When Roz met Jake in Haifa

Jack Posner’s earliest memories are of attending church in Poland. Jack was born in 1938 in the town of Tarczyn, about 40 km. south of Warsaw. When the Jewish community of the town was deported to the Warsaw ghetto, Jack was a toddler, and had to endure the hell of confinement with his family.

In April 1943, before the heroic uprising, Jack and his family escaped from the ghetto. His family did not live to see the end of the war. Before they were murdered by the Germans, Jack’s parents handed him over to the Catholic Church. He found shelter with righteous Catholics. He survived the Shoah with no memory of his parents or his two older brothers.

Be the first to know –

In 1947, Jack arrived in pre-state Israel, smuggled past the British blockade. He was barely 10 years old, and found himself packing ammunition in crates in preparation for the coming war. He lived on a religious kibbutz during his first years in Israel but did not find it to his liking. At the age of 17 he joined the IDF, where he served for three years. After his service, he worked as a medic. While Israel became his home, he was always in search for the love of a family. He would always carry the anxiety of loneliness and the dangers of his early life. He was a Jew in search of a past, and love.

The turning point in Jack Posner’s life was a chance meeting one evening in Haifa in 1965. Roz Lederman, a native of Brooklyn, was backpacking through Israel with friends. Roz had a hankering for a smoke, but had no light. She asked a passerby for a match. The passerby happened to be Jack. They hit it off right away. To Roz’s surprise, after corresponding with Jack for months, he arrived on her doorstep in Brooklyn and proposed.

It has been more than a half a century since that chance meeting in Haifa. Jack found the love of his life. He also found a family.

Roz and Jack Posner are congregants in my synagogue in South Florida. Roz served as president of the congregation, and Jack is always there to pitch in when the synagogue needs him for an event or a service.

Jack is a loving father to three children and cherishes his four grandchildren. Roz says that he would “take the shirt off his back” for his family. It was not only Roz’s love for Jack that has sustained him but also the discovery of her family, a wonderful legacy for a man who had never had a family until then. Jack’s first birthday party was at the age of 40. The only time Roz saw him weep was when her mother died.

I spoke to Roz about Jack’s life and their years together. Roz told me that “when Jack lit up my cigarette, he lit up my life.” I wish them many more happy years together.

The author is rabbi of Congregation Anshei Sholom in West Palm Beach, Florida.