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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

The Selection by Sally Kepnes

Hello Readers,

I am publishing this story that was shared with me by Sally Kepnes, a woman who recently wrote a post about growing up in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Sally is the daughter of Holocaust survivors and she shared this story about her father, which parallels choosing the individuals who served as scouts.

Wishing you all the best.



Hi, I am sending you one of the stories my father (A"H) told me about his experiences in Dachau. Although my parents didn't talk much about their survival, every now and then my father mostly did share a remembrance. This one I called "The Selection."*


My father was an industrial electrician. As a young "man" (immediately after his Bar Mitzvah) he was apprenticed with an older man who needed an assistant. He loved

light. He told me the first thing he ever did electrically was to make his Simchat Torah

flag light up at the top! He had a successful business in Kovno now Kaunas, Lithuania, married my mother and had one child before the war.

From the Kovno Ghetto, he went to Dachau. It happened one day that the Nazi in charge of the group knowing my father's skill ordered him to select a group of nine or ten men to help my father on a job. This was very difficult, After all, how could he decide who to take? It meant someone would live another day, maybe get some better food or even warmer clothing.

Dad returned to the bunker and told the men what he had been ordered to do. They

would decide amongst themselves to select the "work brigade." I would ask my father "Why didn't you just take your friends? "He would answer "We selected two doctors, two lawyers, two teachers, three electricians and myself. We decided that if any of these intelligent, educated men would survive -- they would tell what is happening here and they would be believed!

*The stories are in a small collection in the US Holocaust Museum called The Survivors Child.

אֵ֚לֶּה שְׁמ֣וֹת הָֽאֲנָשִׁ֔ים אֲשֶׁר־שָׁלַ֥ח מֹשֶׁ֖ה לָת֣וּר אֶת־הָאָ֑רֶץ וַיִּקְרָ֥א מֹשֶׁ֛ה לְהוֹשֵׁ֥עַ בִּן־נ֖וּן יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ׃

Those were the names of the participants whom Moses sent to scout the land; but Moses changed the name of Hosea*Hosea Or “Hoshea.” son of Nun to Joshua.

Numbers 13:16 (From Sefaria)

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