Jeifa Family Collection, 1907-1947
Scope and Contents
This collection dates from 1907 to 1947 and consists of articles, ephemera, photographs, and personal documents relating to the Jeifa family's life before and after the Holocaust. The majority of the materials are in French, with occasional occurrences of German, English, and Hebrew. The collection was primarily assembled by Michel Jeifa, and the majority of the materials pertain to him and his parents Bernard and Adele Jeifa. This collection shows aspects of the Jeifa family’s life before the war, such as Bernard Jeifa’s business cards and pre-war photographs, as well as evidence of the persecution and tragedy they experienced during the war, such as a sign used to identify their business as being owned by Jews, deportation orders for Bernard and Adele, and false identification documents used by Michel to avoid arrest.
- 1907-1947 and undated
Conditions Governing Access
Some items in the collection require special handling and can only be used for research with staff assistance. Advance appointments are required to access this material. Please contact 973-761-9476 to make an appointment.
Biographical / Historical
The Jeifa family was a Jewish family living in Paris, France from approximately 1905 to 1947.
Bernard Jeifa was originally from Zhyotmyr, Ukraine. At the age of 17 he fled the pogroms and settled in Paris in 1905, while his parents and many of his siblings left Ukraine for America shortly after. In Paris, Bernard established a tailoring and haberdashery business in the Latin Quarter. In 1907 he married Adele Tardar, a Parisian of Polish descent, who helped to run the business. Together they had two children, Marguerite in 1908 and Michel in 1927.
When WWII began, the family initially remained in Paris, enduring new restrictions against Jewish people under German occupation. In 1941, Marguerite’s husband was arrested and sent to a concentration camp. He later died after a forced march to another camp. Marguerite and her two children remained in a small town outside of Paris, where she befriended a social worker named Madeleine Jaquet who helped and protected the family.
In 1943 police entered the Bernard and Adele Jeifa’s apartment intending to arrest the entire family, but found only Adele at home. She was arrested, and when Bernard discovered this he hastened to pick Michel up from school and leave Paris. They went to stay with Marguerite in the small town. There, with the assistance of Madeline Jaquet they were able to obtain falsified identification documents to conceal their Jewish heritage. Bernard then returned to Paris, where his accent would be less conspicuous.
Bernard remained in Paris until 1944, working secretly for a French tailor. He was stopped on the street and his false papers were discovered, leading to his arrest and incarceration in a French jail from March 1944 to July 1944, whereupon he was turned over to the Germans and sent to a concentration camp. Under his false identity Michel was placed with a Protestant family in the south of France on a forestry work assignment. Marguerite and her children went into hiding until Paris was liberated in September 1944.
After the war, Michel and Marguerite searched for news of their parents. They learned from an Auschwitz survivor that Bernard had been killed there, but were never able to find out Adele’s fate. When it became clear that there was no hope of reuniting with their parents, Michel, Marguerite, and her two children emigrated to America to join their grandparents, leaving Paris in 1947. Michel settled in New York and served in the U.S. army from 1951 to 1953. Afterwards, he went on to a long career in the insurance industry. He married Blanch Greenwald in 1955, and they had two children, Bernard and Gisele.
Jeifa, Michel. “Remembering Painful Memories.” In We Remember the Children, edited by Jack Salzman and Zelda Marbell Fuksman, 127-131. Minneapolis: IGI Press, 2011.
Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. “Survivors of the Shoah - Michel Jeifa Interview, 02/07/1997,” YouTube Video, 55:18. February 21, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pofK-gYMDX0
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Language of Materials
This collection consists of materials dating from 1907 to 1947 that relate to the Jeifa family's life in Paris, France before and after the Holocaust. The collection was primarily assembled by Michel Jeifa, who survived the Holocaust but suffered the loss of his parents in concentration camps during the war.
Preservica Internal URL
Preservica Public URL
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Collection is the gift of Gisele Joachim to the Archives and Special Collections Center in 2017.
- Jeifa Family Collection, 1907-1947
- Brianna LoSardo
- 2018 June 6
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- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.