Kryszek also was part of a delegation of local survivors who returned to Poland to collect soil and ash to be interred at the Oregon Holocaust Memorial in Washington Park. “This trip was made at great emotional expense to each of the survivors,” says Kaner.
Fellow survivor Miriam Greenstein adds, “No matter what we’re doing or where we are, Jake bursts into song. Many of them are Yiddish songs of yesteryears and Nonagenarian Jakob ( Jake) Kryszek will become the 15th recipient of the Rabbi Joshua Stampfer Community Enrichment Award Dec. 11. The dinner event is not a fundraiser.
Kryszek says he didn’t expect to receive this honor, but will accept it very happily because “I was so deeply moved that my part in the Jewish community in Portland was considered to be a reflection of the care that we have always had in our com- munity from our beloved Rabbi Stampfer.”
“We are a blessed community to have a leader like Rabbi Stampfer. He has always shown us by his example a way of life that builds a community that prospers because of its self-respect and respect for the other, as well. Through the 15 years of the award’s history, many good people have been honored, and now it is for me. But it is really a night in which we all honor Rabbi Stampfer, who has led us to look for good deeds and service to the community because it was his way, and it made this wonderful community the way that it became.”
The celebratory evening annually attracts hundreds of Portlanders from within and without the Jewish community, and this year will include a number of Kryszek’s loved ones from out of state. Congregation Shaarie Torah’s new leader, Rabbi Joshua Rose, will lead the invocation and ha’motzi, and Lisa Kaner, a lawyer and long-time friend of Kryszek, is the evening’s emcee. The kosher dinner will be provided by Century Catering. Invitations go out in early November.
An entrepreneur, Kryszek purchased as a family business and continues – now in his 96th year of life – to run Columbia Knit, Inc., which produces warm knitwear. He is perhaps best known, as a survivor of five concentration camps who continues tirelessly to educate others about Holocaust horrors and support efforts for its remembrance.
For example, in memory of his first wife, Sala, also a survivor, Kryszek and his sons founded the Sala Kryszek Art and Writing Competition, which encourages both educators and young people to teach and learn about the Holocaust and fight injustice in their own lives and on behalf of others, regardless of race, creed or sexual orientation.memories of Polish origin.” Kryzsek often shares his story: “I have a deep commitment to the teaching of the Holocaust. It is my lifework. In the Lodz (Poland) ghetto in 1939, I heard if I volunteered to work, my family would get more food rations. I signed up and was immediately sent to Germany to help build the Autobahn. I never saw my family again. A Nazi foreman – big, tough, strong, mean – oversaw our work. After a time, once he returned from his meals, he sometimes brought back some leftovers, perhaps a half sandwich, and hid it. With a gesture to me, I understood it was for me. Perhaps he did the same for others. I had no way of knowing – one would not dare mention such a thing. In those terrible times, here was a man with compassion, feeling and courage. There were others like him … gentiles who at personal risk and for no financial or religious reasons chose to save the Jewish people. There were people like this, even among the Nazis. There are always opportunities to do good things.
The Jews have a long history of being attacked.We say ‘never again’ about the Holocaust, but that is not enough. We have to continue to educate every generation about the Holocaust and also about the rich history of Jewish culture and life.”
Dr. Merritt Linn founded the Stampfer Community Enrichment Award in1999. With a few members of the Portland Jewish community he created a non- fundraising event to honor pillars of the community, either Jewish or non-Jewish. This pillar must fill big shoes: the founding committee named the tribute after Rabbi Emeritus Joshua Stampfer, whose values, love of the Jewish community, ideals of tzedakah and tikkun olam, lifelong learning and more always would be an example to others. Indeed, as was fitting, Rabbi Stampfer was the award’s first recipient.
Other honorees have been Hershal Tanzer (z”l), Jerry and Helen Stern, Milt Carl, Henry Blauer (z”l), Shirley Tanzer (z”l), Alan and Eve Rosenfeld, Irwin and Renee Holzman, Madeline Nelson and family, the Zidell family, Ruben and Elizabeth Menashe, Priscilla Kostiner, Arden and Lois Shenker, and Jim Winkler. The event also features outstanding youth recognized for their impressive scholarship, philanthropy and love of the Jewish community. Sylvia Frankel created the youth award in 2006. The high school recipients will be announced later in the fall.
Since the award’s inception, outside venues have hosted the event. Beginning this year, Rabbi Stampfer’s synagogue of more than 40 years, Congregation Neveh Shalom, will host the evening in perpetuity.
RABBI JOSHUA STAMPFER COMMUNITY ENRICHMENT AWARD
WHEN: Dec. 11 WHERE: Congregation Neveh Shalom, 2900 SW Peaceful Lane, Portland TICKETS: $60 from nevehshalom.org/our-community/community-enrichment-award QUESTIONS: Event chair Jenn Director Knudsen, email@example.com or 503-807-5816.