Eva Yelloz was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany and came to the Bronx in 1949 with her parents. They lived in the Melrose neighborhood in the Bronx, on Avenue St. John. Her mother was 19 when World War Two began, working as an apprentice in a non-Jewish home, and she heard her family was in the Warsaw ghetto. Her father had been killed and the family was sent to Treblinka, but she jumped off the train, escaping and being nursed back to life by a non-Jewish family before becoming a partisan for the remainder of the war. Their life was difficult, family-wise and financially, in the Bronx, but it was seen as normal because others were struggling too.
Yelloz attended an Orthodox Yeshiva in Parkchester. Her mother was religious but her father was not, leading to further conflict between them. Her mother baked and would have neighbors, usually other Eastern European immigrants, over, but Yelloz remembers a story of when the neighbors began to speak favorably of communism, which resulted in her mother kicking them out. Yelloz herself always felt different from other Americans, much more European. Her neighborhood in the South Bronx was very blended, especially as she got older, with many Puerto Rican, Black, and interracial families. Her mother taught them to love everyone regardless of race or religion, after her own experiences. Music was the most important, and they listened to cantorial and Yiddish music and attended Yiddish theater, while food was the penultimate. When Yelloz was 12, they moved up to 178th St and Southern Boulevard, by the Bronx Zoo. Her mother would send her grocery shopping from the time she was a child, and she began working at 14.
Yelloz got involved with the JDL and Rabbi Meir Kahane, which her mother stopped for fear of trouble with the government. Yelloz attended Roosevelt High School and was influenced by peer pressure after coming from a yeshiva. The family would go often to the Bronx Zoo and the Botanical Gardens. She says the Bronx gave her a good education in both secular studies, her religion, and in relation to others, as all kinds of immigrants lived together in her neighborhood. Later she would go downtown to Greenwich Village with friends during the Bohemian movement and see even more new kinds of people. Yelloz, as the oldest daughter, felt resentful that she had to pick up the brunt of housework from a young age, without much guidance. Yelloz and her brother recall together their chaotic childhood, but how the positive things are the things that stay with you forever.
Melrose, Avenue St. John, Bronx Zoo, World War Two, Yiddish, Orthodox, Roosevelt High School, Jewish Day School, Holocaust, JDL, race, immigration
Maier Garcia, Sophia, "Yelloz, Eva" (2023). Bronx Jewish History Project. 11.