Bella R. Centnarski
February 10, 1924 – April 9, 2018
Bella Centnarski died peacefully in her home on April 9th, 2018. Bella was 94 years old. For the past 23 years, she lived in Covered Bridge in Manalapan, after moving from her beloved home in Jersey City.
Born in Karnosia, Poland on February 10th, 1924, Bella liked to play in her family’s apple orchards as a young girl. Her parents were Yitzhak and Yehaved Gottlieb, and she was one of seven children. Bella was the only member of her family to survive the Holocaust.
After the Germans invaded and occupied Poland, her family was forced into the Warsaw Ghetto. Bella eventually escaped through the walls of the ghetto to hide in the woods with other Jews - where she met Gerson Centnarski.
Together, they married and fought the Nazis as partisans in the resistance. At war’s end, Bella and Gerson were liberated. They lived in a Displaced Persons camp near Frankfurt, until immigrating to the United States in 1949.
They hopped on a boat to Ellis Island and settled in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty in Jersey City, NJ. There they opened a store called Farmingdale Supermarket and happily resided for the next 46 years. Bella enjoyed tending to the rose garden at her home and volunteered at the Jewish Home and Rehabilitation Center.
Bella’s life, though affected, was not defined solely by the Holocaust. She was most proud of her three daughters, who she referred to as “my three diamonds.”
Taking great pride in sewing, cooking and baking, Bella was particularly renowned for her apple cake. She also took delight in bestowing memorable nicknames upon the spouses of her grandchildren. Bella relished going out to eat – especially for Chinese food. She enjoyed watching “The Golden Girls,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Home Alone” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Bella loved celebrating holidays and family traditions with loved ones. She will be greatly missed for years to come at the Seder table, barbeques, Rosh Hashanah dinner and breaking the Yom Kippur fast.
Bella lived a full life not only for herself, but for her parents, brothers and sisters - who were all murdered in the Holocaust. She was pre-deceased by her siblings Liebel, Sura, Kalman, Moshe, Fishel and Shima. Her husband, Gerson, died in 1994.
Bella is survived by her daughters Eva Russ of Rockaway, NJ, Celia (Alan) Henne of East Brunswick, NJ and Marilyn (Ben) Rosenblum of Morganville, NJ.
She also leaves a legacy in the hearts of her seven grandchildren, their spouses and five great-grandchildren. A funeral is scheduled for Thursday, April 12th at 11 am at Bloomfield Cooper, 44 Wilson Avenue, Manalapan, NJ. Bella’s grandchildren will serve as pallbearers. Interment will follow at Riverside Cemetery, Saddle Brook, NJ.
The family will be sitting shiva for a week from 2-5 pm and resuming at 7 pm at 82 Amberly Drive (Unit E), Manalapan NJ.
Bella was a strong, brave, remarkably vibrant woman whose perseverance in the face of unspeakable adversity will never be forgotten. Memorial donations in Bella’s memory may be made to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: https://give.ushmm.org/donate
- United States Holocaust Museum
- Funeral Service Thursday, April 12, 2018
Bella R. Centnarski
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Loretta Campanaro Casella
April 12, 2018
I did not know Bella but knew Rita Handler who sent me her life story. All I can say that she lived a wonderful life when she came to our great country. Her life store should go down in history as should everyone who went through this awful nightmare. I thank Rita who I went to school with in New Jersey. May her family and friends remember her with love and she will never be forgotten. God's Peace to all. Loretta Campanaro Casella