Denise Schorr

WW II Resistance Fighter, Cooking Teacher, and Cookbook Author
– 2010
by Beth Gurney

World War II resistance fighter, cooking teacher, and cookbook author, Denise Schorr.

Courtesy of Louis Schorr.

It is with great affection and many shared experiences that I remember the very big and full life of tiny Denise Schorr. I got to know Denise as a cooking colleague, in what amounts to the last third of her long life. For this reason, I will share memories and impressions from the last thirty years, which I know doesn't begin to touch upon the most important parts of her life: her family and her formative years. Because Denise was such a unique character, I hope some of these memories will capture her essence and serve as a tribute to her passion for living.

One of Denise's greatest character traits was her expression of her values. She navigated sensibly through these crazy modern times, always discerning the worthiness of material things and ingredients. She navigated the what's, when's, and how's of quality going down-hill, and in contrast, what was of good value. Nothing would make her madder than a rip-off. She could look like a fashion plate, but beware: With her deep voice and French accent she would pack a punch with her favorite English idioms: Kiddo, that's a rip-off, that's not the real McCoy! I don't think she was capable of saying the word fake in a sentence without being upset!

She operated through the world on a deeply expressive and emotional plane. She was emotionally available and she had an edge you wouldn't want to cross. Her feelings informed her actions, reactions, and responses to the world before her. Yet, at the same time she was very private. Her traits of clear values, being disciplined and of strong character most surely were shaped from early days with the French resistance. This probably contributed to her most wonderful way of modulating from thrift to luxury, and the full range of moderation in between. She was a true sensualist who relished the great pleasures of the table: how to savor a small aperitif, a luxurious treat, a single cigarette, or a thimble full of special calvados from the cellar.

Denise was exacting. She knew that cooking took time, and she accepted it. She never bragged of short cuts or by-passing techniques. She had an engaged intensity which disallowed her from doing anything half way. She excelled at her craft, by doing it right. She shared with her students this legacy, as well as through her cookbook' My French Kitchen.

A cook's style and personality shows through to their preparations :About 15 years ago she had me for lunch, featuring a side spinach salad. From that day on, it was locked in my taste memory as the definitive Spinach salad. It had her signature on it: robust with garlic, liberal with Dijon mustard, more salt and pepper and red wine vinegar than I'd have imaginedÉ and a load of spinach, triply washed, torn into small bite sized pieces and dried in linen towels. There was a strength of character and purity to this simple preparation, done right, which strangely mirrored Denise herself. It became a standard, which I couldn't move beyond!

Many of the stories of her young life in France give a glimpse into the shaping forces of her strong character, enormous empathy and compassion for others. This shaped her life as a giver. Victor Hugo said it is by suffering that human beings become angels. She cast a wide net, knowing that people come first. I feel so comforted in knowing that she can always communicate to us through her book. É To live beyond in the hearts you leave behind is not to die. You'll be with us forever, Denise.


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The obituary in the Boston Globe mentions Mrs.Schorr's strong personality, her work in the French resistance and underground, her ability to savor the small details of cooking and of life, and her pride in being an American.

An interview she gave to a high school student in 2005 gives a vivid picture of her dedication and bravery during the Resistance.

According to the Social Security Death Index, she was born on September 20, 1918 and died on May 7, 2010.

"As a holocaust survivor, she spent innumerable hours over the course of 60 years in instructing and giving testimony about her wartime experiences to children from grammar school through college....During the war...she worked as a social worker with displaced children and placed them in non-Jewish homes through her underground connections. Toward the end of the occupation and after liberation, she also helped adults and elderly people who were in hiding....[She and Stanley] were married by the Mayor of Paris in the Paris City Hall on Dec, 9, 1944 and the religious ceremony was performed by the chief Orthodox Rabbi of Paris."

Her husband of 41 years, Stanley A. Schorr died in 1986.

She died at her residence in Natick, MA on Friday, May 7th.


"When Denise Khaitman married Stanley Schorr on December 9, 1944, a Paris newspaper hailed the union as the first between an American officer and a French woman since the liberation of Paris in August of that year. 'We met on my birthday, September 20,' recalls Denise."

By Elfrieda Berthiaume Shukert and Barbara Smith Scibetta. War Brides World War II. Yankee Magazine. Volume 50, Issue No. 3. March 1986.

Thank you so much for this tribute. As we get closer to the first year anniversary and the removing of articles from Mom's home I find this article is a real tear jerker. I always take a deep breath of appreciation for who Mom always was and will be to my siblings and relatives but most of all the friends she influenced.

Thank you so much for this tribute. As we get closer to the first year anniversary and the removing of articles from Mom's home I find this article is a real tear jerker. I always take a deep breath of appreciation for who Mom always was and will be to my siblings and relatives but most of all the friends she influenced.


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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Denise Schorr, - 2010." (Viewed on April 21, 2024) <>.