Among the 50,000-plus runners who participated in the annual New York City marathon on Sunday, there was one runner who especially moved us: Rochelle Goldschmiedt, who honored her Holocaust survivor mother by wearing her Auschwitz number on her arm.
Just a couple days before Sunday’s race, Goldschmiedt received a henna tattoo of the number that her mother, Devora Hilsenrath, got when she arrived at Auschwitz from Hungary at age 14. The inspiration to do this Goldschmiedt told NorthJersey.com, was twofold: To honor her mother as well as give her the strength to cross the finish line.
“Running the marathon was a huge challenge for me, not only physically but emotionally. Everybody has challenges in their life but I feel that if you have the sheer will and determination emotionally to overcome something, it can be done,” the Teaneck resident and mom said. “Seeing the horror that my mother went through and the fact that she survived and moved on and had a family and has children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren shows that anybody can be a survivor and go on to thrive in their life.”
This was the third time Goldschmiedt completed a race with “A13480” tattooed on her arm, but her first wearing a shirt with her aunt Gabriella’s name — which she also had henna tattooed on her arm.
“The spectators will call her name over and over again,” Goldschmiedt said. “Every time they mention her name they will keep her memory alive.”
Hilsenrath said her daughter’s act has brought out deep emotions in her. “I have met lots of Holocaust survivors but nobody’s child had their number put on their arms,” she said. “It must take a very special soul.”
The 88-year-old isn’t the only one who recognized her daughter’s golden heart. New York Road Runners, the non-profit running organization, selected Goldschmiedt as one of the 26 most inspirational marathon participants as part of their “It Will Move You” campaign.
Goldschmiedt was the 10,005 runner to cross the finish line, taking her just under 6 hours to complete the 26-mile race. Mazel tov!