Happy birthday, bubele.
Buzya Kimelfeld, the beloved 103-year-old resident of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island’s (JCCGCI) Surf Solomon Senior Center, was fêted during a pomp-filled birthday celebration for the senior, who has literally seen it all.
Born in a small Ukrainian village in 1908 during the bloody reign of the last Tzar of Russia, Emperor Nicholas II, Buzya’s mother fell sick and died when she was very young and her father was murdered in an anti-Jewish pogrom, leaving the young orphan to care for her younger brother and sister while, according to Buzya’s son Peter, living “by her wits” to shield her siblings from anti-Jewish Russian authorities.
Living beneath the oppressive yoke of communism for much of her life, the industrious Buzya persevered to learn valuable skills in sewing, sales and mathematics, allowing her to become a productive member of society and happily married woman, whose marriage eventually produced several generations of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, before (and after) she eventually emigrated to freedom in the United States in 1991.
The celebration of Buzya’s remarkable life was marked by friends singing English, Russian and Yiddish songs, which expressed the joy of the occasion, and government officials, including Congressman Jerrold Nadler, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, and Councilmembers Dominic Recchia and Michael Nelson providing personal messages of birthday congratulations. Borough President Marty Markowitz also officially declared it “Buzya Kimelfeld 103rd
Birthday Celebration Day” in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, lauding the more-than-a-century-old senior for having survived intense persecution to build a successful life for herself and her family, presented Buzya with a Citation of Honor proclaiming her an “Extraordinary Elder,” while Surf Solomon Director Grace Brandi delivered personal greetings from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, stating, “You have shown perseverance and a strong sense of tikkun olam.”
“Buzya continues to bring light to everyone around her with her positive outlook on life,” Rabbi Moshe Wiener, executive director, JCCGCI, 3001 West 37th
Street, stated. “She understands that her purpose is to make the world a better place.”