The Talent That Saved Me

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Song of Salvation

Tovy Mann


Name: Reb Meyer Rosengarten

Country: Toronto

Era: Postwar

Talent: Singing

Meyer and his brothers grew up in Toronto, Canada. There were no yeshivas in Toronto then, so they attended public school, where their classmates laughed at the weird Jewish kids sporting shaved heads, long curly peyos, tzitzis over their shirts, and homemade woolen britches and socks.

It was not fun for the three brothers to be different, but their father refused to compromise on any aspect of their Jewish identity.

Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzky was the rav in the shul where the family davened. "Send the boys to New York to learn in a yeshiva," he advised their father.

So in 1945, Itche, Shimon and Meyer Rosengarten left home and moved to Williamsburg, where they learned in Yeshivas Torah Vodaath and lived in the yeshiva dormitory, not far from where their married brother Shmil lived.

The summers in New York City are sweltering, so the yeshiva opened a camp in the mountains.  Nothing fancy, just a few tottering old buildings that they called Camp Mesivta, but it was a great escape from the city heat and the boys loved being there.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 757)


The Badchan and the Rebbe



Name: Reb Yisroel (Brudy) Stern a’’h

Country: London, England

Era: Post-war to 5778/2008

Talent: Humor

Yisroel (Brudy) Stern had a special knack for making people laugh, and he used it. No one would have believed that the 16-year-old bochur in Manchester Yeshiva had recently been incarcerated in the Auschwitz death camp, because he was always making everyone else happy.

And he had every reason to be depressed. The Nazis had killed his mother and all but one of his siblings. He himself had endured unfathomable pain and trauma. In an act of hashgacha, he grabbed his father’s milah supplies as he was being deported to Auschwitz. When he tried to jump off the train his finger got stuck in the door, leaving him bleeding heavily on the speeding train. The bandages inside the milah kit ended up saving his life!

After the war, Yisroel became a mohel, just like his father. But he was not only a mohel. With his special talent for making people laugh, he also became a professional badchan.

When Yisroel got married, he and his wife were not blessed with children. As a busy mohel, it was particularly painful, as he longed to perform the mitzvah on his own child. Once, his father met Reb Itzikel of Pshevorsk zt”l. He asked the Rebbe to give R’ Yisroel a bracha for children. The humble Reb Itzikel told him, “My zeide, R’ Naftoli of Lizensk, was a great Rebbe and the brachos he gave on Purim were always fulfilled. I am not a Rebbe but I can dress up as one on Purim. If he comes to me then, I will see what I can do.”

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 757)


Follow the Leader

Tzirel Strassman


Name: Mrs. Tammy Karmel

Country: England, then Israel

Talent: Leadership qualities

My memories of Tammy Karmel go back to when she was a young girl living in Stamford Hill, London. She was one of those girls whom everybody heard about, knew about, spoke about. She was always the head of production or the captain of the team, and with her lively, adventurous spirit, was a favorite bunk counselor. Everybody loved Tammy. She was a born leader.

Now, 30 years later, everybody still loves Tammy Karmel. But she isn’t singing camp songs or giving engaging speeches anymore. She’s sitting on what her friends call her “throne,” unable to speak, eat, or move due to an illness that weakens the muscles in her body. But she’s reigning from that throne: guiding and organizing and encouraging and blessing others all the time. I know because I visit often. A magnetic power pulls me there, like it does so many others.

On my recent visit, Mrs. Karmel “spoke” to me via her letter chart, which tracks her eye movements to help her communicate. As I watched her eyes dart from letter to letter, up and down, left and right, to the “Yes” or the “No” buttons when we asked a question, her daughter Suri interpreted for me what her mother was saying, since it takes experience to read the chart.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 757)


Sign Here

Malky Lowinger


Name: Romi Cohn

Location: Pressburg

Talent: Master Forgery Artist

Era: World War II

The year was 1938. The Nazis were mercilessly hunting Jews in Eastern Europe, determined to kill every single one.

But one 16-year-old boy had a special gift: He was an expert forger. He could imitate any signature so that it looked just liked the real thing. His name was Romi Cohn, and he used this skill to save Jewish lives.

Romi grew up in Pressburg, Czechoslovakia. Like all young boys, he went to school. Like all young boys, he didn’t like doing his homework.

Nothing unusual about that, right? Most kids don’t like doing their homework. But Romi had a friend who was from a very poor family, and he never had enough food. So Romi made a deal with him: “If you do my homework for me, I’ll give you my lunch.”

The boy agreed and Romi never had to do homework again. The only problem was that all homework had to be signed by a teacher. “So I learned how to sign the teacher’s signature,” Romi says, “so I could sign the homework myself. And that’s how I learned how to forge signatures!”

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 757)










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