July 23, 1929 – April 9, 2021
Isaac Gordon, son of Ethel and Moshe, had a loving childhood, with a younger sister Sonia, and three older brothers, Leib, Hirsch, and Berl. In his early years he learned in Cheder. The occupation of Vilna by the Germans brought a harsh reality to life. Isaac and his family were forced to move to the ghetto. After several horrifying liquidations, Isaac lived in hiding in the ghetto with his mother and sister. In 1943, in the Vilna ghetto, Isaac was a strapping fourteen year old. Because his features were considered sufficiently Aryan, he was able to leave the ghetto daily and work for a baker which enabled him to earn two loaves a day, thus helping him to feed his mother and sister. One day after work, while coming back to their hiding place, a ghetto resident told him that if he went back, he would die. He never saw his mother and sister again. That day, Isaac escaped the ghetto through the sewers with others and joined partisans fighting in the forest near Vilna. He fought with the partisans, doing reconnaissance when they would go out on actions to hinder the Germans. When the Germans were ousted from Vilna, he met the love of his life, Riva Kowarski, whom he would marry. At the age of eighteen, he joined the Red Army reaching the rank of sergeant, having responsibility for a transportation unit. Isaac and Riva had their first son, Moshe, while still in Vilna. Shortly thereafter the family emigrated, by way of Poland, to Israel, where Isaac’s older brother, Berl, and Riva’s brother, Hanoch, were living. Their second son, Noah, was born in Jerusalem. After nine years living in Jerusalem, the family had papers to move to the United States, but the Six Day War broke out. Isaac was reluctant to leave while the country was in need, so he stayed to serve as a medic in the IDF. After the war was over, the family moved again, this time to the Bronx. Isaac always supported his family and never shied away from work to support them. He took on different jobs, including work in the photography field, as a handyman, as a driving instructor, and as an auto mechanic. He took the family on many trips visiting local and far destinations exploring the beauty of America. In the Bronx, Isaac and Riva lived productively, continuing to embrace life with their children and their families, and grand children. Isaac lived long enough to be able to see a fourth generation born, his great-grandson.
If you wish to donate in Isaac Gordon’s z”l memory, then please go to the website for the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research at: https://yivo.org/donate/
- YIVO Institute
Monday, April 19, 2021
Monday, April 19, 2021
April 18, 2021
“Every day Nature takes a new picture.”
Isaac came to live with his son Noah and family in Portland Oregon for his last four months on earth.
Isaac’s appreciation of the view from his home in Portland grew every day.
He tolerated the rainy days while watching spring evolve from winter.
He sat outside when the weather allowed, face to the sun.
Quiet, watching people walk by, Isaac always raised his hand in response to a neighbor’s greeting.
Gracious, polite, good humored, he dealt with a big move to new home across the continent with the attitude of a wise elder, making good out of change while holding onto what mattered: love of family and peace in the world.
Isaac Gordon touched everyone who met him, he is our blessed memory.
April 17, 2021
I have been dear friends with Moshe since we were teenagers. I was in the home of Isaac and Rivka many, many times over the years. They were always gracious and welcoming to me and later to my wife and me. You could always see how physically strong Mr. Gordon was. But he was extremely gentle and thoughtful. I always enjoyed hearing his memories of the olden days and happy to receive his advice. He rebuilt his life from ashes and was the patriarch of a very special family. May his memory be a brocha for all who knew him. Harold Steinbach