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Inspired By: Rabbi Philip Lazowski

The Rabbi Emeritus of Emanuel Synagogue remains a strong proponent of holocaust education

As an eleven-year-old Philip Lazowski found himself in the marketplace of his small Polish town, herded there by Nazis. He’d been captured after being separated from his family and joined thousands of Jews in a grim march toward death.

The Nazis formed their captives into two groups, the “useful” (doctors, nurses, tailors, etc.) and the doomed (elderly, children, disabled). 

Philip was among the doomed. Recognizing his fate, he began asking those in the other group to claim him as their child. He came upon a kind woman, Miriam Rabinowitz, a nurse with two young daughters. She agreed to claim him, sparing him certain death.

Philip and his new family returned to the ghetto, but they were soon captured in another Nazi raid and taken to a movie theatre.  At Miriam's encouragement, Philip escaped.  “I want you to live," she told him. "My son, may God show you the way. The world will someday need you.”

He lived in the forest for two years, hiding from the Nazis with his father and brother, until the end of the war and then came to America.

He graduated high school in New York and graduated from Yeshiva University. At a friend’s wedding, he heard that the family who’d saved him in Poland lived in nearby Hartford. Soon, the woman who once pretended to be his mother – Miriam Rabinowitz - became his real-life mother-in-law. Philip married Ruth Rabinowitz – one of the two little girls with whom he’d stood in line in the marketplace.

Rabbi Lazowski, now 92, began his rabbinic career in 1954 at Hartford’s Congregation Beth Sholom Synagogue, then served at Bloomfield’s Beth Hillel Synagogue until 2000. He’s a retired Chaplain for Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living, the Hartford Police and the Connecticut State Senate. He now serves as Rabbi Emeritus of Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford.

Rabbi Lazowski has authored and published 14 books. He remains happily married to Ruth and has three sons and seven grandchildren. The last words from his mother set Philip Lazowski on his life’s mission – a mission that continues to this day. 

When asked what aspect of his life he’d most like to discuss, he doesn't hesitate. “Education.”

He was a vocal proponent of a 2018 bill, which later became law, which requires the teaching of the holocaust in Connecticut public schools. Rabbi Lazowski and his wife Ruth have spent decades telling their story and educating people about the Holocaust. 

“Some say accounts of The Holocaust are simply stories of fictitious tales from a self-serving minority…Since many of those who could tell their story has long since died and taken their testimony to the grave, I feel compelled to speak. My story is, of course, the story about how Nazis, unfortunately, brutalized, murdered and oppressed a civilization. And the tragedy of the Holocaust is almost too great to grasp.

The darkest chapter in the history of humankind and what happened? The world stood by and didn’t care. So, my thrust is to educate people. There are so many people that say now that the Holocaust never existed. People must learn about genocide.  So, as a survivor, I feel that teaching about genocide as part of the curriculum in schools is of the utmost importance. Things can only be improved by education.”

  • Philip Lazowski, Rabbi Emeritus of The Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford.
  • Philip and Ruth Rabinowitz at their wedding
  • Philip and Ruth Rabinowitz
  • Rabinowitz
  • Rabinowitz