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Holocaust survivor visits CSUSM to share his story

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Holocaust survivor visits CSUSM to share his story

Rebecca Sykes

Rebecca Sykes

Rebecca Sykes

Rebecca Sykes, Sports Staff Writer

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Through every dark tunnel, there is always light on the other side.

Hershel Frankiel survived the horrific events of the Holocaust. Students, faculty and staff at CSUSM were lucky enough to hear this incredibly brave man tell his story of survival.

Six candles were lit during the event, in recognition of the six million Jewish people who lost their lives during World War II. These candles were used to remind the audience that they must never be forgotten.

Chabad, a Jewish organization on campus, put together the event for campus and community members as a way to remember and honor the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. President of CSUSM’s World Insight organization, Moses Wosk, organized the event after meeting Frankiel at the Chabad West Coast Shabbaton, a three­day event that took place at the Hilton in Carlsbad.

“Frankiel was very soft spoken. I wanted to hear more about his story and have other students experience his survival as well,” Wosk said.

Although Frankiel and his family escaped to the United States when he was 13 years old, it wasn’t until six years ago when Frankiel began to speak about his experience during the Holocaust.

In his narrative, Frankiel informed the audience that he was four years old when his life turned into turmoil, due to the Nazi’s invasion of Poland. For many years, he moved through various locations, hiding with his parents from the danger that surrounded them.

When he was eight years old, his family was taken into hiding by a kind Polish family. They first hid in their attic, but then moved to their basement as a means of preventing them from being heard by others. In the basement, they dug a six feet by six feet hole inside the shed, which they hid in for two years.

During that time, Frankiel wanted to learn to read. Although living in a dark surrounding, he made a hole that allowed light from the outside to come in their small space. He used a mirror to reflect sunlight, which ultimately allowed him to read.

After hiding for two years, Frankiel and his family escaped to Berlin, then later to America where they lived in the Bronx. When Frankiel was in school, he was bullied due to his inability to speak English. Despite being bullied, Frankiel believed in the American freedom and always chose to stick up for himself.

Also at the event was Rabbi Yair Yelin, creator of Chabad Alef Center, an organization that aims to raise awareness of Judaism in North County. To further elaborate on the importance of Judaism and the brutality Frankiel and his family endured, he showed a coin with the Nazi symbol on it as a means of comparing the salvation America gave to victims and survivors, such as Frankiel.

“This coin represents an era of violation of human rights, violation of life, violation of freedom, an era of dictatorship and power struggle,” said Rabbi Yelin, “Here I have a U.S. quarter that represents the complete opposite. This quarter represents our beautiful country, a country that promotes freedom, promotes human rights, promotes life and a country that promotes zero amount of tolerance [for hate].”

Frankiel grew to be a professor of organizational psychology at UCLA and Western Ontario University in Canada. Today, he lives in Carson City, Los Angeles with his wife of 30 years, Tamar Frankiel. They have five children together and eight grandchildren.

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