Sonoran Hebrew Cemetery Hosts Final Burial of Holocaust Survivor | New


The Sonoran Hebrew cemetery pioneer buried its last occupant to rest on the morning of July 8, a Holocaust survivor named Mine E. Grassetti who moved to Jamestown in the late 1980s and lived through most of her life. decades in Tuolumne County with her husband, David.

Mine (pronounced Meena) Grassetti died July 4 in the Bay Area, where she moved in her later years, following a battle with cancer and other illnesses. She was 93 years old.

“She was the center of our lives, of our family, of our world,” said her daughter, Silvia Grassetti-Kruglikov, during a one-hour Jewish funeral ceremony attended by friends, family and friends. members of the Mother Lode Jewish community, a nonprofit organization of Mine Grassetti. organization with members from Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne and Mariposa counties. “Our mother was a contemporary of Anne Frank, but one of the lucky ones.”

About 20 people gathered in the shade of the cypress trees and huddled near the gravestones carved in Hebrew, some of which date back over 160 years.

The mood turned from heartbreak to joy – in keeping with Jewish ritual and tradition – as her two sons, Richard and Daniel, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Silvia, commemorated her kindness, hospitality, intelligence and his outspokenness.

“It’s the end of an era,” said Elizabeth Grassetti.

“I was looking for her here. She was no longer there,” her son Richard Grassetti said after the ceremony. “But you could smell her here.

Mine Grassetti was buried next to her husband, David Grassetti, from Italy who also escaped the Nazis and died in 2005.

The family received a special dispensation to be buried there – the first since 1977 and probably the last – through family ties with the Commission for the Preservation of Pioneer Jewish Cemeteries and Monuments.

They lived for decades in the Table Mountain area outside of Jamestown.

“We are meeting today to accompany Mine on this most sacred journey,” said MLJC Rabbi Andra Greenwald, who led the ritual traditions for the tearing of clothing, memorial and burial, and read selected passages from the Torah, the Hebrew holy book.

The Grassetti plot is nestled at the end of an old motorable path cutting the cemetery in two, which once would have allowed a hearse to cross it to the other end. They are separated from some of the other occupants because they are not pioneers themselves.

“He had enormous respect for her and her for him,” said Dan Grassetti. “I feel incredibly privileged to be your son.”

According to an article in Friends and Neighbors magazine in its winter 2015-16 edition, Grassetti was born Mine Simmons to Jewish parents living in The Hague, the Netherlands. She was 12 when Nazi Germany invaded Holland in May 1940.

Mine Grassetti attributed his escape to the relative wealth of his family.

“We survived because we were able to get out,” she said.

But she lost her grandfather in Dachau, a Nazi concentration camp. Her best friend, Rose Jacobs, and the girl’s family were also killed and “missing” in the brutal inhumanity of the Holocaust.

Mine Grassetti’s father and a businessman named Felix Pais bribed Dutch Nazis to receive border passes to Belgium for the group, which included medics, his mother and older brother Erik.

The train broke down on the way to Brussels, and they missed their connection to Paris. Pais invented a ruse and told a Nazi commander that they were traveling to Spain to buy steel for the German war effort. Mine Grassetti said she didn’t know why, but the commander allowed it.

Surrounded by Nazis, they move towards Dunkirk, then towards Paris. From there they went to Spain, obtained permanent American visas in Bilbao, and sailed for New York.

Mine Grassetti met her husband while pursuing an architecture degree at MIT, but then gave up. The following year, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in real estate from Berkeley and later a law degree from Golden Gate University.

Articles from the Democratic Union of the late 1980s and early 1990s detail the achievements of Mine Grassetti on a professional level, but also in the art world with various oil paintings influenced by Goerges Rouault. and Marc Chagall.

In 1996, Mine Grassetti was a founding member of MLJC.

“These people are Holocaust survivors,” said MLJC chairman Rodger Orman of Murphys. “It was a suitable place.”

The Mother Lode never had a large Jewish population, but those who settled here during the Gold Rush and stayed through the modern era have always maintained close ties to their traditions and religious community.

Orman said there are around 70 Jewish families in Mother Lode today.

A 1970 CHISPA by Robert E. Levinson titled “The Importance of Sonoran Jewish Community” detailed a diaspora of European-born Jews to the Land of Gold fleeing the dark and growing specter of anti-Semitism.

Levinson was noted in the publication as a history professor at San Jose State College whose doctoral thesis was on “Jews in the California Gold Rush.”

Most of those who settled became merchants, “carrying out the same occupations that their ancestors carried out behind the walls of the ghetto: buying and selling food, clothing (both for the miners and for the inhabitants of the city) , general merchandise, tobacco, hardware and equipment for the dominant mining economy.

“They have certainly been a positive influence on the community and well respected,” said Sonoran historian Pat Perry.

They also came from various national backgrounds, Perry said, including Germany (or Prussia), France and Poland.

Within the community, they were characterized as leaders, Levinson noted. Even today, their names adorn emblematic architectural remains from the founding era of the colonized Mother Lode.

Emmanuel Linoberg’s last name entitles the street along which his historic brick building from 1856 still stands, and his name is inscribed on the upper level of the building.

Even then, the Jewish population was in the minority. Levinson refers to data from the 1860 federal census to enumerate 83 Jewish merchants, representing 3.6% of taxpayers and 0.51% of the population. They owned 6.67% of real and personal property and were assessed at 8.43% of total tax.

According to the article, in 1853 the Jews of Sonora organized the Hebrew Benevolent Society and established the Jewish cemetery. The perimeter wall was built around the same time, according to the article.

Some reports, including a 2007 Democratic Union article, indicated that the cemetery was founded earlier, in 1851.

The first person buried there was Hartwig Caro, 17, in 1853, according to the article, referring to a walking tour of the cemetery of the Commission for the Preservation of Pioneer Cemeteries and Monuments.

Despite a few instances of anti-Semitism locally, the Jewish community has rallied around ceremonies and parties, led by local Jewish leader Mayer Baer (who has a building on South Washington Street bearing his surname which is now occupied by Aloft Art Gallery).

Mayer Baer’s youngest son Julius, born in 1876 and died in 1972, was one of the cemetery’s last stewards, Perry said.

The city council approved the award to the Hebrew Benevolent Society of a deed for the cemetery at their meeting on March 19, 1962 (no actual deed existed so far). In 1969, the Commission accepted the cemetery of the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Sonora.

The Mother Lode Jewish community helped maintain the cemetery with an annual clean-up day hosted by MLJC volunteers and for a partial reconstruction of the exterior wall in 2017.

There are 44 plots visible in the cemetery.

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