Tag: Holocaust

Honoring Those That Risked Their Lives to Save Jews: Zahava Burack

Israel-Yad_Vashem_Garden_of_righteousBorn in Poland in 1936, Zahava Radza was only seven years old when the Nazis forced her and her parents and two sisters into hiding. Jozef and Stephania Macugowski was a Polish Catholic couple who risked life and limb to protect and hide the Radza’s, who were hidden in a tiny crawl space under the floor of their home. Measuring only 7 feet long, 5 feet wide and 20 inches deep, the four people were forced to endure for 2.5 years in this uninhabitable space. Later more refugees found shelter with the Macugowkis, until a total of nine people were crammed together for lack of any alternative other than death.
Unbelievably, the Germans took over the Macugowski house to use as a headquarters, but somehow Jozef was able to convince the Germans to allow them to take care of the house, secretly bringing food to the refugees.

When the Soviet Army liberated the town the refugees emerged. Their vocal chords and leg muscles had atrophied to the extent that they had to re-learn to talk in a normal voice, and to walk without wobbling. The sunlight, which they hadn’t seen in 2.5 years, stung their eyes. When the Radzas left, the Macugowskis made them promise to never reveal that they had saved their lives.

Zahava left Europe and lived in Israel for 12 years, serving in the Israel Defense Forces, until she moved to the United States. In 1958 she began working for the Israeli Consulate in New York, and soon married Robert H. Burack. Zahava began to search for the couple who had saved her and her family.

She became a political activist in New York, working for the Democratic party in Westchester County. In 1981 she ran for a seat in the Westchester County government, but lost by 2,500 votes to the incumbent, John L. Messina.

Finally, in 1986, Zahava succeeded to make contact with Jozef and Stephania. A recognition ceremony was arranged in coordination with the David Yellin College in Israel, and the Macugowskis were flown to New York to be honored for their sacrifice and loyalty. The State of Israel recognized them as Righteous Among the Nations for their devotion to helping the Radzas.

Zahava died of cancer in September, 2001, after a life of devotion to helping other people, and recognizing the good in them.

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Jona Goldrich: Philanthropist, Builder, Fighter

Jona Goldrich, a well-known supporter of Jewish institutions in the Los Angeles area, was a Holocaust survivor who fought in Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.

Goldrich was born Jona Goldreich in 1927 in Lvov, Poland, which is today part of Ukraine. When he was just 15 years-old, he and his brother Avram traveled across Europe to Israel to escape the Nazis in 1942.

He spent the next 11 years in Israel, as a soldier fighting for Israel’s independence and earning a degree in mechanical engineering from Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology.

In 1952, he traveled to the United States, making his way to the Los Angeles area with only $50 to his name. He changed his name to Goldrich, and started working as installing screens in Los Angeles. Just two years late he started his own company, Active Cleaning & Maintenance. Only three years later Goldrich developed his first property, and apartment building in North Hollywood.
Through the years Goldrich made his more in Southern California real estate.

His influence in Los Angeles was not confined merely to real estate. He was a large supporter of Jewish institutions, and still is through the Goldrich Family Foundation. The foundation is endowed with over $100 million, and supports a huge range of causes, from research hospitals and local schools to organizations in Israel.

One of Goldrich’s largest contributions was as the force behind the creation of LAMOTH, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust in Pan Pacific Park.

“He wanted people to experience history in the present,” said Samara Hutman, executive director of LAMOTH. “[He wanted] people to remember the people who are no longer with us, and if we don’t tell their stories, no one will.”

Jona Goldrich passed away in 2016, leaving behind his wife of 56 years, two daughters, a brother in Israel, and grandchildren.

2017 Los Angeles County Bar Association: Jona Goldrich from Verdict Videos on Vimeo.