Archive for the 'Lodz' Category


Yom HaSho’a – Holocaust Remembrance Day

I am the son of Holocaust survivors. Prior to WWII, my parents were a successful young middle class couple with a seemingly bright future ahead in Lodz (Poland). My father was a department manager at the Ettingon Brothers textile dye manufacturing plant in town and my mother was a nurse at the Jewish hospital. In 1939, as the Nazi troops marched into town, their world was plunged into darkness and horror. The Germans tore my then 3 year old brother Yitzchok ben Yaakov (alav haShalom), from my mother’s arms and I never got to know him.

By courtesy of the same murderers – and their collaborators – I never was held by any of my grandparents, nor any of my uncles, nor any of my aunts, for neither was I to see them alive. The blood of innocent Jews has not fully dried up on European soil, yet – for the last seven decades since the war ended – there are those those who vehemently deny the stark historical truth, while survivors are still around, while Germany’s own archives record the persecution, enslavement and murders…

Yesterday, the 27th of April, was the sad anniversary of the massacre of those whose only crime was to have been born Jewish in a Europe that thirsted for a hated scapegoat, in a Europe where – in spite of a number of courageous gentiles who endangered themselves and their families to hide and save Jews – prejudice, ignorance and greed melded into one simple cause: Annihilate the Jew!

At around noontime, this past Sunday, the annual Holocaust Observance Day was held in front of the Iranian Mission to the UN on 3rd Avenue in Manhattan’s East Side.

Jeffrey S. Weisenfeld, opened the proceedings, as he introduced the various speakers…


Malcolm Hoenlein

Jeffrey S. Weisenfeld

Speakers included, members of a Russian Jewish organization of survivors, elected politicians, community leaders, rabbis and more. While almost everyone spoke eloquently and from the heart, two of them really stood out:

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Rabbi Weiss (with whose religious hashkafot I hardly agree), spoke eloquently and forcefully about the existential danger to Israel (and Jews in general!) that Iran’s current regime represents. He reminded us that in 1994, Hezbollah (Iran’s Lebanese puppet) was directly responsible for blowing up the Buenos Aires Jewish Center (AMIA), killing 87 and wounding 100, two years after Islamic Jihad claimed credit for bombing the Israeli Embassy (in the same city) killing 29 and wounding 250.

For the record, in October 2006 Argentinian prosecutors Alberto Nisman and Marcelo Martínez Burgos formally accused top officials within the government of Iran with orchestrating the bombing and Hezbollah for carrying it out. Their indictment stated that the decision to approve the bombing was ultimately made by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but other senior government members were also part of the discussion, including then-President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahijan and National Security Council Secretary Hassan Rouhani (Iran’s current charming, smooth-talking-terrorist President!).

Meanwhile, diagonally across the street, Iran’s supporters had their own counter rally… A small group comprised of individuals dressed like ultra-Orthodox learned Rabbis (some were even holding talmud tractates, which they – at times – would glance into), a group – who – in reality, is nothing more than the erev rav – a fifth column; a group made up of individuals who long ago forfeited their Jewish souls as they sold themselves to that putrid Iranian little maggot – Mahmoud Ahmedinajad – in exchange for funding for their organization (Neturei Karta). There are many videos, many photos online of these guys hugging, kissing, and cavorting with the Iranian murderer of his own people (did we forget already?!?). Yes, Ahmedinajad, the very one who – as a university student – was part of the mob that stormed the American Embassy in Teheran and held American diplomats captive while humiliating them daily for 444 days (i.e. Notice, in the video, who sits directly to the right of Ahmedinajad and see the photo below…

Rabbi Beck, leader of Neturei Karta USA, and part of his group with one of them proudly waving the Iranian flag...

Rabbi Beck, leader of Neturei Karta USA, and part of his group as one of them proudly waves the Iranian flag…

As I crossed the street to photograph their infamy, one of them screamed out at me: “The Zionists killed 6 million Germans and 6 million Jews.” I’ll let you, gentle reader, draw your own conclusions about such a statement and the one who uttered it…

Rabbi Weiss compared the Neturei Karta to the Jewish kappos (Jews who – in order to save their own lives, in the concentration camps – collaborated with the Nazis, sometimes ruthlessly), for their support of Iran, their support of Hamas and Yasser Arafat (while he was alive) and the prayers on behalf of the arch terrorist as he lay dying of AIDS in a sanatorium in France. He concluded his speech by leading the audience in stirring renditions of Shlomo Carlebach‘s (Z”L) Am Yisroel Chai and Od Avinu Chai.

He was followed by an even more electrifying speaker…

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Rabbi Boteach just came back from a week in Rwanda, where he was a guest of President Paul Kagame during the commemorations of the bloody massacre that took place there during the infamous Rwandan civil war. He too spoke of the existential danger to Israel, the Jews and the US, if the Ayatollahs are allowed to build a nuclear arsenal. He disagreed however with Rabbi Weiss‘ equating the kappos with Neturei Karta. However ruthless the kappos‘ behaviour may have been, they had no choice, Rabbi Boteach said, for they feared for their lives! The Neturei Karta who claim to be devout Jews, who claim strict adherence to the Torah and Hakodosh Boruch Hu‘s everlasting law, do have a choice yet they openly and proudly collaborate with our enemies for the sake of a handout…



My Uncle Henry…

Yesterday, the 17th of Iyar, was the shloshim of the ptirah of my mother’s baby brother – Henry Moss (Yechiel Leib ben Nochum, a”h) from Richmond, VA. He was niftar 6 months short of his 101st birthday. He had always said that all he wanted was to live to be a 100, his wish was certainly granted! He passed on the evening of March 28, at the onset of the second day of chol hamo’ed Pessach (18th of Nissan).

Henry Moss, a Holocaust survivor, left behind neither a wife nor children. I, his nephew, and my children and grandchildren are his only relatives left.

Yechiel Leib ben Nochum Moszkowicz - Henry Moss a"h Photo courtesy of the Virginia Holocaust Museum.

Yechiel Leib ben Nochum Moszkowicz – Henry Moss, a”h
Photo courtesy of the Virginia Holocaust Museum.

Before WWII, he managed the family’s successful sweater factory in Lodz, Poland. Ten days before his wedding day, his intended was shot point blank by a Nazi murderer in front of his eyes. Since then, though popular, he never found another; no one ever measured up to the girl he had grown up with as neighbors in their native Stopnica. Always cheerful in company, he would have nightmares every night. He relived  the scenes of the shooting, of the concentration camps, of the slave labor, of the beatings… He never got over what he lost, but through it all he showed a remarkable will to live, never allowing his spirit to break, never giving in to the murderers without. That was his revenge!

YchMoss2Shortly before Hanukka 2006, as he was working in his bedroom, a heavy bookshelf somehow fell on him. For three days, he was under it, unable to move. When they finally found him he was rushed to the Medical College of Virginia Hospital. My sons and I came down as soon as we were contacted, we arrived at around 4:30am and immediately went to his hospital bed. He woke up shortly after, he saw us and smiled; against medical expectation he recovered enough after a couple of weeks where he could go to a rehab home. Before leaving they inserted a feeding tube, since he had lost the ability to swallow, he was told it was only a temporary measure but the doctor told me that he would need it for the rest of his life. The learned physician, who had had already performed over 15,000 such insertions, underestimated my uncle. Three months later the tube was removed, because Henry Moss loved life, and would not admit defeat!

The day before he left the hospital, one of his doctors called me outside of the room and said: “When he came in, he was unconscious, had suffered a minor heart attack, had not eaten for three days, was so swollen we had to cut his clothes off. We never expected him to survive.” My uncle, had obviously overheard and chimed in, “Come on doctor, the Nazis couldn’t finish me! You think a piece of wood would do the job?”

Since the ’60s he blew the shofar, at his congregation and – in his last years – at the assisted living home where he lived until a few months ago  (when he switched to a new place). Last year, mere weeks before his hundredth birthday (although the Rabbi originally had misgivings because of his age), he did so again, leaving no one in attendance at the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services, with a dry eye. I was told, his tekiyos managed to reach the deepest recesses of the heart, as everyone felt the sounds reverberate within them.

The Richmond Times Dispatch (April 2, 2013 issue) devoted a half page to uncle Henry, recounting some events he lived through during the WWII:

[…]He was 29  when Germany invaded Poland and the Nazis forced his family into the Lodz Ghetto.

[The day before the Nazis sealed the Lodz ghetto, he fled to Kielce with his brothers and parents, but without his sister and her husband, my parents] […] Eventually three-quarters of the ghetto residents, including most of his family, were shipped in cattle cars to Auschwitz, where they died. Only Mr. Moss and his twin brother, Mendel, remained.

Before the Kielce ghetto was liquidated, there was a selection. Mr. Moss told the Germans, “I am a mechanic!” and he was sent to Pionsky to make parts for guns. His brother was shipped to Auschwitz where he perished.

In Pionsky, where they needed bricklayers, Mr. Moss announced “”I am a bricklayer.” An SS man held a gun to his head as he attempted to lay bricks for the first time in his life. Although his work was very poor and the SS man saw it, the SS man told Mr. Moss “you are going to survive, you are a bricklayer.”

After the Pionsky Ghetto was liquidated, the “mechanic” walked to work in wooden shoes and helped build parts of airplanes near the Ratanoff Ghetto. About a year later, he was sent to Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg camp.

He recalled standing in all kinds of weather during the interminable morning head counts. He and his fellow prisoners were forced on several occasions top watch the Nazis hang prisoners who had tried to flee the camp.

He remembered that once , when three men who did not have shoes improvised pairs from the wood of their bunk beds, the Nazis forced the entire group of prisoners to stand barefoot in the snow for morning count for three days. Everyone’s feet froze, and Mr. Moss was hospitalized several time during his life because of his damaged feet and legs.

in 1945, when they knew the Russians were close and the SS had destroyed the watchtowers, Mr. Moss, who weighed only 80 pounds, and two friends commandeered three bikes from passing Germans. They somehow summoned the strength to ride into nearby American lines. “they gave us food, and we were liberated! God bless America!” he said in the interview.

Returning to Lodz after the war he went looking for family. He reunited with his sister Sophie [Zoshie, my mom..] in a displaced persons camp. He registered to go to America, Israel or Australia.

In 1950, he made his way by ship to New York, where a Jewish agency [HIAS] sent him to Richmond. He went to North Carolina to work at a sweater factory, but there was no kosher butcher and the only synagogue was not observant enough for him.

Mr. Moss returned to Richmond to board in a kosher home […] and to work at a 5-and-10 cent store […]. He eventually retired as top salesman for American Parts, an auto parts business.

His sister eventually moved to Israel. Mr. Moss recalled going twice to visit her and her husband’s graves – the only members of his family who had graves…

YchMoss3When I was a child, growing up in Uruguay, I looked forward to my uncle Henry’s monthly packages filled with toys that became the envy of all my friends. Later, as I got older he would send clothes and books. Though we all dressed well, and far more formally than people do today, I always stood out from the crowd because of my Uncle Henry, because of  “Tio,” as I called him (“uncle” in Spanish)

My three sons and two daughters knew him since they were very little, he often visited us whether we lived in Israel, in Detroit, in Albany, or in Monsey (none of the weddings could go on until we all saw his blue eyes, his smiling face!). Many of my grandchildren were privileged to meet Uncle Henry, as well, and our whole clan – without exception – loved him dearly.

His levayah, which took place in Richmond, on the 31st of of March (20th of Nissan), was well attended in spite of the heavy, non-stop rainy weather. Well over 100 people of all ages, of all walks of life, of all ethnic backgrounds were there. Some were his friends for close to 60 years, some had only known him for a few months; there were those who provided him invaluable help in his last years, by taking him shopping, helping him write when his hands were barely responding and more; all had been touched by his caring, his humor, his zest for life!

Fetter, taierer, we all miss you!



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