No words. Harry Kozlovsky says there are no sentences or paragraphs he can give to describe his reaction to the attack on Israel by Hamas on Oct. 7.
The Pikesville resident, who is a senior director for the Israel-based company Nayax, can only think of the many attacks on the Jewish people that have happened during his lifetime, this one being the worst.
Kozlovsky, 66, remembers his father crying uncontrollably when his sister called and told him her 20-year-old son was killed as a hero in the Six-Day War in 1967.
“At 16, in 1973, I was at Ner Tamid synagogue on Yom Kippur hearing of the surprise attack and devastation and fearing the end of Israel,” Kozlovsky recalled.
“I’ve lived through the Munich massacre and Mr. [Leon] Klinghoffer being pushed off the cruise ship in his wheelchair by terrorists,” he added.
Fifty years later, he was again at Ner Tamid, the Orthodox synagogue in Baltimore where he is a member, where he heard of the Simchat Torah massacre.
“If anything else, this does bring Jews together in an unprecedented way,” said Kozlovsky, who has served on various boards of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore. He also served on the JCC of Greater Baltimore board for 16 years.
“No matter their religion, no matter their denomination, everybody comes together for the betterment of the whole, and that’s something that we’ve lost in this country and around the world when it comes to Jews and Israel,” Kozlovsky said.
“We’ve got to get that back and hopefully we’ve learned something from what the enemy has done to us today to get us back to where we used to be,” he continued.
Kozlovsky is the son of a Polish Holocaust survivor, Rose Kozlovsky, whose faith in God was challenged by the Nazi genocide. Nevertheless, his parents sent him and his brother to the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore.
Rose Kozlovsky never directly told her children about her experience in the Holocaust, but she did share her story with Steven Spielberg’s USC Shoah Foundation. “She was pulled out of her mother’s arms at 10 years old by the Nazis, never to see her again,” Kozlovsky said. “She was put in Gross-Rosen concentration camp. She witnessed Nazis throwing babies off of buildings onto flat-bed trucks and splattering. She came out of the war scarred terribly.”
Kozlovsky’s strong Zionist ideals led him to help start the Yeshivat Rambam Maimonides Academy in Baltimore in 1991. His son attended for 13 years and left Baltimore for Israel at graduation. He now lives in Modi’in with his wife and three children.
Kozlovsky also plans to make aliyah one day with his wife Adriane. He travels to Israel often for Nayax, a cashless technology company, which is a member of the Maryland/Israel Development Center.
“Nayax is a dream come true,” Kozlovsky said. “It’s a great company. It has a family feel for a company of its size with 900 employees worldwide.”
Meanwhile, his son and his family are safe in the middle of the country.
“They’ve had only one siren so far,” he said. “It’s quiet there compared to the far north and far south. Thank God they are doing OK, but nobody knows when the next shoe will drop. There’s fear throughout the country, obviously.”
Kozlovsky believes that American Jewry has more that “binds us than divides us. We’re at ideological war for the hearts, minds and souls of our younger Jews. We cannot let the enemies of good infiltrate our young people, who have not experienced the history of the state of Israel that their parents and grandparents experienced. When you don’t experience something as vitally existential to us as the state of Israel and what God gave the Jewish people, the younger generation can only see an ideological divide that’s political and a negative view of Israel rather than the big picture.”
Kozlovsky’s solution is to educate the younger generations.
“We must educate, educate, educate and educate where there’s a void of education among our young Jews,” he said.