By Hannah Levin – The Yeshiva World
Photos: Lenchevsky Images
On May 25, the United States Senate celebrated Jewish American Heritage Month by officially recognizing several outstanding Jewish Americans who have greatly enriched the fabric of American life.
Prominent members of the US Senate participated and heralded the accomplishments of this year’s honorees, including Lubavitcher Rabbi Hillel Zaltzman of the Chamah organization, and author of the book “Samarkand.” Rabbi Zaltzman received a special award presented by Senator Ben Cardin.
Zaltzman was born in Kharkov, Ukraine and fled the Nazis to Samarkand, Uzbekistan, where he grew up.
When simply being a Jew posed a grave danger, sixteen-year old Zaltzman entered the Jewish underground-whose mandate was to keep Judaism alive in the crosshairs of the KGB by carrying out missions throughout the Soviet Union.
Zaltzman immigrated to America in 1974. In his widely-acclaimed literary work, Samarkand, The Underground’s Far Reaching Impact, Zaltzman transports the reader to times gone-by, painting a graphic picture of legendary heroes by describing in vivid detail the fascinating story of the self-sacrifice of a small group of Jews who bravely fought the mighty, brutal Soviet regime, and prevailed.
10,000 copies of the book have been printed, and a new enhanced English version has just arrived in the stores. Although the book is geared toward the wider Jewish community, it is currently being read and enjoyed by non-Jewish readers as well.
Other honorees included Thomas B. Corby, President of the LA based Erwin Rautenberg Charitable Foundation, whose support has enabled the USC Shoah Foundation, Jewish Home for Aging, Holocaust Survivors Justice Network, and The JVS Scholarship Fund, Mrs. Ruth Lichtenstein, founder of Project Witness, recognized for her trailblazing accomplishments in the realm of Holocaust education and J. Morton Davis, owner and Chairman of D.H. Blair Investment Banking Corp.
This event was co-chaired by Greg Rosenbaum, whose leadership has greatly enhanced the Jewish Heritage celebrations on Capitol Hill; Hon. Norman Eisen, former Ambassador to the Czech Republic; Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder; Stanley Treitel, Co-Chair of the Wallenberg Commission; and coordinated by The Friedlander Group, under the stewardship of Mr. Ezra Friedlander who remarked that this year’s honorees, “literally represent the gamut of Jewish contributions to the United states, ranging from fighting for religious freedom, philanthropy, Holocaust remembrance and education, business achievements, civil rights, and successful integration of an immigrant community.”