The Holocaust Survivor Band tours Israel

Kracow-born Holocaust survivor Saul Dreier created a band composed of Holocaust survivors that tours the world with a message of hope.

Saul Dreier in a concert in Ohel Yonah Menachem Synagogue in the city of Beit Shemesh, October 18 2018. Credit: Dennis Zinn
Ninety-three year old Holocaust survivor Saul Dreier discovered the power of music in an unlikely place, when he was imprisoned in a concentration camp in occupied Poland during the Second World War.
"I started to think, how can I produce sounds in here?" he said. "I lifted a spoon and began to tap in the rhythm of Hava Nagila and the other inmates would sing along with me."
Five years ago, he decided to return to music by creating a unique band, one that would be composed of Holocaust survivors and their children.
"We play all over the world," Dreier, who lives in the US, informed the Israeli elementary school children who came to meet him on Thursday, "but today I came alone to play for you."
While Dreier has visited Israel many times in the past, the Thursday performances in Yad Harif Art Center in Mateh Yehuda Regional Council and in Ohel Yonah Menachem Synagogue in the city of Beit Shemesh mark his first musical début in Israel.
Drier gave three performances, two in the Yad Harif Art Center and one in Beit Shemesh, and deeply impressed the young students who came to meet him and play with him.
Yonatan Shafira, a fifth grade student who took part in the Yad Harif Art Center shows, said that "it's cool to drum alongside him, he's 93 year old and still plays, I never thought I'd play in that age, but maybe I will."
Dreier and the young musicians played the Israeli national anthem Hatikva as well as other famous Israeli songs.
Dreier and his band toured the world, including a 2016 performance in Warsaw, where the Jewish ghetto used to exist, and a very special performance outside Auschwitz, where he blew the shofar.