Gizella Gross Abramson

August 22, 1928September 29, 2011

Gizella Abramson, 85, a Polish-born Holocaust survivor who charged teachers and students across North Carolina not to hate, passed away Thursday at the Hospice House of Wake County. She had suffered from ovarian cancer.

The only member of her immediate family to survive the Nazis, Mrs. Abramson will be remembered for her frequent ap¬pearances in the public schools. She often said she survived the Holocaust in order to share her experience with young people. Since 1973, Mrs. Abramson became a highly sought-after speaker who visited middle and high schools, teacher workshops, military bases, college campuses, churches, and police academies throughout the state.

Teaching tolerance and compassion wherever she spoke, Mrs. Abramson exuded natural warmth that left her audiences profoundly moved. Standing just 4 feet 10 inches, she could silence the chattiest of teenagers.

Born in Tarnopol, Poland, she was 13 at the outbreak of World War II. Mrs. Abramson escaped the Luck ghetto posing as a Christian with false papers. She joined the partisans until her capture and deportation to the Majdanek concentration camp where she performed slave labor in a stone quarry and as a translator. Forced into a death march in the final months of the war, she was liberated in May 1945.

After surviving the Holocaust, Mrs. Abramson joined her aunt in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1946. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., in 1951 with a B.A. in Education. On September 7, 1952, she married her beloved husband Paul Abramson, who survives.

After relocating to Raleigh in 1970, Mrs. Abramson became an active member of Temple Beth Or, working as the Director of Education for 19 years. She also served as a charter member of the North Carolina Council on the Holocaust from 1981 to 1996. She was a devoted volunteer for Meals on Wheels of Wake County for 25 years as well.

Above and beyond her communal commitments, Mrs. Abramson was a dedicated mother and mother-in-law to Michael and Stephanie Abramson and Holly and Michael Zendels. She cherished and regularly doted on her four grandchildren – Stanton, Rachel, Philip, and Eric – who affectionately called her “Zee.” We will forever remember her contagious smile and love of life.

The funeral will be held Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Temple Beth Or at 5315 Creedmoor Road in Raleigh. Burial will take place at the Hebrew Cemetery located on the corner of State Street and Oakwood Avenue. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the N.C. Holocaust Foundation or Temple Beth Or.


  • Funeral Service Sunday, October 2, 2011

Gizella Gross Abramson

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Mary and Jeff Lee

October 5, 2011

Gizella's legacy goes on through her children...They all bring the spirit of God into the world so that we remember Love.
Thank you to the Abramsons, (Gizella, Paul, and her children, grandchildren and daughter- and son-in-law) for this gift that surpasses all others and enlightens the world.
May comfort be yours.
Mary Lee, teacher in Stokes County

Natalie Schwartz Muurisepp

October 4, 2011

I will always cherish Mrs. A as my Hebrew school teacher and remember how she made all of her students feel special and loved. So very sorry to hear of her passing. The world is a better place for having her in it.

Merrilee Jacobson

October 4, 2011

Mrs. Abramson spoke to Progress Energy employees several years ago as part of our department's diversity program. Her presentation was riveting. I'll never forget both the horrors she experienced and her remarkable refusal to let that experience define her life. Her message of forgiveness and tolerance made a huge impression on me and my co-workers. I am forever grateful that I had a chance to hear her speak.

October 3, 2011

I am so very sorry to hear about the passing of Gizella. She was a beloved friend to the teachers and students of Dillard Drive Middle School. Whenever she came to speak to our 8th graders, she left such an impact. She was so warm and loving to us all and had such a zest for living. We mourn the loss of a dear, dear friend but promise to carry on her message so our students are aware of the depth of damage that hatred and prejudice can do. Connie Duerr

Michael Bassman

October 2, 2011

My heartfelt and sincere condolences to the Abramson family. May the positive memories of Gizella help to sustain you during this difficult time.When I think of Gizella, I recall part of the award speech given when Elie Wiesel received the Nobel Prize for Peace. He was told that he was a "messenger for God." As was Gizella!

Andrea Scheviak

October 2, 2011

When I was 22, single and new to Raleigh, Gizella embraced me and invited me to a Passover seder at her home, with her family. I taught Sunday School under her leadership the following year. I will never forget Gizella's kindness, her warmth, her determination, and her strength. What an amazing person, to turn the atrocities of her youth into her life's work, transformed and guided always by love. Warm memories of Gizella have and will always stay with me. My sincerest condolences to the Abramson family, and to all who knew and loved Gizella.

Guillermo Abramson

October 2, 2011

From your distant (but close) family in Bariloche, Argentina, please receive our condolence. We send you our love. Guillermo Abramson and Gabriela Casella, from Argentina.

Lori Bush

October 2, 2011

We were lucky to have been touched by Mrs. Abramson. She will be remembered for her spirit, her bravery, and her compassion. Condolences to the Abramsons from the Bush Family.

October 2, 2011

Mrs. Abramson spoke to several of my classes when I was teaching at Sanderson High school. She made such an impression on my students, and on me! I feel so blessed to have heard her speak about her experiences during the war, and to have benefited from her wisdom and messages of tolerance and compassion for others. Her passing is a great loss to our society. I extend my condolences to her family and friends. She will be sorely missed by all the lives that she touched. God Bless her and her family. Susan Carter, Garner, NC

Derek Cohen

October 1, 2011

Every survivor has a moving story, but hers was especially intense and inspiring at the same time. I'm sorry for anyone who never got to hear it, because it certainly touched me. Amazing person who did amazing work her entire life. Condolences to the Abramsons and the Beth Or congregation, she will be missed.

On behalf of my family, with love,