Ma’ayanot was honored to host Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, in conversation with Head of School Mrs. CB Neugroschl, for a moving and inspirational program, “Service and Sacrifice: In commemoration of Kristallnacht and in honor of all U.S. Military Veterans.” Rabbi Schacter, university professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought and senior scholar at the Center for the Jewish Future at Yeshiva University, father of Ma’ayanot faculty member Dr. Leah Knapp, and grandfather of alumna Esti Knapp (‘17), is uniquely suited to help commemorate both the horrors of the Holocaust and the service of U.S. Veterans. Rabbi Schacter is the son of Rabbi Herschel Schacter z”l, a U.S. Army Chaplain who entered Buchenwald shortly after its liberation, and who spent the next several months serving the survivors there, including a young Rav Yisrael Meir Lau.
In addition to student-prepared commemorations and student-led tefillot, Ma’ayanot students heard Rabbi Herschel Schacter’s recorded testimony as well as Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter’s firsthand recollections of his father’s decision to leave a comfortable rabbinic post to enlist in the army in order to serve U.S. soldiers and Holocaust survivors. Rabbi Schacter also explained his work for Operation Benjamin, an organization devoted to correcting the burial markers of Jewish soldiers in World War II cemeteries who were mistakenly buried under the wrong religious marker. For each facet of his presentation, Rabbi Schacter emphasized a message for students today: that each individual can make a difference; that one must step up to take responsibility to fight injustice; that one must always feel and express hakarat hatov. “Students loved that the messages were tailored and directed to them,” said Director of Guidance Dr. Rayzel Yaish. Sophomore Tova Rosenfeld explained, “It was inspiring to hear from someone who linked the two commemorations, of Kristallnacht and U.S. Veterans’ service, so meaningfully and powerfully.”