November 8, 2007
Holocaust remembrance—Exodus redux
(Page 3 - Previous Page)Max became well established in the clothing industry. The couple had three children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Max died in 2001.
The couple retained close ties to Israel, keeping in touch with family there and supporting it from afar. In 1964, they went to Israel for a wedding -- the first time Sarah was finally able to step foot in the Jewish homeland.
'A Last Hurrah' for Exodus?
Most of the Exodus passengers tried again to get to Israel, and many ended up in camps in Cyprus. With Israeli independence, most are thought to have made it to Israel. The disabled Exodus sat in the port of Haifa until 1952, when it caught fire and burned to the waterline.
"It's just important that people remember," said Genya Markon, a curator at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, who is helping Schwarz in his efforts to gather names and stories. "The survivors are becoming fewer and fewer, and I have a feeling this will really be the last hurrah for the Exodus."
Markon, who had a cousin on the Exodus, says that she also hopes to obtain original documentation, photos and artifacts for the museum's collection.
Markon has been in touch with Helen Lepor, Jacob's daughter, about Jacob's story.
While Lepor had always known her mother was aboard the Exodus, it was only after a friend in Baltimore told her about the current effort to locate passengers that she really began to study the event, getting films, books, researching it herself, and picking her mother's memory.
It seemed like fate when her daughter Marissa's bat mitzvah Torah portion this past year turned out to be the portion of Exodus.
Marissa, who is going into eighth grade at Harvard-Westlake, is beginning to take in the significance of her grandmother's journey.
"I know that people wouldn't leave because they wanted to go to Israel, and they wouldn't settle for anything different," she says. "I know it's really important, but I don't know everything about it."
Now, it seems even Jacobs herself is more interested in her part in history. As she sits in her den, after all the questions about her experience aboard the Exodus have been asked and answered, she gazes intently at the copies of archival photos Lepor has brought, and she flips through the books, trying to see if she recognizes anyone.
Jacobs has seen the "Exodus" movie, the one with Paul Newman as Ari Ben-Canaan, a fictional character. In the movie, the British eventually relent and bring the Jews back to Israel.
But Jacobs knows that's not what really happened.
"I tell you something," she says with a laugh. "I was on the Exodus. And Paul Newman -- he wasn't on the Exodus!"
As we get ready to leave, Jacobs looks at the pile of books and films Lepor is about to pack up.
Leave the books and the film, Jacobs tells her daughter.
Maybe now, it seems, she's ready to go back.
For more information, visit
http://www.ushmm.org/ (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)
http://www.exodus1947.org/eindex.html (Meier Schwarz's site)
http://www.exodus1947.com (Documentary film made by Venice resident Elizabeth Rodgers)