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a matter of choices. Crisis or calamity—you can choose to let it ruin your life or learn and move forward. Understand the consequences of personal choices. It is possible to let trauma make you stop living, or commit to living a life that matters.”

“Success is a matter of choices. Crisis or calamity—you can choose to let it ruin your life or learn and move forward.” having stopped formal school at 10 ½. He worked as a truck driver for UPS for 25 years, amongst very few Jewish drivers. Within a year or two, Ben was the highest paid in Southern California, but didn’t stop there. When they needed a writer for some promotional materials, he took it on with his limited language and won company awards for his work. Knowing the value of education, Ben went to night school and After the war made Dean’s List. When he entered the field of real estate, he opened offices and groomed his agents for success; they became the top agents in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles. The discipline and focus on survival that he had in the camps stayed with him throughout his multiple careers. Being so grateful for a chance at a new life, it never entered his mind to ask for help. “What’s stopping you in this wonderful country? Be the best in whatever you do and don’t rely on others – we can choose our own destiny,” he challenges. Ben wants young people to feel empowered to succeed and change the world. He explains, “Success is

Ben Lesser knows that his survival thrust upon him a profound mission. As he speaks to students, he realizes that not only are there fewer and fewer survivors, but there will be less people who have even met a survivor, which leaves less opportunity for keeping these memories and lessons alive. As with all of his endeavors, Ben is relentless in his mission of crying out for those who are gone. His voice cracks as he asks, “Who will be left to counter the lies of the Holocaust deniers –the proof of man’s inhumanity to man? Today’s

kids are the last witnesses to the truth. They have to take on the responsibility to tell the world and cry out to the world ‘Zachor!’” 

APRIL 16, 2015

He hopes his book will inspire readers and listeners not only to remember the lessons of the Holocaust, but to evaluate the choices they make in their own lives. Ben came to America at 18, without a trade or a word of English,

ZACHOR has produced and distributed over 150,000 pins to date. Currently residing with his wife in Las Vegas, Ben speaks to local schools and organizations whenever he can and will travel further when possible. Ben is determined to further his message and does not let distance prevent him from his mission. Recognizing the power of social media as a means to reach the younger generations, he utilizes Facebook and Twitter to spread his message further and promote ZACHOR and I-SHOUT-OUT, the youth movement powered by ZACHOR. I-SHOUT-OUT is a call Ben with his daughter Gail Gerber (right) and granddaughter Robyn to action for anyone Weber (left) wanting to speak out against anti-Semitism, intolerance, injustice, racism, or bulyoung girl told him she would cherlying. ish the pin for the rest of her life, he The website features a virtual realized that he found a new way to help keep the world from “acquiring wall that will stay forever for future amnesia.” Ben began handing out the generations. Ben wants children to pins on his visits, leaving the students feel that they can make an impact with something tangible to remember and participate in making the world him by. a better place. His hope is that the positive messages and commitments to kindness will “go viral” and spread throughout the world to counteract the many expressions of hate that have been sprouting across the globe. Ben is looking to get six million “shout outs” to compensate for the six million quieted voices. He hopes for the students to remember the pledges they made against racism and other forms of hatred. “We don’t know who they will be when they grow up—they could be president,” he points out. Ben uses his personal story of survival and success to inspire young adults to achieve greatness in their own lives. He wrote his book in 2012, first intending it as a memoir. He decided it wasn’t enough; he knew that children needed answers. Thus, the ZACHOR Holocaust He went on to include explanations Remembrance Foundation was born and timelines. “The book provides in January of 2009. ZACHOR pro- testimony and documentation about vides the pins free of charge to all Holocaust – a personal intimate view speakers and teachers of Holocaust of history, not dry facts,” he relates. education programs, to be distribBen also tells his story of coming uted to their students and listeners. to America and his pursuit of success.

THE JEWISH HOME

In 2008, Ben visited one school while wearing a small golden lapel pin with the Hebrew word “Zachor” remember engraved on it, which he had received at his local Holocaust survivors group. Some of the students inquired about the pin. He gave it to one of the students; when the


Five Towns Jewish Home - 4-16-15