Holocaust Memorial Day: Revival and Renewal

Leizer Pozniak was born into a warm and devoted family in the 1930’s. He lived together with his parents, grandparents and little brother in the city of Rostov on Don, Russia. As a young child, Leizer would spend his summers in a village with friends and cousins.

During the summer of 1942 while on summer vacation, Leizer heard about the Nazi occupation sweeping across Western Russia. He felt the tension in the air and began to fear for his family back in the city.

One summer night, Leizer took a row boat and went across the lake, back to his parents’ home. He arrived to find his family safe but in the next morning, everything changed. The Nazi’s rounded up the Jews and took them on a death march. Despite his grandfather’s demand to hide, Leizer went out with his family and marched. But he could not keep up. When he had the first chance, Leizer ran off to the side of the road, into a field and hid in the bushes. He heard the shouts, cries and the guns but he hid still.

There he stayed until nightfall making his way back to his home. Hidden in the closet, asleep and exhausted he found his younger brother Moses. Leizer, at 10 years old, became an adult . He was now responsible not just for his own life but for his little brother’s as well. Knowing the city was no longer safe Leizer woke his brother and begged him to walk miles to the next safe city.

Today, Leizer is 84 years old. He became an active figure in the Jewish community of Rostov and served for many years as the synagogue’s secretary and cantor.

Over the years, Leizer has seen his Jewish community dwindle and regrow over and over again. Recently, Leizer suffered a stroke paralyzing his left arm and leg. But with the same determination that he has always shown, Leizer has rehabilitated himself and he is still active to the best of his abilities. He is much loved and valued by his community.

Through the Jewish community, Leizer receives financial assistance and support. This Passover, as you can see, Leizer received all he could possibly need to observe a wonderful Seder.

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