Scholarship to Benefit Holocaust Studies Students
Galloway, N.J. — Like many Jews, Judith Kochavi faced a dangerous life in 1940s France.
Germany had just invaded, and her husband, Israel, had been taken away with other men considered “enemy nationals” to an old fort outside of Paris.
Her son, Daniel, born in 1937, was only 2 when the German occupation began, but because Judith and Israel had lived in Palestine and had British identity papers, Kochavi family members were considered British subjects and were initially subject to fewer restrictions.
Unlike most Jews, they didn’t have to wear a yellow star. Judith used that special status to work with the resistance to help other Jews escape by hiding them in their apartment until smugglers could be contacted.
“Yes, I survived, but my mother was the lead survivor of the story,” said Daniel Kochavi, who now lives in Philadelphia. “Our parents lived under dangerous circumstances, but we survived due to Judith’s courage, bravery and resourcefulness. She decided to do what she could do to help other Jewish refugees and help them escape.”
It’s an honor to be here with you today in this space that speaks to the importance of history and the importance of remembering at a time when there are fewer and fewer survivors of the Holocaust.”
The fund will provide an annual scholarship to students in Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Stockton.
“It’s an honor to be here with you today in this space that speaks to the importance of history and the importance of remembering at a time when there are fewer and fewer survivors of the Holocaust,” said Stockton President Joe Bertolino during a gift-signing ceremony on Sept. 29 at the university’s Sara and Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center. “The support that you provide matters in that we are able to keep the story alive for generations to come.”
As the Germans later began rounding up all Jews, Judith went into hiding in early 1944 and arranged for a separate hiding place for Daniel in a Catholic boarding school for girls. They remained in hiding until the liberation of Paris in August 1944, when they also reunited with Israel.
The story, however, largely remained within the family for many years until Daniel’s son, Jonathan, moved to Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, next door to Michael Hayse, an associate professor of History at Stockton. The neighbors became friends and Hayse began to talk to Jonathan’s father about his experience.
In 2017, Daniel and Jonathan joined a Stockton faculty-led study tour with students back to France to visit several places, including the apartment where Judith lived. Hayse also worked with several Stockton students and the Kochavis to write a book manuscript about the family titled “Through the Tempests of War and Genocide: One Extended Jewish Family’s Experiences in the Twentieth Century.”
That experience eventually led Daniel and his sister, who was born after World War II, to set up the scholarship.
“That’s when I decided that we should do something to mark that period and the fight to survive,” Daniel Kochavi said.
Stockton Executive Director of Development Susan Werner thanked the Kochavis for sharing their family’s story.
“The ability to tell this story and the ability to combine it with your generosity and your philanthropy is going to be felt for generations,” she said. “This is an extraordinary place telling extraordinary stories, and it wouldn’t be possible without people like you.”