Adath Israel pillar, Holocaust survivor Anna Pomeranc

An 87-year-old Holocaust survivor who came from a Chassidic dynasty in Poland and went on to become a pillar of San Francisco’s Orthodox synagogue Adath Israel, died recently.

Anna Pomeranc, who died Dec. 6, was born Anna Werdiger in Lodz, Poland, on March 5, 1917. She was one of five siblings, and her father worked in textiles. Her father was close to the Ger Rebbe, and the family was very prominent in the Chassidic community.

She married Harold Pomeranc before WWII began. During the war they were separated, though at first they were both in the Lodz ghetto.

Moshe Pomeranc, of Ofra, Israel, said that his mother never talked about her experiences, so he does not know where she was during the war. After she was liberated she was reunited with her husband, and they had their first child, a daughter, in a displaced persons camp in Germany.

Harold Pomeranc was fluent in several languages, and while in the camp, he hooked up with the United Nations World Fair organization. He remembered he had an uncle that had immigrated to San Francisco, and through the United Nations he was able to get a San Francisco phone book. He placed a call, reached his uncle, and the family came to San Francisco in 1950.

Together, the couple ran a grocery store in the Sunset, then opened Harold’s Smoke Shop on New Montgomery Street.

Rabbi Jacob Traub, rabbi emeritus of Adath Israel, said that Pomeranc was always at the synagogue. She was known for her cooking, and was often the one to bake most of the shul’s hamantaschen for Purim.

Moshe Pomeranc said that people used to come to the smoke shop to listen to his mother tell jokes in Yiddish.

“She had a tremendous sense of humor, and shared that with everyone,” said Traub. “She was a pleasure to be around, and livened up every room she was in.”

Traub said also that the wheelchair ramp at Adath Israel was built because of her; when her husband fell ill, she lobbied for a ramp so she could continue to bring him to shul.

Despite her old-worldness, she also related well to the younger generation.

“My children are Israeli, and her other grandchildren are American,” said her son. “But she found a way to bridge the gap between all of them. I think that was one of her best attributes.”

In addition to her son, Moshe, Pomeranc is survived by eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband Harold and her daughter, Susan Dove.

Donations can be made to Adath Israel, 1851 Noriega St., S.F., CA 94122.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."