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Moshe and Judy Shamir

This Land Is Mine Olim Fund: Moshe Shamir, A Man with A Voice

by Rhonda Spivak, November 13, 2011

Last year in Netanya, Israel I met a very special man Moshe Shamir, a Holocaust survivor, who, over 20 years ago founded an organization to help new immigrants (Olim) to Israel, called "This Land is Mine Olim Fund."
“I did this after seeing the hardships of the absorption process for the Ethiopian and Russian Immigrants,” he told me.
Shamir has almost single-handedly run the fund for Olim, which supports the immigrants who cannot find proper work with Aid via monthly food vouchers, summer day camps for children, lunches for hungry school children, a scholarship project to help with tuition and books and special Passover Food Parcels. All work is done strictly by volunteers.
“There is no paid staff so every penny/shekel donated goes directly towards supporting the Olim,” Moshe told me showing me the meticulous way that he has done the book-keeping for the organization, in an "office" room in his apartment.
Orli Avior, an American immigrant to Israel, who has seen the summer day camps that are funded by "This Land Is Mine”, told me,” They are such a great thing for the kids who would otherwise be on the streets during their vacation."
She added, “Every year near the end of the day camp the children put on a show. I attend these shows every year that I am able because the excitement the kids have in putting these shows on is electric. Each year they have been proud to give us a gift they made during their “craft time” at camp. Last year they made beaded key chains, I received a lizard one in green and yellow. The smile on their faces when they sing and dance for us is priceless.”
Moshe is not “on-line” so there is no web site for this great organization. Moshe does everything the old fashion way (remember paper and pencils?). But he does send out updated letters, a few times a year to those who are kind enough to donate to this worthy cause.
After meeting Moshe, and hearing about how he is so dedicated to keeping the Olim Fund going, I donated to his cause, and wanted everyone to know about him. The fund is a registered charity in Israel as well as the US under IRS code 501( c)(3) . He works with the local government but does not receive financial aid from any agency.  Anyone who wants to donate can do so by mailing Moshe and sending money to:
This Land Is Mine Olim Fund
P.O. Box 2266
Netanya 42122
Moshe’s phone number is 972-98616071, in the event anyone wishes to know more about the organization.
Moshe’s own personal story of survival exemplifies the determination that has enabled him to keep “This Land is Mine Olim Fund” alive for all these years
Born and raised in Czernowitz,the capital of Burkowina, as a young man Moshe studied at the famous Talmud Torah.  In 1940 Russians occupied Burkowina and all the Jewish Synagogues and organizations became illegal and were closed.  In the spring of 1941, the Nazis entered and occupied the city where Moshe had to move into the Jewish Ghetto until the fall of 1941, when he was forced into a cattle train and taken to the Ukrainian border where they had to march to Ivashkovtsy.
“I was forced into a small village where almost everyone came down with typhoid fever, including me. I lay on a straw floor without food or water for days,” he said
When he gained his strength back Moshe snuck through the forest to a village to find work and food but was caught by the Romanian Gendarmes.
“I was given 25 lashes with a whip and left to die,” he said.
But Moshe miraculously survived and made it back to the village only to be boarded into another cattle train headed for a slave labor camp. There he worked in a stone quarry with picks and loaded stones onto trucks in the snow and freezing rain.
One day after work Moshe sang Kol Nedrei for the other prisoners, the “Oberjude,” the Jew in charge of the inside of the camp had him sing every day after work in return for extra food.
A few weeks later Moshe was in a group turned over to the Romanian Army.  After 10 days in a train they were moved back into a Ghetto in Moglibev where eventually the Russian Army entered and took over.  Under Russian occupation all young people were sent to the frontline.
Moshe immediately went to the conservatory of music and was accepted, which enabled him to defer entering the Army for a year.
The Pedagogical Institute needed someone to organize their choir and the director of the conservatory recommended Moshe.
There was a lot of antisemitism and Moshe fabricated papers which by a miracle and a song allowed him to cross into Romania.
“I sang for the Border Guards to get into Romania,” he recalled.
From Romania, Moshe eventually was able to make his way onto a ship bound for Palestine. The ship was not allowed to enter Palestine and was sent to Cypress.
Moshe was forced to stay in Cypress for two years, before being able to enter into Israel.
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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