SAN FRANCISCO and NEW YORK (June 15, 2016) — Dr. George Elbaum of San Francisco, a businessman and aerospace engineer, who writes and speaks about his experience as a child survivor of the Holocaust, was awarded an Honorary Fellowship on June 5 from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. The ceremony took place during the Technion Board of Governors (BOG) meeting (June 4-8, 2016) on the university campus in Haifa.
Accompanied by his wife, Mimi Jensen, Dr. Elbaum was recognized for “devotion to the Technion and Israel . . . business accomplishments that have spanned the globe and bridged countries . . . and for sharing (your) story, in order to impart the message of tolerance to present and future generations.”
A steadfast supporter of the Technion and Israel, Dr. Elbaum is an active member of the American Technion Society (ATS) National Board of Directors, the ATS North Pacific Region Board and the Technion Board of Governors.
Together with his wife, he is a Technion Guardian — an honor reserved for those who support the Technion at the highest level. The couple has supported the Technion with gifts that include the George J. Elbaum Fund for the Satell Technion-MIT Leadership Program, the Whiteman International Foundation Fellowships (named after Dr. Elbaum's mother) in the Grand Technion Energy Program, and the Formula Student Race Car project.
Dr. Elbaum was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1938. As a child, he was smuggled out of the Warsaw ghetto and lived with a series of Polish families who hid him and his Jewish identity from the Nazis. Only he and his mother survived, as they lost 10 family members to the Holocaust. In 1949, Dr. Elbaum immigrated to the U.S., and in 1955 he enrolled at MIT, where he earned four degrees — a bachelor’s and a master’s in aeronautics and astronautics, along with a second master’s and a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering.
He began his career in Los Angeles in the aerospace industry, and then moved into the international business arena. In 1972, he co-founded Intertorg, a consulting firm representing American and European corporations in the Soviet Union (including General Motors, U.S. Steel, Reebok, etc.), where he marketed their products and services. After 25 years, he switched gears again, turning to commercial real estate investment and development.
In 2010, he wrote and published Neither Yesterdays Nor Tomorrows, a book of vignettes from his childhood during the Holocaust, and started speaking to student groups across the U.S. and in Poland about survival and tolerance. In 2014, he followed his first book with a second volume, Yesterdays Revisited, about the feedback/letters he’s received from students at the 100-plus venues where he’s spoken.
The five-day BOG meeting was comprised of award ceremonies and dedications, presentations by speakers that included Middle East expert Ambassador Dennis B. Ross, and other events such as an Innovation Panel Discussion, featuring Technion graduates such as Dov Moran, inventor of the DiskOnKey (USB flash drive). Other San Francisco-area participants included Ruth Owades and Lou Lenzen.
Photo: George Elbaum (right) receiving an Honorary Fellowship from Technion President Professor Peretz Lavie at an awards ceremony on the Haifa campus on June 5, 2016.
In 1959, at a time of political unrest in Rwanda, Paul Karemera’s grandparents on both sides of his family left their homes in Rwanda and became refugees in neighboring Uganda.
They belonged to the Tutsi tribe – the group targeted in the Rwandan genocide. Throughout the 1960s through the early 1990s, tribal tensions flared back in Rwanda. Paul, his siblings, and parents remained refugees in Uganda.
As a young student, Paul was harassed and bullied as an outsider in Uganda, despite having been born there. When civil war and then genocide gripped Rwanda in 1990-1993, Paul’s father was active in transporting soldiers over the border of Uganda into Rwanda. These soldiers were part of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) that fought the genocide’s perpetrators and eventually took over the nation’s government.
At 16, shortly after the genocide against the Tutsi, Paul went back to Rwanda as a “returnee” to the country. Many friends and family had not survived. Paul’s next years involved attending an English language high school and settling into life in Rwanda, which was not easy for him. Nationwide, the genocide’s wounds were still raw. Gacaca courts for restorative
justice were instituted, but many Hutu perpetrators were never apprehended.
Paul has been an English interpreter and travel guide since 2000. In 2009 Paul and his wife, Shelly, founded a travel company, Intore Expeditions, in Rwanda. He now splits time between Seattle and Rwanda. Paul wants students and other audiences in the United States to learn more about Rwandan history and the genocide.
Daphna Robon tells the story of her parents, Imre Friedmann and Naomi Kraus.
Imre was born in 1921 in Budapest, Hungary. Higher education was always his goal, but by the time he was ready for college in 1939, it was almost impossible for Jews to attend university in Hungary due to antisemitic restrictions. He finally enrolled in a university where he endured terrible discrimination from both students and professors. In 1944, Hungary was invaded by the Nazis, and Imre, like many Jewish men, was forced into hard labor. Luckily, he survived the labor camp and was later saved from being deported to a concentration camp by a very courageous person who impersonated a guard. After World War II, Imre escaped from Hungary to Vienna where he received his PhD in botany, zoology, and philosophy. He later immigrated to Israel where he became a professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Naomi was born in 1933 in Budapest, Hungary. She was hidden in Budapest during the Holocaust, first in a Swiss “safe house,” then with a family, using a false identity, thanks to courageous non-Jewish upstanders. After the war, Naomi was united with her mother in Budapest and finished high school. She then escaped Hungary to Vienna and later immigrated to Israel.
Naomi and Imre met in Israel on a blind date and married in 1953. Naomi, as the spouse of a faculty member, could enroll for free at Hebrew National University where she received a PhD in biochemistry. Later, the couple immigrated to the United States and became highly successful professors in their fields of science. Imre became quite well known in his field and is mentioned in Carl Sagan’s famous book Cosmos. He was featured in National Geographic and Discover magazine, amongst others.
Daphna was born in Israel and spent most of her childhood years in Houston, Texas. She was a lawyer and worked in insurance before changing careers to become a real estate broker, which she continues till today. Daphna lives in the Seattle area with her family and began sharing her family story as a Holocaust Center speaker in 2021. Her presentation is filled with primary source documents and video clip testimonials of her parents. Daphna has a strong passion for doing what she can to stop antisemitism and racism. Daphna dedicates her presentation to her Grandmother Gizi, one of her strongest supporters throughout her life, and the person who taught her what it means to be resilient.