My Jewish Journey: John


Until the winter of 1938, John and his family led a charmed life in the small university town of Würtzburg, Germany. He and his two brothers had a childhood filled with love and laughter. Who could have known what imminent horrors awaited?

Sadly, we know too well what tragedy lay in store for the six million Jewish souls claimed during the Holocaust. And tragically, John’s own family was among those who succumbed to the devastation. After such a joyful upbringing, who could have ever predicted that John would lose everything?

But there was a light at the end of this seemingly unending tunnel. Who could have foretold that, miracle of miracles, John’s life would be spared when so many around him perished during the bombings of Germany?

Who would have known the immense generosity his family would experience when their non-Jewish nanny lied to the authorities to keep John and his brothers alive? And what of the ultimate selflessness by other righteous gentiles who fed and hid them to spare their lives?

Who could have predicted that after all of this, John would go on to start life anew in a new country, using a new language? That not only would this new world provide a safe haven and a great education, but it would even enable John to help found a major Silicon Valley company and become a force in the tech startup world?

And who could have predicted that this man, who had never served on the board of a Jewish organization, would answer a plea from a friend to be part of an exciting new venture for the South Peninsula Jewish community?

That venture, that dream—known as the planning and construction of the Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life—now houses the Oshman Family JCC, a place where people of all faiths and backgrounds regularly come together.

Certainly neither you nor I can foretell what the future has in store for us. Each of our lives is a series of relatively unpredictable events that shapes who we are and where we land. Some of us are fortunate enough to be able to think about our own family’s future and the future of our community. Leaving a legacy is a way for our lives to have a lasting, meaningful impact on those who follow.

When John thinks about his legacy, “Grandson” and “Granddaughter” are the first things out of his mouth. John wants to ensure his grandchildren’s future and has made provisions to ensure the things that are important to him will continue to thrive. He is also concerned about providing for organizations, like the OFJCC, that have meaning in his life so that they will continue to grow and have an impact on future generations.

We may not know what the future will bring, but together we can create a truly bright outlook for our community. Who really knows what the future will bring? We don’t. But let’s imagine something vibrant and flourishing and plan for it together.

The OFJCC honors and recognizes those, like John, who choose to leave a legacy. Our Pomegranate Legacy Society recognizes those who have made a provision for a future gift, often through their will or trust, that will help ensure the long-term success and sustainability of the OFJCC.

Written by John with Melissa Garai.

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Melissa Garai

Written by Melissa Garai

Melissa Garai is the former Director of Major Gifts at the OFJCC. When she was not raising money for Development, Melissa could be found hiking the Palo Alto foothills, biking along the Golden Gate Bridge, traveling to exotic (and not-so-exotic) locales with her husband, sneaking extra samples of fruit at local weekend Farmers' Markets or binge-watching her favorite shows on Netflix.

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