10th Tikkun Olam Award to Eva Meinberg Aviad
Eva was born in Port au Prince, Haiti on August 23, 1943 to Walter Meinberg (b. Braunschweig, Germany May 6, 1896) and Herta Mayer (b. Koestlin, Germany Oct. 27, 1909). Eva’s father Walter worked at the Meinberg bank in Berlin which was owned by his cousin Alfred Meinberg. In 1933 it was sold probably for full value and Alfred then moved to Bauer au Lac Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland where he remained until the end of the war.
Walter’s parents were cattle dealers When the bank was sold Walter went back to Braunschweig to take over from his father. During that time he married Herta Mayer (1937). Walter was thirteen years her senior and their daughter Eva feels that their marriage was expedited due to the situation in Germany.
The couple remained in Braunschweig until 1938. Walter was sent to Buchenwald in October 1938.. Walter’s wife and sister Erna went to Hamburg to the Haitian Consul General Henri Fouchard and managed to arrange a visa for Walter to be sent to Haiti and hence was released from Buchenwald after three weeks. Walter’s brother Erich Meinberg had gone to Haiti on his honeymoon in 1937 and stayed which facilitated his passage there. Eva’s parents were able to send a lift of their belongings to Haiti. Walter’s father Joshua Meinberg committed suicide in 1933 as a result of the Nuremberg laws and the lack of business for his cattle and horse dealings.
Herta’s father (Julius Mayer, b. April 12, 1865 died in WWI ) Else Mayer (b. March 7, 1869) had gone to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1937 leaving their daughter in Germany.
Herta had studied fashion design in Germany and was able to help support the family by producing and designing clothes for the upper echelon of Haitian society until her husband was able to set up a business. She also made all of her daughter’s clothes. Her father began a business creating objects from local products, such as sisal and hemp, flax and reed. In addition wooden bowls, fans, handbags were made from local products.
Eva’s parents had a still born son before she was born due to lack of proper medical care in Haiti. Eva remained in Haiti until 1958 when she went to boarding school in the U.S. and then to college where she graduated in 1965 from Skidmore. She received an M.A. degree in French lit from NYU and taught at the High School of Music and Art in NYC. She met and married Yakov Aviad in New York in 1972. He was at the Israel Consulate and they came to Israel in 1975. The couple served in Los Angeles, the Philippines, Canada and France together. He is now a retired Ambassador of Israel. Her parents left Haiti in 1976 and immigrated to Israel also. Eva has three daughters and several grandchildren.
How we connected with you is truly a story worth telling. CLICK HERE to see the February 2010 e-mail we received from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum representative in Israel. Coincidentally, she had just interviewed you. CLICK HERE to see Eva’s immediate reaching out to us with an introductory letter. Making a connection, in this way, had a wonderful BASHERT feeling. It gave us hope that we could find more Jewish children of Haiti. Thank you Eva for coming on board so early and your many meaningful insights and enthusiastic interest in the project. In addition, we deeply appreciate your connecting us to Ambassador Mordechai Arbell.
To view the Meinberg Photo Gallery click HERE
Below is Eva’s e-mail response to receiving the Tikkun Olam Award:
Dear Harriet and Bill,
I did not expect to receive an award for my help in providing you whatever information I could on German Jews in Haiti, and on our life there. It is also natural for me to share my feelings about my adopted country Israel. As I so often say to my friends, when I said yes to Jacky, whom I met in NYC, I not only married an Israeli but also Israel, his country…For better and for worse.
The Israeli IDF medical team who went to Haiti immediately after the earthquake were on the news often, for the wonderful work they did in coming to the aid of the thousands of Haitian victims , and we were ever so proud. The work of that team and of medical doctors who have gone there since, and who have brought patients here to our hospitals as well, shows again the positive side of our country…When there is a disaster, we band together, we are there to help, in Israel and abroad…
Thank you for your award. I accept it humbly.