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April 28, 1989 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-04-28

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Holocaust Experience
Leads To Success


Staff Writer


osing a leg to a
drunk driver in 1959
was a "minor inconve-
nience" to furrier Sam Offen.
He came close to death
several times as a death camp
prisoner during the
Holocaust and refused to give
up hope because of an acci-
dent. Four months later, Of-
fen continued his life as it was
— complete with working,
dancing, bowling, traveling
and swimming.
_ In fact, Offen constantly
strived to do better. He join-
ed Furs by Ceresnie Brothers,
the company that employed
him after he was liberated
from the camps, and helped
build today's successful fur
company, Ceresnie and Offen
in Birmingham.
"It was determination," he
said. "If I could be one of the
lucky survivors, a little acci-
dent like losing a leg wouldn't
keep me down. It wasn't a
hardship, just an inconve-
Offen is one of many of the
area's estimated 1,300 sur-
vivors who got ahead in the

"We had
confidence and
this country
helped us take
advantage of

business world. Born in
Cracow, Poland, Offen and
two surviving brothers settl-
ed in Michigan after the
Holocaust because they
discovered relatives here.
On Tuesday, Jews
throughout the world will
commemorate Yom Hashoah,
Holocaust Memorial Day. Of-
fen will mourn for the Six
Million who perished in the
Holocaust during a trip to
Israel, where. he and about
200 survivors from Cracow
will hold the first New
Cracow Friendship Society
Inc. convention.
The Cracow survivors have
pooled $2 million for a
rehabilitation center for
Israeli soldiers in Tel Aviv.
They will dedicate the the
center on Thursday.
"The Holocaust lesson is a
big lesson of survival," Offen
said. "We (survivors) didn't let
anything stop us. And most of
us have done quite well."
Eerie tales fill the lives of
survivors like Offen. No mat-
ter how shocking or gruesome

reiterate them at public
engagements and on tapes at
the Holocaust Memorial
Center. It is a duty, they say.
The Holocaust must not be
"Survivors have extraor-
dinary determination," said
Rabbi Charles Rosenzvieg, of
the Holocaust Memorial
Center. "Many of those who
survived were lucky, but no
one could have survived,
without determination."
Rosenzvieg said survivors
appear to be more driven
than the general population.
The Holocaust experience, he
suggested, helped contribute
to the success of many of to-
day's survivors.
Abe Pasternak, who surviv-
ed Auschwitz and Buchen-
wald, started his own
business — King Tire Center
in Pontiac — in 1960. Before
that, he served as a chaplain
in the U.S. Army. After his
release, Pasternak secured a
job as a clerk and soon was
promoted to salesman for Na-
tional Drygoods Co.
Pasternak was ambitious,
and he said he has done well
because of the Holocaust
"We are survivors," Paster-
nak explained. "We have
drive and incentive."
With $7 in his pocket,
Pasternak came to the United
States in 1947 on a loan from
the Jewish Welfare Federa-
tion. Pasternak owed $250 to
the Federation in Detroit,
where he had an uncle.
"I worked for $25 a week as
a grocery store clerk and each
week paid $5 to the Federa-
tion until it was paid," he
said. "I had no one to go to to
ask for help. I worked hard. I
wasn't spoiled. I wasn't afraid
to tackle things.
"Success has a great deal to
- do with America," Pasternak
said. "This country ,made
things available. We didn't
ask for anything. We had con-
fidence and this country
helped us take advantage of
"We, as survivors, tried to
build security for ourselves,"
he added. "We lost it as
children when we came out of
ashes naked with no one and
had to fend for ourselves. We
needed to get back our digni-
ty and respectability."
Alex Ehrmann came to
Detroit in 1960 to go into
business with Bernie and
Emery Klein of Alaron Inc.,
manufacturers of home enter-
tainment products. The trio
Continued on Page 10

Determination helped furrier Sam Offen succeed.


The Bible, Elvis
And Cauliflower

Sixty-five percent of
Americans make a sincere ef-
fort to eat vegetables like
cauliflower; 3 percent believe
Elvis was history's most ex-
citing figure and 1 percent
read the Bible more than once
a day, according to a survey

Americans like stuffed pep-
pers; 64 percent live in the
state where they were born;
66 percent of American men
believe in love at first sight;
67 percent of Americans
believe files are kept on them
for unknown reasons; and 80
percent of American dog
owners give their pets table

Shema Yisrael
Sends Mailing

Shema Yisrael, a "Mes-
sianic Jewish" group based in
Southfield, is mailing area
residents a pamphlet called
"The Most Famous Jew of

Dog: 'Give Me Your Table Scraps'

published this month in
Philip Morris Magazine.
The list first appeared in
100% American by Daniel
Evan Weiss.
Other fascinating facts for
the statistics collector: 8 per-
cent of Americans, if they had
the ability, would love to
make an Evel Knievel-type
jump on a motorcycle; 10 per-
cent of American truck
drivers are women; 20 percent
of Americans would rather
have a tooth pulled than take
a car in for repairs.
In addition, 58 percent of

The pamphlet is filled with
quotes about Jesus by Albert
Einstein, Martin Buber and
Rabbi Stephen Wise, among
The pamphlet includes a
card to order a free copy of
Good News According to Mat-
thew. "This book radiates
beauty, love, warmth,
Jewishness, and a closeness
to God that is unique in
Jewish literature," reads a let-
ter from Shema Yisrael Ex-
ecutive Director Loren
He adds: "If you would like
to talk to someone about
spiritual issues, please feel
free to give us a call. We en-
joy discussing our discovery —
that it's not only possible to
be Jewish and believe in
Jesus, but it's a very Jewish
thing to do!"

Dishing Up
A New Haroset

Some Detroit area residents
were among Jews nationwide
who received packets of oh-so-
tempting vacuum packed —
that's right, vacuum-packed
— haroset for Pesach.
Imported from Israel, the
haroset contains nuts, dates,
apples, cinnamon, ginger and
Jerusalem wine. Potential
eaters are advised to add
some wine to the contents "to
give the haroset its proper
The vacuum-packed haroset
is the brainchild of Telshe
Yeshiva in Wickliffe, Ohio,
which for the past eight years
has sent out the two silver
packets, one for each seder
Located outside Cleveland,
the yeshiva was established
by members of the Thlshe
Yeshiva in Lithuania, which
was destroyed in the

Happy Birthday
In Hebrew

The Lubavitch Youth
Organization has established
a hotline that will let callers
know their Hebrew birthday.
Rabbi Menachem Schneer-
son, called on all Jews to
observe their Jewish birth
The number of the hotline
is (718) 953-5000.
Compiled by Elizabeth



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