Dora Ajzenberg

The Triumphant Spirit of Lady D

From being a hidden child during the Holocaust, caring for her family alone, to the loss of her daughter, Dora Ajzenberg, known as “Lady D,” has carried on with unparallelled optimism, dignity, and strength.

Being a hidden child during the Holocaust did not mean that Dora was embraced and nurtured by a new family. Quite the opposite: when Dora’s mother, Blima, paid a French family in 1941 to shelter her little girl, Dora, 8, was systematically starved and verbally abused.

After retrieving her little girl, Dora’s mother sent Dora to a French Catholic institution, where Dora assumed the name “Denise Ambert.” Shockingly, the head supervisor led Dora to believe that her mother had been taken to a labour camp and killed and that her brother, Henri, had been shot by German soldiers. This practice was often used to control children and to have the option of “selling” them at a later date.

Once the war ended, Dora, in her early 20s, seeking a new and happier life, came to Canada. She married and had two children, Sandy and Howard. After her marriage ended in 1965, Dora worked two or three jobs for years to pay the bills. In January 1974, heartache struck again when Dora’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer just after her “sweet sixteen.” Dora lost her precious daughter 26 months later.

Dora has worked for the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in Montreal and has been a wish-granting volunteer for the Starlight Children’s Foundation of Canada, enhancing the lives of hundreds of seriously ill Canadian children. She has also been a cancer palliative care volunteer for “Can Support” at the Royal Victoria Hospital. In spite of the pain she suffered early in her life, “Lady D’s” sunny disposition, altruism, strength, courage, and dignity have helped her overcome unimaginable challenges and have shone through in her devotion to being a “best friend,” “sister,” and health advocate for others.