Sign up for our Slingshot Summer Studio Information Session: Thursday, April 25 from 6:30–7:30 p.m.
branksome school logo
search

Branksome Hall News

Isabel LIEBERMAN Langsdorf'56

Isabel LIEBERMAN Langsdorf’56 enjoyed a happy Grade 12 year as a Boarding student at Branksome, despite a perilous start in life that nearly ended when she was a toddler. She was born in 1937 in Frankfurt, Germany to a Jewish mother who gave her up for adoption, and spent her first two years in the Jewish Women’s League Home in Neu-Isenburg.
Isabel LIEBERMAN Langsdorf’56 enjoyed a happy Grade 12 year as a Boarding student at Branksome, despite a perilous start in life that nearly ended when she was a toddler. She was born in 1937 in Frankfurt, Germany to a Jewish mother who gave her up for adoption, and spent her first two years in the Jewish Women’s League Home in Neu-Isenburg.
 
Isabel was rescued twice by Truus Wijsmuller, a remarkable Dutch woman who, though childless, saved an estimated 10,000 children across Europe from the Nazis. Ms. Wijsmuller brought young Isabel out of The Netherlands just hours before the Germans invaded in May 1940.
 
Along with 21 other survivors, Isabel is featured in the Dutch documentary Truus’ Children, of which she attended a screening in August 2022 in Toronto.
 
As a two-year-old, Isabel was adopted by a German-Jewish couple, Edgar and Anne Lieberman, who had already fled to the Dutch West Indies. The ship carrying little Isabel to join them in 1940 hit two mines, and 120 people aboard perished. Severely injured and suffering from pneumonia, Isabel recuperated in a British hospital for several months. Her second sea voyage successfully united her with her new parents.
 
After this traumatic start (which Isabel doesn’t recall), she had a happy childhood in Bonaire and Venezuela. Thanks to a friend of her father, Isabel spent her high school graduating year at Branksome, because “my parents wanted me to have a quality North American education.”
 
She studied at the Pratt Institute in New York, married and has lived in Washington, D.C. since 1965. She worked for 40 years as a docent with the Hirshhorn Museum. Isabel has three children and four grandchildren, who recently joined her on November 4, 2022 to celebrate her 85th birthday.
 
In summer 2022, Isabel, with her daughter, Julie, visited Branksome Hall for the first time in 65 years. She reminisced about Branksome friends and their pranks, such as sneaking off campus to see Louis Armstrong perform, and said of then Principal Edith Read: “She was close to 80, tiny and formidable; likable but tough. An amazing person.”
 
After overcoming formidable odds early on, Isabel continues to enjoy life with a cheerful, grateful attitude, and fond memories of long-ago times at Branksome Hall.  
Back
LAND ACKNOWLEDGMENT
We wish to acknowledge this land on which Branksome operates. For thousands of years, it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work and go to school on this land.

Setting the new standard for girls' education everywhere takes collective action. From all of us.
 
MAKE A DONATION