The JT’s captivating article “The Ship That Launched a Nation” (July 28) was fascinating. I would like to add some personal information that occurred during the effort to retrofit the ship.
Much building material was needed to accomplish this task. One day, my beloved father, Benjamin Kolker, was sitting at his desk at the Maryland Lumber Co., which he owned. He received a phone call from a friend, Mose Speert, whom he greatly respected. Mose said, “Ben, I have a special favor to ask of you. I would like to put in a request to deliver enough lumber, nails and other building material to increase space on a ship to accommodate 4,500 people. The ship was designed to carry 400 to 500 passengers. The materials must be delivered under cover of darkness.” My father asked, “To whom shall I send the bill?” Mose responded, “Send the bill to God, and don’t ask any more questions.”
My dad then realized it must be needed for a secret mission. My brother, Fabian Kolker, went with the workmen at midnight to supervise the project.
Another connection with the Kolker family and the ship was when Leon Uris, author of the book “Exodus,” called from Colorado and asked Fabian and me to accompany him to the former Soviet Union in 1989. Leon was traveling under the auspices of B’Nai B’rith International. The trip was extremely memorable.