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Marsha Cowan, JFM CEO

Dr Sam Grosberg

Rory Paul
photo by Rhonda Spivak

Remembering the Holocaust Survivor Sam Grossberg Who Left His Complete Estate To the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba For Jewish Education

by Rhonda Spivak, posted Jan 3, 2012

*The streets were my university,” he said, “and I survived ... but no one should have to learn that way"

[Editor's note: This article was first printed in the Canadian Jewish News in 2008 I realized that I had not posted it in archives and since it is 5 years since Grosberg left his complete estate to the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba] 

Holocaust Survivor Left A Half A Million Dollars For Jewish Education

By Rhonda Spivak , [first published December 11, 2008]

The Jewish Foundation of Manitoba has recently set up very special educational scholarships known as the “ Grosberg Scholarships” which will support exemplary students from immigrant families who wish to attend the Gray Academy.

“This is a unique scholarship which we created in order to fulfill Sam Grosberg’s wish, [as a donor], to give young people the chance to receive an education, having been deprived of one himself,” says Marsha Cowan , CEO of the Foundation.

When Holocaust survivor Sam Grosberg, who did not have any descendents, died he left his one half a million dollar estate to the Jewish Foundation.

“There are currently 6 students at the Grey Academy on the [Grosberg] scholarship and there will be other students in the future who will receive this scholarship. This gift from the Grosbergs will have such a long lasting impact,” says Cowan.

She adds that even though current economic times are difficult people are continuing to to give to the Foundation because they “know that it is important to keep up essential social services.” The Grosberg scholarships are just one way in which the Foundation’s activities are helping to maintain the health and vibrancy of our community.

“Sam Grosberg’s story is a very sad one, He had a very difficult life, and tried to save every penny her earned,” Cowan says.

Grosberg was born on February 10, 1914 in the town of Solayev, Poland. When he was of school age, the head of the education department in the country’s school system was a Polish Nazi who selected which children should be allowed to continue their education. Grosberg was not chosen by him to receive public education. When Grosberg was 12, his mother died, and he saw no future for himself. He went to the city of Lodz 40 km from his home and there he lived on the streets, earning his keep in whatever manner possible to survive, such as chopping wood. He returned home for his Bar Mitzvah, and at the age of 15 went to live on a Jewish work cooperative. At 21, he was conscripted into the Polish Army and served his mandatory two years.

He married his wife Bluma in 1939, and shortly before World War II broke out in September 1939, Grosberg was mobilized into service and was captured as a Prisoner of War. He and a friend, Mr. Pomerantz, an electrician, escaped the camp where they were held by studying the perimeter of the camp and acquiring insulated scissors. On one rainy Friday night, they escaped into the surrounding bush where they lived for 12 days with no food.

Grosberg learned that his wife’s family had gone to Bialostock on the Russian border and he set out to find his her and luckily was re-united with her. But one night when Grosberg went out to get bread, he returned to find that a train had come and his wife, who was 8 months pregnant, was gone. He searched everywhere but his frantic efforts only landed him in jail. A kindly patrolman arranged to make efforts to find his wife, who had given birth to their son. They were reunited and settled on the Russian side of the border. After being mobilized to serve the Russian Army in a work camp , Grosberg and his wife were able to return to Poland after the war. But , Sadly, the couple lost their only son, in Russia to an epidemic of diptheria.

All of Sam Grosberg’s family, including his parents and three sisters and their families, perished in the Holocaust. Grosberg became a tailor and in 1946 he and his wife came to Canada. As his means allowed, he invested in property in and around Winnipeg Before he passed away, Sam Grosberg told the Jewish Foundation that he strongly believed in the need for education. “The streets were my university,” he said, “and I survived ... but no one should have to learn that way.”

Rory Paul, Head of Grey Academy says “These scholarships are allowing children from immigrant families who are highly successful academically to remain in our school. Without these scholarships, these children would have ended up in different public schools in all areas of the city and would have been lost to our community.”

Paul adds “Although there is a sliding fee scale at our school, even at the low end of the scale there is a minimum of at least 1000 dollars that is required as payment. The children on these scholarships are from families, some of whom have multiple children, that couldn’t have afforded this minimum fee.”

According to Paul, Grosberg also left “a small amount of money” to help children at the school to be able to afford to participate in some school programs, like the 3 night Jewish retreat that the school runs.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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