Holocaust survivor to give free public talk on eliminating genocide

Plus: Chabad encourages good deeds across campus with Mitzvah Marathon Feb. 20

An estimated 500,000 survivors of the Holocaust were still alive in 2014. Today, experts believe that number has dwindled to 100,000.

Holocaust survivor Jacob Eisenbach will speak at Rice Feb. 17.

Holocaust survivor Jacob Eisenbach will speak at Rice Feb. 17.

The rapidly declining number of people left alive to testify to the horrors of the Holocaust makes those remaining voices increasingly important as the world continues wrestling with genocide, bigotry and incidents of anti-Semitism.

At 96 years old, Jacob Eisenbach is one of those remaining voices. The lone survivor of a Polish family victimized by the Nazis, Eisenbach eventually escaped to California, where he worked as a practicing dentist until the age of 92. Today, Eisenbach is a public speaker, and he will give a talk at Rice University Feb. 17 in Duncan Hall’s McMurtry Auditorium.

“He has seen horrors and challenges that we can never imagine, yet he doesn’t let any of that get to him,” said Rabbi Shmuli Slonim, who runs the Chabad House at Rice University along with wife and Rebbetzin Nechama. “He lives every day to its fullest and uses his experiences to inspire others.”

Chabad has partnered with Rice’s Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance, the School of Humanities and its Program in Jewish Studies, Houston Hillel and other departments across the university to bring Eisenbach to campus. His talk at 7 p.m. will explore Eisenbach’s mission to eliminate the source of genocide from the human race. It is free and open to the public; attendees are asked to RSVP at the event’s Facebook page.

“To be able to witness and hear in person the story of a Holocaust survivor is an opportunity that won’t be around for too much longer,” Slonim said. “We are very fortunate and privileged to be hosting Dr. Eisenbach at our school.”

Coming to the Central Quad: a Mitzvah Marathon

Slonim hopes those inspired by Eisenbach’s message will participate in Chabad’s upcoming Mitzvah Marathon Feb. 20. The annual “good deed drive” encourages the Rice community to stop by Chabad’s booth in the Central Quad between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and make a pledge to put a little more light into the world.

The annual Mitzvah Marathon runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 20 in the Central Quad.

The annual Mitzvah Marathon runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 20 in the Central Quad.

“We will have mitzvahs that only take a minute and others that are a bit longer,” Nechama Slonim said. “The event is designed to give everyone the ability to light up the world with goodness and kindness.”

Some of the suggested good deeds people will be able to do that day include making  peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the homeless, creating get well cards for children at the Texas Children’s Hospital and donating cans or other nonperishable food items to the Houston Food Bank.

“My spiritual mentor the Rebbe — Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn of blessed memory — always taught that light is so much stronger than darkness,” Slonim said. “One flame, one good deed, lights up an entire room. Our world can use more light and this is an easy and practical way to light that flame.”

To RSVP or find more information on Jacob Eisenbach’s Feb. 17 talk, visit the Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/360134457897104/

For more information on the Mitzvah Marathon Feb. 20, visit the Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/542671086252456/

About Katharine Shilcutt

Katharine Shilcutt is a media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.