INSPIRING STORY OF THE WEEK
OUT OF THE ASHES
by Jack Adler
How can anyone write an inspiring story about the Holocaust?
Well, Jack Adler did just that with his winning story, Out of the Ashes.
And his filmmaker son, Eli, documented his dad’s story in the extraordinary film, Surviving Skokie.
Read on to learn about them both.
Jack Adler was sixteen years old in 1945, the year he was liberated from Dachau. He weighed a mere sixty-five pounds and could barely stand. For three months he recuperated in a hospital and to this day, still considers it a miracle that he survived. His parents, two sisters and brother perished during those years in ways too gruesome to recall.
Jack relocated to Skokie, Illinois in 1959, where one in ten residents was a Holocaust survivor. This peaceful Chicago suburb became home to over 7000 other survivors of the Nazi death camps.
Skokie remained a quiet community until the Spring of 1976. Then a small group of Neo-Nazis chose Skokie as the place to promote their anti-Semitic agenda. Frank Collin, the leader of their National Socialist Party of America, was quite vocal about his white supremacist notions. When he announced the party’s intention to march through Skokie wearing Nazi uniforms and displaying swastikas, the Jewish community at first encouraged the townspeople to “ignore them and they will go away.” But as the provocateurs became more venomous, the citizens of Skokie, Jews and non-Jews alike, united under the slogan: “Not here, not now, never again.”
Jack’s Inspiring Story continues: How good comes from Evil
The battle of Skokie became one of history’s greatest tests of First Amendment rights, with fierce national debates about freedom of speech. But Jack didn’t write his story as a lesson in history. He wrote it partly to confront his private demons, partly as a catharsis for his private pain, but mostly to guide him toward a meaningful purpose to his life. How could he use his experiences as a vehicle for speaking out against hatred?
His inspirng story starts with a painful journey – first by speaking more openly with his family about the atrocities he had witnessed and endured. Then, he and his son Eli took a trip to Poland, where they visited some of the ghosts of his past: the ghetto, the camps, the cemeteries. As Jack spoke about some of the most horrendous details of his youth, he always returned to the same question – Why? He could find no meaningful explanation for their existence. But he did find a meaningful new purpose for his life.
What could he do, one survivor of the worst defilement of the golden rule, to promote kindness and foster understanding of the word humanity? How could he help liberate others from their own hidden yokes of bigotry and hatred.
Watch this mesmerizing video