Chabad of Port hosts Holocaust Memorial Day event

The Island Now
Leibel Mangel, the event's speaker, during his time with the IDF (Courtesy of Rabbi Shalom Paltiel).

In honor of Holocaust Memorial Day, Chabad of Port Washington is sponsoring a program including a “Tefillin Wrap” in memory of the 6 Million, brunch and a lecture by Leibel Mangel entitled “From Auschwitz to the IDF: Celebrating Jewish Pride, Strength, and Perseverance.”

The program will take place at Chabad, located at 80 Shore Road in Port on Sunday, April 15. Morning services begin at 9 a.m., at which time men & boys from the age of 13 years old are encouraged to come and put on Tefillin in memory of the 6 million who perished during the Holocaust. Brunch will follow at 10:15 a.m., followed by the lecture. Admission to the brunch and lecture is $18 per person and $10 for Chabad members. RSVP by calling Chabad at 767-8672 or on the website

The entire program is sponsored by Marcy & Manny Shurka in memory of Zelik Sander, a survivor who was very active at the Chabad House and passed away just a few short years ago at the age of 97. Zelik’s wish was that we don’t forget to teach the next generation about the atrocities of the Holocaust by observing an annual event honoring the memories of those who perished. 

The Shurkas became close to Mr. Sander after their daughter Ashley wrote a school paper based on extensive interviews with him about his experiences. Although they are of Sefardic background, so none of their own family was lost in the Holocaust, they’ve taken a strong interest in the subject these past ten years. They traveled to Auschwitz, walked on the March of the Living, and even bribed a guard to allow them up to the infamous Auschwitz watchtower where Manny put on his Tefillin.

“The feeling was indescribable… the best revenge for Hitler,” he said.

Chabad of Port Washington invites the entire Jewish community as well as the community at large to come out in support of Israel and to honor the souls of the 6 Million.  “It is no doubt a great joy for these holy souls when we get together, put on Tefillin in their honor, and celebrate Jewish pride and solidarity,” said Rabbi Shalom Paltiel of Chabad of Port Washington.    

The speaker is Leibel Mangel, the son of a Chabad rabbi and the grandson of one of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz. At age 19, Leibel left his home in Cincinnati to enlist in the Isreali Defense Force. He served as a machine gunner in the Kfir Brigade, where he took part in numerous high profile anti-terror operations. Even after his military discharge, Leibel has continued his service by fighting for Israel in both mainstream media and social media, and in cities throughout the USA. Leibel was recently nominated for a Jewish People’s Choice Award. Leibel’s story is at once spellbinding and demanding.

“An attack on Israel, is an attack on all Jews,” wrote Leibel in a recent open letter on the United With Israel website that went viral. “The IDF isn’t just an Israeli army, the IDF fights for Jews all around the world. The IDF makes sure that ‘never again’ means just that: never again. Israel needs us now more than ever. Let’s ensure that our brothers and sisters back home know for certain that we Diaspora Jews will never forget them.” 

Rabbi Paltiel put it this way: “Each of us cares deeply about Israel. But caring is not always enough. How can we translate the feeling into action and tangible support? Leibel, with his own colorful experiences, will show us how. We invite young and old alike, regardless of background or affiliation, to take this opportunity to listen to and be inspired by Leibel’s words.”  A question and answer period will follow to allow audience participation in this fascinating discussion.

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