Holocaust Survivor donates personally handcrafted mezuzah to Rotary District 6380, to be housed at the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor.
Collyer Smith gave the inspiration message. Last Thursday, April 8, was Yom HaShoah, the Jewish remembrance of the Holocaust, a time when 6 million people were killed for no other reason than they were Jewish. Collyer has been to the Holocaust Museum in Farmington Hills many times where he and all visitors are greeted by an enormous railway car; one the was used to pick up people and take them to concentration camps during the Holocaust. On one trip to the Museum, an object over the doorway was pointed out to Collyer. It was a mezuzah, a piece of parchment called a klaf contained in a decorative case and inscribed with specific Hebrew verses from the Torah. Collyer then saw that there were a number of mezuzahs around that doorway. He was told that all of them were made by Martin Lowenberg, a Holocaust survivor. Over the years, Collyer and Martin have become friends. Martin spoke to our Club about 5 years ago about his experiences and the Holocaust. Martin, who is 93 years old, is passionate about telling his story, especially to school aged children. He often says that soon there will be no more survivors to tell these stories. Last February, Martin Lowenberg, after hearing about Collyer’s path to District Governor of District 6380, gave one of the mezuzahs that he had made to District 6380 with the express wish that it be housed with the Ann Arbor Rotary Club. The mezuzah was made from original wood taken from the railway car when some of the its wood was removed and replaced during restoration. Collyer and Lori Walters are working with the University of Michigan Union to display the mezuzah at the Union according to traditional Jewish culture. Collyer ended by echoing Martin Lowenberg’s words, “We must never ever forget.” (Our member and photographer Fred Beutler wrote a piece for interested Rotarians called “What is a Mezuzah” — click here to read.)