A Beloved Father’s Presence Preserved for Generations to Come

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 2:00pm

I adored my father and admired him greatly. Harold Eisenberg was a good man in every sense of the word. He spoke about his life in Opatow, Poland before World War II and even his experience during the Holocaust, but he also lived very much in the present, working hard to provide for his family. 

The business he started after the war became the foundation for much of our extended family’s success. I was named for his mother and his sister, who both perished in the Holocaust, and my father would often look at me tenderly and tell me how much I reminded him of his mother. 

The circumstances surrounding my father’s death in July 2004 were so emotionally painful for me that I was unable to look at a photo of him or watch him on any videos. However, in 2014, I realized the memories I have of my father would be forever lost if I didn’t record them in some way. So I began writing a book about my father and decided I needed to make myself watch his testimony, recorded by USC Shoah Foundation in 1997, in order to refresh my memory.

Unfortunately, the VHS copy we had of his testimony had been destroyed. So, I contacted USC Shoah Foundation, hoping they would be able to replace it and they did, with a DVD copy of his testimony.

In one late night marathon session, taking notes as I watched, my father appeared before me once again, vibrant and healthy.  I could physically feel his presence in the room as I watched his eyes sparkle and listened to him speak, laugh, and cry.

With five grandchildren of my own now, the eldest being the only great-grandchild my father ever held, I realized  that this DVD was the main record of my father’s voice, mannerisms, sense of humor, and sensitivity as a human being that my grandchildren would ever have. 

I am so grateful to USC Shoah Foundation for their work. The testimony of my father in the Visual History Archive and my own personal copy not only memorialize my father’s memory, so that we never forget the Holocaust, but will bring my father to life for generations to come. And that is as it should be, for family was everything to him.

Miriam Finkelstein