Holocaust survivor who died in China to be brought to Israel for burial

The body of a Jewish Holocaust survivor, Shmuel Yosef Briskin, who died in China before Rosh Hashanah, will be flown to Israel for burial by Chabad emissaries and the ZAKA international unit.

ZAKA volunteers transfer body of 42-year-old found alone days after he died (photo credit: ZAKA)
ZAKA volunteers transfer body of 42-year-old found alone days after he died
(photo credit: ZAKA)

The body of a Jewish Holocaust survivor who died in China before Rosh Hashanah will be flown to Israel for burial by Chabad emissaries and the international unit of ZAKA, an Israeli volunteer emergency response service, according to Moti Bukchin, the ZAKA spokesman.

Tens of thousands of dollars were successfully raised to fund the operation. Chinese authorities had planned to cremate the man's remains, but the organizations protested, insisting that he be given a traditional Jewish burial.

The man, Shmuel Yosef "Sam" Briskin was a survivor of the Holocaust who was born in France in the 1940s. After the German invasion, his father fled, leaving his family to fend for themselves. Briskin's mother traveled across Europe with her three children, concealing their Jewish identity and hiding them in a monastery until the end of World War II. The family then emigrated to Montreal and Sam later moved to China for work. His health faltered in 2021 several weeks before Rosh Hashanah and he later died alone at a hospital

Chabad emissaries distributing masks in front of the monument remembering Jewish refugees who found shelter in Shanghai in the area known as the Hongkou ghetto (credit: COURTESY OF CHABAD SHANGHAI)Chabad emissaries distributing masks in front of the monument remembering Jewish refugees who found shelter in Shanghai in the area known as the Hongkou ghetto (credit: COURTESY OF CHABAD SHANGHAI)

"I received a phone call from Shmuel's sister, a 90-year-old woman living in the United States who told of her brother who lived alone in China and was hospitalized due to a severe infection that spread throughout his body," said Rabbi Shalom Hazan, a Chabad emissary based in Shenzhen, China.

"I contacted a Chabad emissary in Hong Kong and the ZAKA organization. Rabbi Yaakov Rosa, chairman of the ZAKA Rabbinical Committee, ruled that he was a Holocaust survivor who was a holy Jew - and ordered everything to be done to bring him to Israel for burial. After many efforts and joint work, we succeeded in the holy mission and he will have eternal rest in Jewish burial in Israel," Hazan continued.

"About a month ago, Rabbi Shalom Hazan received a call from a Chabad emissary in Shenzhen from an American woman who told about her brother Shmuel, a Holocaust survivor who lived alone in China and was hospitalized in a local hospital due to a serious infection, ZAKA said in a tweet.

"Rabbi Hazan, who understood that the hospital does not allow free treatment, raised funds and transferred Shmuel to intensive care, but unfortunately his condition worsened and Shmuel died," the tweet added.

Sam Briskin will be buried Saturday night at the Yarkon Cemetary in Petah Tikva.