Grandfather and Holocaust Survivor Mark Orbach MAG

March 6, 2008
By Rachel Orbach, Great Neck, NY

In September 1939, World War II began, with the German army marching into Poland and expelling the Jewish people from their homes. However, even before the war officially began, life was not easy for them. Hatred and animosity were developing. The situation soon became unmanageable and laws were passed segregating Jews from the rest of society. Everyday life grew increasingly difficult. The German government made no effort to help the Jewish citizens get their lives back to normal or maintain their dignity. Most people today are aware of the atrocities of the Holocaust, a time in history when the Nazis executed a full-scale attack to annihilate the Jews.

My grandfather, Mark Orbach, is one of many who were captured, ­deported in cattle cars, and held in Siberian camps until the end of the war. He is fortunate to have survived this horrifying chapter in our history.

Along with many other Jews, my grandfather and his family left Poland to begin a new life in America. He arrived with nothing, not even a penny in his pocket. He held many jobs and through hard work and dedication, he eventually saved enough to start his own business with his father and brothers. My grandfather overcame many obstacles, just like many other survivors of the Holocaust.

My grandfather is my hero for these reasons, but also many more. The challenges he experienced are all part of the stories woven together from a common thread of Holocaust survivors. Yet he is my hero for another reason that is less apparent to the average person: he was able to build a family.

During a time when it was not common for Jewish parents to send their children to Jewish day schools, my grandfather insisted that his two sons and daughter receive a proper education. He succeeded in instilling a strong sense of identity in his kids, along with proper Jewish values. Through his hardships, my grandfather realized you have to enjoy the simple things in life, especially ­relationships with friends and family. He created a warm, loving environment in which to raise his children. They carried this with them to their own families, and today I am proud to say I am part of a close-knit, extended family.

A hero is someone who leads and sets the tone for others. My grandfather was one of many who paved the way for the growing number of Jewish families to send their children to a yeshiva. He is a leader in the Jewish community and his family. Through his conduct and interaction with others, he has provided a deep Jewish foundation for his family. My grandfather demonstrates through his tireless effort and dedication that anything is possible. He is my hero, and inspires me every day to be a better person.

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This article has 4 comments.

on Jan. 12 2010 at 9:52 pm
firstsnowfalls DIAMOND, Marcellus, New York
51 articles 6 photos 105 comments
Great job! Very powerful!

vivaladolce said...
on Jul. 11 2009 at 2:23 am
vivaladolce, Sarasota, Florida
0 articles 0 photos 7 comments
great piece! A little long but great all the same! Keep up the good work!

on Apr. 4 2009 at 3:06 am
Courtney.Firestone BRONZE, Thornhill, Ontario, Other
1 article 0 photos 22 comments
Sounds so much like my Zaidy! Except he was in Auschwitz, not Siberia. I was thinking of writing a similar piece, maybe I will. I think it is so important that we keep on spreading the word of the survivors, because the next generation won't have the opportunity...

dogger said...
on Dec. 4 2008 at 3:43 am
Zaida spent the holocaust in Siberia? How did the Germans manage to sneak him so far east past the soviet troops? Are you making this up?


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