Dear Mr. Cohen:
This is a very difficult letter to write but allow me to extend to you a hartseken dank, my deep gratitude. I have heard your son’s opening remarks and responses at the February 27th congressional hearing, but during his testimony you were always in my thoughts.
You, more than anyone, are greatly aware that dark clouds are enveloping this planet once again with demagogues and authoritarianism rearing its ugly, terrible head. Who would have even imagined that hatred and intolerance to this degree are being encouraged by many democratic governments? Even this wonderful country that has given you refuge after the War is not immune to these nefarious changes.
You, however, made a difference, and possibly a significant difference. Your words and your experience reverberated within your son, and as a result, gave this nation pause. Your words to your son that you “didn’t survive the Holocaust to have [your] name sullied by Mr. Trump,” not only rang deep within your son, but put him back on track, made him understand what the meaning of living a true life means and changed his derech (path).
You did not change your son, he changed himself. You were the catalyst that made it happen. In other words, you were a father and a good father.
I do not know why you and your family experienced the horrors of Nazi Germany during the War such as my parents who also survived the Holocaust. I do not know why your son chose a dark path and will pay a dear price for his decisions and actions.
This I did witness today. Your son is a good man who showed the world today his neshamah, his soul. He was true to himself, to his family, to you, and to his heritage. Like most people, he is a complicated man, as life is also complicated. He is also a man who did a thorough Cheshbon Hanefesh, an auditing of his character, deeds and soul.
For that I thank you. I thank you for having a son like Michael. We have much to learn from him and can all be better off for it.
May you live a quality and proud life until 120.
Saul Maurice Chapnick