WILLIAMSBURG — A 92-year-old Holocaust survivor and Brooklyn resident was killed Saturday when a SUV backing into a parking spot crushed her, reports and police said.
Gitzella Katz, who had lived in Brooklyn for years, was crossing Clymer Street with her daughter, 68, and moving in between parked cars when the 26-year-old driver of a 2012 Toyota Highlander began pulling into a space at 9:47 p.m., police said. No criminality was suspected, police said.
The morning after her death, friends and family members remembered Katz as a talented cook and respected member of the Hasidic community.
"She was a good woman," said Zilu Friedman, who said Katz was his grandmother-in-law.
Approximately 200 family members and friends met outside the Kavel Synagogue on Hawes Street just before noon Sunday for a memorial.
Men and women wept as Katz' draped coffin was placed outside, before being loaded into a car for transportation to her burial.
A group of women, who would not give their names, but said they were granddaughters, nieces and cousins of Katz, described her as the family's matriarch.
Katz had been born in Hungary and immigrated to Brooklyn with her husband in 1963, after they had both survived the Holocaust.
She rarely spoke about her WWII experiences, family members said, but they said she had been moved through several concentration camps along with her sister.
Katz had more than 10 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren in the Williamsburg community, a relative said, and she was constantly making meals and desserts for friends and family.
"One of my kids asked if we still have any cake left from her," said the woman, who said she was a granddaughter, but would not give her name, said. "I said 'We're down to our last chocolate roll.' "
A niece of Katz's, 40, said her aunt was "a capable woman" who lived alone and was inseparable from her two daughters.
"She was an older woman but she was really everyone's best friend," the niece said. "I feel like I've lost a friend."
With the tragedy occurring just two days before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, it was especially tough, she said. "It's extremely tragic, it's an emotional day," she said.