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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!




Manna From Heaven

Richmond,VA’s Rudlin Torah Academy, published Manna from Heaven – while it differs from cookbooks designed to woow the reader as he or she imagines the various recipes, this one shows that you need not be a Cordon Bleu trained Chef to prepare succulent, wholesome dishes.

The underlying philosophy behind this cookbook is that food and Judaism are inextricable parts of each other, as stated in the preface. As such, you will find recipes for every holiday, for every occasion whether a party or just for the immediate family.

This is a cookbook designed to make the average cook shine, with sections such as:

  • Effortless
  • Breads
  • Spreads and Dips
  • Appetizers
  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Meat Poultry
  • Fish
  • Dairy and Bruch
  • Side Dishes and Vegetables
  • Desserts

From the easy – last minute preparations – to more complex dishes everything here is easy to make, and yet every recipe from Strawberry Bread to Blue Cheese Ball, from Marinated ‘Shrooms to Tomato Soup with Herbs and Feta, from Brandied Fruit Salad to Fail-Proof Rib Roast, from Arroz con Pollo Valenciana to Salmon in Orange-Honey Marinade, from Mediterranean Strata Lite to Ratatouille in Phyllo, from Peanut Butter-Chocolate Crispy Treats to Rugelach and more, are

During chol hamo’ed and the last days of yom tov I was in Richmond, VA and had the privilege of tasting a superb challa (one of the best I ever had!) made by the lady who created it for this cookbook. Here’s the recipe:

No Need to Knead Challah

(page 21)Yields 8 loaves


  • 6 packets quick rise yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 cups warm water
  • 5 pounds plus 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 8 extra large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups oil.
  • 1 egg plus 3 tablespoons water for wash
  • Sesame or poppy seeds, optional


  1. Dissolve yeast plus 2 tablespoons sugar in 2 cups warm water in a medium bowl, Set aside. In an extra large bowl, mix flour and salt together  and make a well in the center. In a separate bowl mix together remaining sugar, eggs and oil.
  2. Add yeast mixture and 2 additional cups of warm water to sugar, egg amnd mixture. Slowly pour egg and yeast mixture into the well in the flour and mix. Make sure that all the flour is mixed into the dough. Mix only enough to combine all the ingredients. Cover with a damp cloth and either leave in the refrigerator overninght or let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 2 -3 hours. In the morning, remove from refrigerator and place on a clean surface. Divide up dough into 8 portions, roll each portion into 3 ropes and braid loaves.
  3. Spray baking sheets or large loaf pans and place challa on or in them. Cover again with damp cloth and allow to rise for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat egg with water and brush on challah. Sprinkle with either sesame or poppy seeds if desired. Bake 25-30 minutes until loaves are golden brown. Remove from oven and place on racks until cool. Challah may be wrapped in foil and frozen.

Each section opens up with a quote from sifrei kodesh, because this is more than just a cookbook, it shows the connection between what goes into a Jew’s mouth and his/her spiritual growth. You can order the cookbook online at the Rudlin Academy’s website. While you most likely did not attend the Culinary Institute of America nor Johnson and Wales University, you will still wow your family and friends with these recipes!



Schmoozing with Julia Roth

This coming Wednesday evening at 10:00pm (Eastern Time) we’ll be talking with Julia Roth on our show. We’ll discuss a bit of the Jewish Community’s history in Richmond and its evolution to the present time. Mrs. Roth, a mother of 4, attended University of North Carolina where she majored in English Lit; a Chicago native, she currently lives in Richmond, VA.

After spending time with friends in Skokie, IL and seeing how the Chicago Chesed Fund operated neighborhood based food pantries. The idea seemed so simple – neighbors gathering and sharing extra surplus in the community, she thought Richmond could benefit from such an enterprise and presented the project to various members of her circles. The support was astounding as proven by the fact that they opened quickly and have been operating – with a staff of volunteers – for the last 4 weeks with backing from Knesset Beth Israel (Richmond’s largest and oldest Orthodox Congregation). For the last 24 years she’s been a Hebrew school teacher but she’s most passionate about her work as a  DONA certified birth assistant or doula – having attended over 100 births.

In addition to touching upon Richmond’s Jewish history we will also talk about her activities in the community and some exciting upcoming events.

Meanwhile, in case you missed it, please tune in to our conversation with renowned Providence, RI, Chef and food historian Walter Potenza.

Please don’t forget to tune us in this coming Wednesday at 10:00 pm (Eastern Time) for an interesting, informative, broadcast with Julia Roth.


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