Sara and Asa Shapiro

From Shared Tragedy to Shared Success

The story of Sara and Asa Shapiro is one of shared tragedy and shared success. Both were born in the small pre-war, predominantly Jewish town of Korets, in what was then Poland and is now Ukraine, into large Jewish families.

Both survived the Holocaust. Sara escaped the ghetto and pretended to be a Ukrainian orphan while working as a maid. Asa was in a Russian Labor Camp in Siberia and then was subscripted into the Russian Army. Both came back to Korets to search for surviving family, only to find that most had been murdered by the Nazis. They married, moved to America with practically nothing, settled in Detroit, and built a large family and a thriving business.

Both passed away recently – he in June of 2017; she in May of 2018.

Sara and Asa were long-time supporters of Holocaust commemoration and remembrance initiatives, giving their testimonies to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and USC Shoah Foundation. The Shapiro family has been one of the most long-standing supporters of USC Shoah Foundation. Sara and Asa Shapiro’s son, Mickey Shapiro, sits on the Executive Committee of the Institute’s Board of Councilors. Born in a displaced persons camp in Germany just after World War II, Mickey named the lobby of the USC Shoah Foundation headquarters in his parents’ honor. He also endowed the Sara and Asa Shapiro Lecture, which enables a Holocaust and Genocide Studies scholar to spend a month at the Institute each year.

“My love for my parents is matched only by my admiration for what they endured, and for their grit and determination to thrive in spite of unthinkable hardships,” he said. “They are an inspiration to anyone who has been persecuted, and a testament to the power of perseverance.” – Mickey Shapiro