Israel Arbeiter, a prominent Holocaust survivor from Newton Massachusetts, died on October 29, 2021, at age 96. He was the founder and former president of the American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors of Greater Boston.
Arbeiter was born in Plock, Poland and was 14 when World War II broke out. His parents and younger brother were sent to the Treblinka death camp during the liquidation of the Starachowice ghetto. For the next five years, Israel and his brothers became slaves in Nazi work camps including Auschwitz-Birkenau. Israel met his wife Anna at a labor camp in Poland. They married and had a daughter named Harriet. After the war, family members in the US brought Israel, his wife and daughter, and his surviving brothers to the United States. The family settled outside of Boston where Israel and his brother Mack began a tailoring and dry-cleaning business.
Arbeiter devoted his life to promoting Holocaust education. He participated in a World War II documentary film entitled, “A Promise to my Father,” he testified at the Nuremberg trials, and he was instrumental in creating the New England Holocaust Memorial. He took numerous trips throughout his life to Treblinka and was a constant presence at schools and colleges in the US and across Germany and Poland, sharing his story. In January 2015, he participated in the World Jewish Congress delegation of more than 100 survivors who accompanied Ambassador Ronald Lauder to Auschwitz for the 75th anniversary commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. In December 2020, the Polish government awarded Arbeiter the Order of the Merit medal by for his work promoting the memory of the Holocaust.