"Estike," Chaya Levy called out as her childhood friend Esther Sheinberg walked in through the door to her apartment and the two met in person for the first time in 75 years.
After greeting one another with warm embraces and kisses, the two sat down to reminisce about what it was like growing up in the Transylvanian village of Beclean, in what is now Romania.
Up until Sunday, neither of the childhood friends could ever have imagined the other had survived the Holocaust.
Both Levy, 91, and Sheinberg, 88, were deported to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. At the end of the war, they both made the decision to move to Israel, where they unknowingly lived adjacent to one another in the central Israeli city of Bnei Brak for a short time.
The reunion between the two friends came about by accident when their daughters were introduced through a mutual friend and ended up spending the Sukkot holiday together in Safed. While there, they were surprised to discover that both their mothers had grown up in the same village in what was then Hungary. When the daughters later told their mothers about the other girl who had grown up in Beclean, Levy and Sheinberg immediately recognized the other's name and remembered their childhood friend.
"My sister passed away two years ago," Sheinberg said. "I have no one to reminisce with. Now I have found that someone. She is like a sister."