Livia Shacter and grandson
Livia Shacter and grandsonSteven Brown

Livia Shacter made a lot of people happy just by getting on a plane. Shacter, a 93-year-old great-grandmother of 35, made Aliyah, immigrating from the U.S. to Israel a few days ago. She told Israel National News her story, which goes all the way from Czechoslovakia, to Auschwitz, to L.A., to Baltimore, to Ramat Beit Shemesh:

INN: Why did you come to Israel?

Livia: I came to be with my daughter. I have two daughters, one is in Baltimore, and one is in Israel. Now, my daughter in Israel said I should come... I wanted to come years ago, and it never worked out. But she insisted, and I came. I arrived last Wednesday and already today I have joined a group of older men and women (called Melabev) who get together four days a week. They have so much fun there. Today they were singing and dancing and I joined them. They come from all countries.

INN: Where are you from originally?

Livia: I was born in Czechoslovakia. My parents at age 57, and two brothers, at age 22 and 24, were killed in Auschwitz. I was 25 when I taken to Auschwitz, but I survived. After the War, I went to America to Los Angeles. I had a brother there. Over the course of twenty years, I told my story of the Holocaust at the Wiesenthal Center. Later, I moved to Baltimore.

INN: Why did you decide to move to Israel?

Livia: Israel is the Jewish country. So that's wonderful. Jews should come to Israel. It's a mitzvah (commandment) to come.

INN: Did you have a career in America?

Livia: I worked until the age of 64 for the Prudential insurance company. After I retired, I went to work as a volunteer in the Wiesenthal Center.

INN: What are you plans now?

Livia: I am 93. I will stay with my daughter, and join groups with older people. I have grandchildren here. My daughter has three married children and I have great-grandchildren.

INN: Was making aliyah at the age of 93 difficult?

Livia: It was not difficult to make Aliyah at my age. In fact I got special treatment. I became a citizen here, and even got financial benefits. I was given a bus to take my luggage from the airport. I was helped by Nefesh b' Nefesh. People made a big deal about my aliyah. I did not come on a Nefesh b'Nefesh flight. I was alone on the flight. Before I came, I was sick and my daugher and her husband came to Baltimore to convince me to come.

INN: What do you think about the state of Israel?

Livia: I thank G-d we have a country and that it should just stay well and out of trouble. I would come no matter what.

Leiba Brown, Livia's daughter told Israel National News that her mother has 11 grandchildren and 35 great-grandchildren. Three of her grandchildren and 11 of her great-grandchildren live in Israel.

INN: When did you find out that your mother wanted to make aliyah?

Leiba: We lived in L.A. close to her for many years. She was very close to me and my kids. But when we made Aliyah she had to choose between Baltimore (where she has another daughter) and Israel. She came at the age of 83, but it was too hard for her, so she moved back to Baltimore. But now that her health changed, she was more open to the idea of moving to Israel. "How can I come all the way when I'm sick?" she used to say. Then, all of a sudden, one day, she told me, "I had a dream that I came to Israel and I want to be in Israel." So I said, okay, lets do it. She had doubts. But she made it and it was very good for her.

She was asked to speak in the synagogue in Ramat Beit Shemesh. She was in the movie The Long Way Home about the Holocaust. The producers of the movie asked her to be in the movie. While you only hear the voice of a lot of the survivors in the movie, you actually see my mother -- she practically opens the movie and then comes on a few more times. The movie shows a picture of her parents who were in Auschwitz. She was a very good story teller.

INN: How will things change now that your mother is here?

Leiba: It's a big change in our lives. I think it's very good. This is the place she should be. My whole family is thrilled to have her. My kids are very close to her. She sat at the Shabbat table and my daughter said 'I can't believe you're here, it's such a blessing.' Everyone is crazy about her."