Turning Evil into an Opportunity to Repair the World
National Public Affairs Director
Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America
(NEW YORK -- March 27, 2002) -- When Fred Oplatka, an 85-year-old Holocaust
survivor, recently received a reparations check from the Austrian
government, he didn't think for a moment about keeping it, but promptly
decided to donate it to charity.
Oplatka and his wife of 45 years, Frances, were in agreement that the only
compensation for their experiences during the Holocaust would be the ability
to take positive action today. The Oplatkas have had a good life in the
United States, and wanted for nothing. They decided the $7,000 check from
Austria should go to a place that would use it to help others. Their choice
for this unusual gesture was Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of
America, which supports two major hospitals in Jerusalem, Israel.
The Oplatkas explains: "I couldn't think of a better place than Hadassah
Medical Organization. My wife and I have always known about Hadassah and
their hospitals. Now that we hear in the news almost every day about people
being wounded in Israel, with no end in sight, giving them the money just
seemed like the right thing to do."
The Oplatkas, who are San Francisco residents, specified that the
reparations check go to the Rehabilitation and Geriatric Rehabilitation
Complex of Hadassah Medical Organization, where comprehensive rehabilitation
due to trauma, disability, disease, or aging is diagnosed, treated and
For Oplatka it was a fitting end to a story that began in pre-war Europe.
Born in Vienna, incarcerated in Nazi camps in Belgium and France, Mr.
Oplatka escaped to the Dominican Republic in 1941. He came to the United
States in 1949, settled in San Francisco in 1957, and created a successful
and happy life for himself despite the traumas he had suffered. Today, the
Oplatkas are awaiting the birth of their first grandchild.
Referring to his remarkable decision to donate his reparation check ,
Oplatka says: "It was how I wanted to spend it, I needed it to do good in
Founded in 1912, Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America is
the largest women's, largest Zionist, and largest Jewish membership
organization in the United States. In Israel, it supports medical care and
research, education, and youth institutions, and reforestation and parks
projects. In the US, Hadassah promotes health education, social action and
advocacy, volunteerism, Jewish education and research, Young Judaea and
connections with Israel.