26 July 1923—20 April 2016
This chapter provides an obituary for Ben-Zion Gold, a long-time member of the Board of the American Association of Polish Jewish Studies and was director of Harvard Hillel from 1958 until he retired in 1990. He grew up in a traditional religious Jewish family in Radom in central Poland and described his childhood in a beautifully written and moving memoir, The Life of Jews in Poland before the Holocaust (2007). In it he related his experiences as a student in a number of yeshivas, most notably in the preparatory programme of the Yeshiva Hakhmei Lublin which had opened just a few years earlier in 1930 in the imposing building which still stands and has been returned to the Jewish community of Poland. His parents, three sisters, and brother were murdered in the Holocaust. Ben-Zion attributed his survival to his religious faith and claimed that his experiences in German concentration camps 'deepened his attachment to Judaism and strengthened him in his devotion to his heritage'. But he was also well aware that the world of unquestioning faith in which he had been brought up could not be recreated after the Nazis' devastating revelation of what humanity was capable of.
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