John L. Rosove
John L. Rosove

Young people remembering Holocaust Survivors

In my 40 years as a congregational rabbi I have officiated at more than 500 funerals of which 10 percent have been for survivors of the Holocaust. These people gravitated to my synagogue after the war’s end because Rabbi Max Nussbaum, who served Temple Israel of Hollywood from 1942-1974, was a German refugee and a national Zionist figure.

I grieve for every family that loses a loved one, but there is an added dimension of grief when a survivor passes away. To a person, their stories are inspirational and often more powerful than the best of fiction. Such was the case of a 93-year old woman I buried this week.

Also this week I received from the mother of an upcoming bar mitzvah, Hank Schoen, a member of a summer film-making program for middle school students at the Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles last year, an 8-minute animated film of the story of an Auschwitz survivor, Erika Jacoby, who told her story with the animation over her voice.

The talent, care, and sensitivity of these young people astounded me and gave me hope that young Jews will not forget. Their film deserves to be seen far and wide. It occurred to me that the film ought to be submitted to film festivals – it is that good!

Surving as a rabbi in Hollywood with many of my members being leading writers and show-runners, directors and actors in film, theater and television has accustomed me to think in these terms.

You can watch the students’ film here on Vimeo. It is called “Hold the Sun in Your Hands: The Erika Jacoby Story” on Vimeo:

I hope you will share this blog with others. I suspect that you will be as moved I am by it.

About the Author
John L. Rosove is Senior Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Israel of Hollywood in Los Angeles. He is a national co-Chair of the Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet of J Street and immediate past National Chairman of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA). He serves as a member of the newly created Union for Reform Judaism's Israel and Reform Zionism Committee (IRZC). John was the 2002 Recipient of the World Union for Progressive Judaism International Humanitarian Award and has received special commendation from the State of Israel Bonds. In 2013 he was honored by J Street at its Fifth Anniversary Celebration in Los Angeles. John is the author of two books - “Why Judaism Matters – Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove” (Nashville: Jewish Lights Publishing, a division of Turner Publishing Company, 2017) and "Why Israel [and its Future] Matters - Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove" (New Jersey: Ben Yehuda Press, 2019). Both are available at John translated and edited the Hebrew biography of his Great Granduncle – "Avraham Shapira – Veteran of the Haganah and Hebrew Guard" by Getzel Kressel (publ. by the Municipality of Petach Tikvah, 1955). The translation was privately published (2021). John is married to Barbara. They are the parents of two sons - Daniel (married to Marina) and David. He has one granddaughter.
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