On March 16, 2013 during Shabbat morning services, Ambassador Richard Schifter dedicated a sculpture in memory of his parents Paul and Balbina Schifter who perished during the Shoah. Richard Schifter was born in Vienna in 1923 to his Polish parents who had moved to Vienna in search of a better life. After the Anschluss in 1938, the Schifter family applied to the United States for permission to emigrate to the U.S. Due to quotas, only Richard received a visa whilst Paul and Balbina had to await visas in a much longer line for Polish-born citizens. Richard relocated to New York in December 1938 at the age of 15 and maintained a regular correspondence with his parensts until the United States entered World War II in December 1941. Paul and Balbina perished at Majdanek in 1942, a fact that Richard only learned several years later. Richard went on to serve in the United States Army during the War after receiving a degree from the city College of New York, then went to Yale law school and had a distinguished career as a lawyer. In the 1980's Richard was appointed as the United States Representative to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and later became an Ambassador to the United Nations as the representative to the Security Counsel. Following a distinguished "second career" serving the U.S. Government from 1981 until 2001, Ambassador Schifter helped found and still serves as Chairman of the Board of the American Jewish International Relations Institute.
Ambassador Schifter was flanked by his family, many of whom had never heard the full story of his parents' lives, as he related the story to the congregation. Click here to read his remarks. During services, his daughter Debbie also read portions of the letters Richard wrote to and received from his parents between 1938 and 1941, which brought tears to most of the congregants who attended this extraordinary morning service. Below is a photograph of the sculpture Ambassador Schifter dedicated that morning, which resides in our Holocaust Exhibit in the Green Family Lobby. The sculpture was commissioned by Zachary Oxman, a local artist who has created other work in our building including our sanctuary Ner Tamid. We thank Zach for his wonderful work.