In my class of research forum, I was fortunate meet yet another Holocaust survivor, and a genuine legend of the Jewish state. Arie Oz is a native of Germany, who related his personal detailed narrative, including prevailing against all odds to live and come to Israel. Hearing his particular tale of woe, he described especially the atmosphere for Jews in the midst of the advent of the rise of Nazism.

For me, my interest was acute to learn the reaction of resident-citizen Jews to the rise of National Socialism before the Final Solution was concocted. German Jews, it appears, assimilated and without deep identity with their faith viewed themselves foremost as German, secondarily as Jewish. Arie Oz and his family fell in the general category of not being particularly religious, so common to Jews during that period. Nevertheless, his father harbored suspicions about the Nazis’ intentions, while his mother was more inclined to believe that the Jews were facing no danger.

Arie then described where he lived during the Shoah, and how immigrated to Eretz Yisrael.

Noteworthy, he survived not having spent time in concentration camps, but through the kindness and assistance of others on the outside. Moreover, the obstacles of coming to Mandate Palestine were daunting, far from the present advanced development of an independent Israel. More, Yemeni Jews faced difficulties in marrying people outside their ethnic origin, a surprise which is repeated whenever one practices exogamy, finding a spouse beyond his circle.

My excitement to learn that Arie Oz participated in Operation Entebbe was palpable. It was another heroic episode of Israeli lore, on July 4, 1976, when a hijacked Air France flight was diverted in dictator Idi Amin’s Uganda in Africa. Engaging in his own chicanery, while freeing non-Jewish passengers, the Israeli government worked under great duress to come up with a plan to liberate the remaining passenger — all Jews, and reminiscent of the selections in the concentration camps from which some had survived! Ina thunderbolt operation, an Israeli rescue force was able to execute a daring recovery sustaining minimal casualties; most prominently, the older brother of today’s premier, Yonatan Netanyahu.

Arie Oz is a true hero for coming out from another life challenge unscathed. However, the trauma that was the Holocaust, for it was an event that remained with his parents, inducing nightmares on their progeny. Such vivid visions continue to haunt Arie Oz, even as his parents tried to shield their children. At the lecture’s conclusion, my soul soared with pride to realize that such heroes live among us, in Israel, making this presentation a highlight of the series in the research forum.