The Closter Historic Society offers an exhibition honoring the life of a former Closter mayor, Sophie Heymann, who died on September 15 at 93. A tribute will be held at the historic Lustron house, 421 Durie Ave., in Closter, on March 11 and 12, from noon to 2 p.m. Only 1,400 all-enamel steel, mid-century modern Lustron homes remain today. Sophie Heymann’s commitment to historic preservation and advocacy prevented its demolition.
Ms. Heymann was born into a middle-class Jewish-German family in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1928. According to her daughter, Sofie, as she was known then, remembered praying at the Progressive congregation of Nuremberg. When she was 5, her life changed abruptly; her father, who had received an Iron Cross fighting for Germany in World War I, was warned that the Nazis were going to arrest him the next day. They escaped, and the family settled in Dijon, France, where Sofie and her younger sister attended school. It took her father five years to obtain the necessary documents that allowed the family to emigrate to the United States. They settled in Washington Heights, which had a large German-Jewish community. Ms. Heymann worked and at the same time she earned a master’s degree at NYU. She met Lee (Leopold) Heymann, who came to the United States when he was 15.
To accommodate their growing family, the Heymanns settled in Closter in 1956. They joined Temple Beth-El of Northern Valley in Closter. Ms. Heymann went on to become its educational and ritual chair and to sit on its board. The Heymanns’ four children were confirmed there, and her daughter Elizabeth became a cantor. All seven of her grandchildren became b’nai mitzvah as well.
Sophie and Lee Heymann remained involved in the Nuremberg-Fürth Survivors group, which met in the Catskills biennially. Lee died in 2002.
The exhibition will also be open to visitors on April 8, May 13 and June 10.