Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Elias Feinzilberg: Part II

About a month ago I wrote about a speaker that came to the Jerusalem Center, Holocaust survivor Elias Feinzilberg (read that post here ). During his presentation he spoke Spanish because he lived in Guatemala for a few decades. Two of the students here translated for him and got to know him a little. Elias invited them over to his house to talk more, and guess who else he invited...me!

I guess Elias really understands BYU students, because after he came to talk to us he googled his name to see who wrote about him on their blog. Lots of students blog here, because we don’t have access to facebook. I like that 95 year olds google themselves.

He found my blog and really liked what I wrote about his story. That’s good, because I had no idea that he would be reading it! He actually emailed it to his entire extended family to read. I was wondering why that post had so many more views than all of the other ones...

Elias asked the two translator guys to invite me to come hang out with him because he liked my blog so much :) When I talked to him he even asked me if I was a journalist! That was very nice, because I don’t even edit these posts. They’re really just for me to remember the details of the things I’m seeing and for my family to keep up with what’s going on.

It was really fun to talk more with Elias about his life! About 8 of us went over to his house. They all spoke Spanish, so Elias mostly spoke in Spanish to everyone. But he knew that I spoke Hebrew and not Spanish, so a lot of times he would translate things into Hebrew for me (he speaks both languages fluently).

I got to ask him questions in Hebrew too, and ask more about the concentration camps that he was in. Afterwards he gave me a copy of his story handwritten in Hebrew, and some information in Hebrew about the Chelmno concentration camp where his family died.

Speaking Hebrew to a Holocaust survivor about his experiences= such an amazing experience to have in Israel.

After we talked about the war, Elias said “Well, that’s depressing to talk about. We should have a dance party now.” 

So we did! He got out his record player (first one I’ve ever seen in person!), and we all danced. 

Thanks Elias, it was fun to get to talk to you!


  1. Absolutely loved this story. Mr. Feinzilberg is an inspiration and I loved reading about your interactions with him.

    1. Thank-you, yes, he is amazing! I was so inspired by his story and other experiences I had with BYU Jerusalem that I actually moved back to Israel to do an M.A. in Holocaust Studies at the University of Haifa.