Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Ma’ayanot commemorated Yom HaShoah with an emphasis on the heroism, courage and legacies of students’ relatives who survived the atrocities of the Holocaust. Students were honored to hear the stories of Henry Schanzer and Dr. Bernard Schanzer, twin brothers, the grandfather and great uncle of sophomore Raimee Schanzer. The brothers’ story of survival was a poignant and emotional reminder that even during the Holocaust there were righteous gentiles who protected Jews on the run. The brothers shared stories of their escape from Belgium and their “new life” of hiding in the South of France, where they lived with Adolphine Dorel and survived the war under her care. The twins formed a strong and affectionate bond with Dorel whom they called La Meme. After the war, the twins were reunited with their mother and sister who survived as well. Together they moved to the U.S. and settled on the Lower East Side. Their mother worked hard to rebuild their family and always stressed the importance of education. Henry became a lawyer and Bernard, a doctor. Today, their grandchildren carry their legacy and their values and it was inspiring to hear their faith and courage first hand!

The Yom HaShoah program was sponsored by Dr. Allen Schick, close family friend of Ayelet and Yaron Hirschkorn and Yaakov and Yael Kramer, in memory of Dr. Yaakov Grun, z”l, father of Mrs. Hirschkorn and Mrs. Kramer, grandfather of Maayan (‘19) and Meital (‘22) Hirschkorn and Ayala Kramer (‘24). Meital and Ayala introduced the program sharing a few words about their grandfather, Saba Yitzchak Yaakov Yechiel ben Binyamin, z”l, who was born in Krakow shortly after the war. His family was one of very few Jews who remained in Poland after the war, choosing the familiar instead of fleeing to the unknown. Unlike most Jews in post-Holocaust Krakow, Grun’s family was relatively well off and they used what they had to support other Polish Jews. Grun and his parents immigrated to New York in 1963. As a child of Holocaust survivors, it was important for Grun to ensure that his parents’ story of survival as well as the rebirth of Jewish life in Krakow was shared with the world. In Yom HaShoah lectures, he recounted how Oskar Schindler saved his mother’s life and how his father hid under a peasant family’s floor. In the 1990’s and 2000’s Saba Yaakov successfully reclaimed properties that his family owned, confiscated by the Polish government, and often travelled to Krakow to return what was once lost. May his memory be a blessing and may his legacy continue.