We came to the United States on student visas provided by Yeshiva Torah Vodaath. I was among those yeshivah bachurim (approximately 20 boys) who were detained for a few days. When the judge asked me, “What are your means of support?” (so that the U.S. government would not have to support us) I didn’t have a good answer. The yeshivah asked a man by the name of Hashy (Reb Tzvi) Weingarten to oversee our learning on Ellis Island.
Reb Michael Ber Weissmandl, zt”l, who had made all the arrangements, was adamant that Jewish boys did not belong in Manhattan. He set up the yeshivah in an out-of-town area, in Raritan, New Jersey, at Schweitzer’s rest farm. We remained there for approximately one year. The bachurim were very satisfied and I recall that this was the most beautiful atmosphere for learning.
Rav Weissmandl brought out the Stropkover Rebbe and the Satmar Rebbe; the Klausenburger Rebbe got married there on a Friday afternoon. The Satmar Rebbe, who was his uncle, was mesader kiddushin. It was a beautiful time in our lives. For me, personally, this was a very special time, for my chavrusa was Harav Avraham Chaim Spitzer — a gadol hador. He was always pushing me to learn more and more; this was a special treat and a big zechus for me. For the last 18 years I have been learning b’chavrusa with his brother, Rabbi Jacob Spitzer.
Can you tell us about the sefer Torah that you dedicated in your father’s memory?
I gave a sefer Torah to Yeshivah Zichron Moshe of South Fallsburg, in the year 2000, in memory of my father, z”l, and in his honor. It was a very beautiful simchah, with many chashuve Rabbanim attending.
My father was an exceptional person. We never heard any complaints from a man who was left with just one child after the horrors of the Holocaust. He accepted everything that happened to him in his life with ahavah. He did not care for luxuries and fancy things. He was known to say, “Tzi’vus darf min dus huben — Who needs these things?” In his hesped for my father, Rabbi Goldstein said that in all the years that he knew my father, he never heard him speak devarim beteilim. Baruch Hashem, we were zocheh to build a beautiful family of talmidei chachamim and bnei Torah.
What message can you impart to today’s generation?
The greatest ambition of my life is to write the story of this terrible, incomprehensible and incomparable churban, “lemaan yeidu doroseichem.” The Torah says, “Zachor es asher asah lecha Amalek.” It is extremely important to remember the biggest destruction in history. Hakadosh Baruch Hu should help that we should never experience anything like this churban again.
I cannot close my narration without paying tribute to my dear wife of over 60 years, Leah Freimark, shetichyeh, daughter of the shochet in Vineland, N.J., one of the first talmidos of Rebbetzin Vichna Kaplan in America. Our daughter is presently a teacher in Rebbetzin Kaplan’s Bais Yaakov.
Before her sickness, she was a regular participant of Neshei Ahavas Chesed. She would go daily to hospitals to feed the sick and say Tehillim for the sick and unfortunate. Our daughter and sons and their children and grandchildren are all involved in teaching and learning Torah, which is the greatest nekamah and nechamah for our family and for all of Klal Yisrael.
“B’chol dor vador omdim aleinu lechaloseinu, v’Hakadosh Baruch Hu matzileinu miyadam.”
If readers would like to correspond with Mr. Miller regarding this article, they may send a letter to his home and Mr. Miller will, iy”H, respond.
Mr. Shlomo Miller
1537 47th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11219
These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.