Rabbi Harry shares his refugee story in Unicef video

1 March 2017

Liberal Judaism’s Rabbi Harry Jacobi, who twice fled the Nazis in childhood, has appeared in a new UNICEF (the United Nations International Children’s Fund) video, alongside one of today’s Syrian child refugees.

Harry and Ahmed share their hauntingly similar stories in the clip, alternating sentences so that their personal tales become one.

Watch the powerful video here.

Harry – who was born as Heinz Hirschberg – was 13 when he fled the Nazis from his native Germany to Holland, before escaping again to England when Holland was invaded. Ahmed, who surname is not given for safety reasons, was around 10 or 11 when he fled Syria.

Although 80 years separate their terrible experiences – which included the loss of loved ones – watching them together is a powerful remind to the world about the plight of refugees.

Harry, a beloved Liberal rabbi and a vice president of our movement, was found for the film through the Association of Jewish Refugees, with which he has long been associated. Ahmed lives in Sweden.

UNICEF had planned to shoot the video in the UK, but Ahmed was refused permission to enter. Instead, it was made in Harry’s birthplace of Berlin.

Harry told The Times of Israel that the location: “Gave me a good excuse to go back, meet friends, and see the stolpersteine (memorial stones) outside where I had lived with my parents and grandparents.”

UNICEF worked with a creative agency, 180 Amsterdam, and Smuggler, a production company, to find Harry and Ahmed.

Read the full Times of Israel article, including lengthy interviews with both Harry and Ahmed  

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