Teaneck— Newspaper and blog readers in Bergen all know Josh Lipwsky’s name from hundreds of articles he’s written in local and regional papers. He is also a young man with a goal and a mission to help Holocaust survivors in need by running the New York City Marathon on Nov. 3 for Team Blue Card. The intent is to raise money for the social service agency that hands out funding to American Holocaust survivors in need of emergency assistance.
Josh was born in New York and grew up in State Park, PA, where his father was a bio-engineer. His parents moved to New York City where they worked at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. His father as chairman of the bio-engineering program and his mother as a pathologist. They moved to Teaneck six years ago. Josh took Judaic studies and journalism courses at Penn State University and wrote for the college newspaper. After graduation he worked in public relations for the Claims Conference in New York, and wrote about The Blue Card for a website. He had worked for Hayom, a Jewish magazine in Pennsylvania. He later became editor of a business on-line publication and then assistant editor of a monthly features magazine. He has since written for The JTA, Chabad, and The Long Island Jewish World. He was also assistant editor of The Jewish Standard, and has returned to graduate school to complete a Masters degree at the Transnational Global Affairs Center at NYU. He will write his thesis on the evolution of the PLO and Fatah. Josh hopes to put his skills to good use in the area of Jewish public policy.
He took up racing after college at the suggestion of a friend and in anticipation of his 10th high school reunion. He ran several 5K and 10K runs with the friend, and has since completed The Rubin Run, The Super Hero Half-Marathon, and The Ridgewood 10K Run. Last year he completed his first marathon and raised $3,500 for his cause. He is looking forward to completing the NYC Marathon through all five boroughs and wants the privilege of being able to say “ I did that!”
His connection to the Holocaust is personal. His father’s Sephardic family came to the states from Kiev, where his father was born. The family had fled from the Ukraine before the Nazis arrived. His grandfather had seven siblings, some of whom survived. Josh now has cousins in Israel, Canada, and Australia.
His mother was born in and grew up in the Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp, where her aunt was liberated. His aunt found her sister after liberation and brought her back to Bergen-Belsen where she met her husband-to-be, Josh’s grandfather. Josh’s grandmother had been single, but his grandfather lost a wife and three children in the Shoah. They came to Brooklyn in 1950 and later moved to Bayonne where his grandparents, Isaac and Dora Edelist, opened a grocery store, and his aunt Ceil opened a dress shop. Josh was in 8th grade when he discovered—at his grandfather’s funeral—what a hero he had been. A fellow survivor disclosed that Isaac had saved his life by feeding him and others from the kitchen where he was assigned to distribute food. This was something his grandfather never told his family. Josh’s mother, Trudy, now speaks about the Shoah at schools. When they arrived in America, Trudy’s family got assistance to help them rebuild their lives from HIAS and the Jewish community. In tribute to his grandparents, Josh feels he should make sure that others get the help that they need.
Blue Card was established in Germany in the 1930s by Jews helping other Jews through the troubled days of the Nazi regime. When they were in no position to help anymore, operations were moved to New York, where thousands of refugees and survivors have been helped ever since. Blue Card now serves a dwindling population, but one whose needs increase with age. Many have no relatives or friends who can help them. Many live below the poverty line and on welfare. Blue Card helps their clients around the U.S. with small emergency stipends for medical care, rent, food, and other basics, and they send holiday food packages. Of the estimated 75,000 survivors in the U.S., one-third live below the federal poverty line. The Blue Card’s average client receives less than $15,000 in total annual income. Blue Card serves 2,000 survivors around the U.S., but has waiting lists of more people who also need help desperately.
Josh believes that we must bring justice to the victims of the Nazis. We must remember that generation and take care of them. They must know that we will not leave them alone in the darkness, but bring some light into their lives.
If you would like to join Josh in helping The Blue Card to help the remaining Holocaust survivors who are in need, please contribute on line at www.iamathlete.com/donate/joshlipowsky or mail a check to Blue Card at 171 Madison Avenue, Suite #1405, NY, NY 10016. Write Josh Lipowsky NYC Marathon on the memo line.
By Stephen Tencer