Shalom Yoran's Story

Shalom Yoran was a partisan. He is the drive behind this Drive. From the day the Germans attacked Poland, in 1939, when he was 14 years old, until the Nazi regime collapsed, six years later, his daily mission was to survive and resist.

The family spent the first two years of the War fleeing the Nazis. They found refuge in a little town near the Soviet border, where they lived for about a year until the Nazis liquidated the town. As the Nazis converged upon them, Shalom promised his mother to survive, to fight back, and to tell the world what happened. Later that day, his parents were burned to death in a barn along with the rest of the Jews in town. Shalom and his older brother managed to escape into the surrounding forests, where they hid for the next three years. During the first brutal winter the brothers hibernated in a tiny camouflaged underground bunker they created with three other teenagers in a secluded part of the forest.

In the spring, Shalom managed to find partisan groups, consisting of the local Belarusians, Poles, and Russian prisoners of war who had escaped, and who had organized into units fighting against the Nazis and their collaborators. At the age of 17 Shalom was accepted by the highly anti-Semitic local partisans after proving himself by successfully completing near-suicide missions. With the partisans, he blew up bridges, ambushed German patrols, cut down telephone poles and disrupted lines of communication. He matured into manhood surrounded by hatred and evil. Shalom was exposed to the worst side of human behavior even from his brothers in arms, but miraculously survived the War and fought back, yet retained his humanity.

When the War ended, Shalom made his way illegally into Palestine in 1946 and united with members of his extended family. He began to rebuild his life, but first he had to fulfill his last promise to his mother -- to tell the world what happened. And so, while recovering in the hospital from a war injury, he wrote detailed memoirs of all that he had seen and been through, and put them aside. After the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948, he joined the Israeli air force and launched his career in aircraft repair and maintenance. Seven years later, he joined the fledgling Israel Aircraft Industries, and for the next 22 years helped to create the largest and most vitally important state-owned company in Israel. It is known today as the Israel Aerospace Industries, building rockets, satellites, speedboats, fighter planes, and in-flight re-fuelling systems for the world market.

In 1978 Shalom moved with his wife and two daughters to the United States, where he became the chair of a private aircraft company. In 1990, 45 years after he had written his war memoirs, he found them in a suitcase in the attic where he had stored them years earlier. With his wife, he translated them from Polish into English. In 1996, his book The Defiant was published by St. Martin's Press, completing his last promise to his mother. He spread his message in appearances at schools, community centers and universities across the United States, teaching that "no person should succumb to brutality without putting up a resistance. Individually, it can save one's life; en masse it can change the course of history."

Throughout his life, Shalom has continuously demonstrated the integrity and compassion which enabled him to endure the War. Surviving the Holocaust is in itself a tremendous achievement of will and wits, but to bear witness to the horrors and betrayals perpetrated by people upon each other and not be corrupted by their example, is a tribute to the integrity of the human spirit. It was in that spirit, that Shalom was founding member and trustee of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, a member of the board of Tel Aviv University and an active member of many other charitable organizations. Just as he had during the war, whenever Shalom saw a friend or relative in need, he stepped in and helped however he could, changing the course of countless peoples' lives.

In 2011, Shalom’s health deteriorated. When he became immobile, his family noticed his discomfort in a traditional wheelchair. Not wanting him to have to spend his days in bed, they bought him the Invacare Recliner and saw that it made a tremendous difference in his comfort, quality of life, and dignity. He passed away in 2013. Knowing that Shalom would want the same level of care for every elderly person, his family created the Rose Art Foundation, in order to advance what is considered standard equipment for the care of elderly and immobile patients. The Shalom Yoran Drive aims to provide the Invacare Recliner to as many patients as possible in non-profit nursing homes. The Foundation is continuing Shalom's legacy of generosity, compassion, and resistance.

  Shalom Yoran's autobiography, The Defiant: A True Story of Escape, Survival & Resistance.  Click on photo to view the book at Amazon.com.

 

Shalom Yoran's autobiography, The Defiant: A True Story of Escape, Survival & Resistance.  Click on photo to view the book at Amazon.com.


"My grandfather is an inspiration.  He has shown that anything you put your mind to is possible.  For him the impossible never existed.  He has always expected excellence from everyone because he has seen goodness in all.  We should all strive to be half the person that he is."
— Kori Yoran