A Project of From The Depths
The SURVIVOR TORAH Project
The Bielski brothers are legendary.
Aaron is the last living legend.
They comprised the largest Jewish partisan unit in WW2, and saved 1236 Jews from the German camps and killing fields.
The Bielski brothers were born in Stankiewicze, a small village next to the town of Nowogródek, in prewar Poland, now in the territory of Belarus.
In June, 1941 German troops invaded the Soviet Union. They were followed by SS killing squads, which rounded up the Jews, murdered them in mass graves and forced the remaining Jewish population into Ghettos.
The Bielski’s were a family of 14, the parents and 12 children. On December 8, 1941 the Germans massacred around 5,000 Jews, including the majority of their family.
The 4 brothers fled to the Belarusian forest and set up a partisan unit with Tuvia Bielski as the commander. However, unlike other partisan groups, fighting the enemy was not their highest goal.
Their primary objective was to rescue Jews and to offer them shelter and protection in the forest. The brothers did not only admit those who were able to fight, but every Jewish woman or man, no matter whether the person was young or old, healthy or sick, a fighter or a noncombatant.
They rescued and provided safe heaven to over 1200 Jews, one of the largest and most daring rescue operations from the Holocaust.
They took Jews out of the Ghetto’s and saved them. They did this in partnership with remarkable locals, Righteous individuals who put their lives at risk to help. Including the Kozlovskiy family, who’s last living relative, I personally visited and supported in Belarus just a year ago (link in comments).
The winters were remarkably harsh, food was scarce, but the brothers were resourceful, they managed to keep everyone safe, and when they needed too they fought, ferociously and fearlessly protecting themselves.
By the time the Red Army liberated the area in July 1944, the camp had 1,200 members, making it the largest partisan group in the Soviet Union and all of German- occupied territory. It was one of the largest rescue of Jews by fellow Jews during WWII.
I met Aron and his beautiful wife Henryka on Friday, we spoke for quite sometime, we spoke of his deep love and appreciation for Israel, his stance on antisemitism and all that’s going on today.
I asked Aaron how to fight antisemitism today. He laughed and said, “that’s the way the world is, you can’t change it, it shows you must be strong as a Jew, 24 hours, the whole year and thank Gd for Israel, if not they would eat us alive. You you can’t discriminate against Israeli’s, you can, but they’ll beat the shit out of you.”
His strength and fight, that of a true Bielski is evident even as he gets ready to celebrate his 96th birthday soon.
When I told him about the ‘Survivor Torah’ that was hidden during the Holocaust that survivors will be rewriting and together he wrote a letter (we picked the letter ב -ֶ B- for Bielski), after he helped me get the Torah ready lifted it high in the air, became emotional, he looked at his wife, and she said “The Torah is everything we have, it’s our roots, our history, our Gd, that is our Torah”
Their heroic and inspirations story was portrayed in the 2012 Hollywood blockbuster ‘Defiance’ starring Daniel Craig and Lev Schreiber.
Mrs. Edith Gelbard was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1932.
She lived with her parents, sister and grandmother. After the Germans annexed Austria in 1938, her family fled to Belgium and then to France. In 1942, her father was murdered in Auschwitz. Edith and her brother were hidden in an orphanage. She was liberated in 1945 and reunited with rest of her family. After the war, she lived in Paris and immigrated to Canada in 1958.
When we met, she told me she was still mad at G-d, but maybe G-d wanted her to stay alive so she could sign this Torah.
With tears in her eyes, after we scribed a letter in the Torah, she told me “I feel my heart and home is blessed, we are old and are going somewhere, probably soon, this brings us faith and hope in these final years.”
Her feelings, expressed through her eloquent words, explain what I’ve been seeing as I visit survivors at events, in old age homes or in their homes with this Holy Torah. Beyond the educational aspect of this story, I feel so deeply privileged to be able to be of service and bring all my love to these remarkable people, whilst we still can.
Faigie Libman, is a remarkable woman. She was born in Kovno, Lithuania, in 1934, an only child. In 1941, she and her family were forced into the Kovno Ghetto. When the ghetto was liquidated in 1944, her father was taken to Dachau, where he perished. Faigie and her mother were transferred—first to Stutthof, then to three slave labour camps—before they were liberated by the Soviet Army.
Faigie immigrated to Canada in 1948 and dedicated her life to education, teaching youngsters instilling real values and a deep love of Judaism and Israel and when she tells her story and teaches about the Holocaust, she does so in her unique way, with a smile but too with the strength, that only she has!
I learnt a lot from sitting with Faigie, she too sang me songs from her youth and when it came to writing a letter together in this Holy Torah saved from the Holocaust being rewritten by survivors, you could feel the pride she had in taking part in this special project.
I love Saul Dreier! What a phenomenal pleasure it was to be with this amazing 97 year old Holocaust Survivor in Miami!
Saul was born in Kraków in 1925, he survived the terrors of the Holocaust in multiple concentration camps, and lost over 30 family members. Following the war, he moved to the United States, where he built a family and just a few years ago, founded The Holocaust Survivor Band.
I read an article about ‘Saul and Ruby’s Holocaust Survivor Band’ 5 years ago in the New York Times, I reached out to them and helped them put on “the biggest concert in their lives”, bringing them back to Poland to play for over 5,000 people in the heart of Warsaw.
This remarkable journey full of so much sadness, but happiness too, was documented by the Oscar nominated director Tod Lending who’s documentary, ‘Saul and Ruby’s Holocaust Survivor Band’ has won awards all around the world.
I hosted a massive premiere for Saul in Poland and had the honor to spend Chanukah with him 2 years ago in Warsaw.
This evening I surprised him at the most beautiful event at the Chabad House in Miami Beach hosted by the remarkable Rabbi Zev Katz
After he and his band filled the room with so much joy in song and music, I had Saul join me in writing a letter in the Holy Torah, saved in the Holocaust being rewritten by Holocaust Survivors, a truly moving and beautiful experience.
Aaron Nussbaum is 92 years old and has lived the most remarkable life!
He was born in Sandomierz, Poland, in 1931. After the German occupation of Poland in September 1939, his father was no longer allowed to manage his own business, and in the spring of 1940, his father was arrested and then taken to the Buchenwald concentration camp.
His father died in a German camp in 1942.
In September 1942, Aaron went into hiding. A Jewish woman they knew (Menashe Laiman’s sister, who looked “Aryan”) had a Polish housekeeper who could provide hiding places in Warsaw and she brought them there. They were hidden in the apartment of a woman who had three sons, the Gruszewskas, all living in one room. There was a fake wall in the apartment, and they heard anyone coming, they would hide behind the wall, crowded together, not moving.
They could never go outside. They had to bribe Polish police to leave them alone and also had to pay for being hidden. Being one of the wealthiest Jews in the town, his father was well connected with the local Poles. He had many Polish friends and business associates, and this ended up helping them survive.
“My father knew he had to protect his family, and so before the war he left money with a local Polish engineer, a nice man who lived down the street from us. This man brought us money every couple of months during the time my mother, brother and I were in hiding in Warsaw so that we could pay those who were hiding us; I don’t remember his name.” Aaron said.
Sadly their hiding place was revealed and Aaron and his family went to the infamous ‘Hotel Polski’ in Warsaw, the Germans along with Jewish and Polish collaborators used this hotel as bait for Jews in hiding. Aaron and his family were led to believe they could escape the war as exchange prisoners for German citizens in foreign countries. Instead, they were sent to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in the summer of 1943, where they were imprisoned until April 1945, they were put on a train headed to the Theresienstadt ghetto and concentration camp; several days later when the train stopped near Hillersleben, Germany, Aaron, his mother and brother were liberated by the American army.
After the war, Aaron left for Palestine. In 1952, he visited his mother and brother in Toronto and decided to stay with them. Aaron worked in a garment factory and then in construction, eventually opening his own hardware store. Aaron raised two children in Toronto with his wife, Bella (née Goldman), who passed away in 2011, and has several grandchildren.
When I spoke to Aaron after we wrote a letter in the Holy Torah saved from the Holocaust and being rewritten by survivors, I was truly overcome with emotion, he told me about his youth in Poland and we spoke in Polish, suddenly I saw a twinkle in his eye, we switched to Hebrew, and he told me of how he served in “Hativat HaNegev” the “Negev Bridgade” in the Independence War of the State of Israel, something he clearly was so proud of being a part of.
Sylvia Steinberg endured great loss with incredible resilience and gratitude.
She was born in Romania, she was just three years old when the war began. After losing her parents, she was sent to live with her grandparents, before her Jewish grandfather whisked her away to a Catholic boarding school to keep her safe until the war ended.
She met her husband after the war, and the young couple left Romania for the United States in search of a better life. They settled in Baltimore to raise their family, and Sylvia began a 40-year career she loved as a medical illustrator.
In 2004, five years after her husband passed away, Sylvia moved to Canada to help her daughter, who was training in psychiatry, and her son-in-law raise their three daughters.
Sylvia is full of love and grace a true ‘Balabusta’, her art is extraordinary and you can really feel her soul!
When I took the Holy Torah out before we wrote a letter together, her eyes glistened as she recalled her Grandfather taking her as young girl to their shul, and together we wrote a letter renewing this Torah saved from the Holocaust in honor of her and in memory of those she lost
Nate Leipciger was born in 1928 in Chorzów, Poland, with the German invasion he along with his family were moved to the Ghetto in Sosnowiec. By the age of 15 he was transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau where his mother and sister were murdered by the Germans, but miraculously his father, through a series of remarkable actions helped keep him alive and they were sent from work camp to work camp, where eventually he was liberated by the American forces from Dachau Concentration camp.
Nate moved to Canada with his father and built a beautiful life for himself, with the most wonderful and supportive family. He’s written an incredibly powerful book called “The Weight of Freedom” that tells his story, and even took Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to visit Auschwitz a few years ago.
Just after we together wrote a letter in this Holy Torah saved from the Holocaust, he, as a Cohen, a member of the Priestly tribe, placed his hands on my head and blessed me. The most powerful and beautiful blessing I’ve ever received.
Nate blessed me with the same blessing that Jews have been giving for thousands of years and will continue for thousands to come.
“They shaved us, stripped us down and pushed us into the gas chambers in Birkenau, then suddenly the door opened and they needed some workers and let a few of us out. This was Yom Kippur, 1944.”
This is just part of the remarkable story of Holocaust Survivor Jack Steinmetz, who was transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau from Northern Hungary as a young boy in autumn 1944, he survived, loosing his entire family.
However as I came to visit him in his beautiful home in Toronto earlier this week, to have him scribe a letter in the Holy Torah saved from the Holocaust we are restoring, it wasn’t his story of survival he wanted to first tell me about.
As I entered he walked me into a side room and showed me a plaque on the wall, a semi-faded piece of paper from November 1978, honoring him and his late wife for planting “A grove of 1000 trees in Canada Park in Israel”. What he was more proud of than anything else was this huge undertaking he took 45 years ago, in honor of his family murdered in the Holocaust. He was a hardworking motor mechanic, he took a 3 year loan from the bank to pay off this large cost, because of his love for Israel.
We had such a beautiful and meaningful time with his family and friends, and as I left he told me that he wishes people in Israel would stop fighting, “we need to get along as Jews” he told me, “because the other option, is so much worse.”
Today in New York I’ve had the profound honor to spend time with Holocaust Survivor Sami Steigmann and write another letter in this Holy Torah saved from the Holocaust, being rewritten by survivors.
Sami is a remarkable man, born in Czernovitz, Bukowina in 1939. He was taken into a forced labor camp with his parents, and was liberated in From 1941 through 1944, he was with his parents in the Ukraine at Mogilev-Podolsky, a labor camp in an area called Transnistria.
The camp was liberated by the Red Army and his family was deported by the Romanians, not by the Germans. He grew up in Transylvania, in a small town called Reghin. He did not know the language.
In 1961, the whole family (his sister was born in 1946) emigrated to Israel. He served in the Israeli Air Force, not as a pilot. In 1968, without knowing the language and no money, alone, Sami came to the United States. He lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he married, divorced and eventually, in 1983 returned to Israel. However, in 1988, he returned to the United States, choosing New York City as his final home.
As we went to write a letter in this Holy Torah, Sami asked we write the letter “Shin”, in honor of his family name, and amazingly, it was the next letter waiting for us.
Sol Nayman was born in Stoczek Wegrowki, Poland on November 5, 1935. At the outbreak of war in 1939, simple, everyday life in their village was turned upside down. The family was fortunate to escape to the forest, where they saw the Wehrmacht’s trucks and troops roll through and destroy what was in their path.
From there the Naymans managed to trace a path to the east, eventually making their way to the Soviet Union. Once in the USSR, they had to deal with the wartime conditions in that nation, and they were forced into the vast reaches of Siberia, where Sol’s parents toiled away for many years.
As the war drew to a close, they made their way back to the west, to the Ukraine and eventually Germany itself, where they found themselves in the Wetzlar DP Camp. Here life slowly came back to a state of relative normalcy, and after several years the family managed to emigrate to Canada.
Sol told me how he was named in honor of his Maternal grandfather David Shlomo Rosenberg, a scribe, making this project emotional and meaningful for him on a whole other level.
When referring to the Torah, Sol said “It began with burning books, Holy objects and Torah Scrolls and ended by burning Jews. Rewriting this Torah brings back that past and shows we can never be defeated.”
“When I speak to students I tell them that we don’t really understand how critically important and amazing the creation of the Torah is, this hand written scroll, made of 245 columns, 304,805 letters each letter must be perfect or the Torah cannot be used.”
Truly, nothing could be more perfect than having Holy Survivors like Sol helping to fill the missing part of this Holy Torah, saved from the burning of the Holocaust by a Righteous Gentile.
Together we wrote 4 letters in honor of his Grandfather, whose name he bears and in memory of his beloved granddaughter Candace Miriam Nayman, of blessed memory, who tragically passed away.
Many will recognize 96 year old Mrs. Jenny Eisenstein from years gone by as the Queen of Yiddish and Israeli folk song. She sang for Prime Ministers and Presidents, always with a radiating smile and pitch perfect.
However, life wasn’t always easy for Mrs. Eisenstein. She was born in 1927 in Bedzin, Poland, into a proud Jewish family with four siblings, she had an accident as a young girl and as result of such, lost her left arm. However it didn’t stop her, she persevered and continued, all until the German invasion of Poland on September 1st, 1939.
Along with her family she was forced into the Ghetto and from there they were eventually deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they experienced the full horror of the unfolding events. The odds were truly against her, she was a young girl and having the ‘disability’ of her missing arm, she was sure to be condemned to the outcome of which we are all too familiar.
Her fellow prisoners would hide her during the selections in Birkenau, she restored their broken souls with her songs. Her mother would stand close to her left side on roll calls, hiding the missing limb, amongst other tricks.
Miraculously, she survived.
She eventually moved to Canada with her sister, whether they both married two wonderful brothers had beautiful families with children and grandchildren, and she never stopped singing, always with the focus on doing what’s right, her support of the State of Israel unshakable and her love of Judaism unfaltering.
Yesterday, after writing a letter in our Holy Torah scroll, saved from the Holocaust, she invited me to her wonderful home. She served me more cakes and sweets than even I could manage and sang for me, her voice just as beautiful as I imagine it was, when she lifted the spirits of those in her barracks in Auschwitz-Birkenau and sang for dignitaries. She made me feel like a king!
Friends, over the last few days alone, because of your continued support, I’ve been able to bring this Holy Torah to over 20 survivors, bringing so much dignity and love. Each of their stories, I’ll continue to share for as long as I’m able, making sure none of us, as well as those who come after us never forget the evils the survivors prevailed.
A Zoo and a Torah Scroll.
These are two words that one wouldn’t expect to be in the same sentence, however yesterday, these words, here in Toronto, took great significance.
Because one of the amazing survivors that came to write a letter in our Holy Torah scroll saved in the Holocaust and being rewritten by survivors, was a survivor whose story I knew very well, a survivor who I’d heard much about, however, never had the chance to meet, Mrs. Stefania Sitbon.
Stefania was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1939 and was brought up in the Warsaw Ghetto and taken care of by her big brother, Moshe, someone I know very well!
Along with her big brother and parents they were smuggled out of the Ghetto in 1942 into Warsaw Zoo, where they were saved by Jan and Antonina Zabinski.
I had the profound honor of knowing the zookeepers children, Ryszard and Teresa Zabinska, in fact we helped open the exhibition in Warsaw Zoo, we brought Moshe back their for the first time and we worked on the phenomenal movie, “The Zookeeper’s wife” that told the story of this heroic Polish family who saved over 300 Jews by hiding them amongst the animal enclosures and in their home inside the Zoo.
I sat with Moshe for hours as he recalled his time hiding in the zoo and one of the parts of his story that really struck me, was how he, just 7 at the time, would forcefully place his hands over the mouth of his little sister, age 3, to stop her from making any noise. He told me for years after the war, when he’d approach her she would instinctively guard her mouth so he wouldn’t cover it. I’d often think of that story as I’d try to understand the impact these times would have even had on the youngest child, however, I never expected I’d have the opportunity to meet Stefania.
I couldn’t have been more happy when Stefania approached me yesterday with her beautiful smile, told me who she was, that she knows who I am, and if it wasn’t special enough, told me too that it’s her birthday!
What an honor I had to meet this special survivor, whose saviors I had the chance to honor and celebrate her birthday with her.
I feel humbled and profoundly grateful that I have the chance to run this project will continue to share the stories of these Holy Survivors as they write a letter in this Holy Torah!
Mrs. Reny Friedman and Mrs. Mania Hudy are Holocaust Survivors, these beautiful ladies live today in Toronto, Canada and I had the unbelievably honor to be able to be with them and write letters in this Holy Torah being restored by Holocaust Survivors.
Reny Friedman and her twin brother, Leo Salomon, were born in April 1937 in Heerlen, the Netherlands. When the Nazis started rounding up Jews, the Salomon family escaped to Belgium with the help of the underground.
The family hid in Brussels for a year and on a farm in Tremelo in the Ardennes Forest. Reny’s parents had heard that experiments were being performed on twins in the camps, and so they were especially afraid for their twin children. They arranged for Leo to be hidden in a monastery, while Reny was taken to hide in a convent. At the end of the war, Reny was reunited with her family, first with her father and brother, whom she didn’t recognize, and then with her mother, who had been a prisoner in Auschwitz. Although her brother chose to remain in the Netherlands, Reny immigrated to Canada in 1955, where she lived with relatives and worked a variety of jobs. In 1959, she married Henry Friedman, a survivor from Hungary, and together they raised a family. Reny’s parents eventually joined her in Canada in 1972. Reny Friedman lives in Toronto.
Mania Hudy was born in Warsaw in 1933 and lived there with her parents and brother.
In 1940 they were forced from their home and relocated to the Warsaw ghetto. They were packed into tiny living quarters with 3 or 4 other families.
In 1943 her baby sister Bronka was born and soon given away to a Nun in the hopes she would stay alive. Mania and her brother were taken to live with a Polish couple until 1944 when they were discovered and taken to Bergen Belsen, along with the Polish couple who hid them.
They were liberated together and were sent to a DP camp always wondering about baby Bronka. Baby Bronka was found in 1949 in Belgium alive and well at the age of six. The family moved to Israel and Mania settled in Toronto, Mania has two children, six grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Hedy Bohm is 95 years old, she was born in 1928, in Oradea, Transylvania, and was an only child to Ignacz, a master cabinet maker, and Erzsebet, a homemaker. Hedy attended an all-girls Jewish school until grade 10.
In April of 1944, Hedy and her family were sent to the Oradea ghetto, and from there, she was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. For months, she slept on dirt floors in crowded facilities with thousands of other Jewish women. In August 1944, Bohm was forced into slave labour in a factory in Germany until the Allied Forces liberated Europe in the summer of 1945.
She was just 15 years old, when she was orphaned and her family were brutally stolen from her.
For months, she slept on dirt floors in crowded facilities with thousands of other Jewish women. In August 1944, Bohm was forced into slave labour in a factory in Germany until the Allied Forces liberated Europe in the summer of 1945.
Bohm immigrated to Canada in 1947, married and began a new life with her husband raising a family together. For decades, she found solace and joy in her children and her friends and took pride in Bohm's family businesses.
She had nightmares in the years after the Holocaust and when it came to her traumatic experience, burying it as deep as possible, never speaking of her survival.
But that sentiment changed in 2011, after a speech by then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in which he questioned the Holocaust in front of the United Nations General Assembly. She then knew that it was her time to speak and tell her story.
She’s marched on March of the Living educating thousands, she speaks at schools and during Covid spoke to thousands of students from all backgrounds via zoom lectures.
I had the honor to meet Mrs. Bohm and have her participate in writing a letter in our Holy Torah saved from the Holocaust and being rewritten by survivors. She beamed with pride as she undertook this beautiful Mitzvah with her son by her side.
This is the Taub family of Flatbush, a beautiful couple both Holocaust survivors of numerous camps, married for 69 years.
Unfortunately the Taub's aren't in the best of health and couldn't make it to the event we held in City Hall, so we had the huge honor to go and visit them in their home.
After writing 2 additional letters in the Sefer Torah we saved from the Holocaust in their honor, I turned to Shmuel and asked him as I do from every survivor I meet, to give me a Bracha (a blessing)
In Judaism there are those that go to Rabbi's for a blessing, however, we all know there is nothing more Holy than a survivor, and what a time to receive a blessing, just before Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year.
His family told me that unfortunately he hasn't spoken in about half a year, but I refused to give up, and used a trick that I learnt from when I could still speak to my Grandfather. I took his hand and spoke to him not in English but in Hebrew/Yiddish, his eyes looked up to me and he started to give me my Bracha.
He wished me a Gut Gebenched Yor! A good and blessed year, he blessed me that I should have luck and success, I should know no poor health and tragedy, I should spend time surrounded by those I love and G-d should give me peace.
Ruth Westheimer was born in Germany to a Jewish family. As the Nazis came to power, her parents sent the ten-year-old girl to a school in Switzerland for safety, remaining behind themselves because of her elderly grandmother. They were both subsequently sent to concentration camps by the Gestapo, where they were killed. After World War II ended, she immigrated to British-controlled Palestine. Despite being only 4 feet 7 inches (1.39 m) tall and 17 years of age, she joined the Haganah, and was trained as a sniper, but never actually fought. On her 20th birthday, Westheimer was seriously wounded in action by an exploding shell during a mortar fire attack on Jerusalem, and almost lost both of her feet. Moving to Paris, France two years later, she studied psychology. Immigrating to the United States in 1956, she worked as a maid to put herself through graduate school, earned an M.A. degree in sociology in 1959, and earned a doctorate at 42 years of age from, in 1970. Over the next decade, she taught at a number of universities, and had a private therapy practice.
As a young child living under Nazi occupation in Vienna and Hungary during World War II, Rabbi Arthur Schneier saw the atrocities that mankind was capable of committing. He vowed that if he survived he would change the world into one of tolerance, where people of all faiths could coexist under the principle “live and let live.” In 1965 he founded the Appeal of Conscience Foundation and became internationally known for his leadership on behalf of religious freedom, human rights and tolerance.
Rabbi Arthur Schneier received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Clinton for “his service as an international envoy for four administrations and as a Holocaust survivor, devoting a lifetime to overcoming forces of hatred and intolerance” and Department of State Special Recognition Award for “his ecumenical work in favor of mutual understanding, tolerance and peace.” The United States Senate honored him for his half of century of work on behalf of religious freedom and interreligious cooperation.
Pope Francis conferred on Rabbi Arthur Schneier the rare papal knighthood of St. Sylvester for “his unceasing work to promote peace and mutual understanding.”
Since 1962 Rabbi Arthur Schneier has been the Senior Rabbi of the 129-year old historic landmark Park East Synagogue where in 2008 he hosted Pope Benedict XVI, the first Papal visit to a synagogue in the U.S. He has also hosted the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Patriarch Alexey I of Moscow, Metropolitan Kirill I, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Grand Muftis of Central Asia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Secretary General, World Muslim League.
He has served as U.S. Alternate Representative to the U.N. General Assembly, Chairman, U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. Rabbi Arthur Schneier was one of three religious leaders appointed by President Clinton to start the first dialogue on religious freedom with President Jiang Zemin and Chinese leaders. He was appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the High-Level Group UN “Alliance of Civilizations”, and serves as Ambassador of the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations.
Luna Kaufman is an illuminating force in this world. She came from the depths of the deepest, darkest place and somehow came out of it all the with power, faith and deep belief and has worked tirelessly and continues to do so, even at the young age of 90, to tell her story and connect with peoples of all religion and creed.
We all have a lot to learn from Luna, we can learn from her faith, her courage, her optimism more than all what I take away from meeting this remarkable lady, is her love and open heart for all.
Morris was born in Łodz, Poland and with the German Nazi invasion was put into the Łodz Ghetto and from their sent to Auschwitz - Birkenau with his father.
I had the honor to visit Morris in Raleigh, North Carolina last September with the Torah Project, we sat for hours in his home speaking of the old land, hearing stories from his youth in Poland, the horrendous stories he shared from the Holocaust, heard all about his family and his deep love and support for the State of Israel, something that meant everything to him.
Morris wanted to give me a copy of his book "Chosen for Destruction", I asked that he personalize his book, not too me, but to my daughters, as they may not get a chance to hear from him and hear his story, sadly they never will. However, when they reach the age where I will be able to speak to them about all I do, I'll tell them amongst others all about Morris.
Looking back, I think Morris should have named his book, "Chosen for Survival" because that is what he was.
Henry (Yechiel Hacohen) Rosenblatt, a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau we were able to honor last year at the New York City Council.
Holocaust Memorial Day 2017.
It was such a remarkably special evening at the Lincolnwood Jewish Congregation in Chicago.
I had the honor to write 8 additional letters in the Torah scroll we are rewriting in honor of Holocaust Survivors, saved by a Polish shepherd and had the profound honor to spend sometime with Mrs. Margot Schlesinger from Tarnów, Poland, one of the last remaining survivors from Schindler's List, such a beautiful kind lady. (In red in the picture below)
After I'd spoken during another speech Margot turned to me and whispered in my ear "Am Yisrael Chai" "The Jewish People Live", there could be no more poignant words to hear from the lips of a survivor on this solemn and difficult day.