Esther and Ben Sky
HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS’ LEGACY WILL MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON ISRAEL THROUGH JEWISH NATIONAL FUND
Esther and Ben Sky always felt a deep connection to Israel. As Holocaust survivors, Israel’s rebirth and success held a prominent and significant meaning to the Skys. It is for this reason when they chose to leave a very generous six figure gift to charity, they chose Jewish National Fund (JNF), an organization they had been passionate about for many years. They believed wholeheartedly in the mission of JNF, and wanted to help ensure the growth and perseverance of the land of Israel and her citizens. “Esther was an exceptional human being. She was extraordinarily kind and special. The decision of Ben and Esther to support Israel was not surprising,” said Harriet Feldman, a longtime friend of the Skys and Ben’s relative.
Esther and Ben both grew up near Lodz, Poland. Although they would not meet until after World War II, their paths were destined to cross. Ben’s cousin, Brenda Rosenthal, and her daughter, Harriet, met Esther in the concentration camps of Poland at the beginning of the war. From this point on, they would be lifelong friends. They were initially placed into a series of Hasag camps, or slave-like work camps, where Nazi armaments were manufactured. In January of 1945 Esther, Brenda and Harriet were moved to Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, where tens of thousands perished due to the horrific unsanitary conditions, lack of food and water, and disease. Astonishingly, the three women survived.
After the liberation of the camps in 1945, due to severe health issues, Esther was sent to a hospital in Sweden. Brenda asked her first cousin Ben to join Esther in Sweden in the hopes that a relationship would develop-and so it did! They were married in 1947, and ultimately moved to Los Angeles, CA, where their heroic spirit and aspirations could truly shine. “They were a compelling couple,” said Feldman. “Esther and Ben shared all that they did, working together in business, real estate, and life.”
The Skys were involved in the Jewish community of Los Angeles and they were ardent believers in the power of education. For this reason, their generous donation will be allocated toward the many educational programs Jewish National Fund supports, including Taglit-Birthright Israel through Shorashim, Alternative Spring Break, and Caravan for Democracy (an all-expense paid trip to Israel for college student leaders of all faiths), as well as JNF’s educational programs on college campuses in the United States.
Despite their challenging beginnings and the atrocities that they overcame, Esther and Ben persevered and created a beautiful life together. “With the establishment of a Jewish homeland, we were all able to finally be at peace,” says Feldman. Esther and Ben’s generous donation reflects this sentiment, and their legacy to Israel will carry on through their support of Jewish National Fund.