Levli Ben-Samochan Bat Mitzvah Project
Midbar Kodesh Temple Bat Mitzvah student Levli Ben-Samochan, daughter of Erin and Josh, recently hosted a lunch and learn event featuring holocaust survivor Miki Solomon as her Mitzvah Project. Each B'nei Mitzvah student at Midbar Kodesh Temple selects a project to champion and present to the congregation and greater community. Levli wanted to introduce her family friend to students and guests so that they could hear his story. She partnered with the Zachor Holocaust Foundation founded by Las Vegas' Ben Lesser, also a holocaust survivor, by visiting with him and raising money for his foundation. Almost 50 guests joined Levli in welcoming Miki to Midbar Kodesh Temple, giving her the opportunity to offer Holocaust Education to her peers and to members and guests at the synagogue.
Miki's story begins with the rise of anti-antisemitism, Hitler and the Nazi regime in Germany. His family was taken to Bergen-Belsen where he was separated from his parents, not knowing their fate for many years. As Bergen-Belsen was about to be liberated the Nazis herded those still alive into box cars. Miki and 625 other children, along with more than 2000 others, were crammed into the cars. As the American Army began to advance, the train, originally on the way to the gas chambers at Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, was rerouted, stopped and abandoned at Farsleben. Before abandoning the prisoners, the final orders given were to destroy the train and the passengers by blowing it up or driving it off the bridge as they crossed over the Elbe River. The prisoners of the abandoned train, some still in locked cars, were liberated and cared for by soldiers of the United States Army. They were then transferred to Displaced Person Camps. The children were relocated to different countries, with Miki sent to France, where he was adopted by French Catholic parents. Miki later immigrated to Israel and then to the United States. He was reunited with his brother, and many years later, reunited with their mother, who had survived the camps. Decades later, Miki had the opportunity to meet with Frank Towers, one of the soldiers who liberated his train. Miki is married to Joyce Solomon. They have two children and one grandchild. Joyce and daughter Nicole Solomon accompanied Miki to Levli's luncheon program. Years ago, Miki was interviewed by the Shoah Foundation in Los Angeles, where his story is documented.
Every two years the 7th and 8th grade students at Midbar Kodesh Temple, accompanied by their parents and Midbar's clergy, visit the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles through a grant provided by the David L. Simon Foundation. Holocaust studies are part of the Religious School, B'nei Mitzvah and Ma'ayan curriculum. For more information on youth, teen and high school education at Midbar Kodesh Temple contact Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel or Cantor Raquel Gershon at 702.454.4848. For more information on the Zachor Foundation go to: www.zachorfoundation.org