Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau

“Tolek! make sure that Lolek is safe!”

“Until this day my mother’s words still echo in my head.

For me, there were many grim moments during the Holocaust but that was one of the hardest.

Because of the complete mayhem in the train station, people didn’t realize that we were in the middle of a selection process. Schneller! Schneller! Schneller! the Germans kept shouting while their dogs barked at us.

During the selection process, Men were separated from women and children. I was only seven years old and naturally went along with my mother. My older brother Tolek who was eighteen years old was separated from us and was taken to the men’s line.

My mother in a matter of seconds realized that the line we were standing in, was a line that the germen saw as dispensable. She realized that I will have better chances of surviving if I will be on the men’s line. She screamed at my brother: ‘Tolek! take the child’ and pushed me away from her towards him. She was shoved to a cattle car and just before the doors were closed she managed to wave at us with her hand for goodbye. that was the last time I ever saw my mother.”

As to my father, who was the chief Rabbi of our community I didn’t have the chance of saying goodbye.

He told my brother Tolek that if by any chance there would be a miracle and will survive, we should continue our family rabbinical dynasty that dates back a thousand years. My father was speaking about thirty-seven generations of Rabbis in our family and he wanted to keep that dynasty alive. I’m happy to say that fifty years later I fulfilled his dream by becoming the Chief Rabbi of the state of Israel.

I survived the Holocaust. I kept my family dynasty alive.”

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