Holocaust survivor meant to recite prayer at main ceremony hospitalized

Holocaust survivor Efraim Mol was rushed to the hospital. In his place, the El Maleh Rahamim prayer will be recited by Shuli Rand.

 Holocaust survivor Efraim Mol (photo credit: Yoel Mol)
Holocaust survivor Efraim Mol
(photo credit: Yoel Mol)

Holocaust survivor Efraim Mol, who was supposed to recite El Maleh Rahamim, a Jewish prayer mourning prayer also recited for the victims of the Holocaust, at the official Monday evening Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem, fell ill on Sunday during the preparations for the event and was rushed to the hospital, according to Yad Vashem.

In his place, renowned Israeli singer Shuli Rand will recite the prayer.

“Yad Vashem and the Jewish people send prayers and best wishes to Efraim Mol and his family,” a statement on behalf of Yad Vashem said.

Who is Holocaust survivor Efraim Mol?

Mol was born in 1938 in a suburb of Brussels, Belgium, the only son of Reuven Yoel (Youlek) and Bella, who immigrated from Poland to Belgium at the end of World War I. Reuven Yoel, who was a member of the Beitar movement, created handmade leather wallets in one of the rooms in the family home. In another, Bella fashioned women's hats.

In September 1942, the family fled to France intending to escape to Switzerland, but were arrested by the Gestapo in the city of Besançon, near the Swiss border. Mol and his parents were brought to the Gestapo headquarters in the city. On German orders, French policemen separated Mol from his mother and father. Bella kissed him and put two photographs in his pocket: one of herself and one of his father. Mol had no idea that he would never see either of them again. On 18 September 1942, Reuven Yoel and Bella Mol were deported from the Drancy concentration camp near Paris to Auschwitz, where they were murdered.

 Efraim Mol and Shuli Rand (credit: Yoel Mol) Efraim Mol and Shuli Rand (credit: Yoel Mol)

The police brought four-year-old Mol to the convent in Besançon. The nuns there had volunteered to take in many Jewish children in his situation. After a few weeks, he was sent to a Jewish orphanage in Paris, along with other boys and girls from the convent.

Mol was adopted by the Weils, French Jews who had an 18-year-old daughter. The couple wanted a son and asked to adopt a Jewish boy from the orphanage. Efraim was chosen thanks to the good word of one of the nurses, and also because he spoke French. 

Later that year, the Germans and the French followed Mol’s trail, after finding evidence of his stay in the convent. Lucie Cartier, an acquaintance of his adoptive parents, hid them in her home and found Mol refuge in an apartment in the suburbs of Paris, where she took care of all his needs. Lucie Cartier was later recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.

In the summer of 1944, the Allies liberated Paris.

Mol’s adoptive parents were assimilated Jews, but in 1957 he visited Israel and decided to serve in the IDF. His adoptive parents objected; instead, he was drafted into the French army and fought in the Algerian war. After his release, he immigrated to Israel and settled on a religious kibbutz. He was drafted into the IDF and became a sapper in combat reserve units.

While in the reserves, Mol met a Lubavitch hassid and was drawn to Hassidism. He joined the Chabad community and, after five years on the kibbutz, moved with his family to Jerusalem. He worked in a defense industries factory and continued to serve in the IDF combat reserves. He fought in all of Israel's wars until the First Lebanon War. After retiring, he became a scribe. Efraim and Rachel have four children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.