Benedict, Sarah & Isaac Waas

Benedictus Waas (1900-1942) and Sarah TeKorte (1905-1942), both born in Amsterdam, had two children: Isaac (1924-1942) and Hester (1927-present). Because Isaac had asthma, the family moved to the beach community of Zaandvort for the ocean air. While the family were now distant from their relatives in Amsterdam, living only a few blocks from the beach meant that their apartment became a place for all the city-dwellers to gather for the summer. With the arrival of aunts, uncles and cousins from the city, the summer was a wonderful time.

In Zaandvort, Benedict became well-known as a member of the local school board and as secretary to the local branch of the Sociaal Democratische Arbeiders Partij, the largest pre-war socialist political party in Holland.

Benedict (also called Dic) and Sarah were part of a small Jewish congregation in Zaandvort, and the congregation helped the young family out at times. Isaac and Hester went to the Hebrew school that met in an empty classroom in a public school building: there were few Jewish children in Zaandvort, but they did have instruction in Jewish customs, holidays and traditions as well as in the Hebrew language. Isaac was bar mitzvah in 1937, but Hester never had a bat mitzvah. Passover, with its demands for special foods, put a real strain on the finances of the household and the congregation provided them with matzoh and other Passover necessities.

During the Depression, work was hard to come by and Benedict worked at odd jobs in Zandvoort. Sarah, on the other hand, went everyday by tram into Haarlem where she worked as a seamstress. On paydays, Sarah Waas would bring small treats from Haarlem home to the children.

Hester remembers her older brother, whom they called Ies [short for Isaac] as “a good kid, much better than I was—he was so good.” She remembers him always being willing to help around the home. On the other hand, she described herself as a “spoiled brat.” As teenager, Isaac went to a vocational school in Haarlem where learned to make leaded glass and do glass painting. Because they had little money, he would ride to school by bike even in the cold winters, when he sometimes froze his toes.

Benedictus came from a large family of 9 boys and one girl: along with Benedict, six siblings died in the Shoah. Sarah had two sisters and a brother; only Samuel survived.

The family was deported from the Netherlands to Auschwitz in early August 1942. Benedict was murdered in mid-August, while Sarah and Isaac were killed at the end of September.

Hester survived in hiding with the family of the famous Dutch organist and writer Paul Christian van Westering, whose family was honoured by Yad Vashem in 2015. She came to New York in 1947, and married Samuel Kool in Boston 1948. Their first child, whose English name is Richard, was named in honour of Benedictus (Dic/Dick being a short form for Richard) and his Hebrew name, Baruch (meaning ‘blessed’) also comes from his grandfather; a ‘benediction’ is the bestowing of a blessing.

%d bloggers like this: