Eli Zborowski, founder of American Society for Yad Vashem

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

Zborowski, who founded the society in 1981 and served as its chairman until his death, died  Sept. 10 in New York at age 87.

The deceased was born in Zarki, Poland. He was able to leave the town’s ghetto after the outbreak of World War II, and he served 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 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.

Zborowski was a longtime member of the Yad Vashem Directorate and served on the boards of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. — jta