Lowell — Sally Birke
Sally Birke (born Sura Dymantsztajn, Lodz, Poland, 1920) the welcoming half of Birke’s clothing store in Lowell, MA passed away December 28, 2012. A quintessential helpful retailer, treasured by her customers, Sally spoke up to her irascible husband Nathan to protect her customers from his intolerant declarations of “No Browsing”.
In 1938, Sally set out with Nathan to find her older brother who was running from the invading German army. Witnessing the horrors of the invading Nazis and the cooperating Poles, Sally and Nathan fled to Siberia where they married, spent the remainder of the war and had two children who died.
At the end of the war Sally returned to Poland to discover that her family had all died. Her sister Leia died of starvation, her mother Szifra and 8 year old brother Avram were gassed at Auschwitz. Her father Eliezer and older brother Moishe Aaron were never traced. She and Nathan immediately left Poland and eventually made their way to Lowell.
Despite devastating losses, Sally acquired the strength and resilience to find the best in people. She had four more children, Lenny of Salisbury, NH, Szifra of Lowell, MA, Roslyn of E. Greenwich, RI and Richard of Portland OR, seven grandchildren, and three great granddaughters.
A documentary about Birke’s was shown on WGBH and around the country. The film features Sally and captures her humor and vitality alongside her extraordinarily difficult life circumstances. (BrowsingThroughBirkes.com)
The family requests that those wishing to honor Sally’s life remember that standing up to injustice is the only way to be sure that prejudice, bullying and xenophobia don’t grow into crimes against humanity.
ARRANGEMENTS: A memorial gathering will be held Saturday, January 5, 2013 at the American Textile History Museum, 491 Dutton St, Lowell from 3:30-5:30. Remarks and shared stories starting at 3:30.
In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to the Sally Birke Memorial Scholarship Fund, Greater Lowell Community Foundation, 100 Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA 01852. Arrangements by the McDonough Funeral Home, 14 Highland Street, Lowell, MA 978-458-6816.