This is one of the most important experiences Israel Lichtenstein had to make during the time of war. As a little boy him and his two cousins had to struggle their way to the foster home, in which he had stayed during the beginning of the war. All by themselves. This is how he saved his own life. Today he lives in Israel with his wife – as a proud Frenchman.
»Sometimes you have to send away your child to save it.«
born 1932 in France, resides in Jerusalem
We got to know Israel Lichtenstein as a charming, likeable and very well educated man. His friendly smile and French accent enchanted us instantly. But even though he told his story with a consistent lightness, the gravity of a child that had to grow up too soon, could be sensed.
On the day of our encounter he picked us up with his car at Yad Vashem memorial. We were greeted by a beautiful, bright and exquisitely arranged apartment. It reflected his admiration for French and Jewish culture, but most of all his love for books. Sometimes, in the middle of the conversation, he would get up, select a book from his collection and recite from it. For example a poem by Heine he had studied in school.
Large abstract, colorful paintings paired with dancing spots of sunlight from the outside created a mesmerising atmosphere in the room.
One can tell Israel Lichtenstein loves this country, Jerusalem and his apartment overlooking the forest park. Even though he will always remain French, reading French books and listening to French music: he has arrived in Israel.
He told us, he very much enjoys visiting France regularly. It makes him feel like a »privileged tourist« because he understands the culture and the language just like a native, but as temporary guest.
As much as he enjoys his multifaceted present, it is paramount to him that young people learn about the past and understand what happened during WW2. For this reason the former clinic director continuously invites volunteers to evening get-togethers, during which he talks about his life and answers questions. Because it is these life stories that make history tangible for young people. One does not forget an evening with Israel Lichtenstein.