Cover of Czech Mate: A Life in Progress
30 May 2007
Czech Mate: A Life in Progress, By Thomas Otto Hecht as told to Joe King, a new memoir published by Yad Vashem, will be launched in Montreal next week at two events featuring the author. The official launch event will take place on June 6, 2007 at the Gelber Conference Center.
The book tells of life as it once was in Bratislava and its Jewish community. It describes the trials and tribulations the Hecht family underwent in order to escape the horrors of the Nazis. The family’s struggles in finding a new home in Canada are examined, leading ultimately to a flourishing pharmaceutical business and successful integration into the Canadian Jewish community.
From Bratislava, to Paris, to Nice, to Lisbon, where the Hecht family finally boarded the Serpa Pinto, which set sail with 900 other refugees, the book follows the story of Tom, then a child of 12. The journey ended on 1 January 1942, when the family arrived by train at the Bonaventure Station in Montreal after a harrowing three year odyssey in war-stricken Europe.
After retiring from business in 1995, Thomas Hecht blended his academic underpinnings with his deep interest in the security of Israel to found the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) at Bar-Ilan University in 1993. He had effectively launched a third career.
“Upon reflection,” states Hecht, “I consider it to be a unique honor and privilege to have had the opportunity to be involved in the struggle for Jewish renaissance after the Holocaust and to be able to contribute in some measure to the preservation of Jewish identity and survival with the love of Israel as my deep inspiration.”