By Sergio Carmona
Reprinted from South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Despite the tragedy that 92-year-old Holocaust survivor Henry Flescher has endured, including losing his entire family in the Shoah and surviving seven concentration camps, he still maintains a positive outlook on life.
Flescher’s optimistic view on life moved and inspired 70 people, most of them young professionals, who were keen on listening to him tell his life story on Erev Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) during the third annual “Memories in the Living Room.” This event was presented by Jewish Community Services of South Florida’s young professionals group, JCS Alliance, and hosted by the Lekach family in Golden Beach.
“Memories in the Living Room” is a platform for survivors to retell their stories for succeeding generations to hear firsthand about the Holocaust by those who were forced to endure its horrors. Flescher, an Aventura resident and client of JCS’ Holocaust Survivor Support Program, has been involved with the organization for the past 13 years.
Flescher was very emotional when he told those in attendance: “I like to talk about the good things. I don’t like to talk about the bad things. I enjoy life every day. To me life is so precious. Life is a dream.”
Flescher, who also mentioned he enjoys life moment by moment, told them that it was nice to see young people interested in hearing his story.
“I’m very proud to be here and to see you all here,” he told the young professionals in the room.
Flescher was born in Vienna and escaped to France during World War II but was captured in Lyon. During this harrowing experience, he worked in a shoe factory at the Ohrdruf camp, helped build bridges at the Peiskretscham camp, and also worked at the Blechhamer camp where he witnessed a friend be hanged for using a telephone wire as a belt to hold his pants up. Flescher was eventually found hiding in a chicken coop by American soldiers in 1945.
Flescher told the young professionals that his dream came true when he was liberated and that he celebrates two birthdays :the day he was born and the day of his liberation.
Flescher concluded his presentation with a message he advised the young professionals in the room to consider: “Yesterday is history, today is reality, tomorrow is a dream.”
Hinda Adler, a co-chair for the event and JCS Alliance, said regarding Flescher: “It’s really a breath of fresh air and so inspiring to see how positive he is on life after everything he’s been through.”
Marian Mendelsohn, JCS’ director of special projects said: “The JCS Alliance is grateful for Henry and his story. His positive outlook on life and his message to live every day to the fullest is a great lesson for young professionals. As our children won’t have the luxury of meeting and hearing first-hand from a survivor, this is a defining moment.”
Danielle Lifshitz, a 34-year-old North Miami Beach resident who attended the presentation, said: “The fact that, after everything he went through, he’s able to enjoy himself and he’s able to be happy is amazing.”
Yuval Elya, 21, of Miami, said : “This was beautiful. You never see a Holocaust survivor so positive and so optimistic.”
Visit JSCs Alliance’s Facebook page or jcsfl.org or contact Mendelsohn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 305-403-6539 for more information on this young professionals group.