Flory Van Beek passed away peacefully at home on June 30. The funeral services were held on Tuesday, July 6, at Pacific View in Corona del Mar. Her husband, Felix, died earlier this year.
Flory and Felix Van Beek were founders of Temple Isaiah in Newport Beach, following their leadership at Temple Sharon (now merged with Congregation B’nai Israel).
Flory wrote a memoir about her life as a holocaust survivor. Like Anne Frank, Flory was just a young girl when the Germans began their march across Europe. As a Jewish family living in the Netherlands, Flory’s family anxiously watched events unfold across Europe but felt hopeful that their homeland would be spared. However, as the Nazi threat drew ever closer, Flory and her family realized that Holland would not remain untouched for much longer.
At 18, seeing an opportunity to escape war-torn Europe, Flory boarded the ship SS Simon Bolivar bound for South America with a young German Jew named Felix, her future husband. Tragically, the ship was destroyed by German mines, killing 104 of the 400 passengers on board. Seriously injured, the couple spent more than six months in England recuperating before being returned to the Netherlands — just as Germany invaded.
As their family and friends began to disappear, Flory and Felix were forced underground. Their five-year ordeal was made bearable by the kindness and compassion of the families who risked their lives to shelter them even in history’s darkest hour. Combining the horrors of the Holocaust with a touching love story, Flory richly illustrated the strength of the human spirit.
Flory emigrated to America in 1948 carrying a suitcase full of papers and photographs that she had buried while in hiding during the German occupation. The material now forms one of the largest collections from the Netherlands housed in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum of Washington, DC.