited, immediately identified Nuta as their daughter.

Meanwhile Nuta, or Lusia, Bolestet or Bornstein, no longer went by any of these names. Her new name in Israel was Nitza Kaplan. Trying to bury bitter memories of her childhood in Europe during the war, she had begun a new life in a comfortable home in Kiryat Motzkin.

Meir and Chaya Kaplan, a middle-class couple and veteran residents of Kiryat Motzkin, lost their only son during the 1948 War of Independence. In May of 1950 they turned to authorities to adopt a child, in an attempt to fill the void. Nuta Bolestet was sent to their home for a two-month trial period; assuming all went well during that time, she was to become their adopted daughter.

"They came a few times," Nitza Kaplan recalls today, referring to Meir and Chaya Kaplan. "As a young girl, they looked like old, gray-haired people to me. They insisted that I go with them. One day, I'm not sure why, I went with them. As soon as I left the grounds of the institution, I began to call them mother and father. I gave them my hand, and called them mom and dad."

For Nitza Kaplan, life began anew the day Meir and Chaya took her from the orphanage to their home on Hashoftim (today Goshen ) Street in Kiryat Motzkin. Only hazy, fragmentary memories of wooden huts, beds and lots of children stayed with her from her early years. Today Kaplan looks much younger than her 68 years; a pleasant woman, she is a divorced mother of three and a proud grandmother. She lives in Kiryat Haim, in an apartment maintained in a restrained, though somewhat sentimental, style.

In some areas of her home, it looks like time is standing still. The dining room table is from her adopted parents' home, and she has the old radio on which her father used to listen to broadcasts every morning. On the wall hangs a black and white photograph of her adopted parents' lost son, along with a picture of the Kaplans. "It's like a museum," Nitza says, explaining that she only discovered important details and hints about the first stages of her life after her mother, Chaya Kaplan, passed away in May 1987 (her father Meir died in late 1965 ).

For three years after her mother's death, Nitza did not touch anything inside the apartment on Hashoftim Street. Finally, she decided to put the place up for rent, and while removing furniture, she stumbled upon a bundle of old documents; but she did not look at them straight away. "I took the papers to my house, where they sat unexamined for a few years," Nitza relates. "I simply didn't want to know."

One evening, she finally had a look and was stunned to discover items related to her - old birth certificates, a picture of her taken the day she reached her new home, and a stack of yellowed, crumbling documents under the heading "Yehezkel and Chaya Bornstein vs. Meir and Chaya Kaplan."

From the court verdict, Nitza learned for the first time about the efforts waged by the Bornsteins to retrieve their daughter. In June 1952, a Haifa district judge, Moshe Landau, ruled that Nitza Kaplan was in fact the Bornsteins' daughter. After uncovering these documents, Nitza's emotions were in turmoil. She remembered a strange, foreign-looking woman who arrived one day at the Kaplan house and said loudly in Yiddish, "I am her mother." Nitza recalls how this pronouncement shocked her, how she ran into her room, hating the strange woman who dared disrupt the sense of quiet tranquillity she had found with her adopted parents.

"I remember myself as a girl in an institution in Pardes Hannah, and later at a boarding school in Kfar Sava," Nitza says. "My memories feature a lot of children and caretakers. There were no parents. When I was moved from Pardes Hannah to Kfar Sava, I had no idea why I was taken to a new institution. I later understood, in retrospect, that I'd been transferred to a boarding school for older children.

"As for the Kfar Sava institution, I remember a wooden hut with beds. I recall a cafeteria, and I remember slices of bread, with margarine and sugar. I don't remember any other food; for example, I can't recall what we ate for lunch. My main memory is of people coming, people who had candy that they gave to the children; sometimes these children would return, sometimes they would not. When we asked about them, we were told that they had found a home, that they had found parents; we didn't understand the meaning of the word 'adopted;' we used the words 'They've been taken forever.'"

Did you think about why you were alone?

"No, I had no real reason to. All the children there were alone."

Did you want anybody to 'take you away forever'?

"No, I didn't want to be taken. A few years ago I met somebody, Leah Sandler, who had worked there as a caregiver, and she remembered me. She told me that I kept close to a caretaker named Sarah. Immediately I said, 'Sara-le?' The name suddenly leapt off my tongue. She replied, 'Yes, Sara-le.' I remember a woman wearing a big white apron, but I can't picture the face. Leah also said that I would stand alongside a fence, with a sad look on my face, as though I were waiting for someone. But I don't remember that."

"One day an older couple came," Nitza continues. "They visited me several times. They wanted me - none of the others. So one day I went with them. I was five and a half, six years old. The first thing that happened - and this I remember very clearly - was that they took me to a store and bought me a doll. Then they took me to a clothing store and purchased new clothes and shoes for me. A taxi waited outside. It was a long journey from Kfar Sava to Motzkin. I gazed out the window the entire time and didn't fall asleep. I couldn't close my eyes - I had never been outside an institution before. We reached a house that had a courtyard. It was already nighttime; my mother walked in front, and I stayed close to my father, because I was afraid of the dark."

Meir Kaplan was a well-liked and respected public figure who served on the Kiryat Motzkin town council and worked as a senior accounts manager for the Tnuva company. Chaya Kaplan was a diligent homemaker. She wore simple clothes and never put on makeup. The floors in their home always sparkled; and despite the period of rationing, there was always something warm cooking on the stove. They lost their son, a tall, handsome young man, in a battle waged on June 3, 1948. He had been a good student and fought in the Palmach's Negev Brigade after Israeli statehood was declared.

Life under the shadow of mourning

"They arranged a private room for me," Nitza recalls, "but I slept with them in the beginning. My room had an iron, a Jewish Agency bed and a thick mattress. I remember the bed very well because I would hide bread under the mattress. I can still picture the iron bars upon which I would put the bread. My mother was smart enough not to say anything about this. By the way, I have the same concern today - I always make sure the refrigerator is full."

What were you thinking about at the time?

"I didn't think about anything. The moment I got there, I forgot what had happened prior. I have no recollection at all about the years that preceded the institutions; this is a kind of repression I've had all these years."

The Kaplan home was quiet. While it was not a lively place, the parents gave their adopted daughter love and affection.

"This was a house belonging to parents who lived under the shadow of mourning," Nitza says. "They never talked about their son. His picture was in the living room. I never asked about it, and they never said anything about it. Each year, I traveled with them to the cemetery. A sense of mourning was always present. My mother had a close friend - I called her Aunt Rivka - who told me a bit about how successful he had been, and how he had died in a battle near Nitzanim, which is how I got the name Nitza. I remembered that I had been called Nuta, but they called me Nitza and I got used to it. I think that I really wanted to please them. I wanted them to love me."

"This was not a home filled with hugs and kisses, but it had love," Nitza continues. "My mother called me 'Nitzkaleh,' and my father bought me anything I wanted. At a time when food rationing stamps were distributed, my parents closed half of the yard, bought two hens and built a coop, so that I could have an egg every day. I didn't lack for anything. We lived in a private house, not in a tenement building, like most people at the time. My parents read books and newspapers. Each morning, my father would turn on the radio, drink a cup of tea, put on a hat and go to work. We were observant and went to synagogue on Fridays. But if you were to ask why I went to synagogue, I'd have to admit it was because of the salted fish they distributed there - my father would be embarrassed, because food was distributed in the synagogue for needy people."

What about your mother?

"My mother was a pedantic woman, noble in her demeanor and she bore a resemblance to Golda Meir. She liked to cook, and it was important to her that food was ready on time. I do a lot of things the way she did; even though I am not her [biological] daughter, I am her daughter."

Nitza began her studies in first grade, at Kiryat Motzkin's elementary school. Her teacher was friendly with her mother, and the principal, Dr. Levinhertz, was also a family friend. At first, the Kaplan home hosted few visitors as Nitza was afraid of strangers.

"The big change took place in second grade," Nitza explains, "when people started to come to the house and ask questions. I remember one woman who came to the house a number of times - perhaps she was a social worker, or a person connected to the litigation, I don't know. She asked me whether I was happy in my home. I never had a good feeling about those visits."

Nitza continues: "One day at school, I was told to go see the principal, Dr. Levinhertz. He asked how I felt, and then he brought me over to a table. The school physician, Dr. Doron, was there, and the same woman who had visited our house; and there was another man there, someone I didn't know. The woman asked me whether I remembered my parents, and focused on my mother. She kept asking 'Do you remember your mother?' I said directly: 'I remember that my mother was tall, and always wore a big hat.' I don't know why I said that. Perhaps it was something I really remembered; maybe it was something I wanted to be true. That night I had nightmares. I dreamt I was being chased, that I was unable to run, and that I fell into a well and was trapped."

This was in fact the period during which the legal case opened, with the Bornsteins demanding that Nitza be recognized as their daughter and that she be taken from her adopted family.

"I didn't know there was a trial," Nitza says. "I was never taken to court, and nobody said anything to me on the subject. Suddenly at school people were telling me 'You are adopted.' I really wanted to be accepted, for people to love me. For years, I knew that 'something' was happening, but I didn't know this was a legal action. I didn't think about it - I was a child. Actually, I didn't want to think about it. Things were good, and I didn't want any sudden changes. I wanted life to continue as it was. I was afraid somebody would take me away."

Then, one day, Nitza relates, "a short woman with gold teeth came to our house, and told me, in Yiddish, 'I am your mother.' She pointed at my mother and declared 'She is not your mother, I am your mother.' I think that I fled to my room."

The woman, of course, was Chaya Bornstein. For years, Nitza refused to believe that this foreign woman, who would sometimes turn up at her school and stare at her from afar, was her biological mother. Even after she found the court verdict holding that Bornstein was, in fact, her mother, Nitza had trouble absorbing the information.

Determining the truth

On September 20, 1950, the Bornsteins submitted a claim against the Kaplans. The plaintiffs were supported by the Jewish Agency's department for Youth Aliyah. The Bornsteins wanted Nitza returned to them, and they demanded that the verdict recognize their custody rights. Their attorney was Gideon Hausner, who a decade later captivated the state as the attorney general who prosecuted Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.

The case, whose star players were war refugees, a couple who survived the war and the Holocaust, and veteran Israelis, a couple with deep roots in the pre-state Yishuv who lost a son in the War of Independence, attracted public attention. There was some media coverage, as well, with Ma'ariv publishing a long report under the headline "Who does the girl belong to?" Nitza Kaplan, however, never saw the newspaper and knew nothing about the trial.

In June 1952, Judge Moshe Landau (who later served as president of the Supreme Court and also presided over the Eichmann trial ) delivered his verdict: Nitza Kaplan was the Bornstein's daughter. As evidence, the judge pointed out that the Bornsteins identified the girl without hesitation. In addition, two caretakers who had attended to the girl when she was under the responsibility of the Coordinating Agency, and when she lived in the camp in Germany, identified the girl as Nuta Bolestet. One of these witnesses was Ida Rosen, who had a strong recollection of the girl. Rosen testified that the girl's name was actually Lusia, but that it had been changed to Nuta so as to avoid confusion with a girl who had the exact same name. In March 1947, Rosen had accompanied little Nuta to a hospital in Munich and then left her there - accounting for a gap in the girl's life until April 1948, when Nuta Bolestet arrived in Eretz Israel.

The judge wrote that while the surname Bolestet is not known as a Jewish name, it nonetheless resembled the name Bornstein. "Perhaps the name was mispronounced by the girl, and recorded as Bolestet by Mr. Ya'ari," Landau speculated. He also noted that blood tests did not rule out the possibility that Nitza was the Bornsteins' daughter.

During the examination held in the principal's office, Nitza Kaplan did not identify the Bornsteins as her mother and father. "The girl herself does not remember that the plaintiffs are her parents," noted Landau. "On the contrary, she vehemently denies this possibility, and insists that her mother was taller, and had different colored hair."

However, the judge concluded, Nitza's memory could not really be trusted. For instance, "she does not remember the journey across the sea, when she arrived in this country." All told, Landau believed the Bornsteins. "In my opinion, the mother spoke the truth," he wrote in the verdict. "She did not try to conceal information that might have contradicted her claim. This appears to be a woman who has not come to kidnap a child under false pretenses; she is truly convinced in her heart that the girl is her daughter. This confidence plants in my own heart the belief that she is speaking the truth. I rule that the girl Nuta Bolestet is, in fact, Lusia, the daughter of the plaintiffs, Yehezkel and Chaya Bornstein."

The second abandonment

Hearing the verdict, Chaya and Meir Kaplan's world caved in - for a second time. In order to ease the transition for the girl, they started to take her on visits to the Bornsteins.

"In the beginning," she states, "I needed to visit them, to get used to it. I don't recall anyone explaining the situation to me. They lived in the Rosh Pina ma'abara [transit camp]. My parents brought me there for a visit; we sat for an hour, and returned home." Later, the Bornsteins stayed with some friends in downtown Haifa, and hosted the girl in their house.

Nitza recalls the first night, which was apparently also the last night, she stayed with the Bornsteins at this house in Haifa. "One Saturday night my parents took me on a visit to them, and left me there to sleep. I don't know what happened, but in the morning I started walking along the railroad tracks. I walked alone, all the way home. My parents were shocked. That was the last time I went [to the Haifa residence]."

In the end, the Bornsteins settled in Kiryat Motzkin, on a street that was just a 10-minute walk from the Kaplan's home. "My parents helped them purchase the apartment, and my father found work for him at Tnuva," states Nitza Kaplan. "They did this in order to allow the court verdict to be honored." From a family friend, Nitza learned that her adopted parents bought her a bicycle, at the time a precious commodity, so that she would agree to stay with her biological parents; but Nitza refused to move to the Bornstein's house.

"This woman, who called herself my mother, would come to ceremonies at the school," Nitza recalls. "I would sing onstage during some holiday celebrations, and she would stand on the side, far away, and point at me."

Did you feel anything for her?

"Nothing. Not only did I not love her, I hated her. She bothered me."

A month after the verdict was issued, an agreement was signed between the "parents," the Bornsteins, and the "raising couple," the Kaplans, whose "one and only goal is to preserve the girl's well-being, and protect her from emotional hardship and trauma." The agreement declared that "despite all that is written in the verdict about carrying out the transfer of the child gradually from the raising couple to the parents, the parents hereby recognize that the girl, Lusia Bornstein, their daughter, will remain in the future in the house of the raising couple, and will be named Nitza. The raising couple promise to take care of the girl as they have up to now, and to take care of all expenses connected to her custody and education, as well as providing her food, clothing and welfare at standards kept in orderly homes. They will occasionally visit the parents' home with the girl. On the basis of this document, the parents relinquish claims regarding the carrying out of the court verdict."

"I think it was convenient for them to leave me with the Kaplan family," Nitza says, crying. "That's why it's so hard for me - she [Chaya Bornstein] did not fight for me at all costs. They say that a mother fights like a lioness for her children. But that didn't happen. She abandoned me for a second time."

Nitza's connection with her biological parents faded as time passed. "In fifth or sixth grade, when I went out with girlfriends to a movie, I would sometimes go to [the Bornsteins'] house and ask for money. I don't remember ever having a conversation with them. Even when I went to ask for money, the request was forwarded by a neighbor, and I always made sure that a girlfriend was with me. You know, there are stories of mothers and daughters who meet after years of separation and immediately reestablish their bond. That didn't happen with us. For years, I would see them sometimes on the street. They never came up to me to say hello. After I got married, and walked around the neighborhood with a baby carriage, she never came knocking at my door to say 'I've come to see my grandchildren.'"

Would you have wanted her to do that?

"Yes, had she done so it might have created some kind of bond."

Are you able to understand her?

"I have trouble understanding her side of the story. A few months ago I met with a Holocaust researcher, Dr. Emunah Nachmany-Gafni, whose studies relate to the hiding and rescuing of children. I told her that I can't believe that these were my parents. She said, speaking on the basis of her research about families that gave their children away, that we can never know what such people experienced in their lives. And that if they gave me away, it was to save my life. She told me that 'later they wanted you back.'"

"Emotionally, I cannot accept them," Nitza continues. "That woman never left me during the war; she left me after the war, in 1946. During the war, I was with her. She managed to save me during the war, so why did she give me away after it ended? When I discovered these documents from the trial, I found that she told the court that they had sent me away because they faced economic difficulties. So why did they give me away? Because they didn't have food to eat? I can't make peace with this. I haven't been able to understand it. I am a mother myself and I would never leave my children."

A thin, bald girl

Nitza continued on with her life: She finished her studies at the high school in Kiryat Motzkin, served in the Israel Defense Forces, and at the age of 20 married Yitzhak Azari, with whom she had three children: two sons and a daughter. She named her eldest boy Yissachar, after the Kaplans' slain son.

"I wanted to honor my parents," she explains. "I wanted to give them a sense of continuation, for their boy who was killed. When my son was born, I asked my mother for permission to name him Yissachar; she was very moved. He was a model grandson. Suddenly there was joy in my parents' house - I remember how my father would rock my son in his carriage, and sit with him on the sofa, gleaming with contentment. Eight months later, my father died of kidney failure."

Gradually, over the past several years, Nitza has searched for answers to her life story. Sometimes, she admits, she feels troubled inside. She meets with Holocaust researchers, looking for clues about her own past. When she read the court verdict, following her mother's death, her world was thrown into question.

"I was alone, and felt anger overtake me," she says. "For the first time in my life I was angry with my parents, who hadn't told me anything. There were birth certificates there, under the name Lusia, and suddenly I realized that I was a survivor of the war, that I had been sent to the Coordinating Agency, that I had a past."

Nitza's search began at the Ghetto Fighters' House Museum. She visited the museum's archive with a friend and asked for documents pertaining to the Coordinating Agency. She was handed three thick notebooks. She was turning pages, "not even knowing what I was looking for," when her heart dropped at a picture of a thin, bald girl wearing a threadbare dress.

"Suddenly I felt something inside," Nitza says, "something I hadn't felt for so many years. I stopped and told my friend, 'That's me.' I turned the page over, and my name was written on the back. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. After finding that picture, I stopped dealing with the subject for a number of years. I just couldn't bear it."

This year, she turned to the Central Zionist Archives and asked for any documents pertaining to herself. Two months ago, she received a stack of old papers, dealing with her own case and the Youth Aliyah organization in Tel Aviv. The documents shed light on the tragic plight of Nitza's biological mother. On June 13, 1957, five years after the verdict in Nitza's case was delivered, Chaya Bornstein went to the Youth Aliyah offices, accompanied by a man named Zelig Kosovitzki, whom she identified as her brother-in-law, the brother of her first husband.

"Without any introduction, she started to speak rapidly and angrily in Yiddish," Yona Langer wrote in a memorandum. "She said she demanded her daughter, and that Nuta Bolestet was not her child. As she continued with her string of accusations, I told her to sit down for a second. I asked her whether there was any logic to her claims. After all, Youth Aliyah brought her case to trial, entirely for her [Chaya Bornstein's] benefit, and covered considerable expenses. And now, after five years, she arrived with this strange claim? As to the fact that she says the daughter shows no bond with her, that's a different story. When I asked her about her husband, she said he had traveled to France and deserted her because they had no children. She relayed this information without much show of emotion. I should mention that Mrs. Bornstein looks fine, better than she did five years ago. She seems full of life and energy. She is no longer a pitiable, fragile woman." A week later, Bornstein met with Chaya Cohen, the coordinator of Youth Aliyah's social welfare department. "Mrs. Bornstein's external appearance is cleaner and better than ever," Cohen wrote. "She wears makeup, and talks about a refrigerator and other improvements in her life.

Nonetheless, I have the impression that she is inwardly troubled and miserable. Mrs. Bornstein says that her son from her first marriage found her via new immigrants from Lodz. Her son, Moshe Keslo, 30, immigrated to Israel 10 years ago. He lives in Herzliya, and has two children, aged seven and one. She says that she has good relations with her son, his wife and her grandchildren. She finds comfort in this, viewing it as compensation for the loss of her daughter Lusia." Cohen added that Mrs. Bornstein described herself as a "simple woman who does not know how to read and write, and who has trouble expressing her emotions and thoughts. She says she was not close, emotionally, with her daughter or with her husband... I tried to explain to her that it would be best if she were to become reconciled with the fact that her daughter Lusia is alive, but no longer lives as her daughter. And that she should find comfort after finding her son, who was separated from her in 1938, and with whom she is now, unexpectedly, united."

Nitza Kaplan never contacted her half brother, or his children. "I don't know whether he is alive today," she states. "He was much older. One day, when I went to where [the Bornsteins] lived, someone was sitting on the fence and a neighbor said, 'That's your brother.' He looked at me, and I looked at him. I assume he knew about my existence. I never contacted him. I imagine it's possible to reach him, or his children. But for me that would be a Pandora's box. I don't know what would come out of it."

Chaya Bornstein passed away in 1980. Nitza Kaplan did not attend her funeral, nor has she ever visited her grave. Yehezkel Bornstein, who remarried, died 13 years later. Chaya Kaplan died in 1987; Nitza cared for her until the end - feeding and washing her. She has, for years, faithfully visited her mother's grave. Whenever she has anything important to say, good or bad, she pays a visit to the grave.