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Secrets and Lies

Daisy-Adams Nanny Daisy Adams (left) and Joan Adams
Deborah Glazer ... feels cheated

It is rare for families not to have some kind of secret which, sooner or later, has a way of coming out. Deborah (Dudi) Glazer's story is one that took half a century to surface, and was not without a shattering effect on her.

Deborah was born and raised in fashionable North West London in an affluent Jewish home: the only child of Lyn, a Holocaust survivor from Holland, and Percy Glazer, a young Jewish businessman from London. Percy's family were well-respected members of the Orthodox Jewish community in Croydon, while Lyn's entire family had perished under the Nazis during World War II.

Percy's family and friends understood that this painful subject was taboo and even Deborah was forbidden to ask her mother about her life in Holland and details of how she had survived. She describes Lyn as a beautiful, aloof, and unapproachable woman who spoke English with a slight European accent throughout her life. It was the 1950s, and not considered unusual for people to shut out memories of what they had been through.

However, Deborah enjoyed a warm relationship with Nanny Daisy Adams who would arrive on Monday, stay till Friday, and return to her family in Surrey for the weekend. Nanny slept upstairs and ate her meals in the kitchen, and Deborah would join her whenever possible. Joan, the cleaner, came regularly and Ken, the odd-job man, was often around. But soon after Deborah's fourteenth birthday, Nanny and the other staff left, and Deborah never saw Nanny again. Deborah was heartbroken, but her mother told her she was old enough and didn't need a nanny anymore. After leaving college, Deborah made aliyah, met Menashe, married, and set up home in Israel.

Deborah was a married woman in her mid-fifties, with three grown children, when her widowed mother Lyn made plans to live out her remaining years in Israel. This ultimately involved producing such documents as her birth and marriage certificates for the Ministry of Interior, and it was only then that Deborah learned that what she grew up believing about her mother and her family was a fabrication: an out-and-out lie.

Deborah was utterly shocked when she finally held Lyn's birth certificate in her hands. The procedure had taken a very long time; names and information had been obscured, even changed by deed poll. However, with the help of a close friend who spent many hours pouring over papers at St. Catherine's House, where birth, death and other documents were kept, the pieces of the puzzle finally came together.

Lyn was born Madeline Adams, to Daisy and Frederick in England!

Daisy was in fact Deborah's grandmother, the very same Daisy whom she thought was her nanny!

Lyn was not Dutch, but came from Surrey outside of London; her sister Joan, the cleaning lady, was in fact Deborah's aunt; and Ken, the odd-job man, was her uncle.

Lyn was far from being a Jewish Holocaust survivor from Holland! In fact, she was a divorcee who worked as Percy's secretary at his London office in the city. They fell in love. But, as Percy's brother had married "out of the faith" he did not want to hurt his parents further, and so he concocted the incredible story about Lyn being a lonely, Jewish girl who had found her way to London out of the rubble of war-torn Europe; a story that people believed and sympathized with.

Papers also showed that Lyn did, in fact, convert to Judaism some years into the relationship.

To this day, Deborah feels cheated and resentful that so much of her life was based on lies. She cannot get over the foreign accent her mother managed to maintain for so many years. Deborah recalls the hush tones and air of mystery that hovered over the family; yet she admits, as a child she did not question anything, and accepted whatever she was told.

Year later she met up with Susan Adams–her cousin (her aunt's daughter)–who admitted knowing about her and even that she lived in Israel with her family, but did not know how to go about finding her, and was hesitant about getting in touch.

Today, Deborah, who retired from her job at TEVA, has a new vocation: in addition to being a volunteer English teacher, she declutters people's homes–a rather fitting activity that is somehow comparable with cleaning out the skeleton in the cupboard.

Lyn and Percy Glazer on their wedding day


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Thursday, 23 May 2024

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