October 12, 2005
Spotlight on Holocaust survivors: The next generation

For this surgeon, lessons from the past shape actions in the present

By Deborah J. Botti
For the Times Herald-Record

Dr. Ronald Israelski, a Hudson Valley orthopedic surgeon, makes no bones about his disgust with any kind of bigotry.

In the fall of each year, he teaches an eight-week Holocaust studies course to post-bar and bat mitzvah students at the Monroe Temple of Liberal Judaism. Just a few weeks ago, he opened his most recent session with the question: Have you experienced any prejudicial slurs?

Eleven of 13 hands went up. That worries him. And there is no better time than in the midst of the High Holy Days to recall the lessons from the past.

He then tells his students that they are the last eyes looking into the eyes and at the tattoos of those who have survived the extermination camps. Those words carry even more meaning since his father’s death several months ago. Israelski’s Aunt Sally, the only other Holocaust survivor on his father’s side, will share her experiences of digging graves and dodging death with his students in November.

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