Borough Park, NY - Street Photographer’s Blizzard Shot Captures Holocaust Survivor’s Determination To Daven With A Minyan
Brooklyn, NY - Just days after the record snowfall that slammed the East Coast, social media has been buzzing with pictures showing massive snowdrifts, colossal snowmen and even neighbors pitching in to dig each other’s cars out of the snow, but perhaps none is as heartwarming as a photograph taken in Borough Park, showing a group of men carrying an elderly Holocaust survivor in a wheelchair home from shul.
The photo was captured by VIN News photographer Eli Wohl who spent several hours roaming the streets of Borough Park on Sunday morning looking for a unique photo opportunity when he noticed a cluster of people in the distance.
Nearing the group, Wohl saw several men carrying an older gentleman in a wheelchair through the snow covered streets.
“I started walking towards them and I started shooting and when I was done a neighbor came over and said I had captured a special moment,” Wohl told VIN News.
“She told me how the man in the wheelchair was a Holocaust survivor, with a number inked on his arm from the concentration camps, who wouldn’t give up on attending minyan even in the worst weather you could imagine.”
The man in the wheelchair was Binyomin Jakubovic, a Borough Park resident for over 60 years who is currently over 90 years old and one of the oldest living survivors of Auschwitz.
Jakubovic’s grandson Mordechai Jacobs confirmed that his zaidy is a regular at Rabbi Menashe Klein’s shul, located around the corner from his home on 52nd Street.
“He has not missed a day in a very, very long time, as long as anyone can remember,” explained Jacobs. “Even though he is getting older and frailer, going to shul is a very important part of his life.”
The decision to go to shul for Shachris on Sunday morning was a simple one for the elderly Mr. Jakubovic, despite the enormous mountains of snow lining city streets.
“The streets were somewhat passable so we brought him down and got some assistants,” said Jacobs. “He has an aide and a very dedicated grandson, Moshe Grosz, who has been at his side to insure that he can attend minyan. Baruch Hashem he is lucid and his mind is very clear. He wanted to go and at that age when someone has a wish like that you don’t stop them.”
Mr. Jakubovic was born in Chust, now part of the Czechoslovakian Republic. He and his wife married before World War II erupted and both miraculously survived Auschwitz, reuniting after the war.
After moving to America, the couple settled in Borough Park in the 1950s and had two sons and two daughters.
Mr. Jakubovic owned a company that sold camera accessories, working until he was well into his 80’s.
“It is one of the reasons he has been healthy for so long,” said Jacobs. “He never owned a car and was always taking the subway into Manhattan, carrying heavy bags.”
Jacobs noted that his grandfather worked very hard to achieve balance in his life.
“You have to make time for your family, your parnasa and your avodas hakodesh,” said Jacobs. “For him going to minyan and learning is as simple and natural as it is for me to breathe and sleep.”
Mr. Jacobs estimated that his grandfather is among the oldest living kohanim in Borough Park.
“He pretty much does pidyon haben all the time and is always giving brachos to people,” said Jacobs. “He is the kind of person who has nothing bad to say about anyone else and never got into a fight with anyone.”
Jacobs admitted that his grandfather has become more fragile in recent years.
“My grandmother takes care of him,” said Jacbos. “She is well into her nineties and I would say she is more vigorous than I am and I am in my thirties.”
While he witnessed unthinkable horrors in his lifetime, Mr. Jakubovic continues to live a life filled with positivity.
“He is a very, very special person,” said Jacobs. “He never saw the evil in anyone and despite all that he went through he is able to see the joy in everything.”
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