Last night’s Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) International Holocaust Remembrance Day event, “FIDF Remembers: A Legacy of Hope,” honored Holocaust survivor Marcel Levy z”l and his American liberator Sid Shafner z”l and commemorated their emotional reunion during the 2016 FIDF Mission to Poland and Israel.

Lighting memorial candles at the FIDF International Holocaust Remembrance Day event.
Lighting memorial candles at the FIDF International Holocaust Remembrance Day event.

In 2016, over 75 million peoples’ hearts leapt as one, as Holocaust survivor, Marcel Levy, reunited with the American soldier who liberated him, Sid Shafner, during the 2016 FIDF ‘From Holocaust to Independence’ Mission to Poland and Israel. It was during their first meeting that the Greek survivor and U.S. GI discovered they shared a common language: Yiddish. After Levy escaped the Dachau Nazi concentration camp, he travelled with Shafner’s military unit, working as a cook. Shafner and Levy became good friends and have stayed in touch since 1945. Before their meeting in 2016 at an Israeli Air Force base they had last seen each other in 1995 at Shafner’s granddaughter’s Bat Mitzvah celebration in Jerusalem.

Avi and Nurit Farchi - Son-in-law and Daughter of Marcel Levy z"l
Avi and Nurit Farchi - Son-in-law and Daughter of Marcel Levy z"l

Elayne Shafner Feldman, daughter of Sid Shafner z”l; Avi and Nurit Farchi, son-in-law and daughter of Marcel Levy z”l respectively; and Brig. Gen. (Res.) Yaron Rosen, who served as the 2016 IDF Delegation Commander, spoke at the virtual event, sharing memories and experiences from that historic mission, and what they remember about the moment Sid and Marcel saw each other again. The event, hosted by FIDF National Board Member Marc and Claire Perlman from New England, concluded with the lighting of memorial candles.

Marc and Claire Perlman
Hosts FIDF National Board Member Marc and Claire Perlman from New England

“When my father was approached with the opportunity to go on FIDF’s mission to Poland and Israel, it was as if he was given a purpose to keep on living. Since at the time he was 93 years old and in a wheelchair, my dad insisted I go with him so he could share the experience with me,” said Elayne Shafner Feldman. She added that her father wore the medal gifted to him by FIDF in Auschwitz for his heroic actions every day until the day he died.

Elayne Shafner Feldman
Elayne Shafner Feldman - Daughter of Sid Shafner z"l

“My father was especially happy to share the experience with the IDF soldiers and commanders in uniform. The FIDF’s mission to Poland and Israel was truly the greatest experience I shared with my dad and I am forever grateful for the experience FIDF gave us,” Shafner Feldman said.

To watch the FIDF Holocaust Remembrance Day event honoring the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, with this inspiring story of odds-defying survival and fateful connection, please click here.