On Friday, March 31, the Leadership Council welcomed Holocaust survivor Rabbi Philip Lazowski to campus to speak in an all-school assembly.
Leadership Council member and senior Alyssa Temkin advocated for bringing such an impactful guest to campus because of a personal connection. “My grandfather was a Holocaust survivor, and he unfortunately passed away a few years ago,” she said. “If no one was here to tell these stories, no one would believe it. I am working hard and keeping up the story so no one forgets.”
After an introduction by his son, Alan Lazowski, Rabbi Lazowski began his story by discussing the importance of kindness in a world increasingly affected by hate. “Mankind is hopelessly divided by the impenetrable war of terrorism and fear,” he said. “The human mind can be poisoned, but it is being poisoned through indoctrination of hate, and that’s what we are facing.”
Rabbi Lazowski recounted the events of his childhood, describing the inhumane atrocities he witnessed as an 11-year-old boy. The German invasion and purging of his village were subsequent to the beginning of World War II. Soon later, all the Jewish people were forced into ghettos, and Rabbi Lazowski and his family dug a concealed bunker by the fence perimeter. They stayed hidden as the inhabitants of ghettos across Europe were emptied into concentration and extermination camps.
After many more years of traumatic experiences running and hiding from the Nazis, saying goodbye to his family forever and barely surviving in the frigid woods, Rabbi Lazowski moved to America and began a new life.
When Rabbi Lazowski moved to the United States, he graduated from high school, found more survivors, and built a fresh start. His story, and all others like it, continue to live on through the Lazowski family and all those whose lives he has touched.
“His attitude and the need to help others resonated with me a lot,” Director of the Center for Leadership Sandi Goss said. “His point was, basically, that you can’t turn a blind eye, and that is really important for people to hear.”
Rabbi Lazowski has not only impacted others through his religious work and connections with other survivors, he has told his story to hundreds of people over the years.
Alyssa is glad she was able to bring Rabbi Lazowski in to share his story with the KO community. “This is, for some people, the first time, and only time, they’ll ever meet a Holocaust survivor,” Alyssa said, “and it’s so important in bringing perspective into people’s lives.”