Bronia (Brenda) Wluka epitomized the biblical description of a “Woman of Valor” which literally translates from Hebrew as “Woman of Power”. A Holocaust Survivor, she was orphaned in 1942 at 13 when Nazis took her Mother, Father and younger sister from their home in Podberezhe, a shtetl north of Vilnius, Lithuania. She never saw them again. A Gentile family took her in, keeping her Jewish identity a secret. She worked on their farm and other jobs, often interacting with Nazi soldiers, serving them meals where they were billeted and selling them food at the train station. In addition to Yiddish, she spoke fluent Russian, German, Polish and Lithuanian telling her family, “I would wake up in the morning and be in another country…and my bed didn’t move!”. At the war’s end, learning that she may have family at a displaced persons camp located in Salzburg, Austria she made the 900-mile trip alone. There she met Icek (Hank) Wluka, an Auschwitz Survivor, the only one of eight siblings to make it out. Introduced by mutual acquaintances and both orphans, they married just three days later. In May of 1949, Hank and Brenda came as refugees with their infant son David to Boston to make a new life. Hank went to work in the TV repair business and Brenda started at a belt factory in the South End. She soon went to school and became a licensed manicurist working on Newbury Street for nearly 25 years while raising her three sons, David, Allen and Michael. As a Holocaust Survivor she made “Never Forget” a part of her being. She was active in Holocaust programs throughout the world, a part of the Spielberg Project and has testimony on record at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem in Israel. She is a past President of the all Holocaust survivor New Americans Association of Greater Boston and was this year’s keynote speaker at the Holocaust remembrance service at Temple Beth Am in Margate Florida. Brenda loved life with energy that flowed and engulfed everyone around her. Her “I love a party!” was the opening to many a great time of singing and dancing where she made it her job to make sure that everyone had a great time. She and Hank were accomplished ballroom dancers and her voice, whether singing in English, Russian or Yiddish was polarizing. Her signature “God Bless America” which she sang at every opportunity had people standing, cheering and in tears. You could hear her love for America and all it meant in giving her an opportunity for a new life after the horrors of the Holocaust. Born January 22nd, 1929, she was never hospitalized in her 89 except for childbirths. Brenda died peacefully surrounded by family on August First after a six-week battle with Pancreatic Cancer. She leaves her three sons, David, Allen and Michael Wluka; daughters-in-law who she called her “daughters and angels”, Nancy, Gwen and Nancy; five grandchildren Elizabeth Wluka, Jaimie Wluka Switkes and her husband Mathew, Aaron Wluka and his wife Chrissy, Jordana Bishop and her husband Josh and Danielle Alburtus and her husband Jeff; five great grandchildren, Olivia and Franki Alburtus, Zachary, Skylar and Jadyn Wluka and their mother Stacey Wluka; and her loving friend and companion of 18 years, Jack Draznin. Funeral Services will be held 10:00 AM on Friday, August 3rd at Schlossberg Solomon Memorial Chapel, 824 Washington Street Canton followed by internment at Sharon Memorial Park. Brenda asked that all donations in her memory be made towards the restoration and preservation of the Jewish Cemetery in the Wluka ancestral home of Nowy Dwor, Poland: www.nowydworjewishmemorial.org.
Schlossberg & Solomon Memorial Chapel
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