April 17, 2024
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Holocaust Survivor Michael Epstein Addresses Yavneh Students


Yavneh Academy was privileged to welcome Michael Epstein, accompanied by his daughter Deena Jarashow, to Yavneh. Epstein, a Holocaust survivor, volunteered to be part of the YavnehConnects program. YavnehConnects, is a special program where eighth grade students are given the opportunity to interview Holocaust survivors, or their family members. After the interview, the students create a slideshow to honor the stories they were told. Each presentation will also include a narration of the story. The final product will be showcased at Yavneh Academy’s Holocaust Program on March 23.

Epstein met with eighth grader Lila Montag and shared stories and pictures from his life before, during, and during the war. Epstein also spoke to Yavneh Academy’s seventh grade classes. They learned about his life in Poland, his family’s escape to Siberia and Uzbekistan and his postwar life in a Displaced Person’s camp (where he celebrated his bar mitzvah). He then described his journey to America and the life he was able to build here. Everyone was amazed to hear about his work as an aerospace engineer on NASA programs. His career included working on navigation systems that were used to guide boosters and the electronics that controlled the solid rocket boosters of the space shuttle. He was most proud to show students pictures of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Epstein has spoken at a number of schools and related an amazing occurrence. Recently he had spoken at another school and showed a picture he had of himself at the Displaced Person’s camp, Feldafing. After the presentation someone approached him and told him he recognized that picture. Another survivor had shown the students the same image. Through happenstance and a little luck, Epstein and the other man in the picture were able to connect. They plan to meet soon.

Epstein represents four generations of Yavneh. His son-in-law, Daniel Jarashow attended Yavneh Academy in Paterson. The Jarashow children, including Yaffa Moerdler, are all Yavneh graduates. Moerdler’s son, Alexander is currently a Yavneh pre-k student. After Epstein met with the seventh graders, the family enjoyed a multi-generational special visit with Alexander.

The morning was filled with many special moments and everyone learned a great deal. Most poignantly was the way Epstein ended his presentation. He left those gathered with a beautiful message. “God has been good to us.” He said, “I can’t complain.

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