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Holocaust survivor gets coronavirus vaccine at 97: 'I've been through way worse'

Rosenblatt was taken on a long death march and denied food, rest, shelter by the Nazis but she managed to escape and live in the wilderness.

Holocaust survivor gets coronavirus vaccine at 97: 'I've been through way worse'
Image Source: Getty Images/ (representative)

Mira Rosenblatt, 97, survived the Holocaust by eating worms and snakes while living in the wilderness. She had just escaped from the clasp of the Nazis and certain death before living in the wilderness until the end of the war for the fear of being killed. Rosenblatt, a Jew, was just 21 at the time. For the nurses at the forefront of the pandemic battle at Mount Sinai Brooklyn in Midwood, Rosenblatt's story proved to be inspirational. Mira Rosenblatt was visiting the hospital to get her shot of the vaccine. Sylvie Jean Baptiste, a nursing graduate student at Mount Sinai Brooklyn, was assigned the job of checking on patients as they waited for their vaccinations, reported The New York Times. With conspiracy theories hampering the people's faith in vaccines, this was a crucial period as far as vaccination was concerned. Sylvie Jean Baptiste was tasked with reassuring nervy patients and often handed out snacks, water, or juice to help with potential nerves. When Baptiste met Rosenblatt, she knew the 97-year-old was different from the others she had encountered. Rosenblatt was a picture of calm as she waited for the vaccine. 

Image Source: Getty Images/ Jews from the Warsaw ghetto surrender to German soldiers after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of April-May 1943. On the right is SS Josef Blösche (1912 - 1969). (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive)

"I am not nervous. I’ve been through way worse"
Rosenblatt, who was wearing a raspberry beret and pushing a bright blue walker, sensed Baptiste was trying to help her in the event she had nerves about getting vaccinated. Rosenblatt reassured her she had no nerves. “She said, ‘I am not nervous. I’ve been through way worse,’” recalled Baptiste. Rosenblatt is a mother of four children and has eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. She's lived in Midwood for more than 50 years but it's her story leading up to her immigration to the United States that defined her as a person. The Holocaust survivor started narrating her story, captivating the nurses at the hospital. Baptiste and the other nurses learned she had been through a lot more than anyone could comprehend.  

Image Source: Amazon/ Mira Rosenblatt's memoir

Taken on a death march
Mira Rosenblatt was born in Sosnowiec, a city in southern Poland. When she was just 15, in 1939, her family was forced into a ghetto. In 1942, she was separated from her family and sent to a labor camp. In 1945, she was part of a group of Jews who were sent on a death march. Nazis made them walk long distances without rest, water, food, or coats. She was just 21 at the time. She managed to escape the group and run into a forest along with a few other girls. 


She hid her Jewish identity to survive
They survived by eating worms, snakes, and other creatures they could get their hands on, reported JNS. With it being winter, she was forced to dig into the frozen ground to get her hands on some worms. She slept in holes underneath snow for warmth. After some days, she found refuge on a farm but she was too scared they would turn her in. She went back into the wilderness. After some days, she ran into a group of dairy farmers. She hid her Jewish identity and worked there for six months until the war ended. 

Image Source: Getty Images/ Bonnie Rybstein, 98, a Holocaust survivor, arrives at a Covid-19 pop-up vaccination site to get a vaccine on February 28 in Lawrence, New York. The UJA Federation of New York, in partnership with The Marion & Aaron Gural JCC and Northwell Health, opened a Covid-19 pop-up vaccination site for 150 seniors, including 60 Holocaust survivors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith)

After the war ended, she met up with Henry Rosenblatt, a former suitor of hers from Poland. He had survived Auschwitz. The couple married and immigrated to America. Her husband passed away in 2017. Rosenblatt believes she has been alive for this long just so she could tell her story.  She often speaks at high schools and colleges about what it was like to survive the Holocaust. Rosenblatt used the lockdown to write and self-publish her story titled Strength: My Memoir. “It had to be in her own voice,” said Rosenblatt's daughter Levavi, after mulling over hiring a ghostwriter. “My mother didn’t want it any other way.”


After spending much of the year indoors, Rosenblatt finally stepped out to get vaccinated on February 2nd. Despite the day being chaotic on account of the heavy snowfall, Rosenblatt was relatively calm. “She had a presence about her,” said Kristine Ortiz, the nurse overseeing the vaccine operation. Ortiz was inspired by the 97-year-old's story. “When you have someone who has survived something like this, you can’t help but stand still,” said Ortiz. “There were definitely tears. I had to ask someone to take over for me for a few minutes afterward because I felt shaky from the story.” Baptiste, who waited with Rosenblatt, said, “It made me feel like the mind is truly an amazing thing, and if you believe you can get through something you will.” From being denied food and water, and left to die by the Nazis during the death march, to being offered food and water while waiting for vaccination to help prolong life at the age of 97, Rosenblatt had seen it all.

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