The Reich Hebrew Academy Event At My House

Last night, we hosted an event at my house to share what we have learned on our recent trip to Israel and the plight of the Jewish people, what we are doing to combat antisemitism, and kick off “The Path to the Future” fundraising for The Reich Hebrew Academy.

We were joined by good friends including Emily Austin and Joe Teplow who shared their experiences over the past few months.

The full speech I gave is below.

If you’d like to help make this a reality, please donate here.

**** The speech ****

I’ve spent most of the months since October 7th, learning, engaging, and assessing for my own eyes, what’s really going on and where we go from here.

I helped organize one of the first screenings of the October 7th footage in New York City outside of the UN. We got permission to do this from the Israeli government because they believed, as we did, that if we positioned a video of massacres against “humans” instead of Jews, it wouldn’t be so political and would get more viewership. Leandro is here with us. He helped coordinate that viewing. 

I went to Israel to bear witness, see the site of the massacres, meet with family members of the deceased and hostages, and help rebuild Kibbutz Reim, which is where the Nova festival was. With IDF artillery firing off every fifteen minutes or so, and only a few kilometers from the Gaza border, we met up with 4 childhood friends from the Kibbutz to take on a rebuilding effort. The goal was to build a communal wine center to catalyze community and get people back south. It was actually the first time since 10/7 that people moved back home. I remember a young mother pushing her stroller with her baby in it, with either side of the street made up of burnt, bullet-ridden, homes. Some of which were used by Hamas to rape some of the women from Nova, right before Hamas killed them. That was probably the first stroller at the kibbutz since October 7th. One of the friends they were doing this for, the rebuilding effort, was the 5th friend of the group. They thought he was being held hostage the whole time and believed like many of us, with enough pressure and advocacy, we could get him and other hostages home. Well, just two weeks ago we learned that he wasn’t held hostage but was murdered on the seventh. It’s just taken months to identify him. Can you imagine what must be done to a person so that it becomes impossible to identify them for months? Dolev leaves behind his wife Segal and four children. My friend Josh, who is with us today, is going back to Dolev’s Kibbutz in a few weeks to continue the revitalization efforts with Dolev’s friends and family.

I’ve met with leaders here in the US, like the CEO of the ADL, Hillel International, my fellow board members at UW-Hillel Wisconsin, and the new incoming CEO of AIPAC to understand in greater detail some of the domestic issues we are having. None of this will surprise you. Hate crimes have increased by over 500% since October 7th. If you’ve paid any attention to social media or the congressional hearings at all you’ll see with your own eyes the assault Jewish college kids are under, especially at Ivy League compasses when “context” is required to figure out if genocide against Jews is acceptable or not. Could you imagine being in school as one of these students right now? If I told you “the era of extreme Jewish intellectualism is now at an end” you wouldn’t be able to tell me if that was a history teacher at Harvard or Colombia or Joseph Goebbels in 1933 in Berlin’s Opera Square. Hint, it was not the teachers.

And in two days, I’ll be heading back to Israel on a delegation to meet with President Herzog and members of Knesset in Jerusalem. On my way there, I’ll be checking a bag on the plane with 4 drones and giving them to an IDF soldier upon arrival so they can increase their eyes and ears in the north in preparation for what will likely be another front against Hezbollah. And by the way, two days ago operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon were approved and validated by the IDF generals. 

These are just a few things I’ve been a part of but I just share this to give you a sense of the recent perspective I have.

Of everything though, there was one moment that still reverberates loudest in my mind. It’s part of the reason you are all here today.

On our trip to Israel, we met with Ari Shavit at a VC’s office in Tel Aviv. Ari is an Israeli reporter and writer. He was a senior correspondent at the left-of-center Israeli newspaper Haaretz is the author of the 2013 New York Times Best Seller My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel. He was describing his view on the war and the four parts or phases going on now. 

In the first phase, which the entire world is fixated on, we see the war between Israel vs. Hamas. This is the loudest flashpoint and the one that most easily personifies the David vs Goliath where the almighty Israel, far outpowers the tiny and incapable Palestinian people. 

In the second phase, one that gets much less attention is the broader conflict. It’s not just Israel vs Hamas, but Israel and the West vs Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Yemen, with all of them firing rockets into Israel. And if there was ever any doubt of Iran’s involvement, we all saw it with our own eyes on the evening of April 13th when Iran launched a drone and missile attack on Israel consisting of over 200 rockets and drones.

Even now, there are over 100,000 people from northern Israel who are displaced from their homes due to the ongoing assault by Hezbollah in the north.

And even worse, in the third phase, we see that we are in a new Cold War between Israel, US, Ukraine, Taiwan on one side and Russia, Iran, and China on the other side. And if you’re not sure these things are connected just think, Iran has been providing drones to Russia while the US is providing drones to Ukraine. And just two weeks ago China launched military drills around Taiwan. Taiwan, the place responsible for the majority of the world’s precision chips used for precision weapons, at a time when the world’s greatest superpowers are quickly depleting their stockpiles in Ukraine and the Middle East. These things are all connected and the hot wars are indeed getting hotter. 

And then there is the fourth phase. The most important phase. The ideological information war and its most important target: America.

Sinwars aim is to make Israel another South Vietnam. For anyone who remembers that time, you may recall that the way the guerrilla warriors won the Vietnam War was not through rice fields but through the American public. It was the visual carnage that swayed political decisions much like how we see dead babies and demolished buildings in Gaza all over media. I get it. It’s painful to look at. Even for me, a Jewish, first responder, who knows exactly what’s happening, it’s still horrible to look at.

But the thing that left me the greatest impression is this..

Ari said,..

“I’m not afraid of losing the war in Gaza. But I am afraid of losing the war in Boston.”

And I thought, and knew, but didn’t say.. 

We are losing… 

In Boston, in California, in New York, in London..in New Jersey. 

If you spend any time on social media or on media in general, it’s easy to feel this way. 

The protests, the hate crimes, the congressional hearings. 

Two weeks ago right here in New Brunswick, a Jewish group of students were omitted from a NJ school yearbook photo, replaced with Muslim students. Could you imagine the outrage if that happened to black kids? Asian kids? Gay kids?

And sticking with New Jersey for another moment..

In April, Students at Rutgers voted overwhelmingly to call on the administration to divest from companies and organizations that do business in Israel and to end a partnership with Tel Aviv University. With 8,000 students out of the 44,000 enrolled at Rutgers’ New Brunswick campus voting, 80% of participating students said the university should “divest its endowment fund from companies and organizations that profit from, engage in, or contribute to the government of Israel’s human rights violations.” 

On a separate question, 77% of students called for the termination of the partnership with Tel Aviv University, including in the New Jersey Innovation and Technology Hub,” a planned, future educational and research collaboration project that Rutgers and Tel Aviv University entered into in 2021.

I could go on, but these are just two of many examples of the assault on our schools. 

You’ve all seen instances like this and more. 

Today. In the United States of America. In 2024.

And this was not by accident. 

This hot war in the Middle East has been in the works for years, with an information war taking place right beneath our feet, hiding in plain sight and is the set up for what we are seeing now. It’s been taking place for decades and is still happening now. 

Did you know for over a decade, American universities have been the recipients of financial gifts from special interest groups? Here are just a few of my favorites:

Since 2012:

  • The Palestinian Authority has given over $1 million to American Universities
  • Syria: $1.3mm 
  • Pakistan: $6.4mm
  • Lebanon: $21mm
  • Iraq: $45mm
  • Russia: $141mm
  • Saudi Arabia: $1.5 billion
  • China: $1.7 billion

And my favorite, Qatar, the place that Hamas leadership calls home and lives comfortably while dictating orders to Sinwar and Hamas in Gaza, $3.2 billion.

In the last 9 Years, US Universities Accepted Gifts totaling $19 Billion From Authoritarian Countries like these including, of course, Qatar, China, Saudi Arabia.

And when you mix in state-owned and operated technology platforms like TikTok, yes, it is state owned by China and it is being manipulated by China, you have the perfect storm and tailwinds for an all-out information war against our youth and Western society as a whole.

Our adversaries know this. 

The battle for hearts and minds is the most important aspect of this war and any war throughout history. It’s why the Nazis had the role of “chief propaganda officer” with Goebbels, and why the term “Pallywood” makes its rounds on social media.  Our enemies know that if they can brainwash the youth, in just a few years time, they will be our doctors, or lawyers, our police officers, and our elected officials. 

Actually, I was with the new CEO of AIPAC yesterday and he corrected me. He said it’s worse. Not just a few years but things could be much worse as soon as next year given the escalation in political battlegrounds with candidates far worse than Ilan Ohmer or AOC. 

And if you don’t believe me, consider that my friend Lenny Wilf just last week told me that his father, a holocaust survivor, would always say..

In 1929, the best place in the world for Jews was Germany.

Or Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL told me, his father-in-law lived the greatest, most prosperous life until he had to flee…Iran.

“It could happen here.” That’s the title of Jonathan’s book. And he’s right.

But there is good news.

And there is a path forward..

Information, education, and truth is the best disinfectant against lies and it’s the best way to bring light into the darkness.

We know how to do that. We know how to educate. And we know how to turn education into world-changing moments and milestones.

As of 2023, at least 214 Jews or people with at least one Jewish parent have won the Nobel Prize or the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, representing 22% of all recipients. This is despite Jews making up only 0.2% of the world’s population. In simple terms, the Jewish share of winners is 110 times greater than their proportion of the world’s population.

Or, consider the economic growth that has come out of the tiny jewish State of Israel. Israel ranks #7 in the world for creating the most unicorns or billion-dollar plus companies, has more than 100 companies listed on US exchanges, with a combined market cap of more than $150 billion, and has the fourth most companies listed on the Nasdaq after the United States, Canada, and China. There is a reason Israel is called the Startup Nation.

Or lastly, let us consider one more example in another moment in time. In 1852, New York City, Jews faced discrimination and were often not welcomed at hospitals. Jewish philanthropists got together and founded Mount Sinai, as a safe haven and medical facility for their community. Today, Mount Sinai is one of the leading healthcare institutions in the world, serving all citizens, of all religions, ethnicities and backgrounds. It’s is a shining example of “Tikkun Olam” and a playbook for building institutions that simply make the world a better place while simultaneously taking care of our own.

It’s this ethos that has allowed me to host all of you here, in this wonderful home.

Because being educated, being ethical, being moral, and being good, is how we as Jews have thrived, and more importantly, it is how we’ve survived. 

And so I’ll leave you with a quote from Mark Twain, who attempted to figure this out in 1897, well before modern-day Israel existed.

He said..

“If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one quarter of one percent of the human race.  It suggests a nebulous puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way.  Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of.  He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk.

His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine and abstruse learning are also very out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers.  He has made a marvelous fight in this world in all ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself and be excused for it.  The Egyptians, the Babylonians and the Persians rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greeks and Romans followed and made a vast noise, and they were gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, and have vanished.

The Jew saw them all, survived them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert but aggressive mind.  All things are mortal but the Jews; all other forces pass, but he remains.  What is the secret of his immortality? “

Well, I’ll tell you that secret…

When our enemies teach their kids to praise death, we teach our kids to praise life. And to live good, educated, loving, fulfilling lives. That’s what The Hebrew Academy has done for me, continues to do for others, and hopefully with your help, will continue to do for years to come.

Together, we can and we must continue to invest deeply in the next generation to ensure our collective legacy and story carries on.

Ldor v’dor.

From generation to generation.

That’s the secret.

Thank you

And here is the original announcement of the new school.

If you’d like to help make this a reality, please donate here.

Yom Hashoa, 2024

Today is Yom Hashoah, which in English is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Many stories from the time mirror the ones we witnessed on October 7th.

Like this one…

1939, one fall Sunday morning, Nazis showed up out of nowhere and decided to round up a bunch of Jews. Twelve people were rounded up and were forced to march five miles to their schul (temple), dig a ditch, and then were executed point blank.

Only one of the twelve survived. It was my grandfather.

My grandfather, Samuel Reich. Top, middle, right


He decided to run out of the death march assembly line and hide for several hours.

2023, another fall morning, Jews were found running once again for their lives, with many being raped, tortured and executed. Arguably worse than what the Nazis did given Hamas’ sheer joy and glee in doing so.

October 7, 2023 – People running away from Hamas terrorists at the Nova festival.

We’ll see Holocaust denial and people trying to relate the holocaust to Gaza, or Israelis to Nazis. Of course, they will. They so desperately wish to be the victim and can’t comprehend how Jews survived the Holocaust and just a few decades later are simultaneously 0.2% of the world’s population yet, overperformers in terms of productivity and contributions to the world. This paradox shortcircuits their brains.

Hate, jealousy, and scapegoating are real and more alive than ever before.

So today, just take a pause and remember…

Never again is now.

The Reich Hebrew Academy

This week, my family and I were honored by my childhood school for the work we’ve done over the years to give back to the school and to the community.

I gave a speech and made another commitment.

Both are below…

**** The speech ****

Next week is Passover. 

It’s a time in the Jewish tradition when we talk about how we escaped bondage, oppression, and persecution and were freed from slavery in Egypt. 

Growing up every year, when my grandparents were around, we would go to their house for this holiday. I would sit next to my grandfather at the head of the table, watching him tell the story about how, we, as Jews, were freed from slavery. 

As some of you may know, my grandparents were Holocaust survivors. And like the Jews from Egypt, my grandparents managed to survive their own Pharoah and discover freedom on a small farm in Toms River, New Jersey. 

To sit next to my grandfather, and listen to him talk about Jews being persecuted and freed, thousands of years ago, was quite surreal to me.

Even in my eulogy about him, I remember remarking about how these moments felt like a window into the past, through his eyes and his narration of the Sedar, with his Yiddish accent.

At a young age, I could appreciate this relationship between Passover and the Holocaust. The Hebrew Academy certainly had a role to play in helping me understand these chapters of our past.

But I remember one year in particular.

I was sitting at the head of the table and my grandfather had a few more cups of wine than usual.

Out of nowhere, for the very first time in my life, he began to tell me stories about his experiences during the Holocaust. 

These weren’t stories about the six million Jews. 

These were stories about Sam. About his friends. About his siblings. About his parents. About his family. 

About my family. 

One story he told me was about the time when he was a prisoner of war, he went without eating his bread rations for a week, so he could sell those rations to enemy soldiers and bribe his way out of the camp to work as a carpenter, which he was not. 

You could imagine the irony of listening to him tell me about the importance of bread and how it saved his life while starting at a matzah plate in the middle of the Sedar table.

These stories, and others like it that night were the first time that I really internalized the fact that he lost everything, yet, we were here.  

We were free. 

With everything. 

We had opportunities he never had. 

We have opportunities 6 million people, and their children and their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren never had. 

This is something I think about every single day of my life. 

בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת עַצְמוֹ כְּאִלוּ הוּא יֶָָצֶָא מִמִּצְרַָים

“In every generation, every individual must feel as if he personally had come out of Egypt”

This visceral understanding gives me perspective and encourages me to make the most of this gift that each one of us has. 

The gift of life.

Back at the Passover table, and after he shared his war stories, he then proceeded to give his young grandson some life lessons. 

They were simple.

Work hard and go to school. Get a good education.

I think he understood that our kids are our future and that his kids and grandkids were his future. 

I think he also understood how education played a central role in it all, especially when he himself was not able to pursue it due to the war. 

This is something, as a parent myself, I now really understand but more importantly, it’s something I feel and connect with every time I look at my own kids, Michaela and Brayden. 

It’s something my parents understood too when they sent me to school at The Hebrew Academy.

My grandparents and parents knew that if that little boy at the Sedar table worked hard in life and got a good education, he might be ok. And maybe, just maybe, he could help pay it forward and do the same for his family and for others.

And here we are. 

I’ve worked hard, had a great upbringing thanks to my parents and The Hebrew Academy, had a little success and a lot of luck, and now recognize that it’s my turn to help ensure our Jewish family carries on for future generations. 

That is why, tonight, I am excited to honor the memory of my grandparents, Sam and Betty, by rededicating my childhood school, formerly the Solomon Schechter Day School and currently The Hebrew Academy. 

Moving forward, it will forever be known as “The Reich Hebrew Academy”

I can truly think of no better way to express my love and appreciation for my grandparents and their legacy.

Today more than ever, this is especially important with the backdrop of what’s happening in Ukraine. Once again, people are fleeing Europe to save their lives as my grandparents did from their small towns in Poland years ago, which are now part of Ukraine.

This commitment ensures that my generation and future generations will be afforded the same opportunities that were afforded to me. Opportunities that were not afforded to my grandparents and millions of others. 

So here’s my ask to all of you…

Please consider joining me and my family, Joe and Maxine Macnow, and recent others like David and Vanessa Wise, Randy and Laurie Pearlman, in stepping up in a big way and helping ensure this school gets built. 

Joe, Maxine, and Yoti told me they had a dream about this project. As an entrepreneur, I too love to live in the clouds and try to invent the future.

And their dream is an amazing one where the past present and future exist concurrently. It’s an exciting vision and we would not be here without them.

Joe, Maxine, Yoti, thank you. 

So please, help us make it a reality and help us ensure the path to the future is secured for our kids and future generations.

And now, I’d like to introduce you to the funnier, better-looking Reich, my brother Jeremy. 

Thank you.

My Grandfather’s Last Birthday

My grandfather recently turned 96ish…and that will be the last birthday he ever has.

This morning he passed away.

But the days leading up to this morning he was able to spend time with his 3 children, 8 grandkids, cousins, oldest friends from Europe and newer friends from America.

That’s what mattered most to him. Family and friends.

And he worked hard for it.

After the Holocaust and before his immigration to America, he moved back to Munich, Germany and opened a textile store. He sourced fabrics from all over the world and sold them to people looking to make dresses and suits.

He hung out with a couple of guys over there who were also hustling trying to make a buck and rebuild their life. Eventually, they decided to come to America and leave the dark memories from Europe behind. They landed on the Jersey shores. In Toms River to be exact.

He started a farm because my grandmother thought that producing food and raising chickens was a good endeavor. After all, they just escaped Nazi brutality and had to steal, beg and borrow to survive. So food made sense. So did eggs. He would get up at four in the morning to drive his egg route to NYC all the way from Toms River… which is easily a two-hour drive each way.

He did that every day.

Exhausted, every day.

Startup life in the 50’s I suppose.

But he did it for his family.

Shortly thereafter, his pals from Munich told him to join them in the building industry. Given the way the farming and building industries were going, it was an easy decision.

And so build he did.

He built his house and the homes of many others. If you live in NJ, chances are you’ve driven by something he’s been a part of.

And so when I say he came here after the war to “rebuild” his life, I mean it. He literally built.

And the thing he is most proud of is the family he built.

“Make sure the family stays together,” he said.

He might have lost everything as a kid. But in the end, he gained more than most could ever hope for.

And that was my grandfather, Sam.

He was a survivor.

He was a builder.

A 96ish year old builder who built the best home of all.

His home.

My grandfather recently turned 96ish.

My grandfather recently turned 96ish. I say 96ish because he doesn’t really remember his age.

When he was a teenager he had to flee Poland from the German invasion. That was only after he narrowly escaped a Nazi firing squad.

He did escape and obtained a fake identity to fight on the Russian front. That was his only way to survive and survive he did.

But shortly thereafter he was captured by German allies, held as a POW and forced to take on a fake identity. He lied about his name and his age while struggling to stay alive under impossible conditions. That was his only way to survive and once again, survive he did.

He came to America with very little but he rebuilt his life and started a family. A family that is able to celebrate his birthdays with him even if he doesn’t remember his age.

So ya, my grandfather recently turned 96ish.

His 5 or so brothers never made it past 20 years old.

6 million others didn’t make it all.

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

For me, that is every day.

I’m sure for my grandparents, and many others, that is every day too.


The Pain In My Throat

There were at least 30 of them just standing there, listening to the tour guide talk about the room they were about to walk into.

Some of them looked between 60 and 70. Some of them looked much older. All of them however were speaking very heavy German. I’ve been to Germany before but this was a sort of different German. It was the type of old, rustic, 2 generations ago German that I’ve only heard a few times in my life. One time when my grandparents said a few words in the language and another time when I was visiting Frankfurt Germany for the 2006 world cup.

This group was about to walk into the room that I had just left. A room that left me with a sharp pain in my throat and no matter how many times I would go back into this room, I knew that sharp pain would always come back.

Auschwitz. Dachau. Treblinka. Birkenau. Bergen Belsen.

These were some of the names of the death camps that Nazi Germany built and used to kill over 6 million Jews, many of which were my relatives.

(I don’t know if the picture above are actual relatives of mine, but with the same last name they must have been related to me at some point in time, right?)

The names of these camps were also engraved on the floor of this remembrance hall. It was a special room of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, Israel.

As I walk out of this remembrance hall, I can hear the elderly group very softly asking the tour guide questions in German. It was refreshing to see a group like this visiting the museum in hopes of learning more about those horrible years. Inquisitively asking questions. Looking upon their tour guide and consuming every word as if they wanted to imagine what it would be like to actually be there.

..actually be there..

They were probably about the same age as my grandparents both of which are holocaust survivors.

And that’s when I stopped to turn around.

Then my brain started to fire off questions..

Were they Nazi soldiers?
Did they help the Nazis?
Were they civilians?
What did the see?
What did they hear?
What did they do?
What didn’t they do?

These questions kept bouncing around in my mind. I walked away and concluded that they were probably just innocent bystanders of the war having little or no involvement.

And that is precisely the moment when I felt the worst.

How is anyone innocent when they silently stand by while pure evil or injustice is happening around them? How is anyone innocent when people are packed in to cattle cars only to be shipped off to death camps?

And that brings me to today.

Our world is fucked up. Although we think the world is a better place, which it is, there is still a lot of hate and injustice floating among us. Bullying, antisemitism, racial stereotyping. Even at a lesser degree we see injustice happening in places like work, school, and politics.

And yet many of us including myself sit by and do nothing.

Today we have Facebook, Twitter, blogs (like this one), and it is extremely easy, physically speaking, to take a position and speak out against something you disagree with even if it is only 140 characters long. This is happening all over the world today. It is the cause of new revolutions and uprisings from places like the middle east to places like China. This past week alone we saw a 14 year old girl stand up to Al Queda using her blog.

During the Holocaust there wasn’t an easy way to share information and stand up for something at a large scale. There were many German civilians, and even Jews, that stood by and did nothing.

Seventy years later there are German citizens who are donating their entire estates to Israel due to the guilt that went along with their actions or inactions. Seventy years later I witnessed firsthand the guilt that went along with those actions or inactions.

If we see injustice happening we should use the means around us to take a stand.

Standing up for something today is much better than standing over a memorial tomorrow.

The Day I Escaped Death

I’m rounded up with 12 others and we’re being escorted to a church. The others are quite. They don’t know why they were just abducted from their daily routine and I don’t know either. It looked like some were only on their way to the market and some were on their way to school, like me. I’m only 15. What could they possible want from me? The soldiers are bringing us to a church on the other side of town, but what for? It wasn’t too long ago that they occupied our town and disrupted our lives. I don’t understand. Why are we going to a church? Something is off. This doesn’t seem right. I need to get out of here. I need to run. I must run. I have to run NOW.

I take off in a sprint and I know the soldiers are running after me. Chasing me. Hoping they can round me up and bring me back with the others.  I don’t look back though because I’m afraid it will slow me down. I keep running. I make my way back to the center of town and look for a place to hide but I’m not really sure where to go. I need to get off of the streets. I need to be inside. Houses!

I start knocking on the doors of the locals. The first house is white with a red door. I hear people inside but they won’t let me in. I move on to the next house. They open the door at least but also won’t let me in. House after house I’m rejected. Is it because of my age? My clothes? There is still nowhere to hide until finally someone welcomes me into their home. I can see the fear on their face though. Their mild reluctance to let me in. Their hesitation. How could they not be afraid? I’m out of breath and desperate for a place to hide. I would fight them right now if they won’t let me in, but they do. They finally let me in and I sit on the floor to catch my breath.

Hours go by. I haven’t returned home from school and my family must be worried. They don’t know where I am but I can’t go home. I can’t leave yet because it’s too dangerous. I must stay here for the night at least until the soldiers have given up on my search. If they are even searching for me at all. Yes, I need to stay here and I’ll go home in the morning.

When the sun rises I know its safe to make my way back home but I’m compelled to go back to the church first. I need to see what they wanted from us and what awaited for us at the church.


The earth is bright red and there is a giant, fresh mound of dirt. I have never seen anything like this before. A mass grave.  I was just with these people. I was one of these people.

I feel sick. Confused. Lucky.

I run again, but this time I run home and when I get there I know my life will never be the same.

It’s 1940. Germany has invaded our small town in Poland I’m terrified of what will be next….

Yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance day and this story is one of many my grandfather has from the Holocaust. There is one saying that all holocaust survivors and family members have engrained in their DNA and that saying is “never forget.”  I know I will never, ever forget.

The Last Jew of Vinnytsia
The Last Jew of Vinnytsia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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