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Meals On Wheels Angel Discovers Late Grandpa’s Pal

When a meal-on-wheels coordinator found that one of her clients was a Holocaust survivor, she also got to know the grandfather she never met. The man, Shlomo Spielman, 87, was a close friend of her grandfather just after World War II while the two still lived in Germany. Kari Bornstein, met Spielman through her work as a coordinator for the meals on wheels program for the homebound elderly, operated by the Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island, 3001 W. 37th St. The program is funded by the city’s Meal-on-Wheels. Bornstein’s grandfather died 26 years ago on Jan. 2, before she was born, so she never got to know him. A few weeks before Thanksgiving, Bornstein visited Spielman at his Coney Island home to assess him for Meals-on-Wheels. “When I arrived at Shlomo’s house, I was greeted by a gentle face and warm smile,” Bornstein said in an email. Soon, the two began to talk about Spielman’s struggle to stay alive during the Holocaust and the hardships he encountered when he moved to America. Bornstein was amazed at the man’s ability to recall the tragic events half a century ago. “What struck me about Shlomo is how he remembered each and every detail of what occurred 40 to 50 years ago,” said Bornstein. After the interview, they promised to keep in touch. She then mailed out Thanksgiving cards to all the seniors who are part of the Meals-on-Wheels program. She included her telephone number on the envelopes in case one of the seniors wanted to contact her. A couple of days later, her phone rang. It was Spielman thanking her for the card. But he wanted to know something more. “‘I’m looking at your last name and remembered you told me a little about your family,’” Bornstein recalled him saying. “‘Did your grandfather happen to be in Germany?’” Bornstein confirmed that her grandfather had been there. “Was your grandfather in Bad Reichenhall?” Spielman said. Again she said, “yes.” “Was your grandfather a police officer?” “And as chills set across my body, I answered, ‘Yes’,” Bornstein said. “Now Shlomo,” I said, “Before we go any further, let me tell you my grandfather’s name to make sure that we’re talking about the same person. There must be many Bornsteins around. My grandfather’s name is Karl.” “Karl,” he said. “Akiva. Kivi. Sure I knew your grandpa.” Bornstein could not believe what he had told her. Her grandfather was called Kivi. Spielman, who lost his immediate family in the Holocaust, explained that in 1946, Spielman lived in a displaced persons camp in Bad Reichenhall, in Upper Bavaria, Germany, across the street from where Karl Bornstein worked as the town’s chief of police. Karl Bornstein also lived above the police station. From 1945 to 1948 the spa town was under the American military government. “Your grandpa was a great man,” said Spielman, who wanted to know if he was still alive. Bornstein explained that she had never met her grandfather who had died shortly before she was born. Now, Bornstein visits Spielman in his apartment each Monday. Through Spielman, Bornstein discovered that her grandfather was a helpful friend who would give gifts such as boxes of chocolates in a time when food, goods and oil shortages forced European countries to continue rationing.

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