Submitted by: Dan Rich
July 27, 1922 - Nov. 1, 2001
South Bend Tribune 11/4/2001
Rose Zar, 81, of Whitcomb Avenue, South Bend, Ind., died Thursday, Nov. 1, in her residence.
She was born on July 27, 1922, in Piotrokow Tribunalski, Poland, the seat of the Polish Supreme Court. She was descendant of the Pevel family of Warsaw, Poland, who had served as the model of prosperous Polish Jews in a number of stories by Sholom Aleichem. Her ancestors had probably lived in the Jewish community of Poland since the Renaissance.
As Rose Guterman, she married her high school sweetheart, Mayer Zar, in Krakow, Poland, on Sept. 17, 1945. Rose and Mayer Zar had been among the only members of their family to survive the Second World War. Mr. Zar survives. She is also survived by her children, Regina Gonek of Rochester, N.Y., Harvey Zar, M.D., of Chapel Hill, N.C., and Howard Zar of New York, N.Y.; as well as her grandchildren, Sarah and Michael Gonek. She was preceded in death by her son, Aviram Zarnowiecki.
During the Second World War, Mrs. Zar had been active in Hashomer Hatzair, a Polish Zionist youth movement that ultimately became responsible for Jewish armed resistance against the Nazis in the Warsaw ghetto uprising. Mrs. Zar acted on numerous occasions as an operative of the resistance movement and had frequently smuggled its leader, Mordechai Anielewicz, through Nazi lines. She was also responsible for smuggling weapons, money and information to Tosia Altman, another leader of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. During the remaining years of the war, Mrs. Zar lived undercover as a nanny for one of the senior SS officers in the German occupation forces in Krakow, Poland. Her experiences during that time were recounted in her autobiography, In the Mouth of the Wolf , published by the Jewish Publication Society of Philadelphia, Pa. It received the A.J.L. Book Award of the Association of Jewish Libraries in 1983.
Following World War II, Mrs. Zar, in conjunction with her husband, organized an orphanage for children who survived the Holocaust. In 1946, following pogroms in Kielce, Poland, the Zars smuggled more than 150 orphans out of Poland via Czechoslovakia into southern Germany, where they led an orphanage under the auspices of International Relief Agencies. Starting in 1947, many of these children were smuggled into Palestine via illegal immigration boats including the original ship "Exodus" that served as a model for the Leon Uris novel of the same name.
Mrs. Zar came to South Bend, Ind., in 1951, in part because as an orphanage worker she had received a beautiful dressing gown which came from Milady Shop in South Bend, which she took as an omen that she should resettle in that city. For more than 30 years she served as a teacher and principal of the Sunday School at the Sinai Synagogue and as head of Jewish Education for the Jewish Federation of South Bend. In this capacity, she was the first woman in the South Bend community to prepare Jewish children for their Bar and Bat Mitzvah.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in memory of Mrs. Zar to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 100 Raoul Wollenberg Place, SW, Washington, DC 20024-2126. Funeral services will be held at 4 p.m. today, Nov. 4, in the Sinai Synagogue, 1102 E. LaSalle Ave., South Bend. The Forest G. Hay Funeral Home is arranging Mrs. Zar's services.