Yitchak is a butcher by trade, a neighbor of Shmuel and Gitl. He is a widower with two small children, and he would like to marry Gitl. During their time in the concentration camps, his children die, but Yitchak manages to escape, and joins the resistance for the remainder of the war. After the war, he emigrates to Israel, and becomes active in politics there.
Chaya is Hannah's name when she is transported back in time to Poland during World War II. Having been raised in Lublin, she and her parents are stricken with a serious illness; her parents die, and Chaya is sent to her aunt and uncle, Gitl and Shmuel, to live. In the concentration camps, Chaya sacrifices her life so her friend, Rivka, can live. Rivka grows up to be Hannah's Aunt Eva, and Chaya is Hannah's middle name.
Shmuel is Chaya's uncle who lives on a farm in Poland. He is to be married to Fayge, a beautiful girl from a neighboring village, and it is while he is on the way to his wedding that he and those attending his wedding party are arrested and sent to the camps. Shmuel is caught while attempting to escape Auschwitz, and he is executed before a firing squad along with his bride-to-be.
Rivka is a street-wise young girl Chaya meets at the concentration camp. She has been there longer than Chaya and the people from her village, and she teaches them what they need to do to survive. Rivka is eventually randomly selected for execution, but Chaya goes in her place. Rivka grows up to be Chaya's Aunt Eva.
Gitl is Chaya's aunt, sister to Shmuel. Fiercely independent, she shuns Yitchak's proposal of marriage. She is a tower of strength and courage among the women at Auschwitz, sacrificing so that others might have more and teaching Chaya especially through her example how to endure; Gitl earns the nickname "Gitl the Bear". Gitl survives the war and emigrates to Israel.