Before I relate the story of my meeting with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, I would like to express my gratitude for this opportunity to share it. I’ve been waiting over 50 years to relate this story, so this goes to show that people should never give up hope, whatever they might be waiting for.
My name is Yonasan Wiener. I was born and bred in Melbourne, Australia, lived for a time in New York, and now I’m living and teaching in Jerusalem.
My family originally came from Poland, a place called Chrzanow, but they bounced around all of Eastern Europe – Krakow, Bremen, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt. In Frankfurt my father attended the yeshiva of Rabbi Yosef Breuer, Yeshivat Torah Lehranstalt, and he was there in November 1938 on Kristallnacht, when the Nazis began burning synagogues and Jewish places of business.
After Kristallnacht, my grandfather took his family and fled Germany. They first migrated to Holland and from there to France and then to Australia. My father attended Melbourne High School and Melbourne University, where he excelled because he had a brilliant mind. He got his Ph.D. there and he also studied medicine. In his spare time, my father researched poisons and their antidotes. He studied the red-back spider, a deadly spider in Australia, and he discovered the anti-venom. He also studied the stonefish, a toxic fish which buries itself in beach sand, and when people accidentally step on it, they die. He discovered the anti-venom for stonefish as well. He did this in his spare time, and he didn’t want any money for his discoveries.
When he was asked, at the end of his life, what motivated his altruistic research, he said, “Thanks to the Australian government I was saved with my entire family from the Nazis. If I had stayed in Europe I would have perished with my six million brothers and sisters.” (more…)