Stephanie Gerst Douglas (b. 1936)

Stephanie Gerst Douglas was born in Germany in 1936 to Yitzach Gerst and Rita Daiczer Gerst. Her father was arrested as a Communist when she was a baby and sent to a death camp in 1941. Her mother was also arrested in 1941 and Stephanie was orphaned. She lived with an aunt in Belgium for a short time before being sent to an Catholic orphanage in Brussels. After the war, at the age of nine she was sent to a Jewish orphanage in Limal, Belgium for four years, where she was trained and prepared to become a pioneer in Israel. Before she could leave for Israel, however, a relative in the United States sponsored her and, through the Joint Distribution Committee, she was sent to New York. 

She spent five years with these relatives and then left to study nursing at the Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn. In 1958 she met and married Stanley Weinberg (who used the name Robert), a radio announcer. They moved to Oregon after their second child was born, in 1962. Stanley bought a small radio station in Tillamook, Oregon and the family moved there. They raised their three children in Tillamook for 14 years before Stanley died. At that time Stephanie chose to move to Portland to be closer to the Jewish community there. She joined Neveh Shalom, where they had been commuting to from Tillamook for the holidays and the children’s Sunday school education.