Rabbi Israel Spira: A Hero of the Holocaust

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6 Responses to “Rabbi Israel Spira: A Hero of the Holocaust”


  • The stories of brave leaders and those who offered hope in the concentration camps never cease to amaze me. The Rabbi was a hero as were all who had to endure that horrific experience.

    There is a video about a group of students in Tennessee who began a unit of study about Hitler and his madness. Through this study the children begin to collect paperclips to represent all those who lost their lives in the camps.
    This project became much more than the usual unit of study, it became larger than life. People around the world became involved. Through much work and camaraderie over six million paperclips were collected to represent those who lost their lives. To house these clips, a railcar that had been used to transport these unfortunate prisoners was moved from Germany to the school campus in Tennessee. Today it sits as a museum filled with paper clips, letters and other items sent from various people, from a number of countries, in loving memory of family members and friends who died in the camps.
    The railcar stands as a reminder of how hatred and prejudice destroy lives.
    But, it also stands as a tribute to those who perished. It's presence and contents are a way of saying,

    " You are not forgotten. May you rest in peace."

    These students are heroes of sorts too. They took what could have been a routine unit of study and created a lasting tribute to lives never fully lived.

    You can view the video at:

    http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/paper_clips/

  • When Spira came to America in February of 1946, he was sick, shorn of all his hair, his body still covered with open wounds. He was absolutely alone, as his entire family had been murdered. He was the sole survivor of the Bluzhof Hasidic sect, which had been founded by his Grandfather. He was penniless. As one of the first camp survivors to come to the USA, he was called upon to speak of his experiences, to educate others of the tragedy. Usually, at the end of his talk, there would not be a dry eye in the audience. When offered payment for the talk, he always refused, saying, “How can I accept payment when the rivers in Europe are flowing with ashes and blood? Never will my hands touch such money.” And he never accepted payment for his efforts to tell the true story of the Holocaust. How different from so many “heroes” of today who seem to not wait to cash in on their stories. Heroism takes many forms. Great post Scott & George, you have the ner tamid (the Eternal Flame) burning in your hearts.

  • I can only imagine surviving the Holocaust. My family helped our neighbors settle after the war and rescued them to Canada. It was sad to hear what they had survived. But it was a lot harder to watch the films at school than to hear about my neighbor and his heroism.

    I don’t know what the difference was, the school films gave me nightmares I didn’t deserve but my neighbor encompassed my interpretation of the meaning love. Soft gentle and a terrific jolly laugh, I think he passed a few years ago, he wrote every year and suddenly we don’t hear from him anymore.

    My neighbor taught me to love and my school taught me to hide under my blankets, cry quiet and not to breath because,

    I didn’t want to hurt my Dad’s feelings and tell him just exactly how scared I was by the virtue in a name.

    I am not scared anymore simply put its just sad.

  • Ironic how the worst in Human nature often brings out the best. The Nazis were an unbelievable blight upon history; it’s hard to believe people are capable of such atrocities. And yet, Nazis still exist. And atrocities continue, in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East. I sometimes fear what will happen when there are no more Holocaust survivors left alive to remind us.

    But whenever anybody doubts that a Human Being can accomplish absolutely anything, we just have to point to guys like Israel Spira. :)

  • The Holocaust was a tragic moment in history that will never be forgotten. Not only for the men and women who survived it, but for those who perished, my heart goes out to every one of them. These men and women were brutally beaten, forced into starvation, and all the while made to do physical labor that many of us could only imagine doing. Spira is a true hero in my eyes. Not only did he maintain the strength and hope to survive such a horrific event, he inspired another individual as well. I have been learning about the Holocaust since I was in elementary school and to this day I cannot watch a movie or read a book about the Holocaust without feeling both anger and guilt. How any human being can treat another the way the men and women of the Holocaust were treated is beyond my understanding. However, stories like Spira's give me hope. It takes real strength, a real hero, to not give up hope when the world around you is crumbling beneath you.

  • my grandad escaped from camp and saved loads of people but his family were killed just a young boy who saved so many lives and lost so much. thomas samsonowski was his name

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