Sunday, April 7, 2013

Felix Zandman

Tonight begins Yom HaShoah~  Holocaust Remembrance Day. In all our imaginations, there is no way to totally fathom the depth and breadth of evil that ruled during that season. Nor can we begin to embrace the amount of suffering and loss that was started then and continues to this day. Many of us have personal experience either having lived through it ourselves or a family member. More of do not. Like a Pesach when we identify with those who were slaves and delivered~ it is incumbent upon us to so likewise identify in some measure. Each of us will find our own way of relating to, remembering and honoring those who died.

For today, before we begin our time of memorial, we would like to honor the G-d of Israel. Hitler did not succeed in his plan. The Hand of HaShem stopped him. For this we are very grateful. There are so many miraculous stories of those who were snatched from the fires. So many Gentiles who were willing to be used as instruments of rescue and safety~ at the risk of their own lives and their family's lives. The paths of those who lived are varied~ some colored with success and some with more sorrow.

"Felix Zandman is known on Wall Street as the brilliant scientist-entrepreneur whose billion-dollar Fortune 500 company, Vishay Intertechnology, reshaped the electronic component industry. But few are aware of Zandman's incredible personal story: as a teenager he spent a year-and-a-half in Nazi occupied Poland, and that harrowing experience gave him the drive, discipline, and generosity of spirit that made his later success possible. Taught by his grandmother Tema that the only measure of wealth is what you give away, Zandman lost his entire world in 1943 when the ghetto in his native city of Grodno was destroyed. Jammed with four others into a tiny pit beneath the cottage of a poor Polish peasant, he was left with nothing but his inner resources of imagination, intellect, and will to fend off insanity and find a reason to go on living. Lying next to him in the hole, his uncle taught him higher mathematics, lessons he later turned to good use in winning a doctorate in physics from the Sorbonne. In 1966 he came to the United States, where one of his breakthrough discoveries became the basis for a company he named for his grandmother's shtetl. Vishay revolutionized an industry and today employs sixteen thousand people worldwide, among them the grandson of the woman who saved him." (taken from the review of Felix's book Click here

We want to share the story today of Felix Zandman. Many times his life was spared. Many times the Hand of HaShem took him from the fires. What is amazing to see is all that he has been used for in his life since then. It makes us wonder~ did the cure for cancer march into the gas chambers, the plans to grow enough food for the entire world go up in smoke, the answer to a peaceful world lay in ashes in Auschwitz? As you listen to Zandman's story, you can rejoice with us in the providence of G-d that has brought this man through to a very fruitful life~ one that in a small way has touched us all~ without us even knowing it.

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