Sam Halpern's harsh memories of his Holocaust experiences – dominated by suffering, horror and the unenviable loss of family in the ghetto and concentration camps – never dampened his desire to contribute mightily to future generations of his fellow Jews once liberation came his way.
Sam boldly escaped in a mass prison break from the Kamionka concentration camp following his family's forced transport from the Chorostkow Ghetto. Sam and his brother Arie Halpern z"l were subsequently hidden by a Polish family until 1944.
Following his liberation, Sam met and courted Gladys, who had similar experiences during the Holocaust years. They married in Bayreuth, Germany, where they became the proud parents of their first child, Fred. Their dream for a better life took them and their sons to the shores of the United States in 1949, the year they celebrated the birth of their son David.
Sam Halpern flourished as a leading real estate developer with business interests in the USA and Israel. While they built a meaningful life for their immediate family, this brave couple never forgot their difficult early-life experiences during the Holocaust years.
While Benefactors of Yad Vashem's Valley of the Communities, Sam also served as the National Vice Chair for New Jersey of the American Society for Yad Vashem (ASYV).
As part of the "Yad Vashem 2001" expansion plan, together with Eva and Arie Halpern z"l, Sam's sister-in-law and brother, Gladys and Sam generously endowed Yad Vashem's Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations. In 2005 a ceremony was held on the Mount of Remembrance marking the renewal of the Avenue, which the location of leads from the Visitors' Center to Warsaw Ghetto Square providing a poignant introduction to the site as a whole. Before entering the new Holocaust History Museum, which presents the story of the Shoah, the visitor is reminded that there was an alternative: there were individuals who chose to walk the righteous path and shine a glimmer of light amidst the darkness.
In the early 1990s, Sam was deservedly appointed to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, and with his life partner Gladys, was meritoriously honored by the ASYV at their 8th Annual Dinner in 1992. Sam also served with distinction as a member of the Board of UJA-Federation and as a National Vice Chairman of the Israel Bond Organization, from whom he received the Elie Wiesel Holocaust Remembrance Award. Among other well-earned honors, Sam was recognized by the Jabotinsky Foundation with their Defender of Jerusalem Award.
The Halpern's tradition of benevolence is being emulated by their son David, daughter-in-law Sharon, grandchildren Jeremy and Mindy, and their spouses Abbi Halpern and Alan Schall – along with sons Fred, Jack and Murray and their loving families.