Mottel & Regina Menczer

Mottel, Regina, and Mechel Menczer, 1939

Mottel and Regina Menczer are the parents of Emanu’El member Micha Menczer .

Mottel Menczer
Mottel was born in Gura Humorului (Bukovina) Romania to Mechel and Sheva (Koerner) Menczer on February 7, 1901 .The Menczer family lived in Storojinet (Storozhinets). Storozhinets and Guru Humorului were all small shtetls around Chernovitz a major city in Bukovina. Mottel was the youngest child with siblings Simon (born 1890 died 1979); Esther (died 1982) and Pearl (killed by Nazis in Vienna 1941)

After the First World War, Mottell went to Vienna to study at the Wiener Handelsakademien (Vienna Academy of Commerce). Upon completion of his studies, he returned to Storozhinets, where he operated a woolens and dry goods store. Mottel was active in Jewish affairs and community life including Labour Zionism where he was part of a Labour Zionist Council in Storozhinets.

On August 18, 1935 Mottel married Regina Dermer in Storojinets. Mottel managed the family store and continued his community activities until their deportation in late 1941.

Regina ( Dermer) Menczer
Regina Dermer was born in Suceava on September 15, 1907, to Moshe and Shayndel Dermer. Moshe was a tenant farmer.

Regina was the only daughter, born as a middle child with eight brothers. She went to university /college and worked as an executive assistant to an upper-class Romanian family managing extensive farm and business holdings. This was a rare position for a woman in the 1930’s and in particular a Jewish woman.

Mottel and Regina Menczer Life Together
In 1940, Storozhinets was occupied by Russian forces, which controlled the region until the spring of 1941, after which the Nazis seized control over the town and forced Jewish families, including Mottel and Regina , into a ghetto. 

In November /December 1941 Mottel, Regina and several members of their were deported to Bershad, Ukraine together with Mottel’s best friend lawyer Michael Schrenzel. They were transported first by train then walked for 4-5 weeks to the Bershad ghetto. The Bershad ghetto had 9-10,000 people mostly from Bukovina. Mottel, Regina and family members remained under terrible conditions in Bershad until spring of 1944 when they escaped when the camp guards fled as Russian forces advanced.

Mottel and Regina returned to Bucharest Romania after the war and began the emigration process to Canada where Regina’s brothers lived. They stayed in Paris from May 1948-January 1949 awaiting visa to come to Canada. On January 17, 1949 they arrived by ship in Halifax and then travelled to Ottawa where Regina’s brothers lived and operated a family clothing store.

Motte and Regina had a son, Micha, born in Ottawa November 8, 1950.

Regina worked with her bothers in the family business as bookkeeper while Mottel managed a new store opened by the family in Ottawa, Mottel was interested in politics, Zionism and Jewish affairs. He was a prolific writer and wrote stories in Yiddish about their experiences during the Shoah and after.

Mottel developed a brain tumor in 1954 and had surgery. He recovered but the tumor returned in 1959 and he passed away December 23, 1959.

Regina raised Micha alone and continued to work at the family business until 1968 when she retired. She did not have a large social circle due to demands of work and child raising but was loved and admired by those who knew her and was “a friend” to Micha’s friends. She took great pride that Micha became a lawyer involved in social and justice issues through his work with Indigenous peoples.

Regina passed away on March 18, 1982, in Ottawa.

Mottel’s Writings
Mottels’ stories have since been published in newspapers and journals, used as teaching tools at schools and read numerous Holocaust commemorations in Ottawa, Vancouver and Victoria. Mottel and Regina’s history and Mottel’s stories (including photos and English translations) can be seen in a digital exhibit prepared by Micha through University of Victoria at;

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