Remember the Women Institute Home
Home About the Remember the Women Institute Projects Events Literature Arts News Links Contact Us


The Institute | The Institute Director | Inspiration for the Institute | Activities of Advisory Board Members

Inspiration for the Institute


ALBANY, NY -- Florence L. Saidel died peacefully on July 30, 2016, less than two months before her 101st birthday. She was born in Schenectady, NY, on September 17, 1915, to Ida and Meyer Levine, Jewish immigrants from Poland. After marrying in 1937, Florence and her husband Joseph Saidel lived in Glens Falls, NY. She then made her home in Albany for nearly 50 years.

Mrs. Saidel had a fulfilling life in a changing world. When she was growing up in Schenectady, her father sold fruit and vegetables from a horse-drawn cart. He and her mother later owned a small grocery store on Emmett Street, and the family lived behind the store. Her only sibling, her younger brother Leonard Levine, died in Albany in 1986. Florence met her husband while he was studying at Union College in Schenectady. She liked to recall that she was only fourteen at the time they met, but told him she was sixteen, as he was "a college boy." However, he had graduated early from Bolton Central School, Bolton Landing, NY, and was then only fifteen.

 Florence Saidel

Left: Florence L. Saidel, 1930s. Right: Florence L. Saidel, 2015.

From that meeting came a romance that led to their marriage after Mr. Saidel graduated from law school in 1937. The couple settled in Glens Falls, his birthplace. Their three children, Dr. Rochelle Saidel, Mindy Mangot, and David Saidel, were born and raised there. During that time, Mrs. Saidel was a traditional full-time wife and mother, preparing lunch and dinner to serve her family every day of the week. She was also active in the local Hadassah chapter and the Sisterhood of Congregation Shaarey Tefilah. During the summers, the couple were part of a family hotel business, Twin Pines on Trout Lake, in the Town of Bolton.

Mrs. Saidel moved from Glens Falls in 1966, after her husband gave up his private law practice and began working in the New York State Law Department. This required some adjustment, after decades of ties with a close circle of friends and family in Glens Falls. Mrs. Saidel succeeded in building a new life in Albany, making good friends and enjoying nearby family that included two grandchildren, Esther and Daniel Wolk (Rochelle’s children). She also worked until she was 82 years old in the Senior Adult Department of the Albany Jewish Community Center. She was active in the Upper New York State Region of Hadassah, and made several trips to Israel. Meanwhile, she also continued her traditional role as a homemaker for her husband. This role become considerably more difficult after he began suffering from Alzheimer's disease, but she never stopped lovingly taking care of him until he died in 1997.

Mrs. Saidel had six grandchildren: Sarah and Alex Mangot, Jonathan Saidel and Laura Saidel Shakelford, as well as Esther and Daniel Wolk. She also had eight great grandchildren: Emmunah, Yosef, Eliyah, Yedidyah, Caleb, Ilana, MacKenzie, and Callen.

Author Meika Loe included Florence's advice for aging gracefully in Aging Our Way: Lessons for Living from 85 and Beyond (Oxford University Press, 2011). Mrs. Saidel saw a great many changes in her lifetime as technology advanced. She was grateful to celebrate her 100th birthday at a party with family and friends in September 2015. Thanks to the loving support of her family and a group of devoted caregivers, she was able to remain in her own home until the last week of her life. She is survived by her children and their spouses, Dr. Rochelle Saidel and Prof. Guilherme Ary Plonski of Manhattan, Jerusalem, and São Paulo; Mindy Mangot and Neil Mangot of Long Beach, NY; and David Saidel and Joan Saidel of Austin, TX; her six grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren. Burial is in the Shaarey Tefilah cemetery, Glens Falls, with a graveside service on Monday, August 1, and shiva in Albany.

Donations made here in memory of Florence L. Saidel will support the work of the Remember the Women Institute.


Ida (Chaya Sarah) Ellen Levine and her mother, Mindel EllenThe women in the following photographs (and on the home page) are the grandmothers and great-grandmothers of Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, founder of the Remember the Women Institute. All of our mothers and grandmothers have life stories that, in one way or another, can contribute to our better understanding of history.

Ida (Chaya Sarah) Ellen Levine, maternal grandmother of Remember the Women Institute founder Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, is shown (left) with her mother Mindel Ellen. They arrived in the United States from Lomza, Poland at the beginning of the twentieth century. They first joined Chaim, Mindel's husband and Ida's father, on Division Street on the Lower East Side of New York City, then moving to Schenectady, New York. Ida married Meyer Levine, in 1914 and they lived in Schenectady for most of their lives. For many years Ida helped to support the family by working in their small grocery store. She was a working mother who lived above the store and took care of business and household at the same time. The mother of two children--Florence Levine Saidel and Leonard Levine-Ida died in 1984, at the age of 89. She was a link with "the old country," Eastern Europe before the Holocaust, for her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

Esther Feigel Ovchinskas (Hoffman) SaidelEsther Feigel Ovchinskas (Hoffman) Saidel, paternal grandmother of Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, is shown (pictured right) in a hat that she created herself. She arrived in the United States in 1908, from Kopcheva, Suvulk Province, Lithuania. Esther came to the United States with the family of her aunt, Peshe Similinska (Seaman) Miller. She married Samuel Saidel, and they lived in Glens Falls and Bolton Landing, New York. She worked as a skilled seamstress, then in the family's general store, and then as an active partner in the family's summer resort business. She sewed, knitted, and crocheted creatively and exquisitely, and also took great pleasure in her flower gardens. The mother of three children-Joseph Saidel, Leatrice Saidel Russ, and Dr. Frank Saidel-Esther died in 1959 at the age of 67. She never spoke of losing her father, siblings, and their children during the Holocaust, and information on their murder in Lazdei and Kovno emerged many years after her death from her only niece who survived.

Esther's mother, Yenta Similinska Ovchinskas (pictured left), was married to David Ofchinskas, and they had eight children (in order of their birth): Esther, Raisel, Hirsch, Berl, Chaim, Devora Rifka, Ruchel, and Leizer Falk. Esther left for the United States with her mother's sister's family in 1908. Raisel, Hirsh, and Berl were murdered at Katkishok, along with David, Yenta's husband. Leizer Falk was murdered in Kovno in the Ninth Fort. Chaim disappeared in Mexico. Ruchel died before Katkishok—but her stone does not seem to be in the Kopcheva Jewish cemetery now. Devora Rifka, my grandmother's sister, was buried in Kopcheva in 1924 and the stone still stands there.









Top of page

Home About Projects Events Literature The Arts In the News Links Contact Us

© The Remember the Women Institute, 2015
11 Riverside Drive, Suite 3RE, New York, NY 10023
Phone (212) 799-0887 Fax (212) 496-8873 E-mail [email protected]

Site design: Allison Hunter Web Design, LLC