Yael Kalfon & Emil
Yael Kalfon, an Advanced Phototherapy Program student tells about her time with Emil
I meet Emil almost every Monday. Emil is a 94-year-old Holocaust survivor who belongs to a Bnei Akiva stream. During the war, he worked in Budapest at the Swiss Embassy and issued forged documents, with which he helped to release many prisoners from labor camps. His mother and younger sisters perished in the Holocaust. He immigrated to Israel with his wife after the war and settled in Kibbutz Nir Etzion, but after a few years, he moved to the United States where he worked as an excellent tailor in San Francisco. In the US he was widowed 26 years ago, and returned to Israel. He has many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Currently he lives in the Makor Baruch neighborhood near his daughter Zippora. After writing his life story in recent years, he began to write various books, as a way to instill extra-religious knowledge for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He wrote history books, and we are now working on a book on the history of Hasidism. The book includes the central Hassidic and important personalities from the beginning of the Hasidic movement to the present day.
Emil wrote a manuscript of the book in the Hungarian language but with Hebrew letters- it is a very special way to write. His handwriting, despite his age, is very accurate and very neat.
I have known Emil for many years. When I worked at the Bible Lands Museum, he volunteered in the creative workshop and helped cut different materials for the creative workshops. Due to his past as a tailor his work is always precise and systematic. During the years we worked together, Emil told me the story of his life and many memories of the war and the first years in Israel, even today he tells me and there is always something new to tell. For me it was the very first and close encounter with the memories of the Holocaust. Emil has a developed sense of humor and always has jokes to tell and sometimes even crude jokes … Despite his advanced age, he is still sharp and clear.
At the same time, however, he always talks about his longing for his wife, who is waiting for him upstairs, and about the loneliness and difficulty of life at his age.
Recently, Emil connected to the Internet and I try to interest him in videos and pictures from his hometown and such- Recently we watched together a live video of the Kululum project and Emil was very excited to see people his age videos and singing.