The Holocaust and Tefillin: A Story

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This is the story of Rabbi Eliezer Silver and congregant.

Rabbi Silver convened an emergency meeting in November 1939 in New York City, where the Vaad Hatzalah (Rescue Committee), was formed, with Rabbi Silver as president. Rabbi Silver spearheaded its efforts in rescuing as many European Torah scholars as possible from Nazi Europe. During World War II, a Vaad representative in Switzerland even negotiated with the SS, offering to ransom concentration camp prisoners for cash and tractors – talks that freed hundreds from Bergen-Belsen and other death camps.

In October 1943, as the scale of Nazi atrocities was becoming clearer, Rabbi Silver helped organize and lead a mass rally of more than 400 rabbis in Washington, D.C. to press for more decisive action by the US government to save European Jews.