The sole female and the second-youngest child of Sigmund and Frieda Jurman in a family of five children, she was raised from the age of five in Buczacz, which was roughly 1/3 Jewish at that time. Her parents and four brothers (Moshe, Bunio, Herzl and Zachary) were all murdered during the Holocaust.
She escaped the Germans by being thrown through the window of a train taking her family to an extermination camp. After Germany's defeat, she joined the underground group Bricha, helping smuggle Jews out of Poland to Austria, then on to the Palestine Mandate, which would become Israel. In early 1947 she sailed aboard the Theodor Herzl, which was stopped by the Britain's Royal Navy. The ship's crew and passengers were sent to Cyprus and interned for eight months there. In December 1947, Jurman made it to the Palestine Mandate. She was part of the Palyam, later serving in the “Chayl HaYam” naval forces that fought at Jaffa. There she met Gabriel Appleman, a volunteer from the United States. They wed in 1950 and came to the United States two years later. They returned to Israel in 1969 and were there during the Yom Kippur War (1973), and returned to the U.S. in 1975. The couple had two sons.