By: Commentator Staff  | 

From The Commie Archives (April 29, 1996; Volume 60, Issue 13) — Mir Yeshiva’s Escape Chronicled at Yom Hashoah Program.

Editor’s Note: Yom Hashoah was recently commemorated on April 8. Below is an archive discussing the Mir Yeshiva’s tremendous escape during WWII, which was chronicled at Yeshiva University's Yom Hashoah program in 1996.


The Mir Yeshiva’s wartime travels from Poland to Vilna to Vladivostok to Kobe to Shanghai, and its remarkable deliverance from the hands of Hitler and Stalin during the dark days of the Holocaust, are topics which justify years of intense study. But Rabbi Marvin Tokayer, a witness to and participant in that community’s miraculous 1941 escape, was able to cogently convey that remarkable sequence of events to 200 captivated YU and Stern students last week as the featured speaker of a highly successful Yorn HaShoah program. 

Rabbi Tokayer, a YU and RIETS alumnus and former chief rabbi of Japan, animatedly depicted the people and places that saved thousands of Jewish lives at the somber gathering held in Weissberg Commons on Tuesday evening, April 16. In a room decorated with horrifying posters about the Holocaust, he maintained that the litany of forged passports and exit visas, and the inexplicable actions and inactions of Soviet and Japanese officials, saved enough Torah scholars to educate and rejuvenate the next generation of American and Israeli Jews, a function which may have saved world Jewry. One of those scholars, MYP Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Simon Romm, attended the program. 

Rabbi Tokayer spoke glowingly of one rebbe’s passionate trip through the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn to raise thousands of dollars for trans-Siberian train fares one Friday and Shabbos. The students were especially amused by Rabbi Tokayer’s description of the shtetl community’s often-rocky acclimation to its strange, new world, including an episode in which the Mir’s two top rebbeim were summoned to what was probably the Pearl Harbor planning desk in Tokyo. 

Rabbi Tokayer's remarks were preceded by brief remarks from Zachor Committee Chairman Jason Buskin and YCSC Vice-President Dov Simons and a candle-lighting ceremony. The program was rounded out with a recitation of Keil Maleh Rachamim by YCSC President Josh Fine. 

Some students remained after the program’s conclusion to screen a new, Oscar award-winning documentary on Anne Frank, which is now showing in theaters.


Photo Caption: The Commentator Archives

Photo Credit: The Commentator