Title: A Vow Fulfilled – The Fran Laufer Story: Memories and Miracles
Author: Fran Laufer
Publisher: Targum Press
Everyone loves a success story. We can’t resist the vicarious thrill of escaping into the lives of real-life heroes who, against all odds, miraculously and heroically soar. It’s no wonder, then, that a book like A Vow Fulfilled – The Fran Laufer Story: Memories and Miracles has the power to capture our attention.
When I first saw the book’s eye-catching cover, I thought that it would be like many other Holocaust books. After reading the book – in virtually one sitting – I was surprised. A Vow Fulfilled is more than a Holocaust diary – it is a soul-stirring story of selflessness, strength, and ultimately success in the face of evil; it is a tribute to the human capacity to rebuild and to love after unthinkable horrors.
“Horrors” is an understatement. At age 9, Frimciu (Fran) was ensconced in the loving arms of her warm, chassidic family. At 13, she was alone in the Nazis’ lair, surviving on her wits and audacity. At 15, she was working in a labor camp, stealing a daily vitamin from her overseer to keep herself alive. At 19, she was in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, battling typhoid. And at 20, she met the man who was to become her husband, her family, and her future.
It seems inconceivable. How can a person who has suffered so continue to live – and not merely to live, but to live a Torah-filled life of meaning and purpose?
Fran Laufer proves that with faith and resilience of spirit, the impossible is possible. A legendary philanthropist and founder of the famed Fran Laufer Collection, a unique collection of international antiques, she shares her incredible journey from barbed wire to antique brass, and shows how one can rise from the depths of relentless degradation to accomplish incredible feats.
“We, the survivors, can only hope that we are leaving a legacy of courage, determination and heroism.” These are Fran’s powerful and poignant words, and they exactly characterize the life that she and her husband Simon built for themselves after the hell of Hitler’s death camps – a life of courage, determination and heroism.
Notwithstanding the tribulations of financial setbacks and a stillborn baby, a daughter’s divorce and a son-in-law’s untimely passing, and despite their ever-present haunting memories, the Laufers worked tirelessly and selflessly to fulfill the vow they had made to their martyred families: to raise a new generation of Jews in a Torah-true fashion.
They succeeded in doing more than just that. The financial empire they built facilitated the creation and support of numerous Jewish institutions: Rivkah Laufer Bikur Cholim, Young Israel of Hillcrest and Deerfield Beach, the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem, the chassidic dynasty of Bobov and Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem. Their dedicated support of yeshivas and synagogues enabled them to spearhead the resurgence of Jewish life in the post-war world.
As Fran recounts her experiences, her gentle Polish lilt can virtually be heard on each page of the book, telling of pain, of a fierce to desire to live, and of the heartwarming adoration felt for the husband who was everything to her. In a voice full of faith and gratitude, she tells the story of a woman who, with her husband, forged a new life for themselves and filled it with profound love for and dedication to their family, their community and the Jewish people.
This story, depicting a woman of valor who surmounted a horror-filled youth and went on to create an incredibly meaningful life, is an invaluable contribution to Holocaust literature.