Jacob Apelberg was born on October 19, 1932 in Wąsewo, Poland. He was the youngest of five brothers and a sister. His father passed away in 1936 in a bus accident while Jacob’s mother owned a small general store in the village. In 1939, after a warning from a Soviet soldier, Jacob’s family gathered their belongings and left Wąsewo. They stayed a room in an inn for two months until they ran out of money and Jacob’s grandmother died. Jacob and the rest of his family then sought refuge in a synagogue in Białystok. The refugees from German-occupied Poland who refused Soviet citizenship were soon forced out of the synagogue. After traveling for a week, Jacob and his family found themselves in the forced labor camp Novostroyka in the Soviet Union. Jacob’s mother did not survive the hardship. In 1940, Jacob’s neighbor adopted him. Jacob and his adoptive family later moved to a one-room apartment in Akmolinsk (today Astana) in Kazakhstan.
By the end of the war, Jacob returned to Poland and later traveled to Israel in 1949 as an enthusiastic Zionist. At the age of 18, he joined the Israeli Army. Jacob met his wife, Stella, while studying engineering in Israel at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology. Jacob also studied Hebrew language and literature at the University of Haifa. After they married and had their first son, Jacob and Stella moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where they later had their second son. Jacob worked in engineering at Becton Dickinson until he retired at the age of 68.
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