Portrait of the Week
Pesach Schindler - Jerusalem, Israel
Kristallnacht put a fear into whatever Jews were still there. My mother panics, of course, and goes to the American consulate in Stuttgart… So [the official] looks through the papers and says “Frau Schindler, you can have a visa immediately… But the two children, I’m afraid, we cannot give them entry visas because they don’t have any citizenship.” “What do you mean by that?” [my mother asked]. “Well, Jewish children born in Germany after World War I are stateless, they have no citizenship and, therefore, we don’t have a visa for them.” … He said “what we suggest is that you leave – get your visa out immediately. As soon as you arrive in US territorial water, send us a telegram. And there we have a clause that when both parents are in the United States, legally we can reunite the family and send them out.” … My mother made the decision to go. Put us in a Jewish Orphanage. 140 Jewish children with similar stories.
Dr. Pesach Schindler was one of my favorite professors the year I studied at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Through him, my fellow students and I got to “taste” Talmud, the Jewish legal text of Biblical commentaries and commentaries on commentaries! Thirty years later, I was moved to know at a life experience level the professor I respected so much. Pesach Schindler’s life was saved when his mother agreed to leave him and his brother behind in Nazi Germany. Those who did not choose this option faced the only alternative: death in the concentration camps. But tragically, all but four of the 140 children in the Jewish orphanage in which he was temporarily placed were murdered by the Nazi’s. A series of tips and escapes enabled Dr. Schindler and his brother to make it to America. When you listen to this interview, you too will receive the gift of hearing a man who is grateful for every day and, yet, who is not afraid to question God and his divine plan.