Obituary - MIRIAM MACHELA APFEL
March 18, 2022
Miriam Machela Apfel, age 97, of The Villages, Florida, passed away on Saturday, March 5, 2022. A Holocaust survivor, loving wife, mother of two, grandmother of three, and great-grandmother of four, Miriam was born in Poland on March 6, 1924, as the youngest of seven children to Bracha and Motle Levental.
Twelve-year-old Miriam was preparing for the first day of her new school year in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. Separated from her family and taken to a labor camp, Miriam survived the Holocaust while much of her family did not.
While in the concentration camp, Miriam risked her life to smuggle food to the adjoining men’s camp where her brother was one of the prisoners facing starvation.
Her labor camp was liberated by the Russians in 1945. While Miriam searched for surviving family members in Germany, she met Yehuda Apfel. Born in Krakow, Poland, Yehuda had served with the Jewish Brigade while also a member of the underground Israeli Hagana. They got married on Feb. 8, 1947.
The young couple boarded the Theodore Herzl, a refugee ship bound for Israel. The ship was stopped by the British and forced to travel to Cyprus where Miriam and the other refugees were detained in a Displaced Person’s Camp.
In June 1948, while still in Cyprus, Miriam gave birth to the couple’s first child, a daughter they named Bracha. A few months later, mother and child travelled to Israel by ship to be reunited with Yehuda.
In Israel, the family settled in Netanya where Yehuda worked as a police detective as Miriam cared for the family which in 1952 grew larger with the birth of the couple’s son, Martin (Moty).
Miriam learned that two of her sisters had survived the war and settled in the U.S. and Canada. With the help of several men who Miriam had secretly fed in the concentration camp, the Apfels moved to Stamford, Connecticut, in 1964 where Yehuda found work as a plumber.
In the early 1990s, Miriam and Yehuda moved to Central Florida. Yehuda passed away in 1993. Miriam moved to The Villages in 2005 and became a member of Temple Shalom.
Miriam is survived by her daughter, Bracha Smith of Oviedo, Florida; son Martin Apfel of Altamonte Springs, Florida; her granddaughter, Sharit Kelley; her grandsons, Jacob and Mitchell Apfel; her great-grandchildren — Reilly Kelley, Colin Kelley, Makayla Kelley, and Mikaela Apfel (born on March 2, 2022).
Miriam said, “Always forgive. Never forget.”
Arrangements entrusted to Beth Shalom Memorial Chapel, 640 Lee Road, Orlando FL 32810, 407-599-1180, http://www.bethshalommemorialchapel.com.