Foreword for New Book by Dr. Bernard

January 5, 2012 at 7:24 pm Leave a comment

 Dear Friends,

Per Dr. Joseph Bernard Jr.’s request, it is a privilege and honor to write a foreword for his book, Haiti’s Jewish History, to be released in May. 


As the founders and writers of the Haiti Jewish Refugee Legacy Project, begun in March 2010, we were greatly honored when Dr. Joseph Bernard Jr. of Haiti, wrote us about his interest in our project. We are a husband and wife team who created the Haiti Jewish Refugee Legacy Project to chronicle the stories of Jews who escaped the Holocaust to Haiti, and to spread awareness about this little known chapter of history.

As our third Tikkun Olam Award Winner (10/24/2010), it has been a pleasure to have Joseph be a part of the project, as we made compelling discoveries of Haiti child survivors, now in their 70’s and 80’s. Our passion and mission is to bring these personal testimonies, which were relatively unknown, into the public domain. We gave the award to Joseph because he is an extraordinarily talented researcher and writer. He shared our excitement as we focused on finding out as much as we could about a small group of Jews, including myself (Bill Mohr), my parents and my older sister. We each escaped Hitler’s terrible grip, myself and my sister as young children, because Haiti provided a safe haven for our asylum.

After viewing the devastating consequences of the January 2010 Haiti earthquake, we felt motivated to do what has become one of the most meaningful and rewarding experiences of our lives: bringing together all the people and facts that could help form a more accurate picture of Jewish refugees connected to Haiti. 

Together, as a husband and wife team, our families’ experiences connected at a very deep level because my (Harriet’s) grandparents fled Tsarist Russia, in the early 20th century, to escape persecution and pogroms. It is a privilege to be able to tell the story of Jewish immigrants who escaped to Haiti during the horrific period of persecution and mass murder.

The wide scope covered in Joseph’s work provides a wealth of understanding about Haiti’s Jewish history, both prior to and including our focus on Jewish refugees in Haiti during the Shoah. This book tells a remarkable fascinating story that will be treasured by anyone who wants to learn about the migration of Jews to Haiti. Many readers will be able to personally identify with having to leave one’s homeland for another place due to a multitude of influencing and pressing factors including economic realities, poverty and famine, religious persecution and the desire for more freedom.

In a broad sense, this book tells the story of courage, bravery and resilience in the face of seemingly desperate conditions. It teaches many important life lessons and is a marvelous educational tool we hope reaches school classrooms, synagogue study groups, museums, archives and researchers as well as the general public.

Harriet and Bill Mohr
Menlo Park, California
December 30, 2011


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Update on Blog Haiti Update from Lyssa + MLK

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