Holocaust survivor Irving Roth tells MU audience about experiences

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 | 11:34 p.m. CST
Irving Roth speaks to students Wednesday in Middlebush Hall. Roth spoke about how he and his family were victims of the Holocaust, which led to Roth being sent to Auschwitz. Roth co-authored a book "Bondi's Brother" with his son Edward Roth about his life and experiences during the Holocaust.

COLUMBIA — Irving Roth was given a password he could use for the rest of his life in Auschwitz.

Surviving the Holocaust left a permanent mark on Roth's life. While some would want to remove the identification number tattoo, Roth found a practical use for his Auschwitz number as a computer password.

"Like the wrinkles on my face, my number is part of my experience," Roth said.

In an event hosted by MU's chapter of the Christians United For Israel on Wednesday at Middlebush Hall, Roth spoke about his experiences as a Holocaust survivor and how Israel is facing similar turmoil now.

The Christians United For Israel is a national organization dedicated to raising awareness about the violence and oppression in Israel.

"Our purpose is to get out pro-Israel conversation," said the president of MU's Christians United For Israel chapter, Destiny Albritton. "We're getting the word out that Israel is not the bad guy that it's painted to be."

Albritton wanted to have Roth share his story at the organization's event and talk about how his experience opens the door to understanding similar experiences by those living in Israel. Albritton explained that religious intolerance in Middle Eastern countries is a reality, unlike developed Western cultures.

Roth uses his experience as a way to get others involved with ending intolerance.

"Every life is precious," he said.

Roth is now the director of the Holocaust Resource Center at the Temple Judea of Manhasset, New York. He received the Anne Frank Award in 2004 for working to make the world a more accepting and diverse place.

Jeremiah Nasiatka, the Christians United For Israel campus coordinator, said he believes Roth's story and work embodies the organization's goals.

"He's not just a survivor. He's risen above what's happened to him and is willing to relive it day after day," Nastiaka said. "In my mind, it's what makes him a hero of the Holocaust."

Supervising editor is Zach Murdock.

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