Rachel Epstein was born in Compiegne, France on April 29, 1932, and became a victim of the Nazis when she was just a young girl. In 1939, when the Nazis invaded France, Rachel’s father’s business was taken away from him and her family lost their personal possessions because they were Jewish. They had to wear a yellow star on their clothing at all times. Rachel’s father was arrested, her parents were taken to Paris, and Rachel never saw them again. A non-Jewish family adopted Rachel and her brother. This family kept them safe and loved and treated them as if they were their own children.

When the Nazi regime became more dangerous, Rachel and her brother had to escape for safety. The entire family decided to temporarily flee together. Once it was safe to return to France, they learned that Rachel and her brother were at the top of the Nazis’ list to take to the concentration camps. A Nazi officer accidentally spilled coffee on the list and it covered Rachel’s name and her brother’s name. They were saved.

They stayed in France with their adopted parents until the end of the war. When Rachel was fifteen, she and her brother became the legal children of their adopted parents. Rachel’s adopted uncle was living in Brooklyn, NY, and so Rachel traveled alone by boat at age sixteen to live with him and have a better life. Her younger brother stayed in France, and 13 years later, they reunited.

After moving to Brooklyn, Rachel met a boy named Isidore Epstein. At first, they could only communicate in Yiddish, but he soon taught her how to speak English. They got married when she was 18 years-old and eventually had two daughters. Now, she has four grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She is forever grateful to her adopted parents for their love and all they sacrificed.

A documentary was made about Rachel’s story and her life with her adopted parents: “17 Rue St. Fiacre.” Now, Rachel lives on Long Island with her husband Izzy. Izzy loves to invent new technological inventions and Rachel loves to dance. She especially enjoys Argentine Tango, ballroom dancing, and tap dance.

To learn more about Rachel in her own words, click here.