Sasha (Sam) Genirbert, a Holocaust survivor & Author of Among the Enemy (Hiding in Plain Sight in Nazi Germany)

Sasha Sam GenirbergFor our Rotary Club Program this week, Nancy introduced Sasha (Sam) Genirbert, a Holocaust survivor who wrote his story of how as a Jewish youth from Ukraine he evaded death during the Holocaust in WWII Nazi Germany. Sam began by telling us he had recorded seven hours of information that he used to prepare to write his book and with the twenty minutes he had to present to us it would be quite a challenge. He was an amazing presenter as he packed a lot of information into the time. We heard the story of the extermination of Jews in his hometown near Dubno Poland and the painful decision he had to make to escape from the Ghetto there in order to survive. This was in the spring of 1942 and that was the beginning of his challenges and life-threatening experiences. In Sept of 1942 Sam boarded a train with his new name Andre Trag and papers to head for Germany to work as a conscript. He survived for three years in Nazi Germany by running away from jobs and many life-challenging experiences. Things he call his “miracles” because without the miracle he would have been found out and killed. Sam was ultimately liberated by the British in 1945 and lived to write his book: Among the Enemy (Hiding in Plain Sight in Nazi Germany).

He brought several copies of his book and they all sold out quickly. The club bought one and we put a book plate in it and it will be presented to the ECHS library. If you have a desire to own Sam’s book it is available on Amazon (link above) and strongly recommended for anyone who has an interest in that era of history.

We will ask Sam to return and present more of his story. What a courageous man and someone to be admired. Thanks Nancy for having him visit our club

Gary Buffon Growing up in the Northern Ca High Desert where his Father worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad

Editor:  Gary Buffon
Week of October 17, 2013

President Jane welcomed everyone to the friendly El Cerrito Rotary Club, the flag salute was led by Jack and the thought for the day was provided by Kathleen.

Lee standing in for Secretary John – Introduction of Visiting Rotarians and Guests:  Fred Collignan – Asst Dist Gov from the Berkeley Club.  Rotarian Richard from the Laveneria Michigan club.  Guest of Mark Scott’s Ron Huey.  Norma Buffon wife and guest of Gary Buffon.


  • Nancy announced the Mechanics Bank mixer next Thursday (the 24th) at her branch in El Cerrito.  Everyone invited – Rotarians go and meet potential new members
  • Tracy announced the firefighters are serving the meals at Macaroni Grill as part of the toy drive fund raising.  Go find out how that works.
  • Nobuko reminded us that November is foundation month.  She passed around a sheet which shows status of how close you are to a PHF.  This may be the time when you can achieve that goal.
  • Gary B ask for some help this Sat with the Interact fund raising project.  He needs on Rotarian to show up for about an hour from 9a to 10a on the 19th.  The Interact members are painting the house numbers on the street locations.  If you can do this, please contact Gary B and he will provide you with the location and directions.  It is in El Sobrante.  It is a Richmond address off the Dam road.
  • Lee gave us some tips on seeking guests to bring to our meetings.  Given that our club needs new members, be sure you commit to bringing a guest in the next few meetings.  We always have great speakers so you can be sure your guest will enjoy the “friendly El Cerrito Rotary club.”
  • Karen gave a quick summary of our successful wine tasting event.  There will be a full accounting of the specific results at a future meeting.  Karen thanked everyone who worked and participated.


Happy Dollars:

1)     Marty had $5 for his great trip to Turkey.  He plans on giving us a program on the trip in the near future.

2)     Sal’s guest Richard gave a happy dollar for being able to visit our club

3)     Jack is happy about the great champagne wines from Weibel.

4)     Mark Scott is happy he had Ron as his guest today

5)     Terry is happy but my scribbling on the notes were unclear of the reason

6)     Fred is happy for the major Rotaract event he was involved in

7)     Paul K is happy for his son being over having his tonsils removed

8)     Allen is happy $5 for not getting a parking ticket in Berkeley.

9)     Karen is happy that Allen loaned her a car so she could do here wine tasting running around after her car died

Sgt at Arms Steve:

Did Al Capone trivia which in all the trivia games, we all end up paying to Sgt.

Today’s Program:

Gary B gave a presentation about his growing up in the Northern Ca high desert where his Father worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Gary opened his presentation by asking if anyone in the room had attended a school with less than ten students.Nobody had, except Gary. From there he gave a description of the region of the Lassen Co where he grew up. 

In addition, he shared some specifics of the small village of Ravendale back in the late 40’s and early 50’s. Gary’s father was a “gandy dancer” (maintenance worker) for the Southern Pacific Railroad on the Modoc line. This line ran from Ely NV and ran North through Lassen and Modoc counties and in Oregon to Klamath Falls. We saw pictures of two of the main steam engines serving on the line in that era. Also presented were pictures of the locations and terrain along with some personal stories of the experience of living there. 

It was apparent that a number of Rotarians were not familiar with the region or the environment. Gary identified the key things he learned as a youngster and how that influenced him in becoming a successful adult. Everyone seemed to enjoy the presentation. Thanks to Jim Shepherd for asking Gary to do this presentation for the club.

Today’s Lottery Winners:


Mark Scott won the bottle of wine. Michael C had his ticket pulled for the marble game and selected a catseye. Next week the pot will be $70.

Thought for the Week:

The great lesson is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends and family, in one’s backyard.
Abraham Maslow