Dr. Ida Akerman-Tieder: And You Shall Tell Your Children

by Prof. Livia Bitton Jackson

Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, is followed by Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israel Independence Day. It is a natural progression in Jewish life – in Jewish history: Devastation followed by rebirth.

Dr. Akerman’s life story, And You Shall Tell Your Children, distributed by Urim Publications, is designed to fit these historical parameters, and more. She relates her experiences — tales of death and devastation — as they progress towards the miracles of survival and rebirth. The subtitle of her autobiography, “A Chronicle of Survival: Lessons of Life for Today,” says it all.

For the title of her recollections Dr. Akerman employs a pertinent quotation from the Haggadah, “And you shall tell your children,” with the identical objective: A commandment to relate the past — our people’s slavery in Egypt and the Exodus — as a lesson for the future.

Dr. Akerman was born Ida Tieder, in Berlin, several years before Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. Eventually, the Tieder family, Ida’s parents and two siblings, succeeded in escaping the ever-tightening noose of persecutions in Nazi Germany to Belgium, and then to France.

In touching detail the author relates her parents’ constant concern in trying to protect their children from the lurking danger in a France gradually turning into a Nazi regime. It is a life of ever-present menace for the German Jewish refugees, a life of one escape after another, of hasty retreats from hiding places in cities to hiding places in the countryside.

And yet, through it all, it is a narrative of unwavering faith and determination. Even when, on one fateful day returning from a town where she was sent by her parents on an errand, Ida found the house locked, her parents gone, “rounded up,” her world collapsing, young Ida Tieder internalized the awful disaster and eventually succeeded to persevere.

She went back to school and by 1948 graduated from the university. Her studies and internship in Paris’ medical institutions culminated in a medical degree and in a hospital position by 1961. She was a doctor at the Faculty of Medicine in Paris in pediatrics and puericulture by 1964. Then she trained in psychotherapy and practiced in the field until she made aliyah in 1990.

By then she was not alone. She was married to Dr. Manfred Akerman, head of the department of nuclear medicine at Foch Hospital in Paris and later at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. Ida and Manfred’s family includes three children, twenty grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, all of whom live in Israel.

“Myriam, a gynecologist and a psychosomatician, is married and a mother of three sons,” Dr. Ida Akerman relates proudly. “Menahem, a rav and an engineer, teaches Torah at J.C.T. in Jerusalem and is a married father of six,” she goes on. “Eliyahu, a psychologist, and the director of the Psychological Center in Kiryat Arba/Hebron, is the father of eleven,” she concludes with a brilliant smile.

Despite her multifaceted medical career and her literary output – in addition to her autobiography she has published three books of poetry in French – I believe Dr. Akerman’s greatest source of pride is her motherhood.

Indeed, she is a true role model – as a Jewish mother, a professional and a lover of Judaism and Israel whose personal tales of survival are historical lessons for the People of Israel.     

The article from The Jewish Press can be found here.

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