Rina Haller –
As a graduate of Torah Academy for Girls Elementary and High School, my attendance of eleven years taught me much about Judaism, Torah, and secular knowledge. Yet only now in retrospect can I truly appreciate my school’s humble beginnings. As a high school junior and senior I had the privilege to be a student of Dr. Moshe Katz. A Holocaust survivor, educator and noted lecturer, his family’s story of survival is recorded in the book Nine out of Ten.
Each year, TAG freshmen undertake a Holocaust reading project over Pesach break, with Mrs. Liane Safier, the freshmen English teacher, then inviting Dr. Katz to observe the students’ presentations. With a majority of the classes choosing to work with Nine out of Ten, their presentations carried a theme of outpouring gratitude and with good reason. After moving to America following the war, Dr. Katz was involved in the founding of TAG, Yeshiva of Far Rockaway, and Yeshivas South Shore.
Dr. Katz, along with his brother, Yisroel, grandfather to a student, Yisroel’s wife, and Dr. Katz’s daughter came to the presentation. Sitting in the TAG classroom, Mrs. Safier stated, “Dr. Katz, you are a living testament to a unique story. You saw a void in the educational realm. They are sitting in these seats because of you.” Appropriately so, the students reflected the lessons of the Katzs’ story that resonated strongly with them. “The surviving six brothers and three sisters bestowed their trust in Hashem and believed He would protect them,” a group said. Their projects comprised of handmade portrayals and remembrances from the Katzs’ story of survival and faith, poems and personal stories of their thoughts of the book, and video interviews of Dr. Katz’s brothers, Sonny and Yisroel Katz. Dr. Katz said, “I wish that I could give you a prize.” You can hear the overwhelming sense of gratitude echoing through his voice.
Dr. Katz rekindled the flame which his parents lit, and all the Katzs used their parents’ legacy of faith to live through the war. Prior and following the war, they used a considerable fortune to serve others with their non-wavering faith in G-d that spread to thousands of young Jews now being educated as the Katzs never were.
By acknowledging and thanking Dr. Katz, we show gratitude to all survivors. By remembering their stories we are giving back to our foundations, the support and builders of our schools and communities. His teaching allows the second generation after the Shoah to make peace and learn about the past.
“My whole life is to make sure the Holocaust is not forgotten. It is not me, I am teaching, but there are those not with us. Tell your children and then you make my life happy,” Dr. Katz remarked.