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
A native of Los Angeles, Rabbi John L. Rosove assumed the position of Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of Hollywood in 1988 and will become Emeritus Rabbi in July, 2019. Before coming to Temple Israel he served large congregations in San Francisco (1979-86) and Washington, D.C. (1986-88). He is the immediate past National Chair of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) and served on the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), the Vaad HaPoel of the World Zionist Organization, and the Executive Committee of ARZENU (the International Reform Zionist movement). He is a national co-Chair of the Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet of J Street. John is the author of "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, 2017) and his forth-coming book "Why Israel and its Future Matter - Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation" (Ben Yehuda Press, New Jersey. Spring 2020). John is married to Barbara and is the father of two sons and the grandfather of one.
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