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In Memoriam - Dr. Felix Zandman

Avner Shalev with Ruta and Felix ZandmanAvner Shalev with Ruta and Felix Zandman
Ariel Sharon and Felix ZandmanAriel Sharon and Felix Zandman
Eli Zborowski, Ehud Olmert, Avner Shalev (in the back), Ariel Sharon, Ruta and Felix Zandman Eli Zborowski, Ehud Olmert, Avner Shalev (in the back), Ariel Sharon, Ruta and Felix Zandman
The Sculpture located in the Family SquareThe Sculpture located in the Family Square
Shaya Ben Yehuda, Avner Shalev, Eli Zborowski, Ruta and Felix Zandman and their family Shaya Ben Yehuda, Avner Shalev, Eli Zborowski, Ruta and Felix Zandman and their family
Ruta and Felix Zandman, Menashe Kadishman and Avner Shalev Ruta and Felix Zandman, Menashe Kadishman and Avner Shalev
Eli Zborowski, Ehud Olmert,Avner Shalev,Ariel Sharon,Ruta and Felix ZandmanEli Zborowski, Ehud Olmert,Avner Shalev,Ariel Sharon,Ruta and Felix Zandman

Felix Zandman was born in 1927 in Grodno to Aaron and Genia. In 1941 he, his parents and grandparents were sent to the Grodno ghetto. In January 1943 the Germans surrounded the ghetto to round up the Jews for transportation and the Zandman family decided to go into hiding. The family made the heartbreaking decision to leave two young babies as well as the baby of an acquaintance couple out of their hiding place in the ghetto, fearing that the babies’ cries would expose the occupants. Zandman’s grandfather, Nahum Freydovicz, chose not to let the babies endure their fate alone, and therefore left the hiding place and together with the three babies (two of which were his grandchildren) met his death.  

In February of that same year, Zandman, who was outside of the ghetto working as a forced laborer, got word of the final liquidation of the ghetto and managed to escape to the home of the caretakers of his family’s summer home, Janowa and Jan Puchalski. There along with his uncle, Sender Freydovicz, and a husband and wife couple he remained hidden beneath the floorboards of the Puchalski’s bedroom, in a hole five feet wide, five-and-a-half feet long, and four feet deep for a year and a half. In the pit, in total darkness, Felix learned mathematics by heart from his uncle. Felix Zandman was the only grandchild of Nahum Freydovicz who survived the Holocaust.

In 1946, Zandman emigrated to France. He went on to earn a mechanical engineering degree and master's degree in physics from the University of Nancy in France and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Paris, Sorbonne. In 1956, Zandman moved to the U.S. and in 1962 he founded Vishay Intertechnology, named after the town where he grew up. Vishay Intertechnology grew to become the largest US and European manufacturers of passive electronic components. Today Vishay is a Fortune 1000 company with many subsidiaries and over 22,000 employees worldwide.

Dr. Felix Zandman had been the recipient of many awards, including the Franklin Institute Medal for Science, the French Legion of Honor, and most recently the Electronic Industries Alliance 2001 Medal of Honor.

In 1995 Felix and Ruta Zandman endowed the Family Plaza at Yad Vashem in memory of their families who perished in the Holocaust. On permanent display within the Plaza is a sculpture, strategically placed to overlook the impressive view of Jerusalem and its suburbs, by renowned artist Menashe Kadishman, winner of the Israel Prize for Art in 2000. The sculpture, which was also endowed by Ruta and Dr. Felix Zandman, was inspired by Zandman’s personal story during the Holocaust.

Over the past 15 years the Zandmans have remained dear friends and partners of Yad Vashem, visiting often with both family members and employees.  Felix will be deeply missed by Yad Vashem. It was a privilege to have met him and an honor to have partnered with him. May his memory be for a blessing.

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