A tree that was once a symbol of hope for young Holocaust victims, has now made it to New York- a city that is home to the largest number of survivors outside Israel.
As the story goes, in January of 1943, Irma Lauscher, a teacher at the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, smuggled a tree into the camp so that the Jewish children imprisoned by the Nazis could celebrate Tu B’Shevat in a secret ceremony. The children used their water rations to nurture the sapling.
Of the 15,000 children who were imprisoned in Theresienstadt during the Holocaust, fewer than 200 survived. But the tree was still standing when the camp was liberated in 1945, and a sign was placed at its base marking it as a symbol of resilience. After being named “The Tree of Life”, Lauscher, who survived the Holocaust, eventually was buried alongside the original tree in 1985.
Now, in addition to the descendants of the same tree which have been planted in Jerusalem, San Francisco, Chicago, and Philadelphia, the “The Children’s Tree,” will also be standing tall in New York, at Battery Park City, in front of the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
Dr. Roger Pomerantz, a Jewish philanthropist who owns a farm in Pennsylvania that holds seven trees grown from cuttings of the original tree, has donated this 15 ft tall symbol of resilience.