Eli Zborowski, Founder of Yad Vashem Society, Dies

Polish Survivor Served on Claims Conference Board

By JTA

Published September 11, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Eli Zborowski, a Holocaust survivor who founded and served as the chairman of the American Society for Yad Vashem, has died.

Eli Zborowski
Karen Leon
Eli Zborowski

Zborowski, who founded the society in 1981 and served as its chairman until his death, died Monday in New York. He was 87.

Zborowski was born in Zarki, Poland. He was able to leave the town’s ghetto after the outbreak of World War II and serve as its liaison with the non-Jewish underground. His father was murdered by local Poles, but he, his mother, brother and sister survived the war. The families that hid them, the Placzeks and Kolaczs, were later recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.

Following the war, Zborowski was active in the Aliyah Bet organization, which smuggled Jews into British Mandate Palestine until the founding of the State of Israel.

Zborowski and his wife, Diana, immigrated to the United States in early 1952. In 1963 he organized the first U.S. Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration and, in 1970, he founded the first umbrella organization for all survivors. The Zborowskis in 1974 endowed the first academic chair in the United States in Holocaust Studies, at Yeshiva University in New York. He was appointed to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council by President Jimmy Carter and reappointed by President Ronald Reagan. He also was appointed to the New York permanent Commission on the Holocaust by Mayor Edward Koch.

He was a longtime member of the Yad Vashem Directorate. Beit HaKihilot, a center of research and education in Yad Vashem’s Valley of Communities, was established in part with a donation from Eli and Diana Zborowski, and in 2008 he endowed The Diana Zborowski Center for the Study of the Aftermath of the Holocaust at the International Institute for Holocaust Research.

Zborowski served on the boards of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

“Eli Zborowski was a dear friend and devoted partner in ensuring that the legacy of the Holocaust is not forgotten,” said Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem. “From a young age, Eli was instilled with the values of integrity, diligence and responsibility as well as a strong Zionist legacy by his beloved parents. These principles motivated him to ensure the future not only of his own family, to which he was profoundly dedicated, but also to that of Holocaust remembrance and education for generations to come. His determination and dynamic leadership serve as an inspiration for survivors around the world.

“We will miss his friendship, his leadership, his drive, his unwavering commitment and willingness to put his entire self into his mission to ensure that the memory of the Holocaust is not forgotten.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.