A Jewish Journey is the memoir of Sam Ron, born Shmuel Rakowski in Kazimierza-Wielka, a tiny village, or shtetl, near Krakow, Poland, in 1924, which was overtaken by the Nazis in 1939. As opposed to other Holocaust memoirs, the book takes the form of a Q&A with students who have met him to hear his story, underscoring the importance of Holocaust education not only for Sam himself, but also for all those who will never have the opportunity to meet a survivor. It is written in a novelistic form, in order to touch the heart as well as the mind.
Ron is one of the oldest living survivors of the Nazi death camps. After the war, he worked for Bericha, an organization that resettled in the Land of Israel orphaned refugees from Europe. He also served in the Haganah fighting force and was what is known as a chalutz, an early settler before the founding of the State of Israel, where he helped found a settlement and served as a soldier in the Haganah, the precursor to the Israel Defense Forces. He subsequently immigrated to the U.S. and was a successful land developer in Akron and Canton, Ohio. Now Sam lives in Boca Raton, Florida, and continues what he has done for over half a century: educating young and old about his experiences of the momentous historical events in which he has taken part. Along with his acclaimed work as a volunteer educator, until 2019, Sam Ron was a regular volunteer for the March of the Living, a longstanding educational program that takes students and adults to Poland and Israel to visit many of the same places where he survived—and thrived.
Born in Kazimierza-Wielka, Poland, Sam Ron was imprisoned in four concentration camps and helped found the modern State of Israel before becoming a land developer and a volunteer Holocaust educator in the US, Israel, and Poland. Mr. Ron is a recipient of the Elie Wiesel Award from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Caren Schnur Neile, has published six books, including her most recent, Peninnah’s World: A Jewish Life in Stories, with Hamilton Books. A performance storyteller, Dr. Neile has taught storytelling studies for over two decades at Florida Atlantic University.
Foreword by Alan L: Berger, Ph:D:
Introduction: Man’s Search for Listeners, by Caren Schnur Neile, Ph:D:
Part I: Timeline
Part II: The Talk
Part III: The Questions and the Answers
Chapter 1: What Was It like for You as a Boy in Poland?
Chapter 2: Can You Describe the Time Leading Up to War?
Chapter 3: How Did War Come to Your Town?
Chapter 4: What Was the Beginning of the German Occupation like for You?
Chapter 5: What Made Your Family Go into Hiding?
Chapter 6: What Did It Feel like to Be in Hiding?
Chapter 7: What Was Happening in Your Town While You Were in Hiding?
Chapter 8: What Was It like Getting to the Krakow Ghetto?
Chapter 9: Can You Describe Life in the Ghetto?
Chapter 10: What Was Life like for You at Plaszow?
Chapter 11: How Did You Get to Pionki?
Chapter 12: How Did You Leave Pionki and Where Did You Go?
Chapter 13: What Was It like Getting to Sachsenhausen?
Chapter 14: What Happened at Glowen?
Chapter 15: What Led to the Death March?
Chapter 16: What Were the First Few Days of Liberation Like?
Chapter 17: What Happened When You Got Back to Poland?
Chapter 18: What Did You Do for Bericha?
Chapter 19: How Did You Get to the Land of Israel?
Chapter 20: How Were You Wounded?
Chapter 21: Could You Talk about Bilha?
Chapter 22: What Did You Do after the Israeli War of Independence?
Chapter 23: What Happened to Your Parents Directly after Liberation?
Chapter 24: Could You Talk About Coming to America?
Chapter 25: Did You Encounter Anti-Semitism in the U:S: after the War?
Chapter 26: What Was It like Being an Immigrant to the U:S: at That Time?
Chapter 27: What Was Your First Visit Back to Your Hometown in 1980 Like?
Chapter 28: Could You Talk More about Getting Involved in Holocaust Education?
Chapter 29: What Made You Go Back to Poland in 1989?
Chapter 30: How Was It Reuniting with the Man Whose the Man Whose Family Hid You During the War?
Chapter 31: How Did You Feel Going Back to Kazimierza Wielka the Second Time?
Chapter 32: What Was Your Experience with March of the Living?
Chapter 33: What Have You Done Recently to Educate the Public about the Holocaust?
Chapter 34: What Is Your Relationship Now with Your Hometown?
Chapter 35: Are You Ever Benn Uncomfortable Speaking Out?
Chapter 36: What Is Your Proudest Achievement?
Chapter 37: What Do You Think Sustained You during Your Darkest Days?
Glossary of Yiddish Terms
About the Author
As Holocaust survivors share and record their personal stories, they provide the world with a new lens through which to understand history's most extreme collective example of antisemitism. Their testimonies have heightened significance in our time, as the publics attention spans shorten in the digital age; as the study of history and knowledge of the past declines; and as the assault on truth gains credibility in the public square.
In A Jewish Journey, Holocaust survivor Sam Ron tells his story in an engagingly unique and personal manner, making the readers feel that they are personally interviewing him. Filled with tragedy and triumph, Sam's memoir will stand the test of time and remain as a bulwark against the threat of Holocaust denial and distortion.
3/22/22, CBS News (Miami): Sam Ron’s reunion with a fellow Holocaust survivor was highlighted in this segment.
3/29/22, The Washington Post: Sam Ron’s reunion was further detailed in this piece.