Purim 5777

In less than 2 months, over 190 bomb threats have been called in to Jewish institutions in the United States.

Anyone who thinks that anti-Semitism died with the Holocaust, could not be more mistaken.

The hateful groups who cowardly hide behind anonymity did not invent anti-Semitism.  Not even Hitler, may his name be erased, invented anti-Semitism.

Nor did the White Supremacists, the KKK, or any of the neo-Nazi groups that are on the rise, hijacking social media to advance their agenda and pollute young impressionable minds to mimic their hatred.

Haman of the Purim story is a descendant of Amalek.  It is their ideological descendants who are alive and well today.

Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin guides us in identifying Amalek.  He says that the identifying characteristic of Amalek is its unique ideology that it is in the world’s best interests to rid the Jews wherever they are, no matter how the Jew is “packaged”, i.e., young or old, religious or secular.  In chameleon-like fashion, it changes its appearance and resurfaces anywhere where the environment is fertile for its ideology to incubate and infest a society, enjoining it to partner with them in wiping out the Jewish people.

The United States has become the most recent breeding ground for Amalek.  Fanned by the flames of racism, it now seeks to target the Jews wherever they may be – in their schools, synagogues, Jewish community centers, restaurants, etc.  It is irrelevant to the modern-day Amalekites if gentiles will be part of the collateral damage when the bullet takes aim or the bomb explodes.  The hatred is so thick, so pervasive, and so blind to reason that a few gentile deaths are worth the price if some Jews can die along the way too.

As a child in Nazi occupied Europe, I witnessed this hatred first hand and in the most brutal way as my father and brothers and then my sisters and lastly my mother were killed by the Nazis and their cohorts.

My mother’s words – “Live, remember, tell the world” – is a message that I pray everyone today will embrace as we look around the world and see what is happening today.  As our Torah teaches us:  “There will be Amalek in every generation.”

What is it about the Jews that so incites Amalek?

Amalek is fighting spirituality, sanctity and the belief that God runs the world and orchestrates every single event that takes place. Nothing happens “by chance”. This idea is antithetical to Amalek who represent human control “My might and the force of my hands”.

The Torah obligates us to fight Amalek and obliterate them. Every time something happens and we say “it didn’t just happen, God caused this to happen”, we have fulfilled the command to wipe out Amalek.

Wishing all of you a Purim Sameach – a Happy and Joyous Purim!




Pesach 5776

My mother was the person whom I most admired, respected, and loved.  I wanted so much to be just like her – kind, warm, compassionate, caring about every single person she met, Jew or Gentile, who came to her for healing, as this was my mother’s profession.  She was a midwife and a healer, answering the call morning, noon, and night to aid in giving life and preserving life.

So when I lost my mother at the age of 10 on the Death March from Transnistria, her words rung in my head and clung to my soul:  “Live, Remember, Tell the World.”
It would have been so much easier to just give up, to succumb to the cold and the hunger, the fear and the sadness at having lost my entire family.  I was alone in the world, feeling I had nothing to live for.  After all, how does a 10 year old child have the mental sophistication and life experience to know that there can be a light at the end of the tunnel, that at some point all my pain – mental and physical – would be soothed and that I would experience G-d’s grace in ways I never imagined?
So what kept me going?  How did I manage to survive one more day, and then another . . . . and then another?  How did I manage to get an advanced education, marry, have 3 sons, and today count many grand children and great grand children while I dwell in Eretz Yisrael?
The answer is found in my mother’s words:  “Live, Remember, Tell the World.”
Nothing else was bequeathed to me from my parents.  I do not possess even one photograph of my mother’s beautiful kind face or my father’s gentle, intelligent facial expressions.  All I have is memories of them .  . .and the words ringing in my ears . . . . I hear my mother’s command and my mind’s eye still sees my father hunched over his holy books, studying them every chance he could.
This should be a lesson to all of us – the impression that we leave on our children through our words and deeds.  No material possession will last as the examples we set for them.
This is why we are commanded to teach our children about our redemption from slavery, how G-d took us out “with a strong hand.”  Even though this story is 3500 years old, we still maintain this tradition of teaching it to our children.  Our connection to G-d, His loving kindness in making us into His holy nation, rings true every year as we take our place at the Seder Table.
I was only 9 years old when I sat at the Seder Table with my blessed parents for the very last time.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, I would never share another seder with them.  Nevertheless, the lessons they provided, the words with which my mother entreated me to “Live, Remember, Tell the World” are now given over to my children and their children and their children and all the young people of our generation so that we further Jewish continuity.
My blessing to all of you is that you should also “Live, Remember, and Tell the World” of G-d’s redemption of the Jewish people and His promise to us to make us into a great nation.  Today we have the holy land of Eretz Yisrael back in our hands.  May we all come to live here and join together in completing our holy mission as G-d’s chosen people.


purimThis week we will celebrate Purim, a holiday that the Rabbis tell us will continue to be celebrated even after the coming of Moshiach while other holidays will no longer be observed.  Why does Purim have this unique quality of permanence?

There may be many reasons but there are a couple that quickly come to mind.
One is that throughout the entire Megillah G-d’s name is never once mentioned.  G-d is hidden, so to speak, but He is nevertheless very present, pulling strings, orchestrating events that appear as our enemies will annihilate us but in the end are really setting the stage for their own downfall.  We see this graphically as Haman’s sons are hung on the very gallows they had erected for Mordechai the Jew.
The other lesson to be learned is that events must be seen in the broader picture of time.  The Purim story in the Megillah is over an almost thirteen year time period.  Redemption comes;  but first it must go through a process.
As a child on the run from the Nazis after losing my entire family, what kept me going, what kept me from losing hope were my mother’s words, “Live, Remember, Tell the World” – words that gave me not only strength but hope that despite the darkness that had descended on the world, I would survive and triumph over the evil that had murdered my family and stolen my childhood.  There were times when it appeared that “bad” incidents turned out to be blessings – events that actually aided me in my survival.
Last week, we read from the Torah to “not forget” Amalek, the ancestor of Haman and his descendants.  This week we remember that G-d is always present in our lives, even during the darkest times even when those times seem like forever.  Keeping this perspective is the essence of the Jew – our acknowledgement, our deep faith and belief of our eternal bond with G-d.  That is why Purim will always be celebrated by Jews throughout the world for all time.

Shabbat Zachor


​This year (5776, 2016) the “Zachor” (Remember!) additional Torah reading occurs on Shabbat  of 18-19 March and provides the Shabbat with a special name, “Shabbat Zachor.”

I am a child holocaust survivor who experienced terrible horrors at the tender age of 9 ½. I lost my entire family on the Death Marches to a little-known hell named: “TRANSNISTRIA.” In addition to no food nor water rations,  we were treated with incredible cruelty.

How can I ever forget growing up surrounded by death & dying, pangs of hunger, being driven relentlessly to continue to marching through the freezing mud and rain with no shoes and threadbare clothes. How bystanders continued on with their daily activities, indifferent to our plight.

PaintedBirdI was a “Painted Bird” on the run, bearing my murdered mother’s command to “Live, Remember and Tell The World.”

Despite being left in a vacuum, with no pictures, no information, not one item to cling to, as if my loved ones never lived, I am blessed with the ultimate source of consolation and hope. The more I think through my life, the more clearly I see G-d’s hand leading me and providing for me at each and every step of the way.

I urge all who read this to please “do not hate.” Hatred breeds destruction.

We must remember our past and carry it with us as we learn lessons for our future.  We must look to recognize G-d’s hand and invite Him into our lives because He is always there waiting for our call.


Chanukah 5776 – The Hidden Jug of Oil




The hidden jug of oil that the Macabees found to kindle the menorah, speaks to me to this day on so many levels.  As the sole survivor of my family who had been murdered by the Nazis, I was forced to hide my Jewish identity as a child in order to survive.  With my blond hair and blue eyes, I easily passed as a Gentile child.  While going to church and learning the Christian prayers, I was also silently asking G-d to forgive me as this was the only way I could survive to honor my mother’s last words:  “Live, Remember, Tell the World!”

I clung to my Jewish identity in the only way one could during those horrible years when the world had gone insane.  When it became cold in the Fall, I would choose one day to be my “Yom Kippur” and fast on that day.  When spring arrived, I would designate 8 days to be my “Passover” and do my best to avoid eating any chometz.  I was 10 years old at this time.

After arriving in Canada in 1948 and being fostered by a Jewish family, I, like many other Holocaust survivors, remained silent, our years of torture and humiliation, and devastating losses hidden.  This was our response to those who thought we were “exaggerating” or did not want to know.  We were told to “forget”, “move on”.  Like the olive, we were crushed but not destroyed.  Most of us evolved into something greater and more productive than we had ever imagined was possible for us.  Many went on to become noted academics and scholars, successful business people, writers, scientists, teachers, etc.  Most of us were fortunate to get married and raise healthy and beautiful children who went on to lead very productive and successful lives and Jewish community builders.

But in 1992, the “hidden jugs of oil” came to the fore and organized.  At first it was in small groups where we would gather to speak only to each other as it was only another survivor who could believe and understand.  Then, slowly some of the survivors of this group began to speak to others and to share our experiences.

Several times, a person in the group would come forward and introduce themselves as one of my former students.  People were aghast that as well as they thought they knew me, they had no clue that I was a child survivor because I had buried and hidden my nightmarish childhood so that I could focus on and concentrate on raising my 3 precious sons and teach my students whom I regarded as my children.

Upon reflection many years later, I realized that my determination to hold on to my Judaism in any way I could while I was hiding was in order to survive as a Jew.  Had it not been for that small minority of Macabees, all Jews could have assimilated and there would no longer be a Jewish people.

The little jug of oil, hidden away for so many years, inspired them to light the menorah and turn darkness into light.

Those of us who live here in Eretz Yisrael are so blessed to live here.  I ask each and every one of you to not be “hidden Jews” any more but to pass on this message to your friends and other Jews and cling to our Torah and mitzvot.  Today, we have our own land where we can practice our Judaism; there is no reason today for any Jew to be a “hidden Jew”.  Follow your heritage and come home to Eretz Yisrael.

Happy Chanukah!

Morah Leah



Choose Life

Rosh Hashana, literally translated as “Head of the Year”, is also referred to as  the Day of Remembrance, when G-d conducts a yearly review of His creation.

My mother’s commandment – “Live, Remember, Tell the World” – propelled me onward to survive.  There were endless opportunities for me to be killed or to just shrivel up and die.  Her words guided me and gave me the will to struggle on. I was afraid to die, as that would mean violating my mother’s command. I was afraid to sit down, lest I not manage to get back up to continue. G-d chose me to be among the survivors, to “Live to Remember and to Tell the World.”

My mother’s command impels me to this very day. It accompanied me as I struggled to raise healthy and happy children and students, proudly and intensely committed to Jewish continuity.

My generation died as committed Jews. You have the opportunity to live as committed Jews, to learn and to teach Torah, to raise Jewish families.

Our heritage teaches us that students are akin to children. To all my children – former students and to all those who have heard me speak and/or read my book, “Live, Remember, Tell the World” – I urge you to raise proud Jewish children and to build and strengthen Jewish communities.

You too are being called to Choose Life!

May G-d’s blessing be with you in the coming year, 5766,  as you run with the baton and proudly continue the chain of our golden heritage.

May you be inscribed in the Book of Life – and fill that life with meaningful Jewish continuity.

Morah Leah

Please note: Rabbi Naftali Schiff from Aish Hatorah in London together with JRoots have produced a stirring 40 minute documentary about the miracle of my life and survival called “Choose Life“. You may view it at–.html?s=fab


Welcome to the upgraded Live, Remember, Tell the World website!

We are in the middle of celebrating Chanuka, the festival on which we light the menorah every evening. We commemorate the miraculous victory of the small band of Maccabees (only 13 untrained soldiers!) over the huge Greek empire with their state-of-the-art weapons and elephants (the equivalent of modern day tanks). After the battle, the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) wanted to re-kindle the menorah in the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) and Hashem helped him find a hidden small jug of oil with the seal unbroken that had not become impure. We see the Emuna (faith) of the Maccabees to light the menorah even though they only had a small amount of oil. Hashem performed the famous miracle of the menorah staying alight for eight whole days. Hashem does miracles for us when we invite Him into our lives as the Maccabees did.