Dan and I attended an assembly this morning at Passaic High School in New Jersey.
It wasn’t your typical assembly, and it was very different from any I attended at school. A new play called The Leaf was being performed. We went because we know the person that wrote and produced it — our friend and neighbor, and the school principal, Tobias. The kids at his school performed the play.
Growing up, Tobias never understood why he didn’t have any cousins and grandparents like other kids. When he was nineteen he started to learn the reason from his mother as she began giving him fragmented information about her earlier life in Germany. Tobias’s mother was a holocaust survivor. The Leaf is her harrowing story as told by Tobias.
The first tears rolled down my cheeks while Tobias was introducing the play at the podium. I already knew the story, and during the introduction Tobias explained that it has shaped his life.
Edith, Tobias’s mother, was married to Meyer in 1936 and soon after had a child they named Mordachai. Mordachai, Tobias’s half-brother (though Tobias was born more than a decade later) died when he was two years old while his parents were in hiding from the Nazis. Later, Edith became separated from her husband and ended up in a concentration camp. She didn’t know what had become of Meyer. In 1946, Edith was briefly reunited with Meyer at a displaced person’s camp. It was then that she learned that Meyer, believing her dead, had married someone else and intended to remain with his new wife.
The kids and staff at the school did a great job putting on the play, and everyone was moved by the story. By the end people all around us were wiping their eyes.
Something powerful took place in that auditorium today. Through his play Tobias transferred knowledge of the holocaust to a new generation and helped ensure that no one forgets the atrocities that took place. Addressing the students after the play, Tobias told them they should be ambassadors for peace and harmony.
Edith later married again, and had three more children including Tobias. Tobias is married to Iris, and they have a lovely daughter Moriah.
We are grateful for knowing Tobias and his family. We appreciate the great work that he does, and very much appreciate him sharing his mother’s story.
live. enjoy. repeat.