Emanuel “Emek” Tanay (1928-2014) was born in Vilnius, Lithuania and grew up in Poland. The Holocaust began while he was still young, and he spent the first part of it hiding in a Catholic monastery. After his father died in a concentration camp, Tanay led his family out of Poland, through Slovakia and Hungary, finding hiding places and falsifying papers to keep himself and his remaining family members alive. Following the war, he moved to the US and studied psychiatry. Tanay went on to become a professor of psychiatry at Wayne State University, and was internationally renowned in his field. He dedicated a major part of his career to treating Holocaust victims, as well as working with the German government to provide compensation for survivors. Because of his own experiences in the Holocaust, Tanay worked tirelessly for those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He was part of a group of scientists who got PTSD recognized as a real, treatable condition. At one point, he was described as “the nation’s premier psychiatric theorist on homicide”, and served as an expert witness in some of the most famous trials of recent history, including that of Jack Ruby and Ted Bundy. Meanwhile, Tanay worked for his local Jewish community, too, founding the Jewish Council in the town of Grosse Point, and serving as its president. Tanay wrote three important books, including his reflections on the Holocaust in a book called Passport to Life, highly praised by fellow Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. He appeared on numerous television shows, and his story is explored in the Oscar-nominated documentary Courage to Care. Sadly, Tanay passed away on the 5th of August from prostate cancer.
Words of the Week
If you wait until you find the meaning of life, will there be enough life left to live meaningfully? – Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Nili Block and Sarah Avraham – Photo by Kobi Kalmanowitz
Nili Block was born in Baltimore, Maryland and made aliyah to Israel with her family when she was just 2 years old. At age 10, she joined her mother in Thai boxing classes. By 18, she won the KickBox World Cup in Hungary, a gold medal at the world kickboxing championship in Bangkok, and a European championship title, too. Block trains alongside Sarah Avraham, who also won the world championship in her division in Bangkok. Like Block, Avraham made aliyah with her family to Israel, hailing from India. Avraham was born in Mumbai to a Christian mother and a Hindi father who were both drawn to Judaism for many years and eventually converted. (They began the process with Rabbi Gavriel and Rebbetzin Rivka Holtzberg – who were tragically gunned down at their Chabad House in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.) Block and Avraham are the same age, and are both coached by Eddie Yusupov. The former is now a soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces, while the latter is doing her part in Israel’s National Service. They are both Torah-observant Jews, keeping kosher and Shabbat even on their boxing tours. The two world champions hope to compete in the 2016 Olympics Games, if kickboxing will finally be included as an Olympic sport.
Words of the Week
Just as it is incumbent upon every Jew to put on tefillin every day, so is there an unequivocal duty which rests upon every individual, from the greatest scholar to the most simple of folk, to set aside a half-hour each day in which to think about the education of his children. – Rabbi Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch
Moshe Yosef “Paul” Reichmann (1930-2013) was born in Vienna to Hungarian Orthodox Jewish parents. By a miracle, the family escaped Austria right before the Nazi takeover of the country, then fled from Hungary to Paris to Morocco. At the end of World War II, Reichmann studied in yeshivas in England and Israel before returning to Morocco and working as a shirt salesman. Shortly after, he moved to Toronto to open a new branch of his brother’s tile company, Olympia. By 1964, he built a separate property development company called Olympia & York. In 1976, the company built First Canada Place – what was then Canada’s tallest building (and the tallest bank office tower in the world). The company would expand to New York and Tokyo, London and Israel, becoming the world’s largest property developer. Reichmann’s vision of magnificent buildings adorning the skyline prompted Prince Charles to comment: “Do they have to be so tall?” Despite the tremendous success, Reichmann never abandoned his Orthodox roots, maintaining his prayer and study regimen, and having his company cease all operations on Shabbat and holidays. He used a great part of his fortune to finance synagogues, yeshivas, and charitable institutions around the world. In 1992 he lost the bulk of his wealth when Olympia & York went bankrupt in the midst of a large economic recession (and a failed project for London’s Canary Wharf – considered one of the largest development projects in history). He managed to rebuild a sizable portion of his wealth over the next two decades, and continued donating millions of dollars every year to good causes. Very private and shunning luxury, Reichmann was famous for his business integrity. He would seal multi-million dollar deals with a handshake, and never failed to keep his word. Sadly, the man who touched so many lives passed away earlier this week. Click here to read more about one of the greatest philanthropists of the century, and watch a video here.
Words of the Week
Abraham was told that his descendants will be like the dust of the earth [Genesis 13:17], and as the stars of heaven [Genesis 15:5]. So it is with Israel: When they fall, they will fall as low as the dust; when they rise, they will rise as high as the stars. – Midrash Pesikta Zutrati