My father, Mayer Wolf Racker, was a kind and generous man. Born on December 29th, 1922, to Mindel and Yidel Racker, he grew up playing soccer, going to summer camp and experiencing all the milestones of a Jewish childhood in Poland. He regaled us with stories of holidays spent with his family. Mayer explained how on Rosh Hashanah the local green grocer would go from family to family with a fruit they had never eaten so that when they said Shehecheyanu it would truly be over something new. One of the fruits he tasted for the first time on Rosh Hashanah was pineapple. He shared with us how the community supported the local yeshiva where young men studied to become rabbis. Each morning a rabbinic student would come to his home, help him say morning prayers, and accompany him to school. The student assisted him in dressing while reciting Modeh Ani, every word was connected to a particular motion. For example, Modeh would be linked to putting an arm into the sleeve of a shirt, Ani, with the second sleeve. Life was good and Mayer was a happy and fun loving boy.
The letter you will read describes what happened to Mayer and his family from the time Germany invaded Poland until the burning of their ghetto. It was sent to a relative in Chicago, who saved it and returned it to my father in the 1980's. My father wrote a second letter describing the events of the war that was not found.
Incredibly, Mayer Wolf Racker survived eight concentration camps and three death marches. None of his immediate family, including his three sisters, one brother, and his father survived. He and two cousins reunited after the war, the only remnants of a large family. Mayer's life is a testament to the power of courage, faith, and resilience, and his memory is a constant reminder that no challenge is too difficult to overcome and that injustice and discrimination should never be tolerated. People often asked my Dad about his upbeat nature and optimistic outlook given his circumstances. He always had the same response, "The worst that could happen to me in life already happened, and I started over, so I know that anyone can do anything."