Surviving the Holocaust: A Story, A Revelation, A Mission

Leah Rozenfeld Sills learned as an adult that her father and grandparents escaped Europe and survived the Holocaust due to the bravery of one man. She shared their story during a recent Morning Meeting.

Seven years ago, Leah Rozenfeld Sills’ parents came to her home with an enormous box of papers; papers of all shapes and sizes and importance. As a whole (and in six different languages), they told the multigenerational story of Sills’ family, including their escape from Nazi occupied Poland. It was a year-long journey that began in 1939 and took them across Europe—refugees in search safe harbor. Their escape was made possible in part by, Sills says, a series of “miracles,” one performed by their cook, Clara; another by an American woman vacationing in Lisbon, Portugal; and the greatest the result the courage and moral vision of a Portuguese diplomat stationed in Bordeaux, France.

Sills shared her family’s story with the Taft community during a Morning Meeting honoring Yom HaShoah—Holocaust Survivors’ Day—and May’s monthlong celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month.

Watch the full Morning Meeting here.

Leah Sills is a former librarian at the Riverdale Country School in Bronx, NY. She holds an M.S. Ed. from the College of New Rochelle and a B.A. from The University of Massachusetts (Amherst). She is a board member of Sousa Mendes Foundation, participates in the Sills Family Foundation and is a community activist, serving on two local boards. Her visit to Taft was made possible by the Albert Family Holocaust Study Fund, created by Burt and Sylvia Albert, parents of Eric Albert ’77, Jonathan Albert ’79 and Deborah A. Rosmarin ’82, to enable the school to bring to campus once a year guest speakers who are recognized authorities on the study of the Holocaust during WWII. It is hoped that this experience will help engender a continuing knowledge and enable us all to learn from this tragic lesson in history.

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