Behind the scenes of how the Janusz Korczak menorah came to be – Part 38th November 2017

I wanted to share with you how the Janusz Korczak menorah project came to be. This is Part 3. (Don’t miss the Newsletter Part 1 and Newsletter Part 2.)

Irving RothI have known Irving Roth for over 10 years. In addition to speaking all over the country, he speaks to the children at the local Hebrew schools about his experiences during the Holocaust. He wrote a book, Bondi’s Brother.

I contacted him to participate in his Adopt-A-Survivor program, which was featured on Oprah Winfrey. The program matches you with a Holocaust Survivor. You meet with him or her, learn their story, and promise to share their story in 2045 – 100 years after the concentration camps were liberated.

I met with Mr. Roth several times. The first time, he told me to read the book, Anguish of The Jews: 23 Years of Antisemitism, written by Edward H. Flannery, a Catholic priest. It is an incredible, eye-opening, account of how far and deep antisemitism has run since the very beginning of Judaism all over the world. I highly recommend this book.

In the next few months, I’d like to re-read the book and create a graphic timeline showing the history of antisemitism through the centuries.

Before I left, Mr. Roth gave me a DVD featuring different exhibits at the Holocaust Resource Center of Temple Judea in Manhasset, NY, where he is the Director. He said, “The segment about Janusz Korczak is my favorite. He is my personal hero.”

Just a very brief summary about Mr. Roth:

Irving Roth was born in 1929 in Kosice, Czechoslovakia. Mr. Roth and his brother Bondi were hiding in Hungary when they were captured in the waning months of World War II and shipped first to Auschwitz. With the Russians closing in, the Nazis shut down that death camp and marched the prisoners into Germany to Buchenwald. “My brother and I were separated there,” said Mr. Roth. “I never saw him again.”

The Janusz Korczak sculpture came about through Mr. Roth’s desire to honor the man he admires greatly, yet is mostly unknown in the United States. “The idea of a march from an orphanage in the ghetto to the train was a very emotional thing for me.” said Mr. Roth. “I tried to imagine in some way how one would show that Janusz Korczak was the ultimate defender of the child.” Mr. Roth, with Steve Pagiavles, designed the 7’ x 20’ sculpture.

Later that day, my family watched the video that Irving Roth gave me.

The next month, January 2017, my family was invited to the Bar Mitzvah of one of my son’s friends, Seth, at Temple Judea . As we drove up the entrance to Temple Judea, I pointed out to my family the sculpture of Janusz Korczak and his children, which is on the lawn outside the Holocaust Resource Center. “That is the sculpture that we saw in the video,” I said.

Janusz Korczak sculpture at Temple Judea

While waiting in the lobby for the Bar Mitzvah service to begin, we were browsing the gifts in the Sisterhood gift shop window. My husband, Michael, said, “The sculpture of Janusz Korczak – that would make a great menorah.”

And the rest is history! On Monday, I called Mr. Roth, who ABSOLUTELY LOVED THE IDEA!!

I work with over 70 artists, but there was only one artist who I knew would be PERFECT for this project – Gary Rosenthal. Gary has been creating Judaica since the early 1970’s. His pieces combine copper, brass, and steel with brilliant fused glass.

His works have been presented to Presidents , celebrities, and are seen in fine galleries and private collections throughout the United States.

I forwarded the photos and sketches to Gary Rosenthal and his team and he agreed to generously create the menorahs for us at cost.

Janusz Korczak sketches

Below is a picture of the scale model of the sculpture.

Janusz Korczak model


I came up with over a dozen designs for the menorah – simple, complex, with fused glass….Oy! You should see the ungapatchke designs I came up with! It was my 13 year-old son, Benjamin, who helped design the large menorah.

We ended up with two designs – one simple and the other with a copper Star of David and elevated candle holders. I could not choose which design I loved more. My husband loved the simpler one; Irving Roth loved the bigger one. I loved them both equally. Gary Rosenthal agreed to do both.

Janusz Korczak menorahs

As Steve Jobs said, “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

I certainly hope we’ll be moving mountains here! The goal of this project is to raise money for the Holocaust Resource Center by teaching about the life of Janusz Korczak. In doing so, we will be fulfilling the mission of the Holocaust Resource Center, which is to educate young and old on the evils of prejudice, to teach the lessons of the Holocaust, and to combat ignorance, hatred, and violence.

To date, we have raised approximately $3,950.
My goal is to raise $25,000!

Thank you so much for the enthusiastic response I have received from all over in support of this project.

I want to give a special shout-out to the very first person who bought the Janusz Korczak menorah – Steve Abdo. Steve called me in August 2017 looking for an anniversary gift for his wife. While we were on the phone, I told him about this project that I was so excited about. We both share a deep interest in the Holocaust and spoke for a while about the museums we’ve visited and how important it is to honor the memories of the victims of the Holocaust.

I had recently received my samples of the menorah from Gary Rosenthal. They weren’t even up on my website yet and without even seeing it, he bought a large one!

I want to share with you what Steve said when he got the menorah,

“Sent you a tweet and wanted to give a HUGE thank you for such beautiful gifts and getting them to my destination in time. All your gifts have been a blessing and so unique! That Menorah is a “One of a Kind!”! A story that makes all people appreciate the suffering in the lives of those who died for us! But never deserved it!!

AGAIN, Thank you for all you do!!


When I sent him the brochure a month later (it was still a draft when he ordered his menorah) and a ‘Thank-you’ card signed by Irving Roth (it was Steve’s idea to have Mr. Roth sign a card which comes with each menorah), he wrote again to say,

“Risa! Thank you for such a surprise and beautiful autographed card with Irving Roth and the brochure. The sentimental value that brings is forever cherished. I believe that your customers will feel the same way I do and such great history to be kept alive!

I could never forget the impact it had on me when I visited the Holocaust Museum in DC. People should never forget this and you’re keeping the memory to many who care and want to learn.”

Each menorah comes with a full color brochure of the life story of Janusz Korczak, which you can read at

If you are interested in receiving just the brochure, reply to this email with your address and I’ll put one in the mail to you FREE!

Watch the 10 minute video about Janusz Korczak
narrated by Irving Roth

Next week, I will tell you more about the life of Janusz Korczak, the books he has written, and my favorite Janusz Korczak quotes.

If you have any questions or would like to talk about this project, give me a call!

Enjoy the rest of the week!

Risa Borsykowsky, Owner

Risa Borsykowsky

P.S. Learn more about Janusz Korczak in the free brochure. Just reply to this email with your name and address.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *