When I speak or do interviews regarding my life or my book, I am asked a lot of the same questions. I thought I would publish some of them here for you in hopes they will help you get to know me and my life a little better.
If there are any questions you have about me, my life, the holocaust, my Zachor Foundation, or Papa Ben’s Kitchen I am happy to answer them. Please don’t hesitate to contact me. Ask, and I will answer.
Question: In your book, you describe many instances where you put the welfare of your family ahead of your own, even though you were only 15 at the time. What gave you the courage to do so?
Answer: I may have only been 15 but I was not a child for a very long time. I loved my uncle and cousin very much. At that time they were my only family. When a member of your family’s wellbeing or life is in jeopardy, you do everything in your power to save them. I would not call it courage. I acted on instinct. It was the right thing to do, so I did it.
Question: How old were you when you began your first business endeavor?And what was the greatest lesson you learned from it?
Answer: I was 19 years old, ad I think the biggest lesson was stick to what you know best!!!
a) Familiarize yourself in every aspect of that business, be the best in that field or profession before you attempt.
b) Be well capitalized. Have enough capital to carry you through for at least a year without a single sale.
Question: What was your motivation for writing the book?
Answer: Initially, I felt compelled to write about my life in order to provide testimony documentation about the Holocaust from an individual’s point of view. My goal for the book was that it provided a personal, intimate real life view of history – NOT DRY FACTS IN A TEXT-BOOK.
As I continued writing however, I realized that my life witness testimony wasn’t enough. I understood the necessity of actively working to end the hatred that contributes to genocide. I hoped that people, especially young people, would read it and gain a deeper understanding of themselves and others. I hoped it would inspire others to stop the hatred.
As the Number of Holocaust Survivors become fewer and fewer, it is our responsibility to make sure that others understand its lessons. After we are gone, who will be left to counter the lies of the Holocaust Deniers? We are the last living proof of what happened. Our testimony provides undeniable documentation of man’s inhumanity to man. The young people who hear us speak and read our stories are the last generation to have access to a survivor. They are the last witnesses to truth. They will have to take on the responsibility of making sure our stories and the lessons they teach, will live after we are gone.
Question: What did you gain from writing the book?
Answer: It’s Ironic, I didn’t set out to gain anything for myself. I wanted to help others and as it turned out, I have probably gained as much from writing it as I hope readers will gain from reading it. What I gained was a deeper understanding of myself and others. It caused me to look at my past, present and future in a completely different way. I understood more deeply how events, emotions and experiences shape our thoughts and our lives. So I guess you can say I gained a deeper understanding of life itself.
Question: Choice seems to be an underlying theme in your book. Can you explain that?
Answer: Individuals can’t always choose what happens to them, but whether it’s a crisis or calamity, people can choose to either let it ruin their lives, or learn from it and move forward. It is essential to understand the consequences of personal choices. It is possible to let tragedy or trauma become a reason to stop living but it is also possible to live through extreme circumstances and commit to a live that has meaning, a life that matters.
Question: How do you feel about the state of Ignorance and Hatred in the world today?
Answer: Whether it is the Nazi Holocaust of the 1930’s and 40’s or genocide in Darfur today, it all goes back to hatred. We must each choose to take responsibility to living lives that work against hatred. Hateful words, schoolyard bullying, hostile political campaigns and even reckless driving, all of these things contribute to an environment of hatred and hatred can only exist where people are ignorant. We must constantly provide anti hatred education. In so doing we can contribute to the healing of others. “ Tikun Olam” which means heal the world!
Question: What do you think about Love’s Power over Hate?
Answer: More than anything else, I understand the power of love to eliminate hate. The love of my parents who were massacred by the Nazis gave me the foundation that my life has been built on my love for them and my brutally murdered sister and brothers fills my heart to this day. With all the horror of Hitler’s Concentration camp there was no way to even imagine that one day I would live to find my soul-mate, my best friend and the love of my life, my wife of 63 years, Jean. For us to have been blessed with our two beautiful daughters and 4 amazing grand children plus our first gorgeous, handsome, genius, scholarly 10 month old great grandson is proof that Love is stronger than hate.
“ Living a Life that Matters “ Makes clear that it isn’t so much the unique hardship we face, but how we respond to them, and face them. We are accountable for our own choices, we must embrace other cultures, creeds and backgrounds in our world. There is just no place for Intolerance, Racism, anti-Semitism, Injustice and Indifference.